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San Antonio Mayor – Francois Guilbeau Jr.

Francois Guilbeau, Jr. (1813-1879) moved to San Antonio in 1839 during

the early years of the Republic of Texas. The French-born entrepreneur

opened the first wine shop on Main Plaza; it remained in business until the

turn of the century. The popular young bachelor became Mayor Pro-Tem in

1841. Then he became Mayor when Juan Seguin resigned in disgrace at the

request of the Board of Alderman.

Guilbeau married Rosario Ramon in 1848; they established a vineyard and

chateau in France, where Rosario died. He started a profitable oxcart

shipping business that flourished until the railroad came to San Antonio.

The Guilbeau home on S. Flores in San Antonio became the French

Consulate in 1855 when Guilbeau became Consul of France. He assisted the

French Government in obtaining rootstock from Texas grapevines to save

the French wine industry. Guilbeau referred his longtime friend, French

Agriculture Commissioner Jules Poinsard to Thomas Volney Munson in

Sherman, Texas, who was known as the Grape Man of Texas. Munson was

the viticulturist who learned to graft the hearty rootstock of Texas mustang

grapes onto European varieties, making their vines resistant to the

phylloxera. Guilbeau carted hundreds of tons of Texas mustang root

cuttings by ox train to Galveston for shipment to France.

That collaboration saved the French Wine Industry from destruction by

phylloxera. Francois Guilbeau served his native France and his adopted

Texas well. Viva La France and Long Live Texas and the men and women

who made her great!

All images provided by the Texas State Historical Association. For more

information on the Guilbeau family, visit the TSHA website.

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