During this unprecedented pandemic, communities are relying on local journalism more than ever.

Luckily, the drive to inform, engage and serve our community is not new to the Victoria Advocate. The Advocate has operated with such drive for almost 175 years.

Earlier this year, the Advocate introduced a new series to celebrate with you our upcoming 175th birthday. That significant milestone will be next year, commemorating the inaugural May 8, 1846, edition of the Victoria Texan Advocate.

Each month through May 2021, we will present a decade-by-decade glimpse into life in the Crossroads and at the Advocate from the past 175 years. 

This month, we head back to 1871-1880.

BIG NEWS THEN

  • By 1873, the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway connected Victoria with Cuero – which was founded in 1873 – and the coast, and in the early 1880s, the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway provided the first cross-country route to Rosenberg Junction. With Victoria's strategic location on the old Goliad and Indianola roads, the lines contributed to the county's rise as the commercial center of the surrounding agricultural counties.
  • Telegraph service first reached Victoria in the 1870s, but Western Union, the financial services and communications company, did not establish a local station until the next decade. Soon after the arrival of Western Union, local telephone service was established.
  • The city of Victoria's boundaries were officially outlined in 1877 by North, South, East and West streets and by other designations that largely abandoned previous Spanish terminology. In the late 1880s, aldermen divided the town into wards and soon after began to codify city ordinances. 

NOTABLE PEOPLE THEN

  • James McFaddin: One of Victoria County’s most notable cattlemen, McFaddin established his first ranch in Refugio County in 1858, using 130 cattle from his father's ranch in Jefferson County. He bought up land in Victoria County in the fork between the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers in 1878 and moved his family there about 1881. By 1885, he was one of the wealthiest ranchers in the county.
  • Theodore Buhler: A well-known civic leader, Buhler was born in Germany and moved to Victoria in 1875. He was an agent for the Gulf West Texas and Pacific Railroad. He served as an alderman for the city of Victoria and as a cashier for the First National Bank of Victoria.
  • Louis Fritz: Fritz was born in Victoria in 1854. He owned the Victoria Candy Kitchen and was the mayor of Victoria in the early 1900s. Rosa Mary Fritz, his wife, served as president of the Catholic Cemetery Association for 35 years.
  • Edward Daniel Linn: An editor and publisher of the Advocate, state representative and state senator, Linn was born in Victoria County in 1848 as the son to an early Texas pioneer. He also sat on the board of directors and served as secretary for the New York, Texas, and Mexican Railway Company.
  • John Keeran: A rancher and stock breeder, Keeran was a Mason and a founder and director of the Victoria National Bank. In the words of early Texas historian Victor Marion Rose, Keeran led "in point of wealth all the `bovine kings of Victoria.'"

COUNTY POPULATION THEN (1880)

  • Victoria: 6,289
  • Calhoun: 1,739
  • DeWitt: 10,082
  • Goliad: 5,832
  • Jackson: 2,723
  • Lavaca: 13,641
  • Refugio: 1,585

VICTORIA ADVOCATE NEWS

  • 1871-1873: Victor M. Rose and Frank R. Pridham, editors and publishers
  • 1873-1875: Frank R. Pridham, publisher; J. Archie McNeil, editor
  • 1875-1876: Edward Daniel Linn, H.A. Glenn and J. Archie McNeil, editors and publishers
  • 1876-1883: Edward Daniel Linn and J. Archie McNeil, editors and publishers 
  • Print: The Advocate has missed publication only a few times in its history because of fires in 1876 and 1892, and the Civil War, when it could not publish because of a lack of newsprint. During this decade the newspaper was published weekly.
  • Location: In the Victoria Advocate's early years, it operated from a small one-story frame building at the corner of Main Street and Goodwin Avenue, the northeast corner of One O’Connor Plaza, 215 N. Main St. Later, the newspaper was at 201 S. Main St. on the second floor of the Owens Building, which was destroyed in a fire in 1878. The Advocate moved to the second story of the Scharg Building, 107 W. Constitution St.

COST OF GOODS IN 1880 IN TEXAS

  • Bread: 4 cents per pound
  • Flour: 2 to 4 cents per pound
  • Cheese: 5 to 16 cents per pound
  • Beans: 5 to 9 cents per quart

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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