Today in Texas History – August 11

From the Annals of the Political Machines –  In 1914, the Duval County Courthouse in San Diego burned down taking with it most of the evidence that might have revealed the criminal activity of legendary South Texas boss Archer Parr.  Parr ran a powerful political machine that controlled Duval County and beyond. Parr was 22 when he settled in Duval County in 1882.  By 1907 he had control of the local Democratic Party and was the undisputed political boss of Duval County.  He maintained his control with the help of local Hispanics who kept voting Parr and his cronies into office in elections stained by corruption and fraud.  He ran Duval County as his personal business enterprise parsing out County funds to himself, his machine and the local poor folks who did receive some modest benefits from their boss.  The fire occurred during an audit of County finances that resulted in the indictment of Parr – by then a Texas State Senator.  But the fire likely destroyed the evidence needed to secure a conviction and Parr escaped further prosecution.  Parr’s control over the County was consolidated and he built a considerable personal fortune on the backs of his constituents.  The Parr family continued to control the County with Parr’s son George taking over after his death in 1942.  Parr family domination continued until at least 1975.

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