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County
Cameron
Region
Gulf Coast
Population
2010 Census - 733
2000 Census - 846
Nearby
Towns
Santa Maria, Texas
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Santa Maria Texas History:
The land was first settled in the 1750s by the Jose de Escandon colony. In 1777, Spain granted the land to Rosa Maria Hinojosa de Balli, a rancher known as La Patrona and the first “Cattle Queen” on Texas. Rosa was married to Jose Maria Balli. One of their three sons was Jose Nicolas Balli, a missionary priest who developed Padre Island. In 1824, the priests of the Missionary Oblates of Immaculate built a chapel. A small community developed. The post office was established in 1878. Within two years, the town had two schools, a daily stage, a military post and a customhouse. Cotton was shipped down the Rio Grande River from a wharf located 1.5 miles south of town. In 1913, the San Benito and Rio Grande Valley Railway built a line through the area and built a depot in Santa Maria. The depot remained open until 1957. The post office was discontinued in 1921, but reopened in 1925. The Colonia that lies adjacent to Santa Maria had 239 dwellings and 1,076 residents in 1986. Santa Maria is located 1.5 miles north of the Rio Grande River at the intersection of U.S. 281 and CR 2556, 7.6 miles east of Progreso, 30 miles east of Hidalgo, 30 miles southeast of McAllen, 19 miles southeast of Donna, 13.6 miles southeast of Weslaco, 8.8 miles southeast of Mercedes, 8 miles southwest of La Feria, 25 miles southwest of Rio Hondo, 16.7 miles southwest of Harlingen, 17.5 miles southwest of San Benito, 52 miles west of South Padre Island, 27 miles west of Los Fresnos, 7 miles northwest of Los Indios, and 27.7 miles northwest of Brownsville, Texas.
 
Our Lady of Visitation Chapel, 1824:
The chapel was in built in 1824 by the Father Pierre Yves Keralum of the Missionary Oblates of Immaculate. The chapel is located at the junction of U.S. 281 and FM 2556, twelve miles southwest of Harlingen in Santa Maria, Texas.  
 
Father Pierre Yves Keralum:
Father Pierre was an architect in France before coming to the U.S. and serving with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate which was charged by the Catholic Church with serving the Laredo area, and later, the eight southernmost counties of Texas. He built chapels and churches up and down the Rio Grande River, including the Chapel on the Toluca Ranch in Progresso, and the former 1854 church in Roma. In 1856 he had begun construction on the parish church in Roma, Texas when the Oblate superior in charge of building the cathedral in Brownsville drowned at sea. Father Keralum took over the building and design of Brownsville’s Gothic Revival Immaculate Conception Cathedral, and designed and built Our Lady of Visitation Church in Santa Maria, and Laredo’s San Agustin Cathedral. A marker is located at a knoll behind Compass Bank at 201 Starr Street, Mercedes.
 
Historic Alonso de Leon Expedition, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Spain's desire to colonize this area of the New World in the late 17th Century was spurred by the fear that French adventurer Rene La Salle, who had landed on the Texas coast in 1684, was claiming vast areas for its bitter rival, France. In 1685 Spain's Mexican Viceroy directed Alonso de Leon to lead expeditions against French encroachment and protect Spain's claim by initiating the colonization of Texas. De Leon's first expedition in 1686 followed the Rio San Juan to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. In 1687 his second expedition crossed the Rio Grande near present-day Roma, made its way to the river's mouth, and proceeded up the coast to near Los Olmos Creek and Baffin Bay. On his third expedition in 1688 de Leon captured Frenchman Jean Henri near present-day Brackettville. Convinced that the French had settled in Texas, de Leon led a military expedition in 1689 that crossed the Guadalupe River near present-day Victoria before discovering and destroying what remained of La Salle's Fort St. Louis settlement in the Matagorda Bay area. De Leon led an expedition into Southeast Texas in 1690 that established the area's first Spanish mission, San Francisco de los Tejas, and eventually led to Spain's great enterprise of colonizing Texas.”The Texas Historical Marker located in a roadside park on the left when traveling east on U.S. 281 towards Santa Maria, Texas. From Los Rucias, Texas take U.S. 281 northwest approximately 2 miles to the roadside park.
 
Historic Longoria Cemetery, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“The Longoria family was among the initial Spanish settlers to arrive in this region in the mid-1700s. Juan Rosas Longoria and Maria Salome Cano were among the men and women who founded permanent communities such as the Villa de Reynosa, establishing the Longoria family in the area. They and other pioneers introduced ranching into the area with techniques brought from southern Spain, many of which remained in use centuries later. In 1831 Irineo Longoria increased the family landholdings north of the Rio Grande by purchasing portions of the Llano Grande, Le Feria and Ojo de Agua land grants. He added these tracts to the land of his second wife, Maria Inez Cavazos. They established residence in the community of Santa Maria. The Longoria Ranch stretched from what became Sebastian to the Rio Grande. The family also farmed the land and participated in the early development of irrigation systems in the Rio Grande Valley. Juan Miguel Longoria (1815-1875) became the owner of the Longoria Ranch in the mid-1880s. Married three times, he was the father of 17 children. His first wife was Soledad Cavazos. His second wife, Silveria Ruiz, became one of the first persons interred here upon her death before 1853. After his death, Juan Miguel’s third wife, Teresa Guerra, became the family matriarch and managed the ranch from 1875 to 1909. Juan Miguel’s grave is marked by an above the ground brick tomb. In the late 1990s, the cemetery was in a state of disrepair. Longoria descendants organized to restore the site and its estimated 371 graves to insure the endurance of the Longoria Cemetery as a chronicle of the diverse history and heritage of Texas.” The marker is located 1.8 miles east of Santa Maria on U.S. 281 at FM 506.
 
Historic Rancho de Santa Maria, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Part of Spain’s 1777 La Feria Grant, Partitioned into 6 units 1843. Here in 1850s was a sub post of Port Brown and Fort Ringgold. This was proposed site in 1860s for Homeville, its locality’s first small acreage promotion. Present compound built 1870 by L.J. Hynes. Has buildings for dairy, kitchen, ammunition. Hynes, first postmaster, had stage depot, general store, telegraph, office, shipping wharf on river. Chapel was built 1880. In 1892, Frank Rabb bought the ranch. In 1916 border troubles, U.S. Army established headquarters there.” The ranch is located a mile east of town on U.S. 281 on the south side of the road.