One year from now, the Victoria Advocate will celebrate a significant milestone: 175 years since the publication of the inaugural May 8, 1846, edition of the Victoria Texan Advocate.

In February, the Advocate introduced a new series to celebrate with you the upcoming occasion. Each month through May 2021, we are presenting a decade-by-decade snapshot of major moments, notable people and photographs that give us a picture of life in the Crossroads from the past 175 years.

Remembering our history is important. Though Victoria looked different many years ago, some things haven't changed. In the Advocate's almost 175 years of life, it has valued honesty, fairness, respectfulness and service to our community.

This month, enjoy learning about 1881-1890.

BIG NEWS THEN

  • Fossati’s Delicatessen, the oldest deli in Texas and one of the oldest restaurants in the United States, opened in 1882 by Italian immigrant Fraschio “Frank” Napoleon Fossati. Fossati’s has changed locations several times, and has, at one time or another, been on every corner of the square in downtown Victoria. The restaurant is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • A powerful hurricane struck Indianola in August 1886 and destroyed or damaged every existing structure. The hurricane, which was the fifth and strongest hurricane of that Atlantic hurricane season, severely impacted the economic development of the region.
  • The community's first highway was built in 1889 under the guidance of County Judge J.L. Dupree. The highway ran about three miles, from the Guadalupe River bridge to Goldman Hill, southwest of Victoria, where the Refugio, Goliad and Mission Valley traffic merged.

NOTABLE PEOPLE THEN

  • Jules Leffland: A prominent architect, Leffland immigrated to Texas in 1886. His first job involved moving homes from Indianola inland to Cuero after the devastating hurricane of 1886. By 1910, from his office in Victoria, he had designed and supervised the construction of at least 80 structures, including churches, schools, banks, city halls and hotels between Wharton to Kingsville.
  • John Louis Dupree: Dupree was known for having built the first highway in Victoria County in 1889 as well as for construction of the 1892 county courthouse while serving as county judge, a position he held from 1888 to 1899. He later served as city attorney in the early 1900s.
  • Tobias Wood: A cattleman, executive and alderman of Victoria, Wood was raised in Refugio County. He became well-known as a breeder of Sussex cattle and and thoroughbred horses. Woodsboro in Refugio County is named after him.
  • John Stilwell Munn: Aside from working as an editor of the Advocate, Munn was a lawyer, school teacher and mayor of Victoria several times. He coined the city's epithet, “City of Roses,” to express civic pride in the local gardens.

COUNTY POPULATION THEN (1890

  • Victoria: 8,737
  • Calhoun: 815
  • DeWitt: 14,307
  • Goliad: 5,910
  • Jackson: 3,281
  • Lavaca: 21,887
  • Refugio: 1,239

VICTORIA ADVOCATE NEWS 

  • 1876-1883: Edward Daniel Linn and J. Archie McNeil, editors and publishers
  • 1883-1888: Edward Daniel Linn, publisher 
  • 1883-1886: Jeff McLemore, editor 
  • 1881-1888: John Stilwell Munn, associate editor; A.B. Peticolas, also associate editor sometime during this period 
  • 1888-1891: John L. Bartow, editor and publisher; John Stilwell Munn, associate editor 
  • Print: In the 1880s, the Advocate became more like newspapers of the 20th century. Linn changed the paper's format to add editorial comments and extracts to the front page. In 1885, drawings were added to illustrate stories in the paper. In 1886, columns including "Farm and Garden," "The Fashions" and "Science and Progress" were added. During this decade the newspaper was published weekly.
  • Location: The newspaper was at 201 S. Main St. on the second floor of the Owens Building for a period of time before it was destroyed in a fire in 1878. The Advocate then moved to the second story of the Scharg Building, 107 W. Constitution St., until a fire burned the office in 1891.

COST OF GOODS IN 1890 IN TEXAS 

  • Eggs: 20 cents per dozen
  • Bacon: 12.5 cents per pound
  • Sugar: 34 cents for five pounds
  • Milk: 13 cents per half gallon

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter.

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