New York native Samuel Matthias Jarvis (1822-1893) received an engineering degree from Columbia University and joined General Zachary Taylor's army when the United States declared war against Mexico. After the war Jarvis worked in Vallecillo, Nuevo Leon, where he married Inocencia Flores. Their family settled in Laredo following the Civil War. Jarvis held several public offices in both Laredo and Webb County including county surveyor. He was responsible for surveying streets and parks in the city, and produced a map of Laredo that was officially adopted by the City Council in 1869.
He expanded the traditional Spanish town plan laid out in 1767 by Juan Fernando de Palacios. Jarvis served as mayor of Laredo from 1868-72. He donated land for this plaza and it was referred to as Jarvis Plaza as early as 1881. The plaza was the center of a second business district and the Post Office/Customs house, and nearby hotels were constructed in the early 1900s. Jarvis was instrumental in the development of Laredo and Webb County, spurred by the arrival of the railroads in the 1880s. The plaza continues to serve the citizens of Laredo as it has for more than a century.