Felice Gonzales

November 2, 1908 - January 11, 1995
Role: Rancher

Felice's family came from Saltillo, Mexico. The first one here was her grandfather, Jose Maria Gonzales, who was born in Monterrey in 1842. He came to Texas as a young boy and later married Magdalena Lopez, a local girl who was born in Reynosa. It is not known whether Jose Maria bought his property north of Victoria in the Nursery area or whether it was a land grant; but, it was here that Jose Maria and his wife raised five children---Mauro, Manuel, Librado, Jesus and Tony. They lived in a three-room house that contained a bedroom, a commissary and a kitchen. A big porch ran from one end of the house to the other. The early business on the ranch included raising cattle as well as corn, cotton, horses and farm animals. After Jose Maria’s death, all five children inherited the ranch from their father. Mauro eventually bought Jesus and Tony’s shares and part of Librado’s. Mauro and Manuel continued to manage the ranch, each running his own part. "My daddy, Mauro, was in the horse business and drove horses to Kansas. The Fortran Ranch was purchased from the Galveston-Indianola Railroad in 1902 by my father and added to the family holdings." Felice's father and mother, Rosa Gutierrez Gonzales, raised seven children on the ranch: Mary, Mauro Jr., Henry, Frances, Sophie, Nellie and Felice. "After our father’s death in 1941, the ranch was inherited by the three surviving daughters, Frances de la Garza, Felice Gonzales and Sophie Brown, and by my brother, Mauro’s daughter, Bertha Zamora. At this time, the running of the ranch fell to me, and I have managed it for my two sisters from 1941 until the present (1987). For twenty-two years I was helped by my foreman, Marion Ohrt. Now, his son, David, has taken over that job. I raised cattle, cotton and maize and shipped corn to support the ranch. My niece, Bertha Zamora, is running the ranch now. The Gonzales land is still owned and ranched by the remaining female heirs of Jose Maria Gonzales." Felice was a beautiful, elegant woman whose knowledge of ranching was greatly respected by all the cattlemen in Coastal Bend.

Introduction to Felice Gonzales

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Felice Gonzales
Felice Gonzales – Oh definitely we're attached to the land. And of course, it's not economics, no. Uh-uh. It's something that draws you, you know. I think to me that's the way I feel about ours. I mean…I guess it's just in me, you know, that I love it. In fact, you know, my mother died before my daddy died. And he used to tell me, he said, "Now when I…I'm gonna pass away, and when I do this," he said, "You three girls lease everything." He didn't expect us to do anything out there. But, I was stubborn, you know. After he died, Mr. Blackburn…he had told Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Ragis….what we should do. And I asked him, I said, "Well, give me five years and see what I can do." And after five years I said, "Well, give me another five years." And after that, I said, "Well, it's mine." So that's the way it started.