While Uvalde residents nowadays might be quick to criticize the condition of city streets and the traffic caused by construction, in 1897 they may have been more understanding. Back then, city residents were tasked with routine street maintenance.
According to an ordinance passed on Jan. 4, 1897, it was the duty of all able-bodied males between the age of 21 and 55 to maintain roadways. The only exception was for ministers of the gospel who were “actually engaged in the discharge of the ministerial duties.”
Capable male residents worked on, repaired and leveled roadways and alleys within the city of Uvalde. No person was allowed to work more than five days per year.
According to the ordinance, a man summoned for street duty was allowed to furnish an able-bodied substitute to work in his place. The substitute had to be approved by the city marshal. According to the ordinance, the substitute must be capable of performing a reasonable amount of work.
A man summoned for duty also had the option of paying the city a $3 fee in lieu of performing labor.
According to the ordinance, the city marshal was required to give three days notice to residents either in person or by writing. The notice included the time and place a person should report for duty and the number of days that person was required to work.
If a notice was given in writing, the city marshal had to deliver the summon to the resident’s residence. A member of the household, who had to be at least 10 years of age, must be present when the summon was delivered. If no one was home, the city marshal or street commissioner could post the notice on the front door.
Any man summoned for duty had to bring suitable tools as may be desired or directed by the city marshal or street commissioner.
Failure to complete resulted in fines and forfeitures. All money paid in lieu of work constituted a separate city fund, which was only used for improving the public streets and grounds of the city.
At the time the ordinance was passed, Jas McCann was serving as mayor.