Kelsey-Bass Museum and Event Center hosts book signing for Balo’s War

Attorneys attending sessions at the 79th District Court in Rio Grande City in 1915 reported that they carried books in one hand and pistols in the other. Such were the times in the Rio Grande Valley as a result of the guerrilla war underway in connection with the Plan of San Diego.

In June 1915, the Houston Post reported that U.S. infantry stationed at Mission rushed to Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City upon hearing that Mexican “bandits” were threatening the town. “Mexican and American farmers in that section are moving into Rio Grande City for protection,” the Post reported.

12715534_1723956377836266_4362849995001686416_n
Kelsey-Bass Museum and Event Center.

A vivid description of the Plan of San Diego will be discussed at the Kelsey-Bass Museum and Event Center on March 10 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 6 p.m. as part of an event sponsored by the Starr County Historical Foundation. The book will be available for purchase for $15, including sales tax.

Most of the fighting related to the Plan of San Diego took place in the Rio Grande Valley. While Starr County was in the periphery of most of the more violent action, citizens still lived under fear, Cardenas said. On Aug. 15, 1915, the Laredo Weekly Times reported that “bandits are near Rio Grande City.” In its June 7, 1915 edition, the El Paso Herald ran a story that “a body of Mexicans [intended]…raiding the country somewhere west of Rio Grande City.”

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 cover030115
Get Balo’s War here.

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.”

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.

Continue reading Kleberg Library hosts author of Balo’s War

Plan of San Diego felt as far away as Central Texas

In September 1915, Ben Felton, an African American porter at the Austin American newspaper was approached by several Mexicans who asked him to join an effort to take Texas from the United States. George Washington, Nelson Sneed, J. “Luck” Prosser, “General” Marion Jackson, and African Americans living in the small community of Creedmoor in southern Travis County, had similar experiences.

Continue reading Plan of San Diego felt as far away as Central Texas

Personal journals are crucial in historical and genealogical research

One of the greatest disappointments in researching South Texas history has been the lack of original personal sources from Mexican Americans. It is rare that you come across letters or journals on their personal lives and family stories. While editing my father’s upcoming book La Voz de Amor I came across a journal from my grandmother who died when my father was 10 and another personal record from my mother about when my father was in the service.

Continue reading Personal journals are crucial in historical and genealogical research

Holiday reading list proved enlightening

The Christmas holidays offered me an opportunity to do some reading, a luxury I don’t find time for during my regular days. I had the opportunity to read two books on Tejano history, one with direct ties to South Texas and the subject of my book Balo’s War.

Continue reading Holiday reading list proved enlightening

Motivos de Navidad: Spanish Christmas poem from upcoming book

Motivos de Navidad

por Servando Cardenas

Sabed vosotros, los que en Nochebuena
tenéis tranquilidad y dicha plena
y en vuestra mesa deliciosa cena
y lumbre en vuestro hogar:
Que ya las noches de tristeza y luto
de mi alma huyeron, y también disfruto,
como vosotros ese gran tributo
divino de gozar.

Continue reading Motivos de Navidad: Spanish Christmas poem from upcoming book

Book of poems scheduled for release in Spring 2016

During his lifetime my father, Servando Cardenas, wrote hundreds if not thousands of poems. Unfortunately, over time, many of them were lost either in moves, in floods or perhaps discarded. Those that remain will appear in our next book entitled “La Voz de Amor” scheduled for release in the Spring of 2016.

Continue reading Book of poems scheduled for release in Spring 2016

The Republic of Rio Grande was organized in South Texas

Bandera de la República del Río Grande por Daniel Rodríguez
Bandera de la República del Río Grande por Daniel Rodríguez

In my previous blog I referenced the flag of the Republic of the Rio Grande as the graphic for our new Web page. It was selected because the Republic of the Rio Grande got its start in the brush country of South Texas.

Continue reading The Republic of Rio Grande was organized in South Texas