Opening of twentieth century saw nearly 10,000 residents living in Duval County

At the start of the twentieth century, Duval County had a population of 8,483. The county seat of San Diego had a population of 2,000. The census is probably quite accurate since the census supervisor for 1900 was longtime resident and political leader James O. Luby who was intimately familiar with the county and its people. Luby and his wife had four children, John M., James, Mrs. Adelaide Whitman, and Mrs. Kate L. Shaeffer. The Lubys owned homes in San Diego and San Antonio.

The century opened with an acting troupe, the Pastime Club, unveiling the comedy Above the Clouds in San Diego. The talented group of A. D. Smith, W. W. McCampbell, D. C. Wells, Bernard Adams, Fred Gunter, Carrie and Dot Morgan and Ethel Sutherland took the show on the road and performed before a crowded house in Laredo. The club elected officers with McCampbell as president; Josie Lewis, vice-president; Hayes Dix, secretary; W. M. van Norte, treasurer; Mrs. F. V. D. Sutherland, musical director; Smith, business manager; and Will L. Long of Laredo, honorary member.

During the first week of January, good rains were reported everywhere in Duval County. The Gueydan-Parkman Gin processed 75 bales of cotton in three days. In Benavides, farmers were basking with the rains after planting cotton, corn, and cane crops. Archie Parr planted 400 acres of cattle feed for his cattle and had plans to fatten and ship cattle to market directly from his ranch. S. R. Peters also planted corn and cane for feeding purposes and John J. Dix planned to plant corn and cotton.

Farmers in Piedras Pintas planted two hundred acres of corn and another 200 acres of cotton. They also planted 10 acres with cane. Frank Barton, Jose Vaello, and James Muller each planted 100 acres of mostly cotton. There were many others farming in Duval County.

The first inklings of oil at Piedras Pintas also occurred in the first month of 1900, when S. D. Hannah from Houston, L. D. O’Hara from Illinois, McCampbell, and A. Becher of San Diego visited the sulphur springs in the area.

On a sad note, Andrew R. Valls, interpreter for the Duval County courts, slipped and fell from the top of the stairs at the Gonzales hotel. He died of lung complications from the fall. Vale, who had served as county clerk for a number of years was also a writer and Spanish scholar. A large family survived the 55-year-old Vale.

The trial of A. Lieberman, a barber charged with arson, ended in a hung jury, as did the trial of a man named Martinez on charges of mule theft. Judge McLane left the juries deliberating while he went to Laredo. One hung jury lasted 11 days and the other eight days. The judge transferred the cases to Laredo, but the community was not pleased with the development.

A jury did convict Jose Ybarra for theft and gave him two years in the penitentiary. The court continued the rape trial of Richard Gray until its next term. The Duval County Grand jury, meanwhile, returned nine indictments including one for rape; one for murder; one for horse theft; another for cattle theft; three for embezzlement; one for arson; and an aggravated assault.