History

On February 8, 1850, Uvalde County was formed by a legislative act from Bexar County but failed to secure a permanent county because of an insufficient number of settlers, until the year 1852. These first settlers to arrive at the canyon later changed the name to Uvalde. Of equal importance to the early history of the county was the development of the farming and ranching settlements at Waresville by Capt. William Ware in the upper Sabinal Canyon and Patterson Settlement by George W. Patterson, John Leakey, and A. B. Dillard on the Sabinal River; these settlements coincided with Reading Black's development of the Leona River at Encina. A second attempt by Black to organize the territory resulted in a petition to form a county encompassing the area of the present Kinney, Maverick, and Uvalde counties.
                                                                             
Reading W. Black's initiatives helped to truly establish Uvalde, in August of 1866, following the Civil War. Mr. Black hired a surveyor from Germany and started work on May 2, 1855, which is said to be the birth date of Uvalde. The town was divided into 464 lots, a schoolhouse square, a cemetery (located on the corner of Leona and North Park), a park (Uvalde Athletic field), a garden, presently the City park, and four town plazas. Mr. Black names the plazas: the market, now known as the bandstand; the fountain, now the post office; the townhall (City Hall); and the courthouse.

On February 8, 1850, Uvalde County was formed by a legislative act from Bexar County but failed to secure a permanent county because of an insufficient number of settlers, until the year 1852. These first settlers to arrive at the canyon later changed the name to Uvalde. Of equal importance to the early history of the county was the development of the farming and ranching settlements at Waresville by Capt. William Ware in the upper Sabinal Canyon and Patterson Settlement by George W. Patterson, John Leakey, and A. B. Dillard on the Sabinal River; these settlements coincided with Reading Black's development of the Leona River at Encina. A second attempt by Black to organize the territory resulted in a petition to form a county encompassing the area of the present Kinney, Maverick, and Uvalde counties.
                                                                             
Reading W. Black's initiatives helped to truly establish Uvalde, in August of 1866, following the Civil War. Mr. Black hired a surveyor from Germany and started work on May 2, 1855, which is said to be the birth date of Uvalde. The town was divided into 464 lots, a schoolhouse square, a cemetery (located on the corner of Leona and North Park), a park (Uvalde Athletic field), a garden, presently the City park, and four town plazas. Mr. Black names the plazas: the market, now known as the bandstand; the fountain, now the post office; the townhall (City Hall); and the courthouse.

On February 8, 1850, Uvalde County was formed by a legislative act from Bexar County but failed to secure a permanent county because of an insufficient number of settlers, until the year 1852. These first settlers to arrive at the canyon later changed the name to Uvalde. Of equal importance to the early history of the county was the development of the farming and ranching settlements at Waresville by Capt. William Ware in the upper Sabinal Canyon and Patterson Settlement by George W. Patterson, John Leakey, and A. B. Dillard on the Sabinal River; these settlements coincided with Reading Black's development of the Leona River at Encina. A second attempt by Black to organize the territory resulted in a petition to form a county encompassing the area of the present Kinney, Maverick, and Uvalde counties.
                                                                             
Reading W. Black's initiatives helped to truly establish Uvalde, in August of 1866, following the Civil War. Mr. Black hired a surveyor from Germany and started work on May 2, 1855, which is said to be the birth date of Uvalde. The town was divided into 464 lots, a schoolhouse square, a cemetery (located on the corner of Leona and North Park), a park (Uvalde Athletic field), a garden, presently the City park, and four town plazas. Mr. Black names the plazas: the market, now known as the bandstand; the fountain, now the post office; the townhall (City Hall); and the courthouse.

On February 8, 1850, Uvalde County was formed by a legislative act from Bexar County but failed to secure a permanent county because of an insufficient number of settlers, until the year 1852. These first settlers to arrive at the canyon later changed the name to Uvalde. Of equal importance to the early history of the county was the development of the farming and ranching settlements at Waresville by Capt. William Ware in the upper Sabinal Canyon and Patterson Settlement by George W. Patterson, John Leakey, and A. B. Dillard on the Sabinal River; these settlements coincided with Reading Black's development of the Leona River at Encina. A second attempt by Black to organize the territory resulted in a petition to form a county encompassing the area of the present Kinney, Maverick, and Uvalde counties.
                                                                             
Reading W. Black's initiatives helped to truly establish Uvalde, in August of 1866, following the Civil War. Mr. Black hired a surveyor from Germany and started work on May 2, 1855, which is said to be the birth date of Uvalde. The town was divided into 464 lots, a schoolhouse square, a cemetery (located on the corner of Leona and North Park), a park (Uvalde Athletic field), a garden, presently the City park, and four town plazas. Mr. Black names the plazas: the market, now known as the bandstand; the fountain, now the post office; the townhall (City Hall); and the courthouse.

 
UVALDE COUNTY, named for Spaniard Juan de Ugalde,qv is in Southwest Texas midway between San Antonio and the International Amistad Reservoir on the United States-Mexico border. Uvalde County covers 1,588 square miles and the Nueces, Leona, Sabinal, Dry Frio, and Frio rivers flow through Uvalde County. At the intersection of U.S. highways 83 and 90 is Uvalde, the county seat. Other major towns are Knippa, Sabinal, and Utopia; minor towns are Cline, Montell, Concan, and Reagan Wells.
Artifacts discovered in various parts of the county indicate that people hunted and gathered in the future Uvalde County as long ago as 7000 B.C. After the establishment of San Antonio in 1718, the Uvalde County region was consistently traversed by Spanish soldiers, commercial packtrains, buffalo hunters, cattlemen, and mineral prospectors. 
In 1762 Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Mission was established near the site of present Montell and near the site of a prehistoric Indian village at Candelaria Springs. The mission was abandoned in 1767 due to Comanche attacks. On January 9, 1790, Juan de Ugalde,qv governor of Coahuila and commandant of the Provincias Internas,qv led 600 men to a decisive victory over the Apaches near the site of modern Utopia at a place known then as Arroyo de la Soledad. In honor of his victory, the canyon area was thereafter called Cañon de Ugalde.
The years immediately following the Civil War were marked by conflicts between Confederates and Unionists returning to live in Uvalde County. Black's attempt to form a strong local Union League may have led to his assassination in October 1867.
At the end of the Civil War, Uvalde County remained the last frontier district court site for a region that included the unorganized territories of Zavala, Kinney, Edwards and Maverick counties. The region was home to smugglers, cattle and horse rustlers, and numerous other desperadoes. One of the county's most colorful and powerful characters during this period of lawlessness was its most notorious cattle rustler, J. King Fisher.
Uvalde County gradually emerged.
                                                                                  
 
UVALDE FACTS:
 
During the first decade of the twentieth century the county's population grew from 4,617 in 1900 to an estimated 11,233 in 1910.

One-fourth of all mohair produced in the United States in 1903 originated in Uvalde County.
Between 1900 and 1903 irrigated farm acres increased from 365 to 2,500. By 1903 farms were successfully growing peaches, plums, figs, pears, onions, tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, potatoes, cabbage, and beans. Onions shipped from Uvalde County reached a high of 100,000 pounds in 1903.

Limestone asphalt mined at Blewett in southwest Uvalde County was shipped to road-paving contractors throughout Texas from 1898 to 1901.

In 1910 county farmers harvested 23,135 pounds of pecans.
 
In 1921, the construction of the Uvalde and Northern Railway to Camp Wood and of the Asphalt Beltway Railway in 1921, and the expansion of the asphalt mines in far southwestern Uvalde County at Blewett and Dabney, drew in Mexican Americans, whom by 1930, made up 40 percent of Uvalde County's population.

The Great Depression caused many Mexicans living in Uvalde County and Texas to return to the relatively calm political environment and improving economic conditions in Mexico. Only large-scale ranches survived the depression.

Two notable government projects were completed in the county in the later part of the 1930s: the National Fish Hatchery, three miles west of Uvalde (1937), and Garner State Park, which was built with Civilian Conservation Corps labor and opened in 1941. The National Fish Hatchery, produced a million fish annually in the early 1970s-fish produced were channel catfish, largemouth bass, and sunfish. Ranchers began leasing their land to hunters.

Garner Army Air Field opened in 1941. Due to a boom in economy, the land was turned over. From 1947 to present day, this land is the home of Southwest Texas Junior College.

Ranchmen in Uvalde County were primarily breeding Hereford cattle by 1940.
 
 
 

 
In 1948 the dominant agribusinesses in Uvalde County were livestock and the wool and mohair industry; that year an estimated 48,448 acres of farmland was under cultivation.

 
A 2,500-acre pecan plantation, irrigated by one of the largest artesian wellsqv in South Texas, had 30,000 trees in Uvalde County in 1940. During the 1950s a devastating drought claimed large numbers of cattle and live oak trees, as water wells went dry; the production of corn, wheat, cotton, and oats declined dramatically, and the number of farms dropped from 690 in 1950 to 525 in 1959. The raising of pecans remained a major industry in the county in the 1990s.

By 1960 Mexican Americans made up one half of Uvalde County's 16,015 population. Efforts to gain civil rights for Hispanics in Uvalde County began with the establishment of the Tomas Valle Post of the American Legion.

As late as November 23, 1973, a federal administrative judge ruled that Uvalde County schools were still segregated. County churches maintained segregated places of worship until an integrated Catholic church emerged in Uvalde in 1965.

In 1973 Uvalde County had one of the largest wool and mohair merchandising warehouses in Texas. By 1975 the county rated third among counties in Texas in Angora goat and mohair production.

By the 1970s the Hereford breed had decreased in popularity, and ranchers had begun to crossbreed with Brahman cattle,qv a breed able to graze farther from water in hot weather. Since 1973 Uvalde County livestock raisers have introduced a number of European breeds to produce cattle more adaptable to feedlots, which have become more common.
The population grew from 17,348 in 1970 to 22,441 in 1980.

A substantial increase in improved acreage, from 54,187 acres in 1970 to 123,576 acres in 1980, resulted in increased production of corn, wheat, and cotton. Approximately $45 million from farming industry in Uvalde was recorded in 1974.

County voters supported Democratic presidential candidates in all elections except in the years 1928 and 1952. After 1952, however, voters consistently supported Republican candidates, with one exception in 1964.

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service recorded an estimated market value of $11,062,000 for cotton, $6,183,000 for corn, and $1,100,000 for wheat in 1989 for Uvalde County.  A  variety of vegetables with estimated cash receipts of $7,982,000 were grown in the county that year-spinach, onions, cantaloupes, carrots, cabbage, and cucumbers.

Ranchers in 1989 received an estimated $2,222,700 in hunting leases on 740,000 acres of land. These profits helped them survive losses in other areas of their operation.

County ranchers fed an estimated 43,500 beef cattle, 17,000 pigs, 85,000 goats, and 38,000 sheep in 1989.

The allocation of the county's underground water was the dominant concern for farmers, ranchers, merchants, and politicians throughout the 1980s. Below-average rainfall in the late 1980s accelerated efforts to maintain local control of underground water supplies. In January 1989 Uvalde County joined Medina County by withdrawing from the Edwards Underground Water District.
 
Uvalde has taken on the reputation of the "County of 1,000 Springs," and it is no mystery that the waterways that run through Uvalde County are crystal clear, giving way to the town slogan of " Clearly, Texas."
A rare winter freeze in 1989, when temperatures dipped to 6° F, so extensively damaged the county's winter vegetable crop that Uvalde county judge Bill Mitchell declared the county a disaster area.

In 1990 Uvalde County had a population of 23,340, with 60 percent identified as Hispanic.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lizardo S. Berrios, Socialization in a Mexican-American Community-A Study in Civilization Perspective (Ph.D. dissertation, New School for Social Research, 1979). Lois Miller Carmichael, The History of Uvalde County (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1944). Florence Fenley, Oldtimers: Frontier Days in the Uvalde Section of Southwest Texas (Uvalde, Texas: Hornby, 1939). A Proud Heritage: A History of Uvalde County (Uvalde, Texas: El Progreso Club, 1975). Uvalde Leader-News, January 14, 1990. Vertical images, El Progreso Memorial Library, Uvalde, Texas. WPA Texas Historical Records Survey, Inventory of the County Archives of Texas (MS, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin).