Some of the earliest mention of San Diego as being more than a ranch came in 1844-1845. A Texas state surveyor named Capt. John J. Dix is reported to have done work in the vicinity of San Diego in 1844 and reported that the “settlement” of San Diego contained some 25 families. Other sources say that in 1845 San Diego was a trading post.
It was about this time that the Republic of Texas was making its decision to enter the United States and things would again change for the landowners and residents of the Nueces strip. In 1845, Lt. W. B. Gray was second in command under H. Clay Davis, of a Republic of Texas ranger company stationed in Corpus Christi Rangers, which no doubt would have made forays into San Diego. Ponciano Villareal was the only Spanish-named ranger included in the company.
Gray’s family members would later move to Duval County and play a significant role in its organization and development.
In addition to the ranger company, Gen. Zachary Taylor of the union army also established a fort in Corpus Christi. It was from there that the United States would launch its opening salvos in the United States-Mexico War of 1845. The talk in Mexico soon spread that Taylor’s men were harassing Mexican traders in the Nueces strip. Bandits on the north side of the Rio Grande were also said to be attacking the traders. The Corpus Christi Gazette tried to alleviate these concerns by sending the message to Mexican merchants that they were welcomed and would be well treated. The Army men said the Gazette, were “good men not brigands.”
Three years later, Mexico was soundly defeated and gave up possession of the land between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. The Nueces strip was once again under a different sovereign. In a period of 25 years it had gone from Spanish, to Mexican, and to United States rule. While the Republic of Texas claimed the area, it never exercised governmental control over it. The Republic of the Rio Grande also laid claims to the area but it too was not able to truly claim sovereignty.
Despite signing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and relinquishing ownership of the area, Mexico was still certifying land grants in the area as late as 1848. On October 10, 1848, José María Villarreal, Constitutional Alcalde of Camargo and its jurisdiction issued from its archives a certified copy of title to Antonio Gonzales for La Huerta. Santiago Domínguez and Cristóbal Morales, Villarreal’s assistants witnessed the document.
A month later, on November 9, 1848, Don Antonio Canales, the General Surveyor for the state of Tamaulipas, authorized the survey of La Huerta. Joaquin Arguelles, Notary Public of Matamoros, notarized the survey records and U. S. Consul to Matamoros Thomas W. Stemons verified Arguelles position and signature. The grant for La Huerta was filed for record in Nueces County in January 1849 and certified copy of La Huerta survey was issued in Corpus Christi the next month.