The Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), No. 47, Ed. 1 Thursday, September 29, 1988 Page: 2 of 8
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Historical Society Notes
By GEORGE EDGERTON
A column or so past, the Free
Voters Party of 1933-34 was men-
tioned in connection with the
newspaper called the Starr County
Things being what they were in
those days with the Great De-
pression in full sway and the
recovery programs of President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt so far
extended mostly toward keeping
the banks open, times were very
Life was especially difficult if
you were on the wrong side.
Actually, in a more subtle degree
that was true here even in recent
years, but, of course, times are
much better now and political
reprisals are either non-existent or
well disguised. Patronage probably
still occurs. Back in the 30's, it
could be risky to expose some
Actually, J.M Longoria, the
named editor of that paper, had
considerable assistance from some
collaborators operating a press in
an obscure location. I still retain
copies of some of those papers
published in 1936,52 years ago.
Not too many businesses
advertised in the paper, but there
were a few like Pedro C. Olivarez
(Union Se.vice Station), Crisanto
C. Gonzales (Hi-Way Service Sta-
tion), L.R. Brooks, attorney; Dr.
R.A. Solis, physician; Jose
Ramirez (Ideal Cleaners); Ponce's
Dry Goods Co., and very few
The Free Voters Party can-
didates adopted the party name
because, first, they did not feel
they could win in the Democratic
primary, totally controlled by the
incumbents and, second, they were
sure to lose as Republicans.
So they held a convention and
nominated as follows: County
Judge, E.G. Gonzales; County
Attorney, L.R. Brooks, Sheriff,
Horacio Barrera Guerra; District
Clerk, Jose Ma. Longoria; County
Clerk, AH. Gutierrez; Tax Col-
lector, H.H. Contreras; Treasurer,
Dr. R.A. Solis, and the list went on
with County Commissioners, Con-
stables, and JP's.
This list was published in the
Aug. 1, 1936 issue, geting ready for
the November election. The issue
of Oct. 12, 1936 carried a list of
names of about 500 absentee voters
(and ladies, your ages were listed).
The paper generally consisted
mostly of editorials on every
manner of local government defi-
ciency, carried as news stories. In
one issue, crime was cited and
eight names of unsolved murder
victims were cited.
After one attack on a public
official, the editor was arrested
and jailed for criminal libel. He
was shortly released on $1000 bond,
but before he left, noted that i the
steel cage he was in was con-
structed under a patent of 1878.
Not one to let opportunity for
criticism of incumbent officialdom
to escape, he described jail condi-
tions as inhuman with filth, bad
odors, cockroaches and dangerous
insects "roam and parade with
impunity." He said the poor
prisoners were given imitation
coffee, 'colored water, quoting,
"and when the poor wretch is
fortunate" he gets a cup of
vermacelli, maybe two or three
dimunitive tortillas and two or
three nickle-sized pieces of meat.
This writer was one of the New
Voters Party, but even so, I must
think our editor was a bit carried
away describing conditions. It was
a tall red headline in the June 13,
1936 issue of the Starr County
Democrat after the editor was
arrested. He became a martyr to
Two years previously in 1934,
there had been a large rally of this
same group at what was then the
central plaza on Britton Avenue.
Blue ribbons appeared pinned to
shirts to signify a revival of the
Blues of 1906 except that they
couldn't represent themselves as
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Rio Grande Herald
109A N. Britton Ave, RGC
Republicans as the blue ribbons
earlier had signified.
Famed Brownsville attorney J.T.
Canales was speaking from the
qiosco (band stand) and suddenly
shots rang out on the fringes of the
crowd. Two men, David Gomez and
Pablo Solis, fell mortally wounded.
Two deputies were charged with
murder, and as I recall, were tried
in federal court in Corpus Christi
because the victims were Mexican
citizens. One was convicted, but
released on appeal bond He had
been sentenced to 24 years in the
penn, an unheard of term in Starr
County where five years had
generally been the maximum sen-
tence for murder.
This had later repercussions, as
will be noted. The election of
November 1936 brought out a heavy
vote, but the incumbent Democrats
defeated the Free Voters by more
than two to one, 2289 vs. 1135.
Two years later in 1938, the same
two deputies, pending further trial,
were paroled to the local Sheriff's
Department and were riding a
school bus with a deputy and
traveled to La Grulla.
I forgot to mention that the Free
Voters Party had won only in that
precinct by a narrow margin.
Presumably, there had been an
earlier feud between one deputy
and a political leader of the Free
Voters that went beyond politics.
In any case, the school bus
occupants purportedly made some
statement promptly relayed to the
JP at La Grulla, who deputized five
men to arrest the occupants of the
school bus. The word went out
ahead of the deputized officers and
the school bus headed back to Rio
Grande City via the old military
The Grulla officers took the main
road and arrived near the in-
tersection at La Puerta sooner.
They parked their car crossways of
the road just their side of a curve
so the school bus swerved and hit a
telephone pole. At this juncture, the
Grulla officers opened fire, killing
all three occupants and leaving
about 30 bullet holes in the cab.
The Grulla officers returned to
La Grulla and advised J.M.
Longoria, who reportedly called the
sheriff to pick up three of his
bandits at the brickyard.
So we had some episodes of
violence here in the 30's; at-
tributable at least in part to
politics. I will continue this in the
RIO GRANDE HERALD RIO GRANDE CITY, TEXAS . SEPTEMBER 29,19U PACE 2
Janie Vela, left, and Lori Peterson, right, of Rio Grande
City both won top honors at the District XIII Farm
Bureau contest held in Alice Saturday. Lori Peterson
won the title of Miss Texas Farm Bureau, District XIII.
Janie Vela won the Free Enterprise Speech Contest.
Vela, Peterson Win District
Farm Bureau Contest
Bureau contestants were in-
troduced individually and as a
group. Each of the girls then had
an interview with the Master of
Ceremonies with a Farm Bureau-
related question and several ques-
tions about her 4-H and extracur-
He presented each of the contes-
tants with a gift before announcing
the decision of the judges.
Starr County Farm Bureau an-
nounces that their representatives
brought home top honors from the
Texas Farm Bureau District XIII
Contest held in Alice on September
Janie Vela won the Free En-
terprise Speech Contest and will be
the recipient of a one thousand
dollar scholarship for her ac-
complishment. A junior at Rio
Grande City High School, Janie is
the daughter of Mrs. Bertha Vela.
She is in the FFA.
Lori Peterson won the title of
Miss Texas Farm Bureau, District
XIII, and will receive a six
hundred fifty dollar scholarship A
senior at Rio Grande City High
School, Lori is the daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. James Peterson. She is in
The event held at the Holiday Inn
in Alice, began with a buffet meal,
followed by the program The
welcome was given by Steve
Bearden, State Director District
XIII Following the invocation,
Bearden introduced the guests.
Master of Ceremonies Ned
Meister, Texas Farm Bureau Di-
rector of Regulatory Affairs, in-
troduced the contests. Miss Farm
Miss Peterson was crowned the
winner and received a spray of one
dozen red roses. Runners-up Doyce
Lynn Elliott of Live Oak County
and Shelly Richey of Kleberg-
Kenedy County each received a
spray of pink carnations.
Janie and Lori also won expense
paid trips for themselves and one
parent to the State Farm Bureau
Contests in Corpus Christi on
December 3 and 4, where they will
be competing for state honors. If
they win there, their scholarships
wiil be increased. Supporting and
accompanying the girls in their
respective contests was Mrs.
Mauricio(Zulema) Garza, of the
Starr County Farm Bureau and
Jerry Gutierrez is the director of
the Starr County Farm Bureau
which sponsored the contestants.
Foundation Board Accepts EDA Grant
approved in Washington, but
everything will be handled through
the regional office in Austin. We
have a schedule as to when we
have"' to do certain things, and
much documentation is required.
We need to submit more informa-
tion to EDA in Austin."
Montalvo noted, "They (EDA)
have given us pretty much a year
to utilize the grant."
About the current efforts by
industrial park prospect Lift
Marketing, Montalvo said, "Lift
Marketing is still trying to finalize
their financing from different
The Board of Directors of the
Starr County Industrial Foundation
recently voted to accept a grant
from the Economic Development
Administration to develop the in-
dustrial park infrastructure for a
prospective automotive lift manu-
In late July, the EDA announced
its approval of a $240,000 grant to
the Industrial Foundation to
facilitate development of the in-
dustrial park infrastructur for Lift
Industrial Foundation Executive
Director Rene Montalvo said
Tuesday, "Our board accepted the
EDA grant on Sept. 7, within the
required 45-day period. The grant
was approved by EDA in July."
Montalvo said, "The grant was
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Montalvo concluded, "Once we
attract our first industry, it will be
much easier to attract others."
The EDA funding will be utilized
to construct an access road into the
industrial park, as well as con-
struction of 1400 feet of water and
sewer lines into the site
Sen Phil Gramm said in July
that Lift Marketing, which con-
structs lifts for trucks and heavy
equipment, is expected to employ
80 persons at the Starr County site
initially Gramm said then that 58
additional employees will likely be
hired after the firm's first year of
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The RIO GRANDE
HERALD, Rio Grande
City, Texas Owned by the
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Publishing Co. Inc.,
James V. Mathis, Presi-
dent, 215 E. University.
Kdinburg, Texas 7853#.
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Mailing Address: The Rio
Grande Herald, P.O. Box
452. Rio Grande City,
Teias 78582. Telephone
1512) 487 2 lt.
The Palio is a raucous horse race that
has been held annually in the central
square of Siena, Italy, since the 1600s,
pitting neighborhood against
neighborhood in centuries-old rivalries.
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Roberts, Kenneth. The Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), No. 47, Ed. 1 Thursday, September 29, 1988, newspaper, September 29, 1988; Edinburg, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth195152/m1/2/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rio Grande City Public Library.