Sheep was king in Duval County

The summer of 1884 was hot, dry, dusty and dull in Duval County. Amateur weather forecasters looked at skies and predicted rain but it did not come. Old timers complained of old injuries and said it was a sign the weather was about to change, but it did not. Sheep and cattlemen remained discouraged over the lack of rain.

The big question in San Diego that summer was how much would wool be worth? While most sheepmen were readying for shearing, William Hubbard had already sheared his herd and had his clippings in the Collins warehouse in San Diego. While some wool was beginning to come in, prices were questionable. The outlook seemed dismal. Trade in wool was fair, trouble was not whether they could sell, it was whether they would get money for their work.

The importance of the sheep trade can best be demonstrated by citing figures reported in the Houston Post that summer. For the year ended July 31, 1884 the Texas Mexican railroad reported shipping , 1,084,051 pounds of wool from San Diego, compared to 1,226,375 from Laredo. It shipped 226,227 pounds of hide and only one car load of horses and cattle.

A stock raiser who bought cattle months earlier from men who had showed him papers that looked in order had to pay for them again when it turned out the livestock had been stolen from a cattlemen in the Brownsville vicinity.

While the talk in town was about the lack of rain and the upcoming shearing, George Copp had other preoccupations. Copp was suffering from a sprained ankle and was alone at his ranch 18 miles from San Diego when he was awakened with a belduque held to his throat. Six men surrouded him. While four of them ramsaked the house and took $50 in silver, jewelry and other valuables worth $140, two others guarded Copp. The bandits left Copp unharmed, but warned him to keep his mouth shut or they would return to kill him. Next morning Sheriff L. L. Wright picked up some suspects, but Copp could not identify them as his assailants.

Politics was never far from the minds of Duval men. James Luby gave a stirring speech at the Republican state convention in Houston in support of R. B. Rentfro for the 7th Congressional District. Luby predicted William H. Crain would not carry a single county west of the Nueces. The 23 delegates represented 17 of 26 counties, including seven white and 16 black delegates.

Luby stopped in San Diego for a visit on his way from Houston to his post as Collector of Customs in Browsnville. Also in town for a visit was Henry Gueydan, a cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy.