1886 closes with business booming in county

On Nov. 19, 1886, Company C of the Texas Frontier Ranger Battalion, under the command of Capt. Schmitt, moved from Laredo to Duval County and made camp six miles west of Peña Station because of the availability of grass and water. Company C consisted of an officer, 10 enlisted men, and a teamster. They had, among other things, six mules, a wagon, 600 Winchester cartridges, 700 pistol cartridges, a pair of shackles, a B.C. shotgun, and five wall tents.

Several horse buyers arrived at Peña but did no trading. New citizens at Realitos included R. R. Savage, Edward Corkill, John Corkill, and O. S. Watson, who killed “another biggest buck” he ever saw. Road master Curtin was planting willow trees around section houses. W. W. Waugh & Co. was cutting and baling hay.

Benavides, meanwhile, was experiencing a small building boom. Postmaster Glover was building a residence on the north side of railroad track. Agent Valverde was also building a home close to railroad eating-house. Several smaller houses were also going up. The rumor in Business was that things were going so well, residents expected the county seat to relocate there.

In San Diego, rumors were that railroad officials were considering building a line from Aransas Pass to San Diego. Residents were already seeing considerable freight headed for Peña come in over the Aransas Pass Railroad on the Texas-Mexican Railroad.

While a November frost killed several crops, including the green corn, peas, and beans, the sheep stocks were in good condition. Grass and water was plentiful and livestock men expected them to withstand a hard winter. Cattlemen had fat stock, but the market was flat and they could not sell at a profit. The Parkman and Glover grist meal received its first carload of corn, and produced its first batch of fresh corn meal. W. S. McNaughton bought a large stock of goods in Corpus Christi and opened a store at the old Moros location. This was the second new store to open in San Diego in a week, business was booming.

On the social scene, young men in San Diego were reorganizing the skating club and were planning to have a ball around Christmas. A grand tournament ball was also planned at the Garfield House in San Diego for New Year’s Eve.