The history of Lodi, land of the Chayopines
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By J.T. Jaeggli
July 14, 1971
It was called the land of the Chayopines by the Mission Padres and early citizens of Bexar for the Indian tribes that inhabited the surrounding region and were part of the Mission Concepcion establishment (Bolton), as well as at Las Cabras nearby. Father Solis set them up a cross when he came “mission inspecting” in 1768, up the dusty road from Mexico. Morfi in 1777, saw some miserable mud huts there with six inhabitants, while a short way down the river, just across Paso Mujeres was Las Cabras with 26, largest of all the ranchos, now decimated by Indian attacks.
For the five Pena brothers, more especially Ygnacio, it was San Eldifonzo del Chayopin, ranch headquarters from 1756 to 1787. And a nephew, Francisco Farias, asked it be granted to him because of their long occupancy; the cross was still there then, but the Spanish government favored the Arochas, Simon and Juan, soldier captains with long years of service and Canary Islanders descendants, with eight full leagues, more than 35,440 acres stretching to where the Rio Calaveras joined the San Antonio River. Close by there arose the Arochas’ rancho granado’s hacienda, while below, near the olden Indian camp, Jose Maria Flores, son of Don Francisco, ran his horses and cattle and neighbored with Erasmo Seguin; wed his daughter and lost his own daughter to son, Juan Seguin, a colonel in the Texas Army. Don Erasmo cut his own road to Gonzales for supplies and trade and Juan trained his cavalry at Camp Vigilance in 1837 on this route.
Nearby, too, were Ramon Trevino and the Perezes, while across the river Maria Carman Calvillo kept the Lipan Apaches at bay and the goats of Las Cabras grew fat and numerous while periodically, a Padre soothed the Indian and Spanish soul. Sheep from Rancho Borrego just up the river mingled with the goats. Rafael Herrera came next on Calvillo land, and then Pedro Flores on his share of father Don Francisco’s several grants. On up the road to Canada Verde and Graytown, Don Francisco’s daughter and Herrera wed, living in her father’s adobe home. Brick from Calaveras was used to double its size with her husband’s hard-won success.
Mississippi-born Steven T. Cook broke the ice for the Anglos buying property on the La Bahia Road in 1858 from the heirs of Ramon Trevino, and victualed the surrounding folks from his little frame store. Captured the Post Office, too, and held it until 1872. Cook’s plea to county seat pro tem at Sutherland Springs brought a connecting 20 feet wide, class two road, from trading center of the plantation few to Cook’s Store on the Ox-Cart Road from San Antonio to the seaport of Indianola.
Stormy war; gallant lads, gray beards, took time out to fight their own. Back again, now Northern led, young-old take up the ends to weave anew. December 9, 1867, voters ranks thinned by carpetbaggers pen, make a new county seat to rise on site picked of three, this one donated acres by Sheriff S. Barker and wife, nee Josefa Flores, second of Jose’s four comelies, and Lodi’s boom is on with Flores kin and Zerda brethren well in front of Spanish Canary Islanders, and Anglos.
River’s flow draws the flock; new Floresville is dry. James Gholson, smithy, best spotted on the Lodi crossroads; northwest to San Antonio, northeast to Sutherland Springs, La Vernia, and Seguin; east to Gonzales; southeast to old LaBahia; south via Conquista Crossing, to Fort Merrill, fledgling Corpus Christi, Matamoros and the Valley; west over the San Antonio River’s only ferry to Laredo and Mexico. Gholson very soon sells out to Texas veteran James W. Gray, who is seeking greener pastures after founding Graytown, where his “first” ferry on the Rio San Antonio responds to a new wheel-hand.
Closing in come A. J. Lewis and Bennett Johnson, partners in general merchandise, on Flores land bought up by the Trial brothers, Joseph and Pierre, newly arrived from France, dead-bent on Texanizing swiftly. Citizens in a few weeks time and P.R. right off appointed Sheriff with ink scarce dry on his U.S. oath on county’s books.Merchant Prince from San Antonio, Benito Lopez sets up his store and also a children’s school. He hedges his bets with the first brick store in nearby Floresville.
Everybody’s friend, a Texas veteran too, P.L. Buquor moves in to further carry on as notary extraordinary. A.C. Staudt soon has a hungry cotton gin sawing at oxen and horse-drawn loads of King Cotton; keeps a saddlery too, and is Treasurer for the county.
Doctors Alexander Irvin and R. H. Watkins and lawyer J. Q. Wall hasten in as Lodi bulges with arrivals, Spanish, two to one.
Devout parishioners see a church spire rise as Padre Diane beams, and changes pace, te deum, in freshly consecrated segment of Cantu soil, standing by for clay-footed mortals.
On Washington Plaza in Jose Maria Roxo’s new Lodi addition at the crossroads, too, mariachis play, fandangos wheel, and fiesta’s fun holds sway -- not only then but for many years to come.
Agapito Cantu and his wealth arrive to take up new abode, leaving his Calaveras Rancho Viejo and river crossing supply house to other hands.
Some businesses and citizens of early Lodi:
Nemencio de la Zerda - ex-sheriff and ferry owner;
James W. Gray, Blacksmith, Tinner, Store and Bar;
Benito Lopez- General Merchandise, School in his store,
T. Wilson Cook -- Store and Bar.
Francisco Estrada -- Store and Bar.
Adam C. Staudt -- Hotel, Saddlery Shop, Gin, County Treasurer.
C.B. Stevenson and Co. Lumber Yard.
De la Zerda -- Nemencio, Pedro, Juan Jose, Conception de Refugio Arambulo, Flores -- Jose Maria (after whom Floresville is named), Mrs. Jose Maria Martinez, Mrs. Juan N. Seguin, Mrs. Clemente Delgado, Mrs. Samuel W. Barker, Clemente Tejada, Manuel J. Ximenez, Agapito Cantu, P. R. and
Joseph Trial (street named after them though incorrectly spelled Trail), Trevino -- Ramon and Vicente, Philip Barnhart, Salvador Flores, Lucas Longoria, John Berney, and Vicente Carvajal.
Lodi was the county seat from December 17, 1867, to May 28, 1872.
Sources: Solis and Morfi Diaries, Castaneda, Bexar and Wilson County deed records, Wilson County Commissioners Court Minutes, County Treasurer’s records, Ramsey on P.O. s.
Transcribed by Gene Maeckel from an article in the files of the Wilson County Historical Society Archives,
P.O. Box 101, Floresville, TX 78114. The Wilson County Historical Society meets every third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the American Legion Hall in Floresville, 1412 Fourth St. Dues are $20 for individuals, or $30 for couples. Call La Juana Newnam-Leus at 830-393-2166 or visit wilsoncountyhistory.org, also available under Links from http://wilsoncountynews.com. Click on Communities.