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Juan O. Sanchez

GONZALES, DARÍO (1840–1896). Darío Gonzales, soldier and county official, was born in 1840 in Laredo, Texas, where his family had lived for many years. He married Celedonia de la Garza. He served in the Civil War under Santos Benavides as third sergeant and bugler. Under the leadership of Benavides, the Democratic party won back control of Laredo from the Republicans in the election of 1872, when Gonzales was elected sheriff of Webb County. He served in this capacity until 1885. From 1883 to 1885 he was sheriff and tax assessor-collector. The rejuvenated Democratic party was split soon after the 1872 election due to numerous election irregularities. The leader of the anti-Benavides faction was a transplanted Frenchman named Raymond Martin, whose opposition became more determined after he lost in the race for city treasurer in 1873. Sometime between 1873 and 1875 Gonzales as well as other local politicians switched political factions and joined Martin. In 1876 Gonzales was reelected sheriff under the Martin banner. During this time he was not only a political compatriot of Martin, but a business colleague as well. A rift occurred between Gonzales and Martin in 1883. Gonzales collected over $2,000 in taxes for Encinal County, but the funds never materialized in the county coffers. The county sued him and removed him from office. The case was eventually settled by the Texas Supreme Court in favor of Gonzales in 1885. In the interim a new political faction calling itself the Guaraches ("Sandals") began concerted opposition to Martin's political machine (see BOTAS AND GUARACHES). The faction, initially led by James J. Haynes, was eventually led by Gonzales. When Gonzales was sued and removed as sheriff he blamed Martin and the Botas ("Boots") for his embarrassment and downfall. Breaking with the Botas, Gonzales, along with a small band of followers, joined the Guaraches and by April 1886 had gained leadership.

In the city election of April 6, 1886, the Guaraches won only two seats on the city council. As a way of celebrating their small victory they appropriated one of two cannons that had been buried muzzle-down in front of the post office and used as hitching posts. They fired the gun, painted yellow and mounted on wheels, in celebration during the night of April 6. The Botas, not to be outdone, decided to parade on April 7 and celebrate the death of "El Club Gonzales-Guarache." Gonzales informed an angry crowd of Guaraches that he would not prevent the Botas from parading, but that he would not allow them "to bury the Guarache." Gonzales was also quoted as saying that instead of Guaraches "someone else was going to be buried." Attempts by leaders from both factions failed to stop the Bota parade, which began in the afternoon. The two factions met on the streets of Laredo, and an ensuing shooting spree left a number of men dead and wounded. The army and the Texas Rangers were called in to bring order. Gonzales and numerous other Guaraches petitioned Governor John Ireland to leave the rangers in the city indefinitely and even asked that they be reinforced. They also brought proceedings against Sheriff Darío Sánchez, who had replaced Gonzales, charging him with malfeasance, inciting a riot, and neglect of duty. Although initially removed, Sánchez was eventually reappointed and the charges dismissed; he also won reelection in the general election of November 1886, when the Guaraches were soundly defeated. By the city elections of 1890 the Guaraches had virtually ceased to exist. Ten years after the election riot, when Darío Gonzales died in 1896, new factions were being formed that continued to spice up Laredo politics.


Jerry D. Thompson, Warm Weather and Bad Whiskey: The 1886 Laredo Election Riot (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1991). Seb S. Wilcox, "The Laredo City Election and Riot of April, 1886, " Southwestern Historical Quarterly 45 (July 1941).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Juan O. Sanchez, "GONZALES, DARIO," accessed April 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgokq.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 10, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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