Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), for whom the county of Hidalgo is named, was born near Guanajuato, Mexico, while the country was still under Spanish rule. After being ordained a priest in 1779, he served churches in Colima, San Felipe, and Dolores, where he emerged as a champion of human rights who feared the colonial system would never allow independence and justice for all citizens. A firm believer in economic independence from the mother country, Hidalgo worked toward that goal by teaching farming methods and industrial techniques to Indians and others in his parish.
In 1810 Padre Hidalgo, along with military leader Ignacio de Allende, conspired to overthrow the Royalist government. Warned that officials suspected their plot, Hidlago gathered sympathizers in Dolores. Following early mass on the morning of September 16, 1810, Hidalgo made his famous "Grito De Delores," a call to arms which in effect began the revolt that led to Mexican independence from Spain in 1821. During a battle on the bridge of Calderon, Padre Hidalgo was captured and later was unfrocked and shot.
Considered "The Father of Mexican Independence," Padre Hidalgo continues to be honored for his leadership throughout Mexico and the Southwest. (1983)