Mexican Americans organized own party in 1888

In July 1888, Mexican Americans in San Diego called for a political meeting at the Garfield House to organize for the November elections. Mexican Americans were not happy with the management of Duval County and public affairs in general. The move appeared to have the objective of organizing Mexican Americans into a permanent political organization and to put a full slate of Mexican Americans for every office in Duval County.

Many that were not from Duval County took part at the meeting, including many from Starr County. The Garfield confab elected delegates to a subsequent meeting called for in Concepcion for the purpose of nominating candidates. Anglo citizens stood outside of the Garfield House listening to the speeches intently. The Anglos believed the Mexicans Americans were making a serious error, since they had never banded together to deprive Mexicans Americans from holding office or voting.

Catarino Garza
Race relations were somewhat tense in the region and Anglo residents attributed some of this anxiety to a newspaper started in Corpus Christi by Catarino Garza, who also proposed to start a newspaper in San Diego. The tone of Garza’s newspaper since its inception, wrote a Corpus Christi Caller writer, was to stir up trouble between Americans and Mexicans; the best class was crying out against Garza and his newspaper.

Luis Pueblo, who published a long column in Garza’s newspaper informing people authorities had falsely arrested and fined him, illustrated this tension. Sexto Gutierrez had filed a complaint against Pueblo for allegedly kicking his son over the floor “like a dog” and injured him. The San Diego justice of the peace fined Pueblo and the grand jury was still considering the case.

The Caller correspondent countered that Pueblo was deserving of the treatment he had received and claimed he had not reported the item “out of respect for Mrs. Pueblo”. The correspondent asserted Pueblo “not only disgraced his family but the whole town and should not be allowed to instruct growing youth. If Gutierrez were an American he would have taken law into his own hands and punished who drunk whiskey and pretended to teach school.”

A month later, in August 1888, the Concepcion convention was held to nominate candidates for various county offices. Although Mexican Americans called it, the meeting appeared to be under the control of two or three Anglos. The convention elected Don Julian Palacios chairman and W. L. Hebbron as secretary. Palacios named a business committee consisting of A. J. Ayres, John Buckley, J. Alanis, Juan Cardinete, and Hipolito Cantu. The committee set the number of votes each community would have in carrying out the conventions business. San Diego was entitled to nine votes; Benavides six; Rosita four; Pena two; and Concepcion five.

Although called as a Mexican American convention, the candidates to the higher offices were mostly Anglos, including J. W. Parkman for County Judge, John Buckley for Sheriff, William A. Tinney for County and District Clerk; Avelino Tovar for Assessor, Juan Puig for Treasurer, J. C. Caldwell for Surveyor, Vidal Garcia for Inspector of Hides and Animals, J. W. Moses for County Attorney, R. H. Corbet for Commissioner Pct. 1, Juan Cardinete for Commissioner Pct. 2, Charles Stillman for Commissioner Pct. 3, and W. L. Hebbron for Commissioner Pct. 4.

Political observers noted that this was a strong ticket that had the support of the Mexican American population and “unless present incumbents which I understand are candidates for reelection, spend a good deal of money for manipulating votes, there is a strong probability that the ticket will be elected”, wrote the correspondent to the Corpus Christi Caller.