Thursday, December 18, 2014

Duval Commissioner reported murdered

The Duval County Commissioners Court, meeting in regular session on Nov. 3, 1879, approved a resolution introduced by P. W. Toklas to appoint a committee to draft a resolution for the court to consider on the untimely death of ex county commissioner Rafael Salinas who was found murdered near Concepcion the previous month of October 1879.

Named to the committee were Judge James O. Luby, Commissioner Pct. 1 Charles K. Gravis and County Clerk A. R. Vales. The court later deferred consideration of the resolution until its next regular term. No record appears that the matter was ever brought back before the court.

Salinas was a longtime public servant, first being selected for an office in 1861 when he was elected Justice of the Peace Pct. 9 in Nueces County. He served as the first postmaster at Concepcion when a Post Office opened at that place on February 6, 1873. Salinas was elected the first county commissioner of Pct. 3 in the county’s organizational election held in 1876. He served as commissioner for the Concepcion area until November 1878 when E. N. Gray was elected commissioner for Pct. 3.

The Duval County Commissioners Court met in special session on Oct. 31, 1879 to receive a report from its building committee on the building of the county courthouse. After hearing the report the court approved issuing a warrant for $3,690 to H. Heldenfells in payment for the new courthouse.

The court then authorized Sheriff E. A. Glover to purchase three dozen chairs for the courtroom and one chair for the judge’s chamber. At a regular meeting the following week, the court also authorized the sheriff to purchase a bulletin board to be placed on the courthouse door where public notices would be tacked. Commissioners also approved an order making the commissioners court the final arbiter on what would be proper and necessary furniture and stationary for the various county offices.

Commissioner Toklas asked that his name be removed from the bond for Don Alejo Perez, Justice of the Peace for Pct. 2. The court approved the action and directed Vales to so inform Justice Perez. At the same meeting the court found Perez’s financial report incorrect and ordered that it be returned to him for correcting.

In other resignations, Rufus B. Glover quit as road overseer for Pct. 2 and county physician J. S. Kuepfer also quit his post.

The court ordered all streets and avenues in the town of San Diego designated as public roads and highways of the first class. The designation applied to the map of San Diego as subdivided by R. Hollub in 1875.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

San Diego hit by small pox epidemic, court orders action to curb disease

Small pox was raging in San Diego in August 1879 and the Duval County Commissioners Court appointed a Sanitary Commission to address the problem. Named to the commission were County Judge James O. Luby, Sheriff E. A. Glover and County Physician T. S. Kupfer. The Commissioners Court granted the group authority to bring the epidemic under control.

The commission would place a flag at a home where the disease was present. Once the small pox was over at a home, the commission would order the home disinfected. Property owners were required to keep their premises in clean condition and if they refused, the commission was to report the violators to the county attorney for prosecution under state law.

If the Sanitary Commission believed it necessary, they had the authority to establish a hospital and to take all steps necessary to prevent spread of the disease such as hiring any help they needed including guards and nurses. Finally, the commission could isolate an infected house from the rest of town. The court ordered that the commission post a copy of the resolution in town to give the public notice.

Commissioners, on a split vote, appointed Don Alejo Perez to replace H. Maas as Justice of the Peace for Precinct # 2 after accepting Maas’s resignation. Commissioners P. W. Tokias and E. N. Gray voted for Perez and Commissioner Charles R. Gravis voted against his appointment. Perez had been serving as constable and resigned the post.

Commissioners Court received reports from boards of viewers they had appointed in May to look at county roads. The court accepted Road #1 from San Diego to Piedras Pintas as a first class road and ordered that it be laid out. Road # 2 from Piedras Pintas to Rosita was also accepted and ordered laid out as a road of the third class.

Several of the roads ran into problems because board of viewers members were found ineligible because they were not freeholders. A freeholder owned land, as opposed to only leasing land.

Road # 3, from San Diego to Laredo ran into a snag when the court discovered that A. J. Ayers was not a freeholder and was ineligible to serve. The court named Juan Saenz as his replacement and instructed the board of viewers to continue their work and report to the court at the court’s next meeting. The matter of freeholders also presented a problem for Road # 5, from Borjas to Barroneña. In addition to Ayers, L. Bodet, H. W. Caldwell and Manuel B. Vela were not freeholders; the court removed them as viewers, and appointed Charles Hoffman, Mariano Chapa, David Chapa and Cesario de los Santos in their place.

The road from Piedras Pintas to Barroneña met the same fate. In addition to Bodet, Maximiliano Lopez, and Cornelio Serna were not freeholders. The court appointed Charles Roach, William Hubbard and Isidro Benavides to replace the three. The same issue arose on the road from Piedras Pintas to Borjas where the court removed R. B. Glover and Caldwell and replaced them with Juan de los Santos and Juan Saenz.

The board of viewers looking at the road from San Diego to Concepcion did not complete their work and the court asked them to report at the court’s next meeting. The court also granted the board of viewers looking at the Piedras Pintas to Concepcion Road an extension until its next meeting.

In other road related business, the court accepted a petition for a road from San Diego to the northeast corner of the county towards Oakville in Live Oak County. The court appointed Charles K. Gravis, John P. Dix, Robert Corbett, Fabian Fabela and Matias Garcia as a board of viewers to look into the matter and report to the court at its next regular term. The court also accepted a petition for a road from San Diego to the northern county line, towards Tilden in McMullen County. It appointed N. G. Collins, E. N. Gray, Dix, Gravis and A. L. Labbe as board of viewers. The court also received and approved a petition for a road from Piedras Pintas to Guajillo. The court appointed Dix, Melecio Cuellar, Nicolas Ybañez, Manuel Cadena and Antonio Saenz to the board of viewers.

County Surveyor A. W. French asked the court to assign county road workers to lay out lines for new roads. The court agreed and directed road overseers in the various precincts to work with French on the matter.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Duval County Commissioners approve building courthouse

Courthouse approved by commissioners court on June 25, 1879. It burned down very suspiciously in 1914.
Duval County Commissioners voted on June 25, 1879 to build a courthouse for the recently organized county. Organizational matters continued to occupy county commissioners during their June regular session.

The commissioners, who had been renting from Manuel Ancira since the 1876 organization of the county, appropriated $3,700 for a new courthouse. The court referred the matter to its building committee, composed County Judge James Luby, P. A. Mattasson and William Hubbard. H. Heldenfels had developed plans and specifications and the building committee was authorized to enter into a contract with Heldenfels after reviewing the plans.

The matter of county roads was also on the court’s agenda. Commissioners appointed road juries to review the various roads in the county. On the jury for the San Diego to Concepcion road were John Dix, F. C. Gravis, Francisco Bazan, Rafael Salinas and E. N. Gray. Looking over the San Diego to Piedras Pintas road were William Hubbard, Isidro Benavides, Rufus Glover, H. Maas and E. H. Caldwell. The court charged Dix, Benavides, Hubbard, Santos Balderas and A. J. Ayers with the San Diego to Laredo road inquiry.

The Piedras Pintas to Borjas road jury included Hubbard, Benavides, Glover, Maas and Caldwell. The Piedras Pintas to Concepcion road jury included Rafael Saenz, Florencio Salinas, Maximo Perez, Jesus Maria Palacios and Salinas. Vicente Vera, Patricio Salinas, Cornelio Serna, L. Bodet and Maximiliano Lopez oversaw another road from Peidras Pintas to Barroneña. The road jury for the Piedras Pintas to La Rosita road included Jose Maria Vela, Juan Saenz, F. R. Knight, Jose Vaello and George Copp.

Finally, the jury for the road from Borjas to Los Angeles, by way of Barroneña, consisted of Manuel B. Vela, Charles Roach, Bodet, Ayers and Caldwell.

In another road related matter, the commissioners appointed Theodore Lamberton as Road Overseer for Precinct 1. He replaced E. C. Perez who had turned down the appointment.

The court also approved a number of warrants related to the county’s continued organization process. They agreed to pay County Surveyor A. W. French $39.75 for copies of land records he obtained from the Land Office. Commissioners also okayed payment of $33.19 to Nueces County for tax assessing services for the years 1873-74 and $44.25 for feeding and guarding prisoners. Left pending were charges from Nueces County for copies of court records and transcripts.

The court also paid former sheriff John Humphries for costs he incurred in feeding prisoners Juan Gonzales, Martin Trejo, Claudio Huitron, Desiderio Arredondo and Jose Casana. They also paid Tiburcio de los Santos $4 for digging a grave.

In personnel matters, the commissioners court accepted the bond for newly appointed Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace F. R. Knight. Jose Vaello provided the $500 bond. The court also accepted the bond for Precinct 1 Constable Peter Skass. They also authorized the county surveyor to assist the tax assessor to determine land ownerships and boundaries.

In a special session held prior to the court’s regular meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution vouching for the moral character of Judge Luby and P. H. O’Hare, who were petitioning for permission to practice law before the district court.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Duval Commissioners Court meeting runs three days, in 1879

Duval County Commissioners declined a petition from Precinct 2 citizens to reinstate their county commissioner. Commissioner P. W. Toklas hastily tendered his resignation on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1879.

Toklas was upset by the court’s approval of warrants submitted by Sheriff E. A. Glover and quit on the spot. After some argument, the court accepted his resignation. Later that day, as the court resumed its meeting that started on Feb. 10, a group of Toklas constituents came before the court to ask that they reconsider the matter. Another argument ensued and the court voted 2-1 not to reinstate Toklas. Precinct 1 Commissioner C. K Gravis and Precinct 3 Commissioner E. N. Gray voted to keep Toklas out and Precinct 4 Commissioner E. H. Caldwell sided with Toklas. 

The court had fined Toklas and County Judge James Luby $1 earlier in the meeting for being late. It was Luby’s second fine for tardiness.

Reporters covering commissioners court meetings in yesteryear had to be have the endurance of a long distance runner. The meeting opened on the morning of Feb. 10 and after a number of recesses concluded on the evening of Feb. 12, running three solid days.

In other business, the commissioners court addressed a number of public health issues. After approving a $101 payment to Dr. T. S. Kupfer for performing surgery on a pauper, the court asked Dr. Kupfer if he would be willing to serve as the county’s physician. The doctor and court reached an agreement that he would perform as county doctor for an annual fee of $250, payable quarterly. The court would also pay him 25 cents per mile for cases outside of San Diego. The court authorized the Judge and commissioners to request the doctor’s services.

Acting on a citizens’ petition, the Commissioners Court declared the jacals on the waterfront across from the P. Gueydan Store a nuisance. The court also approved warrants for W. J. Smith for a coffin and to F. de los Santos for digging graves.

Commissioners Court authorized the jail committee to contract for a fence around the jail. The cost was limited to $1 per running foot. The court added Sheriff Glover to the jail committee.

The court also named election precincts and presiding officers. Commissioner Precinct 1 had two voting precincts with Precinct 1 located at the courthouse with T. W. Gillette serving as judge. The commissioners selected the store of Jose Vaello in La Rosita as the voting site for Precinct 2, with George Copp as judge. In Commissioner Precinct 2, the schoolhouse at Piedras Pintas was designated the location for Voting Precinct 3, with William Hubberd as presiding judge. The court named Rafael Salinas as judge for Voting Precinct 4 in Commissioner Precincts 3. Voting would take place at the Concepcion schoolhouse. Finally, the court located Voting Precinct 5 in Commissioner Precinct 4 at Barrroneña at the office of Justice of the Peace A. P. Ayers.