Life on the frontier was anything but boring

History too often concerns itself with great people and great events. The comings and goings of the common men doing ordinary things do not often find a way into the history books. This week we will do just that, look at what common folk in Duval County experienced in the fall of 1886, as reported by area newspapers.

E. G. Perez of San Diego reported heavy rain fell in the area in early September. The water rose four feet and damaged a bridge of the Texas Mexican Railroad in Benavides, which the railroad promptly repaired. The heavy rain showers continued through the beginning of October. The Rio Grande City mail and passengers had to cross over area creeks in boats. The first norther arrived in early October.

Wool was starting to come in to San Diego warehouses. Juan Puig of San Diego reported that wool that sold at 11-13¢ the previous spring was bringing 18-20¢ and smiles to local sheep men. Corpus Christi wool buyer D. Hirsch reported that most of Duval County’s fall wool clip had been sold; fatter fleeces paid an average of 20¢ a pound. V. Veray & Co. of Benavides was buying wool in Peña and Realitos. Harris, Murphy & Co. of Laredo, Mr. Hebbron and D. and L. P. Peña bought most of the wool in Peña and Los Angeles Station for 11 ½ to 12¢ “American money.” Apparently, as late as 1886, both American and Mexican currencies were in use, and a distinction had to be made.

Over in Peña, Antonio Vizcoyo shipped 50 mules to San Antonio; F. H. Ernest and Co. of El Sordo sold out to H. W. Stephenson; and D. and L. P. Peña sold 50 mares at $15 each and some mules to Mr. Wills. The Peña brothers were also breaking 100 potrancos to trade later that fall. Ramon Guerra shipped three rail cars with 50 potros from Peña to San Antonio. Dr. J. Grant shipped 25 rail cars with 400 head of cattle and two cars with 28 saddle horses to Gainesville. He paid $13 and $14 “American money,” for the horses, which he considered a very low price. W. H. Jennings was trying to gather 240 yearlings that he had lost the previous month. Alejos Flores shipped 125 mares and potros to San Antonio. A. W. Earnest shipped 49 mares to San Antonio. Earnest Bros. sold 500 yearlings to a man from Pearsall. Ysidro Vezlaya shipped 95 mules, potros and mares to San Antonio.

Peña was full of “prairie schooners” loading livestock for shipping to Rio Grande. A prairie schooner was a covered wagon pulled by horses or oxen used to transport people and freight in the frontier. A. B. Farqueror, meanwhile, sold the stage line to Ed Ray who was going to drive it himself.

W. D. Staples took his crew to Realitos to cut hay to supply the southwest.

E. Vizcaya bought an artesian well-boring machine for $4,000, which he hoped to use to bore until he found flowing water.

Romulo Peña and several other young men gave speeches at the Dies y Seis celebration at Peña. The town band played on the public square that evening. John Hogan, the original stagecoach driver entertained with anecdotes.