Santa Maria is at the junction of U.S. Highway 281 and Farm Road 2556, twelve miles southwest of Harlingen in southwestern Cameron County. The area was first settled in the mid-1750s by José de Escandón colonists. The land was granted by Spain to Rosa María Hinojosa de Ballí in 1777. A chapel was established at the site by the Oblate Fathers in 1824, and a post office opened there in 1878. By 1880 Santa Maria included the post office, two schools, a daily stage, a military post, and a customhouse. Cotton was shipped down the Rio Grande from a wharf 1½ miles south of the community. Mark Ragowski was the first postmaster and Mark Trevine the first peace officer. By 1884 the population was estimated at 500, but in 1896 Santa Maria reported a population of 100, the post office, and three stores. The community received a railroad station in 1913, when the San Benito and Rio Grande Valley Railway built a line through the area, and by 1915 the population was 300. The post office was discontinued in 1921 but was reestablished in 1925, when the population was reported as 100. In 1931 the town had a population of 320 and sixteen stores. The chapel at Santa Maria was still standing in 1947. The railroad station was closed in 1957, by which time it was owned by the Missouri Pacific. Between the early 1930s and 1970 Santa Maria had from two to fifteen stores and from 100 to 281 residents. During the 1960s a colonia developed nearby. By 1976 it had 150 dwellings and an estimated population of 776. By 1986 the population of the colonia had reached 1,076, with 239 dwellings on a site of twenty-five acres. It received its water from the Military Water Supply Corporation. In 1990 the population of Santa Maria proper was reported as 210. The population had reached 846 in 2000.
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Santa Maria by the Numbers
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|674||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|733||2010||Texas Demographic Center|
|846||2000||Texas Demographic Center|