Santa Rita

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Map of Cameron County

Santa Rita was on the Rio Grande five miles west of Brownsville in what is now Cameron County. It was possibly the earliest town that was named by English-speaking people in that area, and was the first seat of government in the county. In the late 1700s the land on the south bank of the river was claimed by José Narciso Cavazos of Reynosa, who called it Santa Rita, and by José Salvador de la Garza, who received the Espíritu Santo land grant. The land eventually became a ranch belonging to a descendant of the two. A community had developed there before the establishment of Matamoros in 1826. About 1830 the river changed course, and the tract was then located north of the stream. In 1834 the Mexican government granted to John Stryker the banco de Santa Rita. When Gen. Zachary Taylor's troops occupied Matamoros, other United States residents crossed to the Stryker place. The Texas legislative act that established Cameron County was approved in February 1848, and Santa Rita became the county seat. An election of officers was held on August 7 of that year, but organization was not completed until September 11. In December 1848 Brownsville was voted county seat of the area, and some of the homeowners in Santa Rita put their buildings on wheels and rolled them to the winning townsite. By the 1930s nothing remained of Santa Rita. During the early 1990s all that remained in the area was the colonia Villa Nueva (South).

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Grace Edman | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

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

Santa Rita is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Santa Rita is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Villa Nueva South)


Latitude: 25.94924630
Longitude: -97.55137530

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated