1860 was important year in development of San Diego and Duval County

 The print depicts the town plaza in San Diego, Texas, 1876. South Texas Museum Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Mary & Jeff Bell Library, Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi.

As Moses indicated in his early history, the San Diego and other creeks were a good supply of water for herds of wild horses and cattle that grazed on their banks. In addition to the water supply for livestock, the creeks were edged by groves of elm, ash, live oak, hackberry, and mesquite trees. Travelers also took advantage of the water and cover provided by these small watering holes.

The Ranchero newspaper in Corpus Christi reported there were “a number of large stock raising establishments called ranchos…all prosperous” with water wells and tanks. The newspaper, in an uncanny prophetic observation, noted that the area was “good sheep raising country” and that “possible that valuable minerals may exist in…Duval County.”

Clear roads crisscrossed the county to a number of trading spots on the Rio Grande, including Eagle Pass, Rio Grande City, Guerrero, Mier, and Laredo. Carretas from the Mexican interior laden with wool and other merchandise also crisscrossed the area to Corpus Christi and back to the Rio Grande.

The first census of Duval County taken in 1860 indicated that a town most definitely existed in San Diego. The census for that year counted 225 people living in San Diego and another 49 in nearby Agua Poquita. It also, noted that the post office was at Banquete.

There were 64 native Texans, all Mexican Americans, and most of them infants. There were 150 Mexico natives and one New Yorker, Edward Gray. He and his wife Rosita had five children.

The wealthiest man in town was man named Perez, his first name is not discernible but looks like “Lopez.” Perez was worth $10,828, including $6,928 in land and $3,900 in personal property, most likely livestock. Trinidad Flores was worth $7,828, divided almost equally between land and livestock. Gray, Antonio Garcia, Juan Saenz, a man name Pena, and Benito Ramirez were among the other stock raisers in San Diego. There were also 14 herdsman, 18 laborers, three shoemakers, a fiddler (Ignacio Baldera), a tailor (Desidorio Sanchez), a carpenter (Francisco Bazan?), 12 servants, and nine shepherds.

The population apparently enticed John Levy, who had a store in Banquete, to open a second store in “Rancho San Diego” and carried “all articles usually found in a Texas store.”

In August, Gray was elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct 9 in Nueces County. The Nueces County Commissioners Court also established voting precincts in San Diego, Rancho de Los Angeles in Encinal County, and at Fort Ewell. “Within this area were some of the largest ranchos and compact settlements of our fellow Mexican citizens,” The Ranchero reported. The new precincts doubled the eligible voters in Nueces County.

This act of the Nueces County Commissioners Court led to the first election ever held in Duval County, and it clearly foretold things to come.

(Note: The blogs for the next month or so will focus on this important election and other events that took place in 1860, one of the most notable years in the county’s history.)

27 Comments on "1860 was important year in development of San Diego and Duval County"

  1. Please write a book soon! Would love to have my hometowns history for my kids and grandkids to read some day

  2. Will do, just give a few more months. Hope you have a lot of kids and grandkids!

  3. How true is this? San Diego should have oodles of Julian and Ventura Flores. I don't see anything like that???????????

  4. I have documentation for all of it. By this time in San Diego's development Julian and Ventura Flores were no longer in the picture. They were there much earlier. Check some of he earlier posts, although there really isn't much written record on these men. Their descendants, Trinidad Flores, Encarnacion Garcia Perez and others were active during this period. I have been researching this for years, but if you have anything on Julian and Ventura Flores I would love to have it if you are willing to share.

  5. Have you found anything on the Puig family or Jose Vaello. I have the 1870 Census and they lived in San Diego. According to the 1870 Census, Jose was an innkeeper in San Diego.

  6. Yes, I've written some articles on the Puigs. They will appear in later post. Be on the lookout.

  7. Would you have anything on Jorge Alanis owner of Las Animas ranch in Freer . It is our understanding that he was an important man .

  8. Yes he was an important figure in the frontier. Will have more on him in later posts.

  9. I am a new follower and am so pleased with the first article I read. I was born and raised in Alice, Jim Wells County, TX, but the San Diego Catholic Church has sacramental records of my ancestors prior to the early 1900s. So, I am certainly interested in all of your postings. Thank you. Cavazos-Hewgley

  10. Thanks. I appreciate your kind words. The ties between Jim Wells and Duval County are very strong.

  11. I love want your doing keep it up my love ones are from Duval County

  12. Great work you are doing about the history of Duval county. Have you found any history about Manuel Garcia and the Candelaria Ranch in Concepcion and the Jose Antonio Gonzales and Cordentes land Grants? I am a greatgrandson of Manuel and our family history indicates that he came to Concepcion from Camargo in the 1860's and purchased approximately 12000 acres of land that some family members still owen. I am always lookink forward to reading your postings. THANKS, Eduardo E Garcia

  13. Look at the photographs that go with the photo of the plaza in San Diego, TX in 1876. One of the photos shows my great great grandmother's general store and the house where she lived with her daughters and a son. Her name was Mary Henry and it is her initial M with the name Henry written on the store. She came to San Diego from Prussia. Her husband, Nathan, left her there, going to New York. She ran her store and raised a family on her own. She is buried in Corpus Christi in the family plot founded by Julius Henry, the first Jewish resident of Corpus Christi and owner of a grocery store there. He was an influential citizen in Corpus Christi. Mary was his sister-in-law. Her daughters were Helene and Jenny, both born in Prussia. She had a son in the U.S. named Louis.


  14. The only Henry that I have found in my research is Paul Henry who was an important merchant n San Diego in the 1880s. Any relation to Mary?

  15. Also, Mary Henry's daughter, Jenny aka Juana, married Don Francisco Gonzales (z), editor of the newspaper, "La Libertad." They had many children together. They had a son, Rafael, known as R.M. Gonzalez. I believe his children included Alicia, Lilia and Oscar, although I could be mistaken. My great -grandmother was Jenny's sister, Helene, married to Francis Bromowicz, and known as Lina. She had daughters Teresa and Sara Bromowicz who went on to be Teresa Montague and Sara Kierr, both of New Orleans, LA. Sara did have a son, Raymond Kierr, born in San Diego, TX and later a very prominent attorney in New Orleans. My father, Samuel Montague was born in New Orleans in 1912. Mary Henry died close to the time of his birth, as I recall. Raymond was born in 1913. Sam and Raymond were only children and the cousins grew up like brothers. My father grew up fluent in English and Spanish. I suspect the photographer with a studio in Laredo, who has photos online of families in San Diego, TX around that time, F. Bromowicz, may have been Lina's husband and my great-grandfather. We don't know what became of him. My father never knew him.
    Lisa Montague

  16. Julius Henry came from a family of 13 children. He was a middle child. He came to the US when he was about 15 years old and made his way to Corpus Christie. Other siblings followed. Paul must have been a brother to Julius. He is listed as a witness to the marriage of Helene Henry and Francis Bromowicz. Mary was first married to Julius' brother Adolph, who died in one of the Prussian wars. He was a surgeon general, according to my father. Mary then married brother Nathan. Her daughters Helene and Jenny were Adolph's children. Louis was Nathan's son. I don't know if Paul was a merchant in San Diego, but Mary was. Julius had a grocery store in Corpus Christie. He also held other government posts while he lived there. So to answer your question, Paul would have been a brother-in-law to Mary. They are all buried in the family plot in Corpus Christie.

  17. Paul Henry was witness to Lina's marriage. Nobody from the Henry family witnessed the marriage of Jenny and Don Francisco Gonzalez. It's as thought they'd eloped.

  18. When Nathan died, a complete inventory of the store was made as per the rules of what must have been probate for the day. The store must have been owned by Nathan, who was long gone. Mary's store was close to the Catholic church and she was good friends with Father Bard. I suspect that friendship saw her through the rest of her life.

  19. If you are interested in where the Henrys are buried to observe family ties, the cemetery is in Corpus Christi.


    Paul and Frederika had a daughter Helena who died in infancy and was the first person to be buried in that cemetery. Since my great grandmother was named Helene (Lina), I have to wonder if this was a family name for perhaps Paul, Nathan and Adolph's mother. We have no information about their family in Prussia other than they came from Posen. I suspect it was still Prussia when Julius came to the U.S. I don't know when Mary came, so she might have left around the time it was becoming Germany.

  20. Other things we know (or think we know) about the Henrys:

    According to family lore, Mary (Marie?) Henry was first married in Prussia to Adolph Schnyderman, who was the father of her daughters Jenny and Helena (Lena). Adolph was a surgeon/physician who was grievously wounded in the Franco-Prussian War and faced amputation of his leg. He either died of the wound or committed suicide rather than undergo the amputation. (This was long before anesthesia, so it's understandable!) Mary then married Adolph's half-brother Nathan Henry and they emigrated to the U.S. Nathan's brother Julius had already emigrated and had become successful in Corpus Christi, so undoubtedly he helped Nathan and Mary open their store on the square in San Diego. Nathan and Mary had a son known as Louis Henry, Jr.

    A few years later Nathan left Mary and the children and went to New York. Not long after that he became fatally ill. Julius went to New York where he found Nathan in Mt. Sinai Hospital. He got Nathan to settle his affairs and write a will. In the will Jenny and Lena are referred to by the surname Schnyderman, so that appears to have been their official birth names, even though they may have started using the Henry surname unofficially after their mother married Nathan. We also know from the will that Adolph Schnyderman was a half-brother of the Henrys, so his mother presumably married Mr. Schnyderman first and then married Mr. Henry after the elder Schnyderman's death. As speculated here, it's possible her given name was Helena, since the name was given to the daughters of Adolph and Mary and of Paul and Frederika.

    Jenny probably did elope with Francisco Gonzales, greatly upsetting her family because marrying out of the Jewish faith was "just not done" in those days. We have heard that Louis Henry also wanted to marry a Mexican girl and the family was extremely opposed (probably aggravated by Jenny's earlier marriage). The conflict apparently caused Louis to have some kind of serious breakdown and he ended up institutionalized in San Antonio. It was all very hushed-up because people didn't talk about mental illness in those days and he was barely mentioned in the family. He died in the institution and we understand he was buried in the same plot/grave in the Jewish cemetery in Corpus Christi as his mother, Mary, with no marker. We don't know why he was called Louis, Jr. It's possible that Nathan began using the more "American" or fashionable-sounding name of Louis after coming to the U.S. and that's why his son was known as a Junior.

    Lena Henry, by the way, died in New Orleans and is buried in the Hebrew Rest Cemetery there, in the same plot as her daughter Theresa and son-in-law George Montague, as I recall.

    There are enough references to the Henrys, especially Julius, as being from Posen to make it the likely origin of the family. In the 1800s it was part of Prussia and later Germany after the unification. Now it's in Poland, and called Poznan. Adolph Schnyderman is supposed to have been in the Prussian Army and probably was from Posen, as well. There's quite a bit of information about Julius Henry, because he was such a prominent person in Corpus Christi, so it should be possible to learn the names of his parents (it's possible that in Prussia the surname was either Hendricks or Heinrich, rather than Henry, which may have been an Americanization after Julius immigrated). We may also be able to learn more about Adolph — there may be records of his military service, at least, in Germany.

  21. If anyone knows more about Francis (Franz/Francisco) Bromowicz, who married Helena (Lena) Henry, we'd be grateful to hear about him. He seems to have left Lena not long after the birth of their two daughters — apparently ordinary people didn't divorce in those days, they just split up! We know there was an F. Bromowicz who was a professional photographer in Laredo in those years. They may be the same person — it's unlikely there were that many F. Bromowiczes floating around South Texas in the latter 1800s! The spelling of the name suggests that he was also Prussian, so it's possible that he may also have been from Posen. He may have had some relationship with the Henrys or Schnydermans before coming to the U.S.

    Thanks, and ¡saludos a todos!

  22. Do any folks in Duval and nearby areas have family traditions or tales that they are descended from Jewish "conversos" who were forced out of Spain by the expulsion in 1492 or to escape from the Inquisition in years afterwards? It's thought that many people who went to Nueva España were conversos, or descended from them, particularly people who settled in what is now northern Mexico. (Probably they looked for places far from the capital where the Inquisition had eventually arrived and become active.) As time went on and the reach of the Inquisition spread, some of them pushed further north into what are now Texas and New Mexico. After so many centuries, some families have lost the awareness that they are descended from conversos, but may have maintained some customs or traditions that were originally Jewish, like lighting candles on Friday nights or not eating pork. There are literally millions of people now in the New World who are descended from the conversos. In Brazil, alone, it's estimated that there may be as many as 14 million descendants. There are many in Argentina. The region of Antioquía in Colombia (where Medellín is located) is supposed to have been founded by conversos and Jewish refugees and it seems to be a matter of considerable local pride! In more recent years communities of converso descendants have been identified in New Mexico. Others have been found in Portugal, to which many Spanish Jews escaped before being forced out by the Inquisition a few decades later. But some communities survived in isolated mountain villages. I've heard some speculation that Francisco Gonzales is a descendant of conversos, but I don't know enough about his ancestry and family history to know if there's any basis for that. Still, it would be interesting to know if there are other families in South Texas with similar lore or history!

  23. Does anyone know Antonio C. Alaniz born June 13 unknown year born in San Diego, TX and passed away Jan. 6, 1926.. I dont know if he was buried in San Diego or in Cotulla Tx.He was my Great Grandfather.

  24. I have never run across that name in my research. Sorry.

  25. Regina Radulski | July 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Reply

    I was told the family name changed to Henry when they immigrated, it was originally Heinrick.

  26. Do you have any information on Luciano and Juanita Bazan? I believe they were around during the 1860 census

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