Pueblo County, Colorado
Jose Amarante Garcia

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

Jose Amarante Garcia, son of Jose Victor Garcia.

Jose Victor Garcia was born in [what is now] New Mexico in 1832, 40 miles north of Santa Fe, and was of Spanish descent. He spent his early life upon a farm and at 28 years began to trade with the Apache, Navajo, and Ute Indians, which business he followed for seven years.

In 1855 he settled in Conejos County*, Colorado, and in 1859 was elected to the territorial legislature, which met at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and continued its session through 1860. He served two terms in the New Mexico Legislature prior to coming to Colorado. He also served two terms as councilman in the territory before it was admitted into the Union, and three terms in the territorial legislature.

Returning from the legislature, Mr. Garcia began ranching on the Conejos River. He took a squatter's claim to a section of government land and engaged in farming and stock raising, an occupation he continued to follow for many years.

He was the first man to apply to the National Government (through the influence of George M. Chilcott, member of Congress) to have the San Luis Valley surveyed, which was done in 1861.

During the latter year, when Territorial Governor William Gilpin was the chief executive, Mr. Garcia was again a member of the territorial legislature of Colorado, and he applied to the governor to establish the line between New Mexico and Colorado. He was opposed to the land grants and, while he had many cases in the New Mexico courts, he won in every instance, turning over to the government several thousand acres of land.

In 1866 he was appointed collector for Colorado by Governor Boone**. In 1871 he was a member of the Colorado Council. The next year he was commissioned by Governor Edward McCook as brigadier general of the Colorado National Guard, second division. In the year 1874, Governor Samuel E. Elbert appointed him a member of the board of managers of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia.

He served for five terms as a member of the Colorado Territorial Legislature. In local affairs he was elected justice of the peace in 1857, county commissioner in 1884, and general road master in 1896.

Always staunch in his allegiance to the Republican Party, he has long been one of the leaders among the Mexican residents of Colorado. During the early days of his residence in Colorado, the Indians were very troublesome. In 1858 the Utes destroyed his crops and killed five of his cows, while 3 years afterward the Arapahoe killed 13 of his cows and at other times they destroyed other stock and valuable property.

The first marriage of Mr. Garcia took place in 1854 and united him with Maria Candelaria Jaques, who died in 1862, leaving three children: Jose A., Celestino, and Placida.

For his second wife he chose Trinidad Silba, by whom he had eight children: Sevia, Juan C., Lafayette, Adolfo, Fidela (Mrs. Derrera), Dolores, Ignacio, and Gala Sancio.

Jose Amarante Garcia was born in Conejos County in 1858, a son of Jose Victor and Candelaria (Jaques) Garcia. He attended the public schools in Pueblo during 1869 and 1870, making his home with George M. Chilcott. He then attended public school in Denver in 1871 where he was known by his schoolmates as Joseph. At the age of 15, in 1871, he was elected by the house of representatives as interpreter for that body. At the age of 17, returning to Conejos, he began ranching with his father, but in 1881 bought property of his own. He is engaged in the stock business, raising both sheep and cattle on his ranch of 900 acres on the Conejos River.

In 1881 Mr. Garcia was elected to represent Conejos and Costilla Counties in the legislature. After one term he retired from office. In 1887 he was chosen sheriff of the county and his since filled the position, having gained a reputation as one of the best sheriffs the county has ever had.

In the year 1881 he married Sophia Espinosa, who died in June 1898. They were the parents of six children: Candelaria, Alejandro, Noa, Reginaldo, Rufinata, and Placida.

*Conejos was one of original 17 counties of Colorado. Noel and others, 1993, section 15.
**A “Governor” Boone is not among the Colorado Territorial governors who served between 1861 and 1876. Albert Gallatin Boone, who died about 15 July 1884, was a noted member of the Colorado scene about whom many references are listed at the Denver Public Library.

Extracted from "The Real Pioneers of Colorado," by Maria Davies McGrath, published in 1934 by The Denver Museum, retyped with added notes by Jane P. Ohl, in October 2001.

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