San Diego hit by small pox epidemic, court orders action to curb disease

Small pox was raging in San Diego in August 1879 and the Duval County Commissioners Court appointed a Sanitary Commission to address the problem. Named to the commission were County Judge James O. Luby, Sheriff E. A. Glover and County Physician T. S. Kupfer. The Commissioners Court granted the group authority to bring the epidemic under control.

The commission would place a flag at a home where the disease was present. Once the small pox was over at a home, the commission would order the home disinfected. Property owners were required to keep their premises in clean condition and if they refused, the commission was to report the violators to the county attorney for prosecution under state law.

If the Sanitary Commission believed it necessary, they had the authority to establish a hospital and to take all steps necessary to prevent spread of the disease such as hiring any help they needed including guards and nurses. Finally, the commission could isolate an infected house from the rest of town. The court ordered that the commission post a copy of the resolution in town to give the public notice.

Commissioners, on a split vote, appointed Don Alejo Perez to replace H. Maas as Justice of the Peace for Precinct # 2 after accepting Maas’s resignation. Commissioners P. W. Tokias and E. N. Gray voted for Perez and Commissioner Charles R. Gravis voted against his appointment. Perez had been serving as constable and resigned the post.

Commissioners Court received reports from boards of viewers they had appointed in May to look at county roads. The court accepted Road #1 from San Diego to Piedras Pintas as a first class road and ordered that it be laid out. Road # 2 from Piedras Pintas to Rosita was also accepted and ordered laid out as a road of the third class.

Several of the roads ran into problems because board of viewers members were found ineligible because they were not freeholders. A freeholder owned land, as opposed to only leasing land.

Road # 3, from San Diego to Laredo ran into a snag when the court discovered that A. J. Ayers was not a freeholder and was ineligible to serve. The court named Juan Saenz as his replacement and instructed the board of viewers to continue their work and report to the court at the court’s next meeting. The matter of freeholders also presented a problem for Road # 5, from Borjas to Barroneña. In addition to Ayers, L. Bodet, H. W. Caldwell and Manuel B. Vela were not freeholders; the court removed them as viewers, and appointed Charles Hoffman, Mariano Chapa, David Chapa and Cesario de los Santos in their place.

The road from Piedras Pintas to Barroneña met the same fate. In addition to Bodet, Maximiliano Lopez, and Cornelio Serna were not freeholders. The court appointed Charles Roach, William Hubbard and Isidro Benavides to replace the three. The same issue arose on the road from Piedras Pintas to Borjas where the court removed R. B. Glover and Caldwell and replaced them with Juan de los Santos and Juan Saenz.

The board of viewers looking at the road from San Diego to Concepcion did not complete their work and the court asked them to report at the court’s next meeting. The court also granted the board of viewers looking at the Piedras Pintas to Concepcion Road an extension until its next meeting.

In other road related business, the court accepted a petition for a road from San Diego to the northeast corner of the county towards Oakville in Live Oak County. The court appointed Charles K. Gravis, John P. Dix, Robert Corbett, Fabian Fabela and Matias Garcia as a board of viewers to look into the matter and report to the court at its next regular term. The court also accepted a petition for a road from San Diego to the northern county line, towards Tilden in McMullen County. It appointed N. G. Collins, E. N. Gray, Dix, Gravis and A. L. Labbe as board of viewers. The court also received and approved a petition for a road from Piedras Pintas to Guajillo. The court appointed Dix, Melecio Cuellar, Nicolas Ybañez, Manuel Cadena and Antonio Saenz to the board of viewers.

County Surveyor A. W. French asked the court to assign county road workers to lay out lines for new roads. The court agreed and directed road overseers in the various precincts to work with French on the matter.