Revolutionaries roamed countryside, town prospers

Third Cavalry troopers searching for a suspected revolutionist. Frederic Remington 1892.

In August 1886, one of V. J. Clark’s vaqueros returned from Los Olmos and told of running into a Mexican recruiting officer and 50-60 revolutionaries. The recruiter offered the vaqueros $100 to serve as his guides.

Locals believed the revolutionaries were in the area to steal horses. The Nueces County sheriff and area deputies met at Los Olmos to see what they could do about the revolutionaries in the area. Citizens drafted a petition and sent it to Governor John Ireland asking him to send rangers to patrol the area between Concepcion and Rio Grande City.

Ramon Alvarado reported two stolen horses but got them back at Guerrero. In addition to Alvarado, several ranchers reported seven to eight horses stolen. It was not strange to see most men in the county with big six-shooters and carbine attachments.

Catarino Garza

Revolutionary Catarino Garza was well known in the area around Duval County.

It is not clear who these revolutionaries were, because the famous revolutionary Catarino Garza who would operate from this area would not launch his assault against Mexican President Porfirio Diaz for a couple of years.

Garza was already well-known in the area and was often invited to speak at Cinco de Mayo festivals in San Diego and Palito Blanco. He married Concepcion “Chonita” Gonzalez of Palito Blanco at San Diego on May 23, 1890.

A few months later, in July 1890, Garza was meeting revolutionary leaders at his father-in law’s ranch in Palito Blanco and providing sanctuary to them with friends in San Diego. But, I am getting ahead of the story, so let us return to 1886 and revisit Garza in a later column.

A promising new community sprung up in Southern Duval County called Peña, which was in the area of present-day Hebbronville. Jim Hogg County had not been created yet, and that part of the country was part of Duval County.

J. W. Orr was gauging interest for a fast freight line between Peña and Rio Grande City but did not find enough interest and abandoned the idea. A Mr. Forquerar already ran a stage between the two communities.

Peña had two cafes; the Railroad House, owned by Mrs. Walsh, on the south end of the railroad track, and the Fonda Nacional owned by Mrs. Gutierrez. A Mr. Bennett leased the school land from a Mr. Rachal and planned to pasture cattle on it. D. and L. Peña were also fencing 4,000 acres of pasture.

Alex Alpuente, a banjo drummer, entertained in the community. L. P. Peña hosted a ball at his home in honor of several young ladies from Balhuerte. All the Peñas were musicians; Romulo Peña had an eight-piece brass band.

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