The creation of Duval County and its separation from Nueces County, under whose administration Duval County had been, was not without controversy. Within weeks of the election to organize Duval County differences arose.
In January 1877, the Duval County Commissioners Court submitted a claim to Nueces County which they anticipated would be rejected. In an effort to “amicably” settle this claim the Duval County Commissioners Court proposed to their Nueces County counterparts that each county appoint two referees to compose a committee of four to arbitrate the matter.
If the committee needed clarification on any law, they would ask for an attorney general’s opinion. If they would tie on any matter, that issue would be submitted to 25th District Court Judge Edward Dougherty to decide. The committee’s initial meeting would be held in Corpus Christi and if a second meeting was needed it would be conducted in San Diego.
The differences between the counties, as seen by the Duval County Commissioners Court, involved debts Nueces County was responsible for and the question of the boundary line between the two counties. A third matter the Duval committeemen were to negotiate was the purchase of an iron cage at the Nueces County Courthouse for use as the Duval County Jail.
More specifically, Duval County believed that a certain amount of Road and Bridge taxes paid by Duval County citizens to Nueces County in 1876 should be returned to the Duval County Treasury. Secondly, Duval County wanted school funds, both for building and teacher funds, to be paid to its treasury by Nueces County. Any other taxes paid in 1876 to Nueces County by Duval County property owners should also be turned over. Finally, some Nueces County offices were refusing to turn over records properly belonging to Duval County unless the Nueces County Commissioners Court ordered them to do so.
Duval County Commissioners appointed N. G. Collins and J. Vining as their referees to negotiate the settlement of claims with Nueces County. The court agreed to reimburse both men for any expenses they incurred in this matter.
Commissioners Court also took another step to forestall future disputes when they asked County Judge James Luby to contact the governor and ask that Duval County be attached to a judicial district for judicial purposes.
In another matter with legal implications but of a more parochial nature, the commissioners directed the county attorney to provide to each justice of the peace a verbatim copy of the state law on vagrants. A large number of vagrants made their home in the county and the commissioners aimed to put a stop to it. The justices of the peace were ordered to post notices in at least three places in their precinct, both in English and Spanish, of the law regarding vagrancy.