Mexico’s Secretary of War visits San Diego

Life in San Diego in 1883 was anything but boring. Many activities and people always made things interesting.

In April 1883, Mexican Secretary of War Gen. Francisco Naranjo and his family came to San Diego in a special train to visit relatives and stayed at the home Encarnacion Perez, a family friend. The general then traveled with Perez and Don Calixto Tovar by special train to Corpus Christi and were guests at the St. James Hotel.

If the general spent any time in San Diego, an amateur thespian troupe could have entertained him. The thespians converted the county courthouse into a theatre where they performed for benefit of the church. The cast performed at the courthouse the play “The Poor of México.” Señor Salvador de la Vega and his daughter starred in the production. They also gave an encore performance to a smaller crowd.

The courthouse had also undergone some improvements with the addition of a “handsome railing” in the courtroom, the addition of “fine desks and swivel chairs” and reclining seats stamped with Duval County.

These are not the bicyclists in San Diego, just what they may have
looked like. This picture is from History in Photos:
UC Berkeley Bicycle meet,
Thanksgiving, 1883.
The general could also have attended ball at Borden Hall where “young and gay tripped…merrily until wee hours” of the morning. On the other hand, he could have practiced glass ball shooting at the newly reorganized Gun Club of San Diego or gone bicycle riding with the Bicycle Club of San. The bicyclists were going to race against trotting horses.

Rains had put everyone in a good mood. Farmers had put in a big crop and expected an abundant harvest and the grass was luxuriant.

Sheep shearing had started, awakening activity in town. Sheep buying had brightened up with early clips beginning to come in and no fixed price had yet been set on wool. By the end of the shearing season a few weeks later, however, sheep men were complaining bitterly about very low prices.

San Diego was full of stock buyers in the market for cattle and horses. There was no lack of stock and it had been commanding full prices. The general could have become aware of some very important land transactions and other great changes that were about to take place but were not yet complete.

In May, the annual fiestas were going on in San Diego. Visitors from Corpus Christi put on several cockfights.

Of course not was honky-dory. A number of shootings had stirred up the population as well; stat tuned for the rest of the story.