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The Peña's from Texas

Updated June 23, 2007

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The family Peña and surname Peña, La Peña, and de la Peña are all related. Many stories have started that a Peña was one of the three Wise Men who visited Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, and that from there he went to Spain. Where he founded his family. Of course, the story cannot be proven. Because so many locations throughout Spain have Peña as part the place name, there probably is no common origin to the name.
Otto de la Peña was a knight who helped Gracia Jimenez, First King of Navarra, in about 750. Gracia de la Peña was one of the 15 men ordered killed by king Ramiro II in 1136. Jordan de la Peña was in Navarra in 1254. Gelacian de la Peña came from Toulouse, France, to serve King Jaime I of Aragon in the conquest of Valencia.
Family histories have been identified for the Peña’s in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Texas. In the United States, Peña is the 37th most popular surname among modern Hispanic families.
In the Americas, families of Peña have been identified throughout the region. Francisco de la Peña, from Bouzas in Galicia, arrived in Buenos Aires in 1774. He married Juana Venturade Lezica in 1798. Their descendants are found throughout the country. His son, Francisco Antonio de la Peña Lezica, went to Valparaiso, Chili, in 1834, also leaving many decadents. In Ecuador, Francisco De La Peña, a native of Palencia, Spain, established an illustrious family in Guayaquil in the 1700s.
In colonial California, Juan Felipe Peña was an immigrant from New Mexico in 1840, together with his wife and six children. They settled in Solano County in 1841, and they were grantees of the Putah ranch in 1843. He died in 1863 al Laguna Valley, at age 71. Luis Peña was a soldier from Signaling, Mexico. HE was married to Maria Paula Segunda Cortez of Casala, Sinaloa. They were married in 1785. They were at the Simi ranch in 1802. Manuel Peña was a soldier in San Francisco from 1828 to 1834. In 1841, he was in San Jose with his wife, Guadalupe Mesa, and children Dolores, Carmen, Encarnacion, Hilaria, Rosario and Paulino.
In San Antonio, Texas, Manuela de la Peña, born in 1745 in Saltillo, Coahila, Mexico, was married to Juan Muanel Ruiz. She left a will in 1934. They were the parents of six children, three girls and three boys, who descendants have been fairly well identified.

Another version:

The surname Peña is an ancient Castillian name originating from an ancient family from the Valle de Mena, in the province of Burgos. It is derived from the Iberian word "Peña," "roca," "Peñasco" meaning crag, rock, or rocky outcrop. It proved nobility in the Orders of Santiago (1626, 1629, 1651, 1657), Calatrava (1665, 1687, 1688, 1700, 1785), Alcantara (1790 and 1838); numerous times in the Royal Chancery of Valladolid, and in the Royal Council of Oviedo (1788 and 1795) and in the Royal Company of the Marine Guard in 1767.
One of the first with the surname Peña to arrive in the Americas was Rodrigo de la Peña, one of the first conquerors from Miranda, Spain. He arrived in the Indies in 1516, and joined Cortes three years later. After the capture of Tenochtitlan, he was assigned the encomienda of Ucila.
Juan de la Peña, settler from Granada arrived in Mexico City in 1524 to assume the position of assistant factor of the treasury and later mayor of the mines at Taxco, where he was also engaged in mining. He was a vecino of Mexico City and, after he brought his wife and two children from Spain in 1542, had his casa poblada, arms and horses there.
Other mentions of Peña include Captain Juan Esteban de la Peña, originally from Saltillo. Another Peña family that appears in the early records in Nuevo Leon is Francisco Peña and Josefa Cantu.
Coat of Arms: The Peña coat of arms is represented by a blue shield on which a hand is gripping a silver stake. Overall, the coat of arms appears like a big hand in the sky yielding a silver colored club ready to strike.

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