San Marcos

San Marcos, Texas

San Marcos, Texas

The historic district in dowtown San Marcos,  the seat of Hays County. Photograph by Larry D. Moore.

San Marcos, the county seat of Hays County, is on Interstate Highway 35 twenty-five miles south of Austin in the southeastern part of the county. It was the site of several Spanish attempts at colonization before it became the center of Anglo-American settlement in the area. The first such attempt, in 1755, saw the short-lived establishment of the San Xavier missions and the presidio of San Francisco Xavier. These were relocated less than a year later, and the headwaters of the San Marcos River remained unsettled for another half century. In 1808 the Spanish governor of Texas, Manuel Antonio Cordero y Bustamante, sponsored the civil settlement of San Marcos de Neve near the same site, but floods and Indian raids prompted its abandonment in 1812. In November 1846 Thomas G. McGehee became the first Anglo-American to settle in the vicinity of the San Marcos Springs, but William W. Moon has been identified as the original resident of the site that became San Marcos proper. Moon was soon joined by other former members of John C. Hays's company of Texas Rangers and by Gen. Edward Burleson. Cayton Erhard opened the first store and post office by 1847, and the First Methodist Church began soon after. The Texas Legislature organized Hays County on March 1, 1848, and designated the young community as the county seat. San Marcos already had 387 residents. In 1851 General Burleson, William Lindsey, and Dr. Eli T. Merriman took possession of a 640-acre section of the Juan Veramendi grant and laid out the town center. Tarbox and Brown stagecoaches linked San Marcos with Austin and San Antonio in 1848, and the town began its development as the commercial center for the cart trade between area farmers and ranchers and coastal commission merchants. It also became a center for ginning and milling local agricultural products. Slowed for a while by the Civil War, the population in 1870 had grown only to 742, but in the decade following the arrival of the International-Great Northern Railroad on August 31, 1880, it reached 2,335. In that decade the town supported two banks, an opera house, and a variety of stores, saloons, and other businesses.

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

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San Marcos is part of or belongs to the following places.

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Adoption Status: ⭐
This place has been adopted and will not be available until January 5, 2023
Adopted by:
Richard Germer
Dedication Message:
In Memory of Gregg H Germer Sr

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Place type

San Marcos is classified as a Town


  • Latitude

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Is Incorporated


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San Marcos by the Numbers

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Population Counts

San Marcos
Pop. Year Source
66,466 2019 Texas Demographic Center
44,894 2010 Texas Demographic Center
34,733 2000 Texas Demographic Center
28,738 1990 Texas Demographic Center
23,420 1980 Texas Demographic Center
18,860 1970 Texas Demographic Center
12,713 1960 Texas Demographic Center
9,980 1950 Texas Demographic Center
6,006 1940 Texas Demographic Center
5,134 1930 Texas Demographic Center
4,527 1920 Texas Demographic Center
4,071 1910 Texas Demographic Center
2,292 1900 Texas Demographic Center
2,335 1890 Texas Demographic Center
1,232 1880 Texas Demographic Center
741 1870 Texas Demographic Center