Kleberg Library hosts author of Balo’s War

Kleberg County Sheriff James Scarborough
Kleberg County Sheriff James Scarborough

On Aug. 11, 1915, Kleberg County Sheriff James Scarborough arrested Santos Rodriguez west of Kingsville, who the sheriff said was one of the leaders of the Norias raid. Five days later, on Aug. 16, Scarborough and Texas Rangers Joe Brooks and Charley Price arrested Juan Sanchez in a shack on the King Ranch, 18 miles south of Kingsville. Sanchez too was believed to be one of leaders of Norias Ranch raid.

The Norias Ranch Raid, which occurred on Aug. 8, 1915, was one of the most notable events of the guerrilla war that resulted from the Plan of San Diego uncovered in January 1915. While most of the fighting took place in the Rio Grande Valley, Kingsville was at the crossroads of the action.

Las Norias Bandit Raid, Photographer Robert Runyon
Texas Rangers pose with corpses of raiders killed at Las Norias Raid. Photographer Robert Runyon.

On Sept. 30, 1915, the Corpus Christi Caller and Daily Herald reported that train carloads of troops passed through Kingsville on their way to the Valley. A northbound train carried “four Mexicans cuffed with chains neck-to-neck.” They were rumored to be accused of killing a U.S. soldier.

On Sept. 15, 1916, six soldiers from the Kingsville garrison were sent to San Diego to assist the five troopers in San Diego, which it was felt were not enough to handle a “general uprising” believed imminent on Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16.

A vivid description of the Plan of the Plan of San Diego will be discussed at the Robert J. Kleberg Public Library on Feb. 27 by Alfredo E. Cardenas author of the recently published historical novel, Balo’s War, A Novel About the Plan of San Diego. Cardenas will discuss his book at 10 a.m. at the library located at 220 N 4th Street in Kingsville. The book will be available for purchase for $15.

The Plan of San Diego called for inciting a revolution in the American southwest. It is not an event found in history books, but has been extensively studied by scholars. Balo’s War takes a fresh look at the event to bring to life the conditions that existed in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley that gave rise to the Plan of San Diego.

“I chose to tell the story in the historical fiction genre, because it afforded me more latitude to delve into the motives of those who were involved with the plan and those who contributed to conditions that gave rise to such an idea,” Cardenas said.

Balo’s War uses a variety of characters, real and imagined, to tell the story of a people who went from being Spaniard to Mexican to American in a short span of 30 years. They struggled to hold on to their land, their language, their culture and their history—against insurmountable odds. At times this struggle resorted to violence.

In the Summer and Fall of 1915, guerrilla-like attacks were launched against trains, public works projects and United States Army troops throughout the Rio Grande Valley. In retaliation, Texas Rangers, local law enforcement and citizen militias summarily executed hundreds of innocent Mexican Americans accused of being bandits without the benefit of jury trial. Hundreds of people lost their lives and the economic development of the Valley was shattered.

Historian Ben Johnson, one of the scholars who has written a nonfiction book about the Plan of San Diego entitled Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans Into Americans, said of Balo’s War:

“The main characters and plot work well to tell the story of the uprising and where it fits into the larger history of South Texas and the border.”

John Knaggs, author of The Bugles are Silent, A Novel of the Texas Revolution said Cardenas’ book is:

“A fascinating story about events that influenced the development of South Texas.”

Balo’s War

No Description

2 thoughts on “Kleberg Library hosts author of Balo’s War

  1. According to family oral history, some of my paternal ancestors lost their lives and land from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. Wish I knew more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *