In 1889 fiestas ran all the month of August

While Pan de Campo has had a long and successful run, it is no longer at the end of San Diego’s long hot summers. As it turns out, fiestas in San Diego have come and gone for years. In fact, Pan de Campo was a recreation of earlier fiestas. Those early fiestas were not too different from those of today.

In 1889, the Fiesta was scheduled to start in San Diego on August 1 and would run for two weeks, “or as long as they can make it pay.” Three men and boys cut weeds and high grass that was growing at the plaza which looked more like a cow pasture. If nothing else, the fiestas got the plaza cleaned up. 

The workers put up lottery and refreshment booths, and “carcaman or chucklelock” tables, which most likely were tubs to ice down beer and refreshments. Four weeks later, the fiesta was still going strong as the cotton picking was in full swing.

Cotton farming in the area was strong enough to give rise to a second gin and mill in San Diego; it was quite a sight as folks came into San Diego from Benavides. a gentleman named Parkman already operated a gin in San Diego and E. Martinez was building a second gin. It was believed that there was enough work for both steam gins since four times the previous year’s cotton crop was expected. 

H. S. Glover was also starting a gin in Benavides. Cotton picking got underway while the new gin owner waited for the machinery to come in. The first bale was done at the Parkman gin and was shipped to Galveston. The Martinez gin got its first cotton from Candelario Arredondo of Realitos who put five large bags in the train at Realitos.

San Diego not only had two gins but had two newspapers as well. F. de P. Gonzalez published El Eco Liberal which he billed as “Periodico Independente, Orden Y Progreso.” Gonzalez published Eco Liberal every Saturday and charged a quarter for a monthly subscription or $1.25 for six months. Francisco Maynez published El Sordo with the slogan, “Periodoco jocoserio, politico y aclamador e paradas.” Subscription was 12 1/2¢ per month.

In addition to two gins and two newspapers, San Diego also had two bankers, F. Gueydan and C. Tibilier. Indeed, many things seemed to come in pairs in 1889; in August two men were in custody as accessories in the murder of Cesario Cuellar who was killed on July 29 at Antonio Lopez’s ranch near Guajillo. The suspected killer had not yet been caught. Cuellar was remembered as “a young, kind, inoffensive lad always willing to help, would not harm anyone.”

In another part of the county, at Mendieta, another Cuellar family was also mourning a loss. Theodore Molise died on August 27 at his father-in-law Melecio Cuellar’s house. He was 30 and left a young widow and infant daughter. Molise, Judge J. W. Moses’ nephew, came to Duval County 13 years earlier from Sumter, South Carolina. He taught school in Duval and Nueces Counties for a number of years.