Uvalde County, Texas

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Uvalde County, Texas
Uvalde courthouse.jpg
The Uvalde County Courthouse was built in 1928 in neoclassical design. It is the fifth structure used as the county courthouse, having replaced the previous building constructed in 1890.
Map of Texas highlighting Uvalde County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of USA TX.svg
Texas's location within the U.S.
Named for Juan de Ugalde
Seat Uvalde
Largest cityUvalde
  Total1,559 sq mi (4,038 km2)
  Land1,552 sq mi (4,020 km2)
  Water6.7 sq mi (17 km2), 0.4%
  Density17/sq mi (7/km2)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Central: UTC−6/−5
Website www.uvaldecounty.com
Uvalde County marker Uvalde County marker IMG 1878.JPG
Uvalde County marker
A scene of the Texas Hill Country in northern Uvalde County Hill Country scene in Uvalde County, TX IMG 1875.JPG
A scene of the Texas Hill Country in northern Uvalde County
Texas State Highway 55 as it meanders through scenic northwestern Uvalde County near the Nueces River TX Hwy 55 in Uvalde County IMG 1319.JPG
Texas State Highway 55 as it meanders through scenic northwestern Uvalde County near the Nueces River

Uvalde County ( /jˈvældi/ yoo-VAL-dee) is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 26,405. [1] Its county seat is Uvalde. [2] The county was created in 1850 and organized in 1856. [3] It is named for Juan de Ugalde, the Spanish governor of Coahuila. Uvalde County was founded by Reading Wood Black who also founded the city of Uvalde, Texas.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.


Uvalde County comprises the Uvalde, TX Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Native Americans

Artifacts establish human habitation dating back to 7000 B.C. Evidence of a permanent Indian village on the Leona River at a place south of the Fort Inge site is indicated in the written accounts of Fernando del Bosque's exploration in 1675. Comanche, Tonkawa, Seminole and Lipan Apache continued hunting and raiding settlers into the 19th Century. [4]

Artifact (archaeology) Something made by humans and of archaeological interest

An artifact, or artefact, is something made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Village Small clustered human settlement smaller than a town

A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town, with a population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. Though villages are often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighborhoods. Villages are normally permanent, with fixed dwellings; however, transient villages can occur. Further, the dwellings of a village are fairly close to one another, not scattered broadly over the landscape, as a dispersed settlement.

Early explorations

On January 9, 1790, Juan de Ugalde, governor of Coahuila and commandant of the Provincias Internas, led 600 men to a decisive victory over the Apaches near the site of modern Utopia [5] at a place known then as Arroyo de la Soledad. In honor of his victory, the canyon area was thereafter called Cañon de Ugalde. French botanist Jean-Louis Berlandier visited the area in the late 1820s. James Bowie guided a group of silver prospectors into the area of north central Uvalde County in the 1830s. A trail used by General Adrián Woll's Mexican Army on its way to attack San Antonio in 1842 crossed the territory of Uvalde County and became the main highway to San Antonio.

Juan de Ugalde later also (wrongly) known by American settlers as Juan de Uvalde was born in Cádiz, Spain. In 1787, he was promoted to commanding general of Texas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Nuevo Santander. In 1790, he successfully led Spanish soldiers against Apache forces at Arroyo de la Soledad, which was renamed in his honor as Cañon de Ugalde. In the mid-19th century, American settlers altered this to Uvalde, which is the name of the present-day city there. After the Spanish government ordered him back to Spain, Ugalde continued in the service and was promoted to field marshal in 1797. In 1810, he was promoted to lieutenant general. Ugalde died in Cádiz in 1816.

Provincias Internas

The Provincias Internas, also known as the Comandancia y Capitanía General de las Provincias Internas, was an administrative district of the Spanish Empire created in 1776 to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present-day northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The goal of its creation was to establish a unified government in political, military and fiscal affairs. Nevertheless, the Commandancy General experienced significant changes in its administration because of experimentation to find the best government for the frontier region as well as bureaucratic in-fighting. Its creation was part of the Bourbon Reforms and was part of an effort to invigorate economic and population growth in the region to stave off encroachment on the region by foreign powers. During its existence, the Commandancy General encompassed the Provinces of Sonora y Sinaloa, Nueva Vizcaya, Las Californias, Nuevo México, Nuevo Santander, Nuevo Reyno de León, Coahuila and Texas.

Canyon Deep ravine between cliffs

A canyon or gorge is a deep cleft between escarpments or cliffs resulting from weathering and the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales. Rivers have a natural tendency to cut through underlying surfaces, eventually wearing away rock layers as sediments are removed downstream. A river bed will gradually reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water into which the river drains. The processes of weathering and erosion will form canyons when the river's headwaters and estuary are at significantly different elevations, particularly through regions where softer rock layers are intermingled with harder layers more resistant to weathering.

Early settlements

Fort Inge was established in 1849 to repress Indian depredations on the international border with Mexico, and was served by the Overland Southern Mail.

Fort Inge

Fort Inge was a frontier fort in Uvalde County, Texas, United States.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

One of the first settlers to the environs was William Washington Arnett, who arrived in the winter of 1852. The Canyon de Ugalde Land Company, formed by land speculators in San Antonio in 1837, began purchasing headright grants in Uvalde County in the late 1830s. Reading Wood Black, [6] who with a partner, Nathan L. Stratton, purchased an undivided league and labor on the Leona River in 1853 at the future site of Uvalde. May 2, 1855, Black hired San Antonio lithographer Wilhelm Carl August Thielepape, [7] and laid out Encina, the town later known as Uvalde. [8] [9] Waresville settlement 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 coincided with Reading Black's development of the Leona River at Encina.

A headright is a legal grant of land to settlers. Headrights are most notable for their role in the expansion of the thirteen British colonies in North America; the Virginia Company of London gave headrights to settlers, and the Plymouth Company followed suit. The headright system was used in several colonies, including Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Most headrights were for 1 to 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land, and were given to anyone willing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and help populate the colonies. Headrights were granted to anyone who would pay for the transportation costs of a laborer or enslaved people. These land grants consisted of 50 acres (200,000 m2) for someone newly moving to the area and 100 acres (0.40 km2) for people previously living in the area. By giving the land to the landowning masters the indentured servants had little or no chance to procure their own land. This kept many colonials poor and led to anger between the poor enslaved people and wealthy landowners.

Reading Wood Black, was the father of Uvalde County, Texas and city of Uvalde, Texas, which he founded as the town of Encina. In 1979, Recorded Texas Historic Landmark 4209 was placed in the Hillcrest Cemetery to honor Reading Wood Black. In 1997, Recorded Texas Historic Landmark 4208 was placed at the intersection of East Street and U.S. 90, to mark the site of the former home and trading post of Reading Wood Black.

A league is a unit of length. It was common in Europe and Latin America, but is no longer an official unit in any nation. The word originally meant the distance a person could walk in an hour. Since the Middle Ages, many values have been specified in several countries.

County established and growth

In November 1855, Reading Wood Black successfully lobbied the Texas legislature to organize Uvalde County. On May 12, the county was formally organized. On June 14, Encina was named county seat. The second floor of the courthouse was made into a school, and six school districts were organized for the county in 1858. The San Antonio-El Paso Mail route was extended along the county's main road with a stop at Fort Inge in 1857.

Conflict between Mexicans and Anglos during and after the Mexican War continued in Uvalde County, with the reported lynching of eleven Mexicans near the Nueces River in 1855. Laws passed in 1857 prohibited Mexicans from traveling through the county.

Residents of Uvalde County voted 76–16 against secession from the Union. The abandonment of Fort Inge immediately after secession was followed by renewed Indian attacks. Many men in Uvalde County fought for the Confederacy, while some Unionists fled to Mexico to avoid persecution. [10]

Uvalde County endured three decades of unrelenting lawlessness after the Civil War. Violence, lawlessness and Confederate-Union conflicts among citizens were so pervasive that armed guards were employed to assist the county tax assessor and collector, and the county had no sheriff for nearly two years. The years immediately following the Civil War were marked by conflicts between Confederates and Unionists returning to live in Uvalde County. Smugglers, cattle and horse rustlers, and numerous other desperadoes saturated the area, including notorious cattle rustler, J. King Fisher who was appointed Uvalde sheriff in 1881. [11] Willis Newton of The Newton Gang robbed his first train near Uvalde. Jess and Joe Newton retired to Uvalde. [12]

The Uvalde Umpire began publication in 1878 and the Hesparian in 1879.

The Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway was built through the county, passing through Sabinal and Uvalde City, in 1881.

William M. Landrum introduced Angora goats to the area in the 1880s. By the turn of the century goats outnumbered cattle.

Pat Garrett lived in the county 1891–1900 [13]

By 1905 the Southern Pacific had established railheads in Uvalde, Knippa, and Sabinal.

The local bee industry developed a product that received first place in the 1900 Paris World's Fair.

Garner State Park built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1941. Garner Army Air Field the same year.

The National Fish Hatchery, completed in 1937, produced a million catfish, largemouth bass and sunfish in the 1970s.

Approximately $45 million was generated by farming in Uvalde County in 1974.

In January 1989 Uvalde County withdrew from the Edwards Underground Water District.

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


From the Mexican Revolution in 1910, immigrant labor force cleared large tracts of land and digging ditches, as irrigation spread throughout the county. The Uvalde and Northern Railway to Camp Wood, the Asphalt Beltway Railway in 1921, and the expansion of the asphalt mines in far southwestern Uvalde County at Blewett and Dabney were completed with the help of Mexican labor. By 1960 Mexican Americans made up one half of Uvalde County's 16,015 population. Seasonal migrant workers continued to move to Uvalde and Sabinal during the 1960s..

The Alien Land Laws of 1891, 1892 and 1921 prohibited ownership of Texas land by non-citizen residents. [14] The laws were repealed in 1965 by the Fifty-ninth Texas Legislature. These and other discriminatory deed restrictions had limited Tejanos in the purchase of town lots in the county.

Efforts to gain civil rights for Hispanics in Uvalde County began with the establishment of the Tomas Valle Post of the American Legion. County churches maintained segregated places of worship until an integrated Catholic church emerged in Uvalde in 1965.

The Mexican American Youth Organization formed in Uvalde City in 1968 and eventually led to a 6-week walkout by more than 600 Mexican-American students an on April 14, 1970. [15] [16] The Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety responded to requests by the school board to help control the volatile situation. Senator Walter F. Mondale, chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Equal Educational Opportunity, went to Uvalde on July 30, 1970, and criticized city officials in an interview published in the Uvalde Leader News. [17]

A 1970 class action lawsuit was filed by Ms. Genoveva Morales on behalf of her children against the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. [18]

In 1975, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Uvalde C.I.S.D. in Texas had failed to desegregate its school system in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1976, the Court ordered Uvalde C.I.S.D. to comply. In 2007, Uvalde C.I.S.D. sought to dismiss the desegregation order. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) opposed. On September 15, 2008, a settlement was reached. [19] [20] [21]

By 1975, only six Mexican Americans had served in public office in the county and none in leading roles. Since then several Mexican Americans [22] have served as county commissioners and in other county and local positions.

2017 church bus crash

On March 29, 2017, thirteen senior citizens from the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels in Comal County who had completed a retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment near Leakey in Real County were killed when Jack D. Young, the 20-year-old driver of a pickup, crashed into the church minivan on U.S. Highway 83 inside Uvalde County near Garner State Park. One person survived the crash in critical condition. The collision was one of the deadliest in memory in Uvalde County. [23]

Young, who worked on his father's ranch and at a golf course and had no criminal record, told a witness, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry" and said that he had been on his cell phone at the time of the crash. Jody Kuchler, a welder from Leakey who saw the accident, said that the driver of the church vehicle moved over to try to avoid Young's incoming pickup but was blocked by the presence of a guard rail. [24]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,559 square miles (4,040 km2), of which 1,552 square miles (4,020 km2) is land and 6.7 square miles (17 km2) (0.4%) is water. [25]

Major highways

Adjacent counties


Historical population
1860 506
1870 85168.2%
1880 2,541198.6%
1890 3,80449.7%
1900 4,64722.2%
1910 11,233141.7%
1920 10,769−4.1%
1930 12,94520.2%
1940 13,2462.3%
1950 16,01520.9%
1960 16,8145.0%
1970 17,3483.2%
1980 22,44129.4%
1990 23,3404.0%
2000 25,92611.1%
2010 26,4051.8%
Est. 201627,285 [26] 3.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [27]
1850–2010 [28] 2010–2014 [1]

As of the census [29] of 2000, there were 25,926 people, 8,559 households, and 6,641 families residing in the county. The population density was 17 people per square mile (6/km²). There were 10,166 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.68% White, 0.36% Black or African American, 0.68% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 19.65% from other races, and 3.16% from two or more races. 65.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,559 households out of which 40.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.4% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 19.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.96 and the average family size is 3.42.

In the county, the population was spread out with 31.4% under the age of 18, 9.80% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 20% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 95.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,164, and the median income for a family was $30,671. Males had a median income of $25,135 versus $16,486 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,557. About 19.90% of families and 24.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 18.6% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated community


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [30]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 53.9%4,83543.1% 3,8672.9% 262
2012 53.7%4,52945.4% 3,8251.0% 81
2008 52.4%4,59047.1% 4,1260.6% 50
2004 60.7%5,14838.9% 3,2980.4% 37
2000 57.7%4,85540.8% 3,4361.5% 129
1996 47.7%3,49446.3% 3,3976.0% 442
1992 42.6%3,63540.8% 3,48216.7% 1,426
1988 53.3%4,26646.0% 3,6840.6% 51
1984 65.7%4,79034.1% 2,4820.2% 15
1980 61.1%3,88737.7% 2,4021.2% 77
1976 57.0%3,10342.2% 2,2990.9% 47
1972 72.9%3,88327.0% 1,4380.1% 6
1968 47.3%2,25236.5% 1,73616.2% 771
1964 45.4% 1,96354.5%2,3580.1% 5
1960 62.3%2,21437.3% 1,3240.4% 14
1956 70.7%2,44928.7% 9940.6% 20
1952 69.4%2,80530.4% 1,2300.2% 9
1948 34.0% 86660.9%1,5505.1% 129
1944 36.3% 85656.1%1,3227.6% 178
1940 22.9% 55676.9%1,8710.3% 6
1936 16.9% 35483.1%1,7430.1% 1
1932 19.3% 42280.5%1,7590.2% 5
1928 62.1%1,22437.9% 747
1924 20.5% 35176.5%1,3123.0% 52
1920 23.2% 23772.8%7434.0% 41
1916 11.0% 9287.3%7281.7% 14
1912 6.9% 5377.7%60115.5% 120

See also

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Further reading

Coordinates: 29°21′N99°46′W / 29.35°N 99.76°W / 29.35; -99.76