The year 1876 would prove notable to the area around San Diego. On April 22, 1876, N. G. Collins, P. C. Gravis, J. H. Moses, and other citizens petitioned the Nueces County Commissioners Court to recognize Duval County, which the Texas Legislature created in 1858. Duval County remained attached to Nueces County since its creation. Now, citizens were ready for their own government.
Nueces County commissioners denied the request because they were not sure if San Diego was in Duval County or Nueces County. Most of the signatures on the petition came from San Diego. Moreover, a law officer did not verify the petition.
Collins, Luby, and others again petitioned through Gravis who was Nueces County commissioner from the San Diego area. Once again, Nueces County tabled the request until they could review the boundaries between the two counties.
On September 22, the group presented a third petition to the Nueces County Commissioners Court and once again, the court tabled action to allow the county attorney more time to review and analyze the situation. The court finally approved the request and the held an election November 7, 1876 to organize Duval County.
Citizens elected James O. Luby Duval County’s first County Judge. Other officials included Andrew R. Valls, County Clerk; R. P. Fly, Sheriff; J. W. Moses, County Attorney; Charles Hoffman; County Treasurer; Theo Lamberton, Hides Inspector; and John O. Dix, Surveyor.
Precinct 1 officials included Frank R. Gravis, Commissioner; John Humphries, Justice of the Peace; and Apolonio Vela, Constable. P. W. Toklas won the seat for Precinct 2 Commissioner; Modesto Garza would serve as Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace; and no one ran for Constable in Precinct 2. Precinct 3 officials were Commissioner Rafael Salinas; P. Vining, Justice of the Peace; and Peter Skaes, Constable. E. H. Caldwell won the seat as Precinct 4 Commissioner; Charles Roach took the Justice of the Peace election; and voters picked Alyas (Alejos?) Perez as Precinct 4 Constable.
The Duval County Commissioners Court met for the first time on December 4, 1876 at the store of James O. Luby in San Diego. Luby, Gravis, and Salinas were present and represented a quorum. They presented their election certificates to Nueces County Judge Joseph Fitzimmons. The first order of business was to accept the bonds for Dix for $10,000, which N. G. Collins, Jose Maria G. Treviño and E. G. Garza signed.
Luby administered the oath to Valls who took his seat with the court.
The court continued its meeting the following day on December 5, 1876 with the same officials present. Commissioner Caldwell was also present at this meeting. The court continued accepting bonds for officials.
The court approved an order requesting that Nueces County hand over all records pertaining to Duval County. The court also approved an order to notify the Secretary of State of the county’s organization and ask for copies of the laws applicable to each office.
Commissioners set the court dates for justices of the peace to run on the first, second, third, and fourth Mondays of each week for each precinct, respectively. Finally, the court ordered a seal for the county and authorized Valls to order books, stationary, etc.
And so it was that Duval County was off and running.