Santa Anna is at the intersection of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, U.S. highways 283, 67, and 84, and Farm Road 1176 eight miles southeast of Coleman in southeast central Coleman County. The town was named for the twin mountains located just north of the community, which were in turn named for Santa Anna, a Comanche chief. The peaks served as a landmark to early surveyors and settlers. Camp Colorado, occupied by the United States Army from 1857 to 1861, was ten miles north of the site. Texas Rangers were also stationed in the vicinity and used the peaks as an observation post. Duke Jackson brought cattle into the area and built the first cabin at the site in 1860. Originally the community was named Gap for the pass that cut through the mountains. By the late 1870s several small stores had opened up by the gap, in 1879 the Santa Anna post office opened. A year later the first school was built. With the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad through the town in 1886 and the sale of a 200-acre tract of railroad land for town lots, Santa Anna began to grow rapidly. The stores located in the gap moved to the railroad tracks as new merchants arrived. Con Rowland began publishing the Santa Anna News in the early 1880s. L. V. Stockard, the first railroad agent, built a two-story rock store, and residents used the upper floor as an assembly hall and theater. Church groups of several denominations held services in the schoolhouse. Santa Anna developed as a cattle shipping point and as the chief marketing town for the eastern part of the county. By 1884 the town had two general stores, a drugstore, and a blacksmith shop. Among prominent early residents was John Riley Banister, a Texas Ranger and county sheriff, and his wife, Emma Banister, who became the first woman sheriff in Texas after her husband's death. Santa Anna was hit by a tornado in 1893 that destroyed five houses.

Santa Anna incorporated in 1906 with S. J. Pieratt serving as the first mayor. It had a population of 1,453 and a city water system in 1910. Sand from the nearby mountains proved to be 98.5 percent silica, and the town began to ship sand for glass manufacture in 1911. In 1914 Santa Anna had three cotton gins, two banks, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Christian churches, a high school, telephone service, electric lights, and gas piped in from Trickham. Sealy Hospital was built in 1917 and enlarged over the years; in 1928 a nursing school was added to the hospital. The hospital building burned down in 1982. By 1930 the community had grown to a population of 1,883, with some 120 businesses. Around 1930 the Texas Glass Company opened, employing sixty people and producing 52,000 glass bottles a day. The plant went through a series of owners and name changes until it closed in 1936. In 1936 the association of the site with early Texas Ranger camps was commemorated with the creation of Texas Ranger Park on a site at the east end of the mountains. The population began to decline in the 1930s, falling to 1,661 in 1940 and 1,320 in 1960. The local sand-processing plant was revived after World War II as the Santa Anna Silica Sand Company and resumed shipping sand in 1946. The plant closed in 1964. The town's population remained static through the 1960s, revived in the 1970s, reached 1,535 in 1980, and then fell to 1,249 in 1990. In the 1990s town industries included the Stempel office furniture plant and Art Fabrics. Efforts were underway to restore and revitalize the downtown area. The population dropped to 1,081 in 2000.

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Mark Odintz | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Gap is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Gap is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Santa Anna)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated