Turning back the pages of time was the theme of the day on May 12 as the Uvalde County Commissioners Court met to commemorate the first-ever meeting of the governing body held on May 12, 1856. The meeting took place on the grounds of the Uvalde County Courthouse.
A regular business meeting was conducted before the commissioners involved themselves with recognizing the past.
“All Uvalde County elected officials and employees were encouraged to wear period dress. The public was also invited to attend the meeting and wear clothing reminiscent of the 1850s,” said Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell.
Dr. Al Stiffer, pastor of the Reagan Wells Baptist Church, opened the meeting with prayer. Uvaldean Bill Delahunt, dressed as an 1850s Ft. Ingo solider, posted the American flag. Emmett Harris, a local attorney and a member of the Uvalde County Bar Association, sang the national anthem, with Uvalde County Treasurer Joni Deorsam leading the pledge of allegiance.
Susan Anderson, chair of the Uvalde County Historical Commission, addressed the court describing in detail the five buildings that have served as the Uvalde County Courthouse. The current structure was built in 1927.
Nancy Feely, chair of the Uvalde County Sesquicentennial Committee, outlined some of the events scheduled for the remainder of the year geared to celebrate the county’s 150th birthday. While activities are scheduled each month, a big celebration is slated for Sept. 29-Oct.11. A giant parade and county fair will take place Oct. 7.
From Nov. 1-6, the county will be hosting “The Moving Wall,” a replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The display will be open to the public and will feature memorial services dedicated to those who were killed during the Vietnam conflict. The display will be set up along the banks of the Leona Riverwalk in downtown Uvalde.
The yearlong celebration will end on Dec. 31 shortly before midnight when the Sesquicentennial Committee will bury a time capsule on the courthouse grounds.
Although Uvalde County was created out of the territory known as Bexar County on Feb. 8, 1850, there were too few settlers in the region, and the organization of the county was not effected until nearly six years later.
A special election was conducted on April 21, 1856, to start the organizational process. At the election G.W. Brown was chosen as chief justice, a position today known as county judge. County commissioners selected at the election included Reading W. Black, Aaron Anglin, William M. Peppers and George Patterson.
The first meeting of the commissioners court took place in Encina on May 12, and Encina was chosen as the county seat. The name of the town was later changed to Uvalde in accordance with the legislative act that created the county.
The minutes of that first meeting reflect a motion that ordered that the county of Uvalde be declared “organized.”
Other business that first day allowed for Commissioner Patterson to purchase “the best and most suitable books that he can for recording for the county.” Commissioner Black was authorized to buy a seal and “notorial wafers” for the county court.
After the ceremonial meeting, a county birthday cake was served along with other refreshments.
In addition to Mitchell, current Uvalde County officials include Commissioners Randy Scheide, Mariano Pargas Jr., Jerry W. Bates and Jesse Moreno. John P. Dodson is the county attorney, Joni Deorsam is the county treasurer, Lucille C. Hutcherson is the county clerk and Terry Crawford is the county sheriff.
Maggie Del Toro is the tax assessor-collector, Lydia Steele is the district clerk, Mickey Pennington is the district judge, and Anton Hackabeil is the district attorney.
Justices of the peace include Steve Kennedy, Mona Velasquez, Bill Schaefer, Rodrigo Martinez and Ernesto Luna. Constables are Robert L. Price, Weldon McCutchen, Bill Dean, Robert Moss and Rodolfo Ballesteros.
More information about the Sesquicentennial can be found on the county’s Web site, www.uvaldecounty.com.
By Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell