Duval County liked to celebrate often and late into the night, fiestas and dance were common


Special celebrations in Duval County were many and held often in the nineteenth century. They were also quite different from today’s fiestas. In 1887, the July 4 celebration included the San Diego Gun Club putting on a remarkable display of American flags on the fiesta grounds. Tent stands also dotted the ground selling everything from lemonade and to cold while a band struck up a musical fare. The affair more than made up for the community’s failure to celebrate San Jacinto Day on April 21.

The large crowd enjoyed a large display of both American and Texas flags. Ferdinand Tibilier raised the Irish flag and the Mexican flag was also flown. The Corpus Christi reporter claimed there were “no Americans … more enthusiastic than were the Mexicans in celebrating the day”.

Old Gun Club members taking part in the celebration included Charles Hoffman, M. C. Spann, Tibilier, George Bodet, and Frank Gravis. New members taking part were Avelino Garcia Tovar, Eusebio Martinez, and Antonio Rosales. Also enjoying the festivities were W. B. Croft and John Buckley. The Gun Club marched onto the fiesta grounds in procession accompanied by musicians and followed by a large crowd. Because the Club’s president, J. O. Luby, was busy attending to his law business, the Gun Club members marched to his office to serenade him. At least that was Luby’s excuse; others theorized he absented himself from the celebration because he was of English descent and the orators were making some nasty comments about the British.

Benavides did not put on quite a show for the Fourth; the only celebration reported was the firing of 13 rifles.

In Realitos a couple of weeks before, on June 26, the Spanish-speaking community had celebrated feast day of San Juan with horse races, cockfights, and other entertainment. Apparently, the day did not generate the same interest in San Diego, where no celebrations were observed. Perhaps they were too busy preparing to the Fourth of July.

The lively entertainment continued in July with no less than six dances being held in San Diego on Saturday, July 23. All six dances were well attended with both music and dance partners in great demand.

In September, the young men celebrated Dies y Seis de Septiembre with another dance. The following month, Kate Luby, with the help of women in the town, organized a grand musical concert to raise funds for school for girls.

The year’s celebrating was capped in December when the San Diego Gun Club held a shooting tournament and another private dance. The shooting tournament was held on the Monday after Christmas. The Gun Club asked merchants to close for the day. The private “hop” on Saturday night, meanwhile, resulted in dancing through the night until daylight; many went home with girls in the morning. The theatre was also well attended even though the shows did not start until midnight.