Duval County Commissioners fine tax collector

On November 15, 1877, Duval County Commissioners Court fined the tax collector $15 for contempt of court. The action came because the tax collector failed to provide a supplemental roll of taxes as ordered by the court. The tax collector had no excuse for the failure.

While court minutes do not name the tax collector, during the early years of Texas county government the sheriff of the county was the tax collector. In the case of Duval County, it was R. P. Fly.

The sheriff may have been a little miffed at this turn of events for he resigned from office at the same meeting. On the other hand, he may have failed to produce the tax roll because he was planning on resigning.

The commissioners court accepted Fly’s resignation “with regret” and gave him the thanks of the county for “his past good services.” The court tabled action on paying the sheriff’s bills. Two days later, the court settled accounts with the sheriff paying him $223.05 for keep and guard of prisoners, $180.75 for attendance at the courts’ sessions and $54.10 for handcuffs and leg irons.

Political intrigue may well have been in the air at that time, as Justice of the Peace John Humphries also tendered his resignation a few days later, during the same term of the court. The court acted immediately on this resignation, expressed no regrets or well wishes as they had with Fly but instead named Humphries as the new Sheriff and Tax Collector.

Leading citizens lined up to guarantee the three bonds totaling $30,000 Humphries filed for the positions. Among the sureties were N. G. Collins, E. G. Perez, E. G. Garza, Jose M. G. Treviño, Pablo Perez, John J. Dix, Gueydan Brothers, Fly and W. Hubbard.

At the same meeting, commissioners appointed P. A. Matteson as Justice of the Peace, approved his bond backed by Hubbard and Collins and administered him the oath of office.

In other action, the court agreed to extend the rental agreement with Manuel Ancira for the county courthouse building. Plans were underway to secure a new courthouse but Ancira gave the county an additional six months, beginning on January 1, 1878, to use the building for $40 per month, an increase from the $33.33 monthly average during the first year agreement, which was for $400 a year.

Commissioners appointed a three-man committee to begin corresponding with an architect and iron dealers for a new courthouse and jail. Serving on the committee were County Judge James Luby, Collins and Matteson. The commissioners directed the committee to get plans and specifications for a 36 by 40-foot courthouse to cost no more than $4,000. The jail was to be of 2 by 6-foot “spiked boards” or an iron cage. The committee had until the court’s December 17, 1877 meeting to gather the information.

Finally, the court approved paying Dix, who was the county surveyor, $727.13 for his work in setting out the boundary lines for the county. The court also ordered the road overseer for precinct one to begin work on the road to Concepcion, especially on the road’s crossing of the San Diego Creek. Work on roads in other precincts was to proceed upon Dix’s notification.