Even priest carried gun in old San Diego

Father Pedro Bard

While San Diego was a thriving community with a vibrant livestock trade, including horses, cattle and sheep and with plenty of crop farming, it was still a frontier in 1883 and was wild and wooly.

Early in the year, the Corpus Christi newspaper reported that a band of thieves headed by well-known “cut-throat” Faustino Vela was depredating the neighborhood around Los Olmos. Nueces County Sheriff’s Deputy Paulino Coy headed a posse in pursuit of the alleged bandits. Vela sent word that he would kill Coy on sight. Coy would play an active role in the development of the area and would kill a number of men reportedly trying to escape.

A San Diego jury, meanwhile, found Juan Saens not guilty of cattle theft.

In May, the grand jury was looking into the shooting death of Francisco Rivo(?) at the sheep ranch of Cayetano Rivo(?). Amador Cantu reported the shooting, saying that Francisco had shot himself. The grand jury considered Cantu a suspect.

Benito Flores allegedly inflicted a serious wound by cutting Maximo Arujo on the temple. Authorities were holding Flores in the county jail.

Two Mexicans from Laredo who had come to attend fiestas in San Diego got in a scrape and one shot the other killing him instantly and escaped. Authorities believed the victim was a burglar because he had 50 keys of different kinds, a chisel, five screwdrivers and a candle in his possession. E. N. Gray reported that authorities captured the suspect in the killing at the San Diego fiesta in Laredo after he told a story of the killing to other inmates in the San Diego jail.

Later in the year, in December, Deputy Coy killed Esiquiel De Los Santos while executing an arrest warrant. Two Texas Rangers accompanied Coy. The newspaper reported that De Los Santos came out of his house with a pistol in one hand and a Bowie knife in the other. Coy opened fire killing De Los

Santos instantly. In a lapse of journalistic objectivity, the newspaper reported that De Los Santos was a desperate character and Coy a proven and efficient officer. “With Coy’s help and that of other deputies,” reported the newspaper, “Sheriff Whelan is ridding country of lawless element.”

The year closed with a report that Father Pedro Bard accidentally shot his horse. A parishioner had convinced the good padre to carry a gun for protection against outlaws and Indians. He rode around the parish in a buggy pulled by two horses. After that incident, Padre Bard rode unarmed.

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