The Melesio Gómez Family: Mexican Entrepreneurship in Houston’s Early Twentieth Century



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The Gómez family immigrated to the United States from Mexico during the 1920s. By 1937 the family was running three successful businesses on Washington Avenue in Houston’s Sixth Ward: a tortilla factory, a café, and a Mexican curio store. All three establishments remained open for over three decades, closing in the late 1960s. The Gómez family story provides a case study in ethnic Mexican entrepreneurship in Houston in the early twentieth century. The family’s middle-class status, their location in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, and the success of their three businesses make the family unique and broadens our understanding of opportunities for social mobility for Mexicans in Houston, the experience of Mexicans living outside of the Mexican barrio, and the impact of Mexican business in Houston. This thesis makes extensive use of the Melesio Gómez Family Collection at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC). The collection also includes recorded oral history interviews with the Gómez family’s middle daughter Estella Reyes, conducted by HMRC in the 1970s. Her voice is used throughout this thesis along with an array of primary and secondary sources from the collection to present the little known history of this family and its role in Houston’s Hispanic history.



Mexican, Mexican Americans, Mexican business, Houston, Texas, Middle class, Sixth Ward, Mexican food, Club Femenino Chapultepec, Club Mexico Bello, La Consentida Café, La Nacional Tortilla Factory, Mexican Products and Curio Shop, Woodmen of the World, Gómez, Melesio, Reyes, Estella