Land titles cleared, sheep industry takes hold

In 1868 and 1869, Duval County residents spent much time clearing titles to their lands.

On May 27, 1868, Starr County Judge Samuel Stewart directed County Surveyor Felix Blucher to survey the five leagues of land at Concepcion originally granted to Francisco Cordente, which Juan Manuel Ramirez purchased from Cordente’s widow. On June 18-24, Blucher, with the help of chain crew Joseph Dunn and Edward H. Harney, conducted the survey of the Santa Cruz de la Concepcion.  Four months later, on September 12, 1868, Judge Stewart certified that the owners had paid taxes through 1868 on Santa Cruz de la Concepcion.

El Senor de la Carrera grant was resurveyed in March 1868 and a judgment and decree was issued to Benito Gonzales Garcia on October 31, 1868. Garcia had first filed suit on May 21, 1864 in the 14th District Court in Nueces County presided over by E. B. Carpentier. Garcia sued under “an act to ascertain and adjudicate certain legal claims for land against the state, situated between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers” approved on February 11, 1860 and amended on January 11, 1862 and Ordinance Number 212 of the Convention of the People of Texas passed March 30, 1866. The grant had 15 labores more than what was paid to the State of Tamaulipas. The court ordered Garcia to pay $19.20 to the state for this excess, plus court costs and the district attorney’s fee.

On August 21, 1869 the heirs of Julian and Ventura Flores signed a Power of Attorney to Encarnacion Garcia Perez, authorizing him, among other things, “to lay off and establish a town at the place now called San Diego in said County of Nueces.” Perez was to take control of the land known as San Diego de Arriba and San Diego de Abajo and lay down town lots therein.  Corpus Christi attorney Charles Lovenskiold was to assist Perez in carrying out his mission.

Among the heirs signing the document to Perez were Antonio Garcia Flores, Juan D. Garza, Maria Flores Gonzalez, G. Flores, Santos Flores (signed with his mark), Rafael Garcia Flores, Pablo Perez (also signed with mark), Trinidad Flores de Perez, Jose Maria G. Flores, Eduardo G. Flores, E. Garcia Perez and several others whose names are not clear on the document.

At about this time the sheep industry surged to great importance in the Rio Grande plain. In took quite a boom in Duval County and at one time the county had more than 400,000 sheep and about 300,000 goats.

Raising sheep was profitable in Nueces and Duval counties because land was cheap and because, unlike other sections of the Southwest, there was no friction between the sheep owner and the cattle raiser, often they were the same. One writer reported that many sheep men “purchased land for as little as 12 cents an acre; often the buyer got several thousand acres as ‘pelon’ or bonus.”

As the decade of the 1860s came to a close San Diego had a population of more than 1,000.