A place in time


“There are several localities in south Texas with evidence of habitation attributed to a time prior to 11,000 years ago…there were claims some decades ago for the association of artifacts and mid-Ice Age fossils in the so-called ‘equus beds’ of Duval County…”
Thomas R. Hester

The history of Duval County should logically start with its creation. If that were so then the history of Duval County would start in 1858 when the Texas Legislature carved it out of Nueces, Live Oak, and Starr counties. However, history is not always orderly, nor does it lend itself to dreary logic. History by its very definition is the story of people and one cannot dryly tell the history of a great people; it begs for life and demands a colorful showing of all its ramifications.

Before there were a people, however, there was a place and a time. The time of this place called Duval County goes back 24 to 34 million years to the Oligocene period when the Earth was still undergoing major geologic change. The Earth’s tectonic plates were still shifting and magma and other hot matter was rising from the center of the Earth to form volcanoes. In fact, one or more volcanoes existed in what is now western Duval County adjacent to McMullen County. In a 1937 study on the ground water resources in Duval County, Albert Nelson Sayre found evidence of volcanic ash, boulders, and pebbles. It is this volcanic ash, many believe, which is the source of uranium in Duval County.

The western part of Duval County also has a number of small hills. Some of the more notable hills are the Atravesada and Las Parilla hills. Most of these hills, including Los Picachos north of Freer, are no more than 60 feet high. South of Freer are the Sarnosa Chiquita and Sarnosa Grande hills. A little further southwest is the Cedro hill. Because of their linear arrangement, some geologists believe that these hills are evidence of a geologic fault line, which could indicate a crack in the earth’s crust.

Nueces River once bisected Duval County.
Another interesting geologic feature of Duval County is the possibility that the Nueces River once bisected the county. Some geologists believe that the basin of the Parrilla Creek is actually the original channel of the Nueces River while others argue that the Nueces actually occupied the valley of Las Animas Creek. The Nueces was diverted north by impediments caused by the Torrecillas uplift, the Bordas and Oakville escarpments, and the Reynosa Plateau which made it hard for water to flow easterly. The Bordas escarpment bisects Duval County along a line from the middle of its boundary with McMullen County to the middle of its western boundary with Webb County. To the west of the escarpment in the northwest corner of the county, soil is clayey and covered by thick of chaparral, cactus, and mesquite.

During the Oligocene age, the climate was temperate but glaciers began forming in Antarctica. Early primates, as well as, animals such as horses, pigs, carnivores, rhinoceroses, elephants, and camels began to appear in North America.