Last month, we introduced a new series to celebrate with you our upcoming 175th birthday. That big anniversary 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 look at 1861-1870.

BIG NEWS THEN

  • Victoria County in 1861 joined the majority of organized Texas counties in voting for secession from the Union. Texas was the seventh state to secede, and the last to secede before the firing at Fort Sumter signaled the start of the Civil War. About 300 Victoria County men served with the Confederate Army, and at least 48 died of wounds or disease.
  • The San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad was destroyed during the Civil War in 1863 by Gen. John Magruder, when Union invasion seemed imminent. It was rebuilt in 1866, and became part of the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway in 1871.
  • One of the first meat-packing plants was established in Victoria in 1869. In 1870, the plant paid $10,000 in wages to 53 workers, who produced $101,400 worth of packaged meats. The plant garnered a reputation as a packer of mutton, pork, beef and poultry.

NOTABLE PEOPLE THEN

  • John Washington Rose: Rose, a Republic of Texas statesman, state senator, and planter came to East Texas with a large family group about 1839 and later moved with his wife to Victoria County, where he served as chief justice of the municipality of Victoria from 1842-1846. By 1860, he was the county's fifth wealthiest man, when the census recorded the value of his estate, which included 46 enslaved people, at $83,600.
  • Elizabeth McAnulty Owens: Owens is remembered for her reminiscences of Victoria during the Texas Revolution and the Republic of Texas. In her lifetime, she was respected as an area pioneer. During the Civil War, she and her daughters sewed the regimental flag for Col. Robert Garland's Sixth Texas Infantry, using materials from her husband’s mercantile store. She wrote an account of Victoria during its occupation by the Mexican army under Gen. José de Urrea following Fannin's defeat in the battle of Coleto near Victoria. Her work was published as "Elizabeth McAnulty Owens: The Story of Her Life" in the 1930s.
  • Alfred Brown Peticolas: Peticolas was an attorney, diarist, artist, and Civil War veteran who came to Victoria in 1859. In addition to his law practice, Peticolas served as an associate editor of the Advocate from 1881-1888. He is often remembered for his Civil War journals and detailed pencil sketches of early landmarks in Victoria. Some of his drawings can be found in the collections of the Victoria College Library and the Arizona Historical Society. 
  • William Larrabee Callender: Callender, an attorney, judge, and prominent Methodist came to Victoria in the mid-1850s. A well-respected resident of Victoria, Callender conducted the Victoria Male Academy. He also served as justice of the peace and district clerk while pursuing his avocation of reflecting on current and historical events in poetry and prose, much of which remains among the Callender manuscripts. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
  • Abraham Levi: A merchant and banker, Levi came to Victoria in 1849 and opened a store in the Globe House, a hotel. The business expanded rapidly and in 1861 became the largest dry-goods establishment in Southwest Texas, but the building burned in a fire. After leaving, Levi later returned in Victoria in 1866 and opened a wholesale grocery store, and later a banking business which became the largest state-charted bank in Texas by the mid-1870s. Levi served as president of the Victoria Jewish congregation for a quarter of a century, and financed the area's first electrical generator and ice plants.

COUNTY POPULATION THEN (1870)

  • Victoria: 4,860
  • Calhoun: 3,443
  • DeWitt: 6,443
  • Goliad: 3,628
  • Jackson: 2,278
  • Lavaca: 9,168
  • Refugio: 2,234

VICTORIA ADVOCATE NEWS

  • 1859-1865: Samuel A. White, editor and publisher. It was during White's ownership that the newspaper was named the "Victoria Advocate" between 1859-1861.
  • 1865-1867: James S. Ferguson, editor and publisher
  • 1867-1868: Samuel A. White, editor and publisher
  • 1868-1869: Samuel A. White and James Boone, editors and publishers
  • 1869-1870: Victor M. Rose and James Boone, editors and publishers
  • 1870: Arthur Pendleton Bagby, editor
  • Cost: In 1863, the price of the paper changed from $3 per year to $5. In 1864, the price lowered to $2 per year with "Confederate and State money received at market rates." 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 at 215 N. Main St.

COST OF GOODS IN 1870 IN TEXAS

  • Butter: 15 cents per pound
  • Corn: 40 cents per bushel
  • Molasses: 15 cents per pound
  • Rice: 5 cents per pound

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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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Local Government Reporter

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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