Large number of families turnout for dedication of historic Santo Nino Cemetery in Duval County

Orlando Martinez reads marker for Santo Nino Cemetery.
Despite a downpour the night before and threatening skies, a large crowd turned out to commemorate the unveiling of a Historic Texas Cemetery marker at the Santo Nino Cemetery in Duval County on April 18. The day was dedicated to the memory of Jose Noe Martinez for his “commitment and care” of the cemetery.

The Texas State Historical Commission granted the historic designation to the cemetery on March 21, 2012 and Martinez passed away three days later. His son Orlando Martinez of San Diego picked up the torch and guided the project through its unveiling. Also on the Santo Nino Cemetery Association are Gloria Guajardo of Laredo, Sara Flores of Corpus Christi, Shelley Bryant of McAllen and Angel Noe Gonzalez from Dallas.

The Santo Nino Cemetery is located on El Senor de La Carrera land grant. The state of Tamaulipas granted El Senor de la Carrera to Dionisio Elizondo on October 15, 1835. It consisted of two leagues, six labores and 891,000 square varas. It was located about 55 miles southwest of Corpus Christi on the Laredo road which traversed the grant at the very northern tip. Also on the northeast corner of the grant was the Laguna Traviesada. The grant was surveyed on September 1, 2, and 4, 1854 by Felix Blucher. Chain carriers were Refugio Salas, Nieves Garcia, Rafael L. Salinas and Albino Canales. It is recorded in Book E, Pages 127-129 in Nueces County.

El Senor de la Carrera was resurveyed on March 12-14, and 16, 1868 and a judgment and decree was issued to Benito Gonzales Garcia on October 31, 1868. Suit was filed on May 21, 1864 in the 14th District Court in Nueces County presided over by E. B. Carpentier. The suit was brought under an act to ascertain and adjudicate certain legal claims for land against the state, situated between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers approved on February 11, 1860 and amended on January 11, 1862 and Ordinance Number 212 of the convention of the People of Texas passed March 30, 1866. (GLO File 542)

The family of Vicente Gonzalez Elizondo and Benigna Saenz Bravo donated the northern part of the cemetery. Jose Maria Martinez Gonzalez donated the southern part of the cemetery. The cemetery is located off FM1329 on County Road 210.

Luis Noe Martinez served as master of ceremonies for the dedication. Other participants included Lydia Canales, chairwoman of the Duval County Historical Commission; Angel Noe Gonzalez presented the application history; County Judge Ricardo Carrillo who read and presented a proclamation for the occasion; Father Eddie Garcia who blessed the marker; and the San Diego VFW 8931 color guard who presented the colors.

While the cemetery has no doubt existed for much longer, the earliest “readable” tombstone is that of Eleuterio Saenz Martinez dated June 19, 1908. More than 120 burials are located at the cemetery which is surrounded by a chain link fence and is well maintained. Orlando Martinez maintains the records of those buried at Santo Nino. Names and photographs of some 50 tombstones can also be found on the Web site FindAGrave.com.