As the closing year of the nineteenth century opened, the San Diego Sun reported on the social life in the “City in the Woods”. Mrs. A. Rosales hosted a New Year’s Eve dance at the family home. Miss Croft meanwhile hosted a party for young people at the Miret Hotel with a large turnout.
The Woodmen of the World invited ladies in the community to put on a program. The organization’s hall was full to capacity the day of the event. Hays Dix and his sister Mag Sutherland performed; Olgy Tyler presented a recitation; and Terrel and Callie Smith “brought down the house” with a duet. The quartet of Mrs. Sutherland, Dix, Dr. J. S. Strickland and Deputy Sheriff Stockwell were the highlight of the evening’s entertainment. Woodmen members Coyner, Tyler, Tibilier, Vannort and Sutherland debated the subject of “Art and Nature”. David Craven Jr. read a composition.
The joy at the Rosales home soon dissipated as news came that someone had broken into their general merchandise store. Burglars drilled a hole into a lock and gained entrance to the store. They made away with $150 of merchandise, including Winchester rifles, watches, and jewelry. Authorities managed to recover a rifle and some jewelry.By the end of February, Sheriff M. Corrigan had arrested all the suspects in the robbery, rounding up the last suspects in the southern part of the county. In an unrelated criminal case, Juan Moreno was sentenced to three years for horse theft.
Dr. Strickland reported a case of small pox in a family that had recently come from Laredo. The family did not report the illness and many others were exposed. Officials placed guards around the home to contain the disease. Episcopal priest Rev. Mr. Thulow cancelled services because the sick family lived close to the church. Dr. Strickland and County Commissioner John Cleary took charge of the problem and the doctor was soon treating three to four cases due to small pox, including a little girl. The newspapers also reported a second case of small pox near Benavides and a case of mumps in San Diego. Later, Benavides officials reported it was free of small pox and that they would quickly bury any one that died of the disease and quarantine any afflicted individual 10 miles outside of town.
The weather may have contributed to the disease. The temperature in February dropped to 5 degrees above zero. Ranchers suffered a tremendous loss of stock. A sheep raiser in Santa Cruz lost 800 head out of a herd of 2,500. The loss of cattle was less severe in those areas of the county where there was brush and prickly pear. In the southern part of the county, where it was more like prairie with sandy soil, the losses were severe.
The freeze hurt the ranchmen, but it was an unexpected blessing for the cotton farmer, because it killed off the boll weevil. Duval County was expected to plant a large cotton crop and with an abundance of cheap labor a farmers expected a profitable planting season.