Starr County Historical Newspaper Abstracts

The Corpus Christi Caller OCT 7 1883


Starr County:

The author with three others arrived in Rio Grande City, the county seat of Starr, on the afternoon of September 29th, after a twenty four hour ride in a coach from the Pena Station on the Texas-Mexican railroad.  Rio Grande City, which has a population of about 2000 souls, principally Mexicans, is seldom spoken of as Rio Grande City by the Mexicans on the Rio Grande; they all call it Davis, the place having been settled by H. Clay Davis in 1847, and known for some time as Davis' ranch.  The town is about 110 miles from Brownsville, 120 miles from Laredo 140 miles from Monterey, and 150 miles from Corpus Christi.  There are 7 stores, 1 drug store, 2 schools, 2 churches-Catholic and Methodist,-2 lawyers, 1 doctor, 2 saloons and 1 hotel in the place.  The hotel is kept by Mr. Jolins Miller and his wife, who set a good table.  Mr. J. I. Nix is the postmaster; Col. Sam Stewart is the deputy Collector of Customs of the Brownsville district at this place.  There is a two story brick court house there, and Judge Russell holds two terms of District Court yearly in it.

The county officers of Starr are:  J. P. Kelsey, judge; Geo W. Davis, sheriff; E. D. Davis, district clerk, Ernest Marks, county clerk; Geo. Decker, treasurer; A. de la Pena, assessor; Otto W. Brewerton, surveyor; Santana Cara, inspector.  The commissioners are Dr. T. W. Kennedy, James Clark, Ramon Gonzales, and John Henderson.  The population of the county is between nine and ten thousand, mainly Mexicans and Spaniards, whose occupation is principally stock raising, though considerable attention is paid to farming in the low lands along the river.  The assessed wealth of the county for 1883 is $1,961,812…   ...Ringgold barracks, built in 1869, are situated about one-half mile below Rio Grande City.  The buildings are fine brick structures.  A telegraph line, belonging to the government, connects the post with Brownsville.  They have a signal office in connection. 

South of Rio Grande City about four miles, on the Mexican side of the river is the town of Camargo, a place of about 5000 people, and which has seen brighter days.  In Camargo, a Caller met Dr. Austin, C. De Luke and Dr. Alex M. Headley, very courteous gentlemen.  In Rio Grande City, the writer met Messrs. D. J. Scott? and J. R. Monroe, a druggist and a lawyer, two fine gentlemen who have settled in the town during the last year.  Also met J. R. Mix who keeps the settler's store at Fort Ringgold, S. de la Pena, who has about the finest drug store on the Rio Grande, Geo. Decker who does a fine mercantile business, George Lewis, who nearly everybody knows, Joseph Barthelow, custom house inspector, Jose Mante?, H. L. King, Esq. Dr. T. W. Kennedy, Geo. Davis, E. D. Davis, Otto W. Brewerton, Jas. Livingston, Fred Oxburrow, Antonio Vizcaya, S. J. Stewart, H. G. Tachan, and many other Rio Grande City people, and last but not least, Mr. John P. Kelsey, the wealthy man of the county.  Mr. Kelsey was elected county judge of Starr at the last election at a time when matters were serious in Starr.  He is getting county affairs in good shape again, it is gratifying to say. 

The great cry of the people of Rio Grande City is for a railroad or some better facilities of transportation than what they have now.  The steam boat Lola D., which runs between Rio Grande City and Brownsville and which is scheduled to make two trips a month arrived, it is said, at Rio Grande City Sept. 24th, for the first time in nearly three months.  The river is very crooked and shallow in places and the steamer is continually getting aground.  Goods arrived by her which were three or four months on the way from Philadelphia and New Orleans.  The wagon road from Pena on the Texas-Mexican to Rio Grande City is about 30 miles and most of the distance a perfect sand bed.  Cartmen dread such a road.   Perishable goods, such as apples, cabbages, and potatoes always reach the place in a very bad state…

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 by Linda Blum-Barton

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