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Family wants father recognized for contributions to Orange

By Dawn Burleigh

In what is now a soccer field in the Cove area, across from the Port of Orange, is an area once known as the Mexican Quarters. It was named as such because it is where the first Hispanic people living in Orange resided.

“I was five when we moved from there,” Ella Flores said. She resides in Beaumont now but grew up in Orange. She was one of 10 children. Of the four remaining siblings, two reside in Orange.

“There were approximately 20 families living in the Quarters,” Flores said. “We attended Cove school.”

One sister, Petra, attended St. Mary’s School.

“I recall Dentist Geter did the dental work for our community,” Ella said.

She can also recall the cattle guard they had to cross to get home.

“I would like to see a historical marker there to recognize the contribution of the Hispanic people to the area,” Ella said. “My father was the first one to settle here and he stayed.”

Torivio Almaguer Sr. was originally from Laredo, Texas and was working at King’s Ranch when he was told to go to Orange for work.

He worked for Lutcher and Moore Lumber Co from July 25, 1918 until December 15, 1930 as a laborer at both Upper and Lower Mills. He left its employment due to both mills were down according to a letter he was given when the mill was closed.

“He then worked at the Texas Creosote Company until 1947,” Ella said. “There were no Hispanics here until Daddy was here and then they started coming.”

After the plant closed due to an explosion, Almaguer Sr. continued to work odd jobs.

“He kept the grounds at the Old Shangri La,” Ella said. “It was at an old Japanese house on Old Hwy. 90.”

“He formed roots here,” she added.

“By that time, he had six children,” Roberto Flores, Ella’s husband said.

Ella spoke of how the members of the family were brought here to work and how different ones made contributions to the community.

Almaguer Sr. mother, Grandma Pomposa, was the community’s midwife.

“Mom had one child in the hospital, the rest she had as home,” Ella said. “Grandma Pomposa was our midwife and worked with Dr. Phillips.”

“They were the original immigrants who came here to work and looking for opportunities,” Torivio Almaguer Jr., Ella’s youngest sibling, said. “There was war in Mexico. People were getting killed so they started coming here.”

The family does not want to see history forgotten and would like to see a historical marker installed at the location of the original Mexican Quarters. The names of the original families residing at the location are Almaguer, Abergo, Manchac, Pachuca, Sanchez, Lopez, Orta, Caballero, Campos, Morales, Cassidy, Gonzales, Falcon, Casiano, Barrientos and Deruela.

After leaving the Mexican Quarters, they relocated to 6th, 8th 16th Street and around Jack Island Road, now known as Bob Hall Road.

To have an area designated with a marker, the county Historical Commission has to research the area and submit a request to the State Historical Commission. The Orange County Historical Commission is now aware of the request and will work on further research.