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Garcia House Travis Heights – Austin

From the Texas State Handbook Online

GARCIA, ALBERTO GONZALO (1889–1962).Alberto Gonzalo Garcia, physician, was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, on February 11, 1889, the son of Manuel and Fernanda (Herrera) Garcia. His early schooling was interrupted by the deaths of two of his sisters and by the fact that the family moved frequently. By 1898 they were back in Zacatecas, where they met two Seventh-day Adventist missionaries from the United States, a Mr. and Mrs. Blakely. Alberto expressed a desire to go to the United States to learn to be a missionary, and through the efforts of the Blakelys, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, heard of Alberto and invited him and his sister, Isabel, to the United States. The Kelloggs did not have any children of their own but adopted forty-two children from all over the world. With the consent of Alberto’s parents, he and Isabel were also adopted by the Kelloggs.In 1898 Alberto and Isabel came to the United States and were placed in the Haskell Home, an orphan asylum and boarding school. They started in kindergarten to learn English, and by the spring of 1902 Alberto had finished the work of seven grades. In 1903 he went to live in the home of Dr. Kellogg. On June 27, 1906, Garcia received a diploma from Battle Creek College, and on June 14, 1910, he graduated from the American Medical Missionary College in Battle Creek with a doctor of medicine degree. He then served under Dr. Levi Salmans, a friend of Dr. Kellogg, as an intern missionary physician at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Guanajuato, Mexico. When Garcia finished his internship in May 1911, he became company doctor for the Los Angeles Mining Company in the state of Chihuahua. After six months he joined the La Reforma Unit of the M. Guggenheim and Sons Mining Company of New York. At this time he also had a private practice near Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila. On December 6, 1911, in New Orleans, Garcia married Eva Carrillo y Gallardo (see GARCÍA, EVA CARRILLO DE), whom he had met in Battle Creek. Garcia resigned his position with the La Reforma Unit in June 1912 to concentrate on his private practice, but the unrest of the Mexican Revolution encouraged him to return to the United States. He received his second M.D. degree from the Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans in 1914 and then took a position with the American Sugar Refining Company at La Ceiba, Honduras. The following year he moved to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. He left Mexico permanently in 1915 to settle in Austin, Texas, where he was the first Mexican American to set up a medical practice. He attended classes in the University of Texas School of Journalism, and in 1920–21 he and his wife published La Vanguardia, one of Austin’s first Spanish-language newspapers. Garcia used the paper to discuss the social and political concerns of Mexican Americans and to encouraged them to participate in local affairs. He became a naturalized citizen in 1921 and encouraged others to acquire citizenship and exercise the right to vote. He helped establish Obreros Mexicanos, a workers’ group, and the local chapter of the Comisión Honoríficas Mexicanas, which represented Mexican nationals in the United States. Issues of La Vanguardia can be found in the Austin Public Library, the Austin History Center, and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas. Garcia also contributed occasional articles to New Age magazine, the Dallas Journal, the Austin American, and the Austin Statesman.Garcia was active in Austin’s civic affairs. He became a leader in efforts to improve Brackenridge Hospital, where he was a staff member. He supported the building of the city library and advocated better educational opportunities for Mexican Americans. He was also active on behalf of the American Red Cross. He was an honorary staff member at Holy Cross Hospital and a member of the American Medical Association, the Travis County Medical Association, and the Texas Medical Association. Affiliated with the Free and Accepted Masons, he held the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite and high degrees in the York Rite and belonged to the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Ben Hur Temple. He was a Democrat and a Methodist. Garcia died in Austin on September 22, 1962, and was survived by his wife, five daughters, and two sons. In a letter addressed to Rev. Roberto Escamillo, Judge James W. McClendon wrote the following: “Dr. Garcia’s life of virtue and devoted service to his fellow man was a benediction to all with whom he came in contact.”

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