William Goyens, a free African American, came to Texas as young man and settled permanently in Nacogdoches. He was an astute businessman and amassed a considerable fortune as a blacksmith, wagon manufacturer, and freight hauler.
He was appointed an Indian agent by the Mexican government of Texas to negotiate with the Cherokees and later acted as an interpreter for Sam Houston who was negotiating a treaty with the Comanches during the Texas Revolution.
After the Revolution, William built a mansion west of Nacogdoches and flourished as a mill owner and land speculator. His success is all the more remarkable because the laws of the Texas republic forbade African Americans from owning property.
William Goyens died on June 20, 1856 at the age of 62.
The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico's First Black Indian President
Vicente Guerrero was the foremost surviving military hero of Mexico’s wars of independence, and one of the few great figures who had fought for independence throughout the entire period of 1810 to 1821, when many other military and political leaders changed sides repeatedly. He served with distinction in the first two governments of independent Mexico, and then in 1829 became the second president of the republic. As a son of the fabled tierra caliente, the hot region of the south between the Río Balsas and the Pacific coast, he was descended from the African slaves of colonial Mexico and also from the indigenous people. He was one of the population that in the colonial era were variously called pardos (black) or castas (caste), or simply mulatto. Theodore Vincent’s use of the term “Black Indian” is irregular in terms of conventions of Mexican usage; and it would probably be better if the term does not catch on. Guerrero’s only legitimate child, Dolores, married Manuel Riva Palacio, and they founded a racially mixed family which produced generations of distinguished statesmen and scholars. One of their sons was Vicente Riva Palacio, a major historian in the nineteenth century, who is a secondary focus of this book. In 1849 Guerrero’s home region was separated out from three other states to become the state of Guerrero, the first Mexican state to be named after a person.