Duval County hit by small pox epidemic in 1891

The dreaded small pox returned to Duval County in 1891, after it had survived an earlier epidemic in 1879. In San Diego, 10 cases were reported but no deaths and the spread of the disease seemed to be slowing. All small pox patients were being taken to the hospital that had been made being ready for the epidemic. The news was not that good in other parts of the area.

Residents of Concepcion reported four children died of small pox at the Florencio Benavides ranch within two miles of Concepcion. Another three deaths were reported at Palito Blanco, 15 miles southeast of San Diego in Nueces County.

Small pox victim.
County Judge J. W. Moses received a letter from the state health officer authorizing Dr. B. Valls to take whatever measures needed to stop disease. The county appointed a small pox force to deal with the epidemic.

One member of the small pox force, however, had to leave town unexpectedly after learning two of his brothers had been killed. Charles Adami went in pursuit of the suspected murderers of his brothers Miles and Walter Adami who were found dead in their ranch 50 miles from San Diego in the unorganized county of Encinal. The two men were shot through the head by someone authorities believed the brothers caught skinning a cow.

In another murder case, Sheriff John Buckley returned from San Antonio with two men named Moreno who were charged with killing T. Weidenmueller.

Death indeed was in the air in Duval County in January 1891. Robert Spence, 28, died at his ranch of consumption and left a widow and three children. Bells at St. Francis de Paula Catholic Church in San Diego announced the death of Mrs. S. G. de Guerra, 34. Mrs. Guerra also succumbed to consumption. She was the wife of merchant Amando Guerra. Over in Benavides, Gracie Linn Valls, wife of A. R. Valls, died leaving a family of seven.

Visitors to the San Diego Cemetery, which were numerous given the many deaths, found it surrounded by a new hedge and a house in a corner for a sexton. The improvements were done at the direction of N. G. Collins.

While many were leaving this life, others were a little luckier and only experienced injuries. Rev. Wright and E.J. Flores were injured when the passenger coach of the outgoing Texas Mexican train turned over. Juan Garcia Pena of Corpus Christi was stabbed, in a supposed robbery attempt. Mr. Miret of Miret and Pena, meanwhile, fell seriously ill with typhoid fever.

A new arrival in town, Dr. Freeborn, M. D., offered some hope to those suffering illness. The homeopathic doctor made his office headquarters at the Gonzales Hotel and expressed the intent to stay in the city. Also new to San Diego was an art gallery scheduled to be opened by H. Hopkins, who was considered a “first class artist”. He reportedly painted a picture of J. O. Luby on a plate. Over at the Martinet Hotel, Mr. Meul was painting a room to for use of commercial travelers.

On the society front, Dario Garcia and Andrea Garcia were married.