Was there a Perezville before San Diego? The historical record and common sense says no

Before beginning a discussion on the history of San Diego and the creation of Duval County, I would like to explain the danger of relying on sources that do not provide back up for their historical reporting.

In historical research, the best sources are primary records. These include government records of all kinds, such as land records, court records, tax records, birth and death records, census records, military records, etc. It also includes church records and others.

Nowhere in those records have I found any mention of a Perezville, often cited as the initial name of San Diego.  Many primary sources, on the other hand, report about the ranch and town of San Diego.

After primary sources, historical researchers rely on secondary records. These include newspapers of the period being researched, history books written using primary records, scholarly journals, etc. Secondary records can be problematic if the writer or compiler is not properly trained in historical research. For example, a history book written by Jerry Thompson, a well-recognized historian, is much more reliable than a history book written by Agnes Grimm, a local high school teacher.

I have never come across the name Perezville in any reputable secondary source, but San Diego is mentioned often.

I too gave in to the Perezville notion many years ago, as a young inexperienced researcher. (See http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txduval/duvalhist_cardenas.html) It is in fact from Grimm’s “Llanos Mesteños” that I first found a reference to Perezville. But, Grimm’s book–while very interesting and a good source for leads–is notoriously lacking in primary sources. There are problems with her research. Yet, I am not the only one who has relied on Grimm. So did the Texas State Historical Society article on San Diego. (See http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hfs02) It is no doubt where Carolina Castillo Grimm of “Turn of the Century Photographs of San Diego, Texas” got the information as well. (See http://books.google.com/books?id=VBmRcUZIWa4C&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5&dq=nineteenth+century+pictures+of+san+diego+carolina&source=bl&ots=yelLGC0H9o&sig=irWUQ1MUNbDQOwA98OGHea6pWn4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AX6VUcuLIO_iyAGk6oHgCg&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=grimm&f=false)

“Llanos Mesteños” contains other errors. Poorly sourced secondary sources have this problem. Once you find an error, you can’t trust the rest of their work; you can still use it, but you have to verify anything you pick up from it. All of us, myself, Castillo Grimm and the Texas State Historical Society online make the same mistakes because we are parroting “Llanos Mesteños.”

Not only about Perezville but also about the first post office, which we all say, was founded in 1852. But primary sources say different. The post office in 1860, according to the census, was in Banquete. Postal records indicate that the first post office opened in San Diego in 1867.

Also in references to the Casa Blanca are usually mistaken. Most, if not all, of the historical references to Casa Blanca had nothing to do with the Casa Blanca we are familiar with in San Diego. They refer to the Casa Blanca, which was an important outpost in the Trans Nueces frontier located near present day Orange Grove on the Nueces River. In fact, it was a port of entry into Mexico from the Republic of Texas. (See marker history here http://www.9key.com/markers/marker_detail.asp?atlas_number=5249001972) Some references are to Erasmo Seguin’s house, which was also called Casa Blanca.

So the idea of a Perezville has no basis in the historic record.

Let me give you a second reason for doubting the existence of Perezville. If it existed it would have been founded prior to 1852, possibly the 1830-1840s. At that time the area was part of Mexico. There were no Anglos (for lack of a better term) in the area. No self-respecting Mexican would have used the English extension “ville” in a town name.

All “villes” in the surrounding area are based on Anglo roots, Beeville, Raymondville, Hebbronville, and Kingsville. The only two towns that I am aware of with Spanish names and the extension “ville” are Floresville and Castroville. Floresville was named in 1867 after the Mexican settlers but by then Anglos owned the town. Castroville was actually named for a Frenchman who brought Europeans to settle the area.

This is why I don’t think Perezville ever existed. San Diego, on the other hand is often mentioned in the primary and secondary sources. We must always pay close attention to sources because we can easily make mistakes, and often repeat mistakes of others, if we are not careful.