After Texas joined the United States and Mexico ceded it, along with the area known as Medio México or the trans Nueces, things begin to settle down in the frontier. Gradually, the area began to take form in the mold of other parts of the new country.
On February 1, 1858, the Texas Legislature created 23
counties including Duval County. Many historical references suggest that Duval
County was formed from parts of Nueces, Starr and Live Oak Counties. The law
that created Duval County makes no mention of this point. It merely laid out
the county’s boundary, which did not mention either Live Oak or Nueces
To be sure, the boundaries laid out in the law were somewhat
ill defined. The confines of the new Duval County started at the southwest
corner of the newly created McMullen County and proceeded east for six miles.
From there it proceeded south to the northeast corner of Starr “or” Hidalgo
Counties. Then it followed a northeast line to just south of the southeast
corner of another newly formed LaSalle County and the southwest corner of
McMullen County and then east to point of beginning.
The county was named in honor of Burr H. Duval who fell at
Fannin's Massacre in Goliad. A number of sources suggest that the county was
named for Burr H. Duval, John C. Duval and Thomas H. Duval, but the law
creating the county only names Burr H. Duval.
The law mandated that the county seat would be within 10
miles of the center of county and was also to be named Duval. The statute went
into great detail on how this was to be achieved. A survey was to be made of
the county with a dot drawn at its center and a circle drawn around the dot indicating
a distance of five miles from the center. Three sites were to be selected
within the circle and an election was to be held to determine which would be
the location for the county seat. This, of course, never occurred as San Diego
was chosen as the county seat and as is commonly known it is on the eastern
edge of the county with part of it, at that time, being within Nueces County.
The law creating Duval County also spelled out how it was to
be organized. When 75 “bona fide free white male inhabitants” petitioned the
Chief Justice (County Judge) of the adjoining county or the nearest organized
county, the Chief Justice was to call an election to select county officials. Until
such time as the county was organized it would be attached to nearest judicial
district for purpose of administering the laws of the state and nation.
It was not until April 22, 1876 that N. G. Collins, P. C.
Gravis, J. W. Moses, and other citizens petitioned the Nueces County
Commissioners Court for recognition. Nueces County denied the request because commissioners
were not sure if San Diego, from where most signatures were from, was in Duval
County or Nueces County. It took three more petitions before the Nueces County
Commissioners called for the mandatory election to organize Duval County.