The Poca River Postal Authority
Commemorative Issue


Juan Garcia-Ortega de Villahermoso
First Hispanic Settler on the Poca River


The Poca Post announces a new issue honoring Sr. Juan Garcia-Ortega de Villahermoso:  the first Hispanic settler on the the Poca River.

When James Polk was elected to the Presidency of the United States in 1844, Mexico sent Sr. Garcia-Ortega to its U.S. Embassy as the Agricultural Attaché.  Sr. Garcia-Ortega served in this capacity until January of 1846.  In that month, President Polk declared war on Mexico.  All of the staff of the Mexican Embassy returned to their country save for Sr. Garcia-Ortega.  He applied for asylum, and it was granted.

Garcia-Ortega moved to the Poca River in May of 1849 and purchased a bit of bottom land near the town of Grimms Landing-on-the-Poca.  This made him the first Hispanic to own land on the Poca River.  It was his intention to grow chili peppers.  Within a year Garcia-Ortega had established his Ranchero Jalapeño, and in the early fall of 1850 he harvested his first crop of peppers.  However, the palette of the residents of the area did not take to such fiery comestibles, and the plentiful crops went unsold.  He continued in his efforts to raise and sell his pepper crops for almost seventeen unsuccessful years.

In 1867, Sr. Garcia-Ortega finally sold his land and moved to Louisiana where he met Edmund McIlhenny.  McIlhenny had begun to grow the tabasco pepper for a distinctive sauce.  Since Garcia-Ortega had come from the State of Tabasco in Mexico, and had long experience in growing peppers, he was of great assistance to the development of the now famous sauce.  Sr. Garcia-Ortega lived out his years working with the tabasco peppers.

The Poca Post is pleased to honor Sr. Garcia-Ortega with a commemorative issue. The stamp was issued on May 11, 2002 in a plate of 15 stamps with a value of 16 poca units.


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