San Benito, Texas

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San Benito, Texas
City of San Benito
Nickname(s): "The Resaca City"
Location of San Benito, Texas
Location of San Benito, Texas
Cameron County SanBenito.svg
Coordinates: 26°8′12″N 97°38′9″W / 26.13667°N 97.63583°W / 26.13667; -97.63583Coordinates: 26°8′12″N 97°38′9″W / 26.13667°N 97.63583°W / 26.13667; -97.63583
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County  Cameron
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Celeste Sanchez
 • City Manager Manuel Lara
 • Total 16.1 sq mi (41.8 km2)
 • Land 15.8 sq mi (40.9 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.9 km2)
Elevation 36 ft (11 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 24,250
 • Density 1,536/sq mi (592.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 78586
Area code(s) 956
FIPS code 48-65036[1]
GNIS feature ID 1375956[2]

San Benito is a city in Cameron County, Texas, United States. The population was 24,250 at the 2010 census.[3] On April 3, 2007, San Benito celebrated the 100th anniversary of its naming.

The post office was named "Diaz" from April to May 1907. The San Benito Museum, Freddy Fender Museum and Conjunto Music Museum opened in the same building Nov. 17, 2007.

On October 25, 1975, on the television show Hee Haw, Freddy Fender saluted his hometown of San Benito, population 15,177.

San Benito is part of the Brownsville–Harlingen–Raymondville and the Matamoros–Brownsville metropolitan areas.


San Benito is known as the "Resaca City". The Resaca de los Fresnos, 400-foot (120 m) wide, flows through the city. As indicated by its Spanish name, the resaca was a dry river bed. It is now the main canal of a large irrigation system.

San Benito was at first named "Diaz" in honor of Porfirio Díaz, president of Mexico at that time. The people in the San Benito area were predominantly of Mexican ancestry. The Anglo settlers came after the completion of the first irrigation system in 1906. Prior to that time, this region was an arid, mesquite-cactus-brush covered wilderness. Irrigation water touched off the crop production magic in the railroad.

On July 4, 1904, the first passenger train arrived at Diaz. To celebrate the coming of the new railroad, the community leaders renamed the railroad station "Bessie", in honor of Bessie Yoakum, whose father, Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, was instrumental in the construction of the railroad.

Some time later, when the town site was surveyed, the name was changed to "San Benito" in honor of Benjamin Hicks. He was a pioneer rancher whose charitable attitude endeared him to the population. The name was suggested by Rafael Moreno, the popular 90-year-old camp cook of the surveying party. Moreno suggested the name "San Benito" for his beloved "Saint Benjamin" Hicks.

San Benito was a village with a moderate number of homes, businesses, churches, and public schools several years before they were incorporated in 1911. The original map of the townsite was recorded 28 April 1907. The first school was established in 1907 with 48 pupils and Miss Kate Purvis as the teacher. The post office also opened in 1907. In 1927 the city adopted a commission form of government operating under a home rule charter.

In 1920, when the city was included in the U.S. Census count for the first time, San Benito had become a city of 4,070 people. By 1950 the census count was 13,271. In 1960 the population had grown to 16,422. The present population is estimated at 24,500.

The irrigation district was organized in 1906. As a result of the availability of irrigation water, San Benito and all of the Lower Rio Grande Valley cities came to serve a newly developing agricultural territory.

The original townsite, created in 1911, contained 1,280 acres (520 ha). Since then a series of annexations have increased the incorporated area to 4,092.17 acres (1,656.04 ha).

The mild winter climate in this southmost section of Texas has played a dominant role in the growth of San Benito and the other cities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Crops grow and flowers bloom year-round. The city has become a hotspot for winter tourists and retired people, providing a substantial percentage of the buying power of this community.


San Benito is located west of the center of Cameron County at 26°8′12″N 97°38′9″W / 26.13667°N 97.63583°W / 26.13667; -97.63583 (26.136603, -97.635878).[4] Interstate 69E passes through the city, leading northwest 6 miles (10 km) to Harlingen and southeast 19 miles (31 km) to Brownsville. According to the United States Census Bureau, San Benito has a total area of 16.1 square miles (41.8 km2), of which 15.8 square miles (40.9 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.9 km2), or 2.12%, is water.[3]

San Benito is also known as "The Resaca City", due to its resaca (a former tributary of the Rio Grande, which has been cut off for irrigation purposes).


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, San Benito has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[5]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 5,070
1930 10,753 112.1%
1940 9,501 −11.6%
1950 13,271 39.7%
1960 16,422 23.7%
1970 15,176 −7.6%
1980 17,988 18.5%
1990 20,125 11.9%
2000 23,444 16.5%
2010 24,250 3.4%
Est. 2014 24,506 [6] 1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 23,444 people, 7,065 households, and 5,715 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,130.2 people per square mile (822.1/km²). There were 9,120 housing units at an average density of 828.7 per square mile (319.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.16% White, 0.32% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 20.48% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 86.93% of the population.

There were 7,065 households out of which 41.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 19.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.1% were non-families. 16.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.30 and the average family size was 3.72.

In the city the population was spread out with 33.3% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,027, and the median income for a family was $26,415. Males had a median income of $22,097 versus $18,512 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,317. About 28.7% of families and 32.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.1% of those under age 18 and 22.8% of those age 65 or over.


The United States Postal Service operates the San Benito Post Office.[7]


The San Benito Consolidated Independent School District serves San Benito. The local high school is San Benito High School.

In addition, South Texas Independent School District serves San Benito and many nearby communities by providing several magnet schools. South Texas Academy of Medical Technology (Med Tech) is located in San Benito.

San Benito Public Library is the city's library.[8]

IDEA Public Schools also has a school in San Benito.

Notable people[edit]

A list of San Benito's most notable people includes:


External links[edit]