Notes and Documents
Year of Transition: Victoria, Texas,
R. W. SHOOK*
N 1974 VICTORIA CELEBRATES ONE AND ONE-HALF CENTURIES OF
growth since Empresario Don Martin DeLe6n established a colony on
the Guadalupe River. The Mexican village developed as a stock-raising
center and by the mid-nineteenth century had become a major junction
between Lavaca Bay ports, San Antonio, Austin, and northern Mexico.
Settlers from the United States, Mexicans, Germans, Bohemians, Italians,
Jews from several countries, and other ethnic and national groups had
transformed the essential character of the town by the i88os. From that
decade to the I920os technological, economic, and social forces combined in
a foundation for growth that rapidly accelerated after World War II.
Contemporary Victoria is a product of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-
century events; virtually all facets of the community's development were
potentialities by I92o.
Accepting population data as basic indicators of a transition from fron-
tier village to a modern city, the decade of 1910 to 192o deserves consid-
eration as the most critical time span in Victoria's development. During
those ten years the county population increased by 21 percent while the
population in the city rose by 64 percent. The shift from rural to urban
status was a culmination of events that began during the 188os when immi-
gration, devastating hurricanes (which drove Lavaca Bay residents inland),
improved transportation facilities, and social amenities attracted a popula-
tion base for subsequent growth.
Agriculture, particularly ranching, was the area's first major enterprise
and the one which insured Victoria's early success; by the I88os the county
*The author teaches history at Victoria College and was a visiting lecturer at the
University of Houston, Victoria, this past summer.
'Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide, 1974-1975 (Dallas, 1973), I84, I92;
Roy Grimes (ed.), 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, 1968), 319-322, 331-334,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed July 7, 2015.