Early Duval officials played musical chairs

Early Duval County officials often engaged in a game of musical chairs, resigning posts and taking others. These activities occupied the Commissioners Court as 1878 opened.

In February, Road Commissioner for Precinct 2 Rafael Saenz submitted his resignation, which the Court quickly accepted. Just as quickly, the Court appointed Alejo Perez to the fill the new vacancy. Perez, however, had to give up his post as Constable for Precinct 4.

A couple of days later, during the same February term of the Court, John Vining resigned as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3. The Court accepted the resignation. The Court did not name replacements for Perez and Vining.

The court also fined Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Charles Roach $25 for contempt of court for failing to make his report to the Court as required by law.

The commissioners also faced a request by citizens in the form of a petition to delay the construction of a new courthouse and jail. Commissioners tabled the request until the following day at which time they refused the petition, pointing to the petitioners the unanimous vote of the Court in favor of the project. They “respectfully” told petitioners that the Court had appointed a committee to proceed with this project and it had performed considerable work already.

In a related item, Commissioners authorized N. G. Collins to exchange the three lots he had donated to the county for the building of the courthouse and jail. The Court preferred three lots owned by E. D. Sidbury and located directly west of the Collins’ donated lots.

The Court also approved a special tax for the courthouse and jail at a rate of ½ of 1 percent or 50 cents on $100 of valuation.

Also approved were a ¼ of 1 percent on $100 of valuation for the general fund and a $1 per head in a poll tax. The court also agreed to “all the taxes for the state as provided by law,” as well as the Occupation and dog tax. The county would get to keep half of the Occupation Tax collected for the state.

Commissioners also addressed the matter of hiring out convicts. They directed Jose Vaello to pay the county for nine months for the services of convict Rafael Ruiz. Vaello was also required to pay for the expenses incurred in bringing Ruiz to Duval County. Commissioners also voted to sue anyone else who owed the county money for sue of convict labor.

Convicts, who the county could not hire out to cover the costs of their imprisonment, would put to work on public roads and other county projects at $1 per day. County Judge James Luby would designate the task convicts would perform.

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