The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 124
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The story of the Alazan-Apache Courts helps fill the void. It not only
furthers the history of Texas's largest ethnic minority, but also un-
covers an example of one of the little-recognized individuals whose un-
selfish devotion was the basis of much that was accomplished in the
name of the New Deal. It was through the efforts of Father Carmelo
Tranchese that the Alazan-Apache Courts were built.
In 1930 San Antonio had the largest Mexican population of any
city in Texas. The more than 82,000 people of Mexican descent living
there represented over 35 percent of the city's population; by the
end of the decade their numbers had increased by more than twenty
thousand and the percentage had climbed to over forty. For some San
Antonio Mexicans-those employed as businessmen, professionals, and
highly skilled workers-the city offered lucrative economic oppor-
tunity. But these represented a distinct minority. By 1938 over one-
quarter of San Antonio's residents were living at or below a "bare
subsistence" level, and 85 percent of those at the bottom were Mexi-
The work reserved for Mexicans usually involved unskilled manual
labor that brought little remuneration. Migratory work, which in-
volved nearly 50 percent of San Antonio's Mexicans at one time or
another, did not pay enough to sustain workers through the off sea-
son. The clothing industry in 1932 paid those Mexican women who
were fortunate enough to have a factory job a median weekly wage of
Labor in the United States, 1900-1940 (Westport, Conn., 1976) and Abraham Hoffman,
Unwanted Mexican Americans in the Great Depression: Repatriation Pressures, 1929-1939
(Tucson, 1974) cover the depression era well on a national basis but tend to concentrate
on the California experience. One study that specifically deals with welfare programs in
which Mexicans are included is Angela Marie Chappelle, "Local Welfare Work of Reli-
gious Organizations in San Antonio, Texas" (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939), but
the work is restricted to church programs.
Because the Mexican community in San Antonio consisted of U.S. citizens and Mexican
nationals, for purposes of simplification the term "Mexican," as used in this paper, will
refer to all persons of Mexican descent, whether U.S. citizens or aliens. When citizenship
status made a difference, it will be noted.
2Theodore N. Picnot, An Economic and Industrial Survey of San Antonio, Texas (San
Antonio, 1942), 73-75, 76 (quotation), 77-82, 167, 176; T. Wilson Longmore and Homer L.
Hitt, "A Demographic Analysis of First and Second Generation Mexican Population of
the United States: 193o," Southwestern Social Science Quarterly (SSSQ), XXIV (Sept.,
1943), 143; Herschel T. Manuel, "The Mexican Population of Texas," ibid., XV (Sept.,
1934), 38-39; McCain, "Mexican Labor in San Antonio, Texas," 4, 11-15, 23-24, 33; U.S.,
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States,
1940. Population. Volume I: Number of Inhabitants . . . (Washington, D.C., 1942),
1,039-1,040; William J. Knox, "The Economic Status of the Mexican Immigrant in San
Antonio, Texas" (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1927), 261; Shapiro, "Workers of San
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/160/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.