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The Salt Wars

The Salt Wars began in the late 1860s Republican leaders to acquire a legally questionable ownership title to the salt deposits at the foot of Guadalupe Peak, ninety miles east of the city. Their scheme resulted in a famously intense dispute over control by two factions led by W.W. Mills and Albert J. Fountain. Violence broke and resulted in the killing of Judge Gaylord Judd Clarke on December 7, 1870, and Fountain soon moved to New Mexico.

Violence erupted again seven years later, when local Democrat Charles Howard filed ownership on the salt deposits. Howard’s scheme infuriated local political boss and W. W. Mills ally, Louis Cardis who had previously helped Howard win political election. In retaliation, Cardis incited a mob of angry Mexican Americans that held Howard captive in San Elizario for three days.

Howard escaped with the help of the Texas Rangers, but soon returned for revenge against Cardis and shot him dead with a shotgun. Two months later, Howard was executed by presumed Cardis loyalists. The executioners were never found, but the violence caused the reestablishment of Fort Bliss, which had been closed earlier in the year.

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San Angelo Standard-Times history article

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Sonnichsen, C. L. 1961. The El Paso Salt War. Texas Western Press.