Monday, March 03, 2008

"A serious misjudgment on the part of our state's governing bodies."

Trade corridor would destroy historically important sites


Darwin Baucum and Theresa Bluntzer
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Copyright 2008

Imagine if the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) decided to bulldoze the Alamo and build a tollway over the site. Outrageous, right? That's what may happen to Old San Patricio and Bluntzer. San Patricio is the birthplace of South Texas, the home of the world championship rattlesnake races. It is an area steeped in Texas history since it's founding in 1828.

The Texas Trans Corridor/I-69 project has plans that may include the total destruction of Old San Patricio and the original site of Bluntzer.

TxDOT is already in phase two of environmental studies and has already contracted with HB Zachry and a Spanish firm called Cintra to build and operate the toll road that will bisect the state of Texas from Texarkana to Mexico. TxDOT must have overlooked the historical significance of this area or they would have never selected it as a site for a toll road to the border with Mexico.

There are nine registered historical markers in the area, including the Casa Blanca Land Grant, Fort Lipantitlan, Santa Margarita crossing at Bluntzer, Battle of San Patricio, San Patricio de Hibernia, San Patricio County Courthouse, St. Patrick's Catholic Church, the old Dougherty house and the James McGloin home. Other sites of historical note are the Bluntzer school, the Nicholas Bluntzer home and ranch, Bluntzer cemetery, W.D. Bluntzer home, Wright longhorn ranch, St Joseph's Convent site, St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetery; the old cemetery on the hill is where Civil War dead are buried, and there are numerous sites of Indian burials and archeological digs.

Farm-to-Market 666 was known as the Camino Real and later the Cotton Road during the Civil War. It served as a trade corridor for the Confederacy. The road crossed the Nueces River at Santa Margarita, which became Bluntzer in 1850 and was home to Nicholas Bluntzer, then W.D. Bluntzer. They had there, on the banks of the Nueces, a cotton gin, general store, post office, telephone station and ranch headquarters. Nicholas came to Texas from Alsace and served in the Confederate Army. He was an influential rancher, Corpus Christi real estate investor, Texas trail driver, cotton grower, gin owner, retail store owner and hotel owner. Bluntzer is in the South Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and at the time of his death was the largest taxpayer in Nueces County. The Bluntzer home was bequeathed to the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament and they have remodeled it and now live there.

The Cotton Road continued one mile north to San Patricio. Old San Patricio was founded in 1829 by emprasarios James McGloin and John McMullen. It has a rich Irish history. The land grant founded San Patricio de Hibernia, named for the area's rich Irish heritage. The rattlesnake races, still held today, honor the Irish lore of the area.

The settlement was originally by 200 Irish Catholic families and was four leagues square. The battle of San Patricio was fought in the streets of town in 1836. In the 1880s the town boasted of churches, schools, cotton gins, grist mills, and a convent. Just above St. Patrick's Church is the cemetery on the hill. The cemetery was used by Indian tribes prior to 1829, and later for colony and Civil War dead. Among those interred there is Lt. Marcelino Garcia, who was killed at the battle of Lipantitlan in 1835.

With such a rich history, it would be a travesty to see it plowed under in the name of the I-69 corridor, especially when there are alternate routes that would spare and preserve the great historical importance and value of this area. History of this magnitude speaks volumes about the creation of the great state of Texas. To destroy it would be a serious misjudgment on the part of our state's governing bodies.

Darwin Baucum and his wife Theresa Bluntzer Baucum have lived at Bluntzer since 1979. To submit your opposition to the destruction of Old San Patricio and Bluntzer by The I-69 Trans Texas Corridor contact

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