South Texas Counties-All courthouse photos courtesy of Texas Courthouse Trail. com

Aransas County

Aransas County is located in the Coastal Bend on the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Corpus Christi. It consists of three parts: two peninsulas and an island separated by waterways. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge define much of its life. It is named for the Aransas Indians who once inhabited the area. Karankawa tribes followed. The first colonists were the French under René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1685. Spanish exploration continued but no settlement occured.  Empresarios James Power and James Hewetson brought in a few Irish around 1829-1833. Known today for its wildlife preserves, it is the winter home of the endangered Whooping Crane. The county seat is Rockport, Texas. The Aransas County Historical Commission represents a Visionaries in Preservation (VIP) community.

 

 

 

Atascosa County

Atascosa County is a Brush Country county located just south of San Antonio in the Rio Grande Plain. It is named for the Atascosa River which flows through it. Early inhabitants were of the Coahuiltecan groups who assimilated or were pushed out  by other groups. One of the arms of the Old San Antonio Road the Lower Presidio Road, ran through the county. José Antonio Navarro, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, received a land grant here in 1825. Peter Tumlinson was an early settler in the 1850s. Between 1870-1890 English, Germans, and Mexicans began settling in larger numbers. During this time great herds of cattle went up the trails to feed the nation. Ranching and agribusiness account for a large part of the livelihood in the county today. The county seat is Jourdanton, Texas.  The Atascosa County Historical Commission presents an Annual Battle of Medina commemorative ceremony and history symposium each August.

Bee County

Bee County is located in the Coastal Bend among the Rio Grande Plain and Brush Country northwest of Corpus Christi. The county is named for Barnard E. Bee, Sr.  Early inhabitants included Coahuiltecan groups of people who were later replaced by others including the Pawnee. Carlos Martinez  received the first Spanish grant in the area in 1789. The first permanent settlers sailed from Ireland in 1826 and established Corrigan.  Eleven landowners in Bee County signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. After the Civil War, thousands of Longhorns were sent up the Chisholm and Western Trails. Chase Naval Air Station, ranching, farming and other related agribusinesses support today's economy. The county seat is Beeville, Texas. The Bee County Courthouse restoration and the Bee County Historical Commision is spotlighted by the Texas Historical Commission site. 

 

Bexar County

Bexar County , the fourth largest populated county in Texas and 17th largest populated county nationally, is situated along the Balcones Escarpment between the South Texas Plains and the Edwards Plateau. The county is named for San Antonio de Béxar. During historic times, the area was inhabited by Coahuiltecans, Tonkawas, and Lipan Apaches. After first explorers, Domingo Terán de los Ríos and  Fray Damián Massanet were unsuccuessful, five successful missions were established later. In 1772, the Spanish capital of Texas was moved from Los Adaes to Bexar. Among the tumult of early Bexar County History, the Alamo is the most remembered. The county seat is San Antonio, Texas, the  largest populated city in South Texas and second in the state.

 

 

Brooks County

Brooks County,  a Brush Country county, is located in the Rio Grande Plain Region and Coastal Bend . The county is named for State Representative John Abijah Brooks, also a Texas Ranger captain and county judge. During historic time, the county was inhabited by Coahuiltecan groups.  The earliest land grant was to Juan José Ballí  in 1797 but Spanish families chose not to live in the area. Colonization became more intent after the Civil War.  Edward C. Lasater became one of the state's leading cattle breeders. Falfurrias Butter and high quality dairy products from Lasater's ranch and dairy made the county famous. The economy is now diversified among ranching and cattle products, oil and gas, and agribusiness.The county seat is Falfurrias, Texas.

 

 

 

Cameron County

Cameron County, located in the Coastal Bend Brush Country and Lower Rio Grande Valley on the Gulf of Mexico and at the mouth of the Rio Grande,  is the southernmost county in both the the State of Texas and the United States of America.  The county is named for Captain Ewen Cameron, a Mier expedition member. Early historic times witnessed Coahuiltecan groups and Lipan Apache. Spanish explorers included Alonso De LeónMiguel de la Garza FalcónJosé de Escandón, and José Tienda de CuervoJosé Salvador de la Garza received a Spanish land grant in 1781 and established a ranch.  After the Texas Revolution, the land was disputed and Matamoros families used the land for pasture. In 1848 after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the county was established and Charles Stillman founded Brownsville. The county seat is Brownsville, Texas.

Dimmit County

Dimmit County a Brush Country and Winter Garden county which lies in the Wild Horse Desert. It is named for Philip Dimmitt (misspelled when the county was named), one of the framers of the Goliad Declaration of Independence. Early historic groups of Coahuiltecans lived here, but were replaced by Apaches and Comanches later.  Neither Spanish nor Mexican settlements were made in the area even though some land grants were made. The area remained sparsely populated by Indians until after the Civil War. Levi English led fifteen families from Atascosa county to establish the first permanent settlement at Carrizo Springs.   Indians and banditry were constant threats. Texas Rangers and an unexpected source, John King Fisher, are credited for calming things down. Agribusiness and oil continue to be the economic mainstays. The county seat is Carrizo Springs, Texas.

 

 

 

 

Duval County

Duval County is located in the Rio Grande PlainBrush Country and Coastal Bend fifty miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico . Duval County is named for Burr H. Duval, who died at Goliad. The Venado Indians, a Coahuiltecan hunting and gathering group, lived here in the early historic era but were replaced by Apaches and Comanches later. Marqués de Rubí may have been the first European to traverse the area. Julián Flores and his son Ventura received deeds from earlier Spanish grants  in 1812. Their herdsmen are thought to be the first settlers. Ventura sold property to Pablo Pérez who established Perezville. After much pillaging, the county was oganized in 1876. James O. Luby, the first county judge, gained political control of the county. Politics played an important role in twentieth century Duval County. Once the sheep ranching capital of Texas, petroleum products and tourism  are the economic force today though ranching is still important. The county seat is San Diego, Texas

Frio County

Frio County, one of the Brush Country counties, is also a Winter Garden county.  Known for wildlife, it is located southwest of San Antonio and east of Eagle Pass. Frio County is named for the Frio River which runs through it. Payaya and Pachal Indians, Coahuiltecan groups, lived here in early historic times. Many assimilated into the missons of San Antonio. Early explorers of the area were: Frenchman René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La SalleLouis Juchereau de St. Denis, and numerous Spaniards including Antonio López de Santa Anna. Early Europeaqn settlers  were Ben Duncan (1856), Benjamin Slaughter, and James W. Winters. One of the most colorful Texas Rangers and fronteirsmen, William "Bigfoot" Wallace, chose Frio County for his home. Agribusiness and oil are the primary economic stabilizers though ranching and hunting are important. The county seat is Pearsall, Texas.

 

 

 

Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County is located on the Rio Grande River in Brush Country, the Coastal Bend and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is named for Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, known to begin the  "cry for Mexican Independence" from Spain. In early historic times, Coahuiltecan groups and Karankawa lived in this area. They were replaced by Lipan Apaches and Comanches . Early Spanish explorers are thought to be: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca,  Alonso De León, the younger, and Miguel de la Garza FalcónJosé de Escandón established four towns on the south of Rio Bravo as it is called in Mexico. Grants extended across the river to the north into present Hidalgo County. Grantees also settled there and began ranches. McAllen Ranch  today began in 1797 as Santa Anita Ranch.  Like other border counties, Hidalgo often deals with a multi-generational, multi-cultural challenges. It has grown into a flourishing economic force through tourism, agribusiness, oil, and ranching. The county seat is Edinburg, Texas.

Jim Hogg County

Jim Hogg County is located in Brush Country on the Rio Grande Plain region 28 miles north of the Mexican border and 66 miles west of the Gulf Coast. The county is named for Governor James Stephen Hogg.  Late prehistoric times saw Coahuiltecan groups hunting and gathering in the area. Driven out by Lipan Apache or intermarried with the Spanish, they eventually vanished as single groups.  The earliest recorded Spanish land grant was 1805. Numerous Mexican grants resulted around 1836. Randado Ranch, the earliest, was established by Hipólito GarcíaThe signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo firmly  established the county as a part of Texas. Land grants to these ranches were confirmed by the Texas Legislature in 1852.  Jim Hogg County was formed in 1913. Oil, agribusiness, ranching, and tourism in the form of hunters comprise the core economic strength. The county seat is Hebbronville, Texas.

 

 

 

Jim Wells County

Jim Wells, a Brush Country county, is located in the Coastal Bend  in the Rio Grande Plain west of Corpus Christi. The county is named for James B. Wells, Jr.  Late prehistoric times saw  Coahuiltecan groups including the Chaguanes and Payuguans hunting and gathering in the area. They were later driven out by Lipan Apaches. Only two Spanish land grants were made in the future county around 1754, but 17 Mexican grants were made to the area. The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo firmly  established the county as a part of Texas. Anglo settlement increased after the Civil War. In 1878, the first American settlement of any size was established. When a new railroad bypassed the town, it was loaded onto train cars and moved to the site of present day Alice, Texas. The county boundaries were set by the Legilature in 1912. Oil, ranching, and agribusiness are the economic drivers in Jim Wells County. The county seat, once the busiest cattle shipping point in South Texas, is Alice, Texas.

 

Karnes County

Karnes County is located Southeast of San Antonio in Brush Country on the Rio Grande Plain. Like its South Texas sister counties, its prehistory includes the Coahuiltecan tribes. Onced the county was established, it was named for Henry Wax Karnes, a Texas revolutionary leader. Coahuiltecan groups occupied the area in pre and historic times. It later became hunting ground for Comanche, Tonkawa, Karankawa, and Lipan Apache as well as Pataguilla Indians. Spanish settlement fell because of other hunter Indian raids. Fuerte de Santa Cruz del Cíbolo, a Spanish fort, was established in 1770 to protect ranchers. Eventually it and 25 ranches were abandoned leaving only six remaining.  In 1852, Anglo settlers established Helena, which became an important stop between San Antonio and Goliad. By 1854, Karnes County was established.  The first Polish immigrants to Texas added to the population about this time. Post Civil War, Longhorns were driven to nearby DeWitt County and up the Chisholm Trail. Agribusiness, oil and gas, ranching/hunting, and uranium have been important elements in the economy. The county seat is Karnes City.

Kenedy County

Kenedy County is located in Brush Country, the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Plain on the Gulf of Mexico South of Corpus Christi. The county is named for Mifflin Kenedy, pioneer rancher. the county has a storied history of Indian prehistory until the Spanish came. Coahuiltecans lived in the area before succumbing to disease, intermarrying with Spanish, and then driven out by Lipan Apache. Spanish and Mexican ranches did well until the Texas Revolution. After the Mexican War, American settlement increased. First welcomed by Mexican rancheros, tensions grew as the Anglo numbers increased. King Ranch founded by Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy, is the largest ranch. Locals are still called Kiñenos and Kenedanos, workers on the King or Kenedy ranches. Ranching (beef cattle) is still the main economic force in this sparsely populated county though oil and gas have added to the wealth. In 1921, Kenedy was among the last counties formed in the state. The county seat is Sarita, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

Kinney County

Kinney County is located in the Brush Country west of San Antonio in the Rio Grande Plain Region and partly on the Edwards Plateau along the  Balcones Escarpment.  Anacacho Mountain is in the southeast. The county is named for early settler, Henry Lawrence Kinney. Earlier the area was inhabited by numerous Indian tribes. In historic times Coahuiltecans, Lipan Apache, Jumanos, Tamaulipans, and Tonkawas, then Comanches and Mescalero Apache came. Spanish explorers are thought to include: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca,  Fernando de AzcuéBosque-Larios expedition, and Alonso De León. The Franciscans and others made attempts at settlement. Las Moras Creek became the site for a fort in 1852. First named Fort Riley, it was changed to Fort Clark to honor John B. Clark. Oscar Brackett set up a stage stop and the town around it is named Brackettville. Black Seminoles were dispatched to  to Fort Clark and lived on the creek nearby for at least 25 years until 1914. Some of their people remain today. Agribusiness and tourism are economic strengths. The county seat is Bracketville, Texas. 

 

Kleberg County

Kleberg County is located in Brush Country on the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Plain beside the Gulf of Mexico where the Wild Horse Desert  begins while the remainder is on Padre Island. The county is named for Robert J. Kleberg. Indian inhabitants were both Coahuiltecan and Karankawa tribes. Joaquín de Orobio y Basterra first traversed the area for the Spanish. Spanish grants along the Rio Grande reached as far north as the county's region. Mexico later added more grants in the area.  Richard King purchased land from Spanish and Mexican heirs to found the King Ranch in 1853. His wife, Henrietta King, gave land for the town of Kingsville, Texas which is the county seat.

La Salle County

La Salle County, is another Brush Country and Winter Garden county.  Though no Spanish settlements were established, the Spanish passed through on the Old Presidio Road. The county is named for René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. In historic times, Coahuiltecans roamed the country, run out by Apaches and Spanish, moved to a mission in Cohuila. Later, the county was part of the McMullen McGloin Empresa. Fort Ewell was established for protection in 1852. The county is still hunting ground, and otherwise covered with large farms and ranches. The county seat is Cotulla, Texas.

 

 

Live Oak County

Live Oak County is a Brush Country county located in the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Plain.  The area was first inhabited by bands of Coahuiltecan Indians. The county is named for the Live Oak Tree which flourishes here. The Ramírez brothers had the only recorded Spanish ranch. When the area became part of San Patricio Colony both Mexican and Irish ranches were established. George West, a Texas traildriver, purchased most of the land and later developed a namesake town.  The county seat is George West, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

Maverick County

Maverick County is a rugged Brush Country county in the northwest part of the Rio Grande Plain. It borders Mexico on its western border with the Rio Grande Boundary dividing Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico. Mexico's Highway 57 runs from Piedras Negras to Mexico City. The county is named for Samuel A. Maverick. Early in prehistory, Coahuiltecans inhabited the area. Camino Real in the southern part of the county saw more Spanish  explorers and settlers than any other part of Texas. The county seat is Eagle Pass, Texas.

 

 

 

 

McMullen County

McMullen County is a Brush Country county located in the Coastal Bend  and Rio Grande Plain about an hour south from San Antonio. The county is named for Empresario John McMullen. Prehistory inhabitants were Coahuiltecans. A leg of the Camino Real yielded some Spanish and Mexican passage, but no settlements. Rio Frio and Yarbrough Bend were first settlements. Graves Peeler, instrumental in saving Longhorn cattle in the twentieth century, made his ranch here. The county is named for John McMullen, the Irish empresario. The county's fame for Graves Peeler's dedication to saving the Longhorn is preserved by the McMullen County Historical Commission. The county seat is Tilden, Texas, named for Samuel Tilden. 

Medina County

Medina County, the western neighbor of Bexar County and a Brush Country county, is 100 miles from Eagle Pass, Texas. The Balcones Escarpment runs east and west separating the Edwards Plateau and Hill Country northward from the Rio Grande Plains. The county is named for the Medina River which runs through it. Coahuiltecan and Tonkawa Indians were early inhabitants. Texas Republic Empresario, Henri Castro, a Frenchman, brought European settlers from Alsace France who spoke both French and German. The county is named for the Medina River which runs through it. The county seat is Hondo, Texas.

 

 

Nueces County

Nueces County is located in the Coastal Bend and Brush Country Coastal Prairie Region beside the Gulf of Mexico. The county is named for the Nueces River which empties into the Gulf here. First Aransas and then Karankawa Indians inhabitated the land. Alonzo Álvarez de Pineda reached port here on the feast of Corpus Christi, 1519. Spanish influence in the area became strong from the sixteen hundreds. The first permanent settlement was established by Henry Lawrence Kinney in 1839. The area is one of the most populated in South Texas. The county seat, the second largest city in South Texas and eighth in the state, is Corpus Christi, Texas.

San Patricio County

San Patricio County is located on the lower Gulf Coast in the Brush Country Coastal Prairie's Region and the Coastal Bend on the Gulf of Mexico. The county is named for Saint Patrick, the patron saint of the Irish. Hundreds of Indian campsites, many Karankawa, have been located. Numerous Spanish and French explorers traversed the area. The county was named for the patron saint of Ireland after Irish "coffin ships" brought Irish Catholic families who settled  here under the leadership of James McGloin. The county seat is Sinton, Texas, named for David Sinton.

 

Starr County

Starr County located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and part of the Brush Country Rio Grande Plain is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande. The county is named for James Harper Starr. Pre-historic and historic Coahuiltecan Indians were hunter gatherers. Spanish explorers entered during the seventeenth century. Land grants and porcíones were issued in 1749 by the Spanish and 1846 by the Mexicans. The first settlement was in 1763 by Francisco de la Garza Martinéz. Texan Henry Clay Davis established Rancho Davis in 1847. The county seat, once Rancho Davis, is Rio Grande City.

Uvalde County

Uvalde County is located between San Antonio and the International Amistad Reservoir on the US-Mexican border. Brush Country and the Edwards Plateau covers the north and Hill Country, the north and west. The county is named for Juan de Ugalde.  Prehistoric and historic Coahuiltecan hunter-gatherer Indians first inhabited the area. Spanish contact with the area could have been as early as 1535 (Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca), but the county was unsettled until about 1849 when Fort Inge was built. Reading W. Black developed Encina, now Uvalde, as a successful marketing center. County Judge John Nance Garner, who rose to national influence, was elected US Vice President in 1932 with Franklin Roosevelt, president. The county seat is Uvalde, Texas

Webb County

Webb County, a Brush Country county, is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande. It is the largest county in South Texas. The county is named in honor of Judge James Webb. Historic Coahuiltecan tribes included Carrizo, Pacuache, Pastaloca, and Pitalac peoples. Numerous Spanish explorers passed through the area. Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza, founded  the first settlement, Laredo, in 1755 as little more than a rancho. It later flourished, and Laredo is now a modern city, the largest Texas passage between Mexico and South Texas. Its Mexican neighbor across the Rio Grande is Nuevo Laredo. The county seat is Laredo, Texas. 

 

 

 

Willacy County

Willacy County, is located in the South Texas Plains Brush Country on the Gulf of Mexico. It is named for senator John G. Willacy. In eaerly historic times, Coahuiltecans inhabited the land, while Karankawa Indians made their home along the coast. Willacy was among the areas first mapped and reported by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. José Narciso Cabazos received the first Spanish land grant, but his ranch eventually fell to Indian raids. Over time, the county changed from ranching to agriculture. Reorganization in 1921 designated the county seat as Raymondville, Texas.

 

 

 

 

Wilson County

Wilson County, a Brush Country county, is located in the upper coastal plain of South Texas. It is named for James C. Wilson. It was first inhabited by Coahuiltecan hunter-gatherer Indians. Numerous Spanish explorers like Francisco Vázquez de Coronado are thought to have crossed its roads. Luis Menchaca and Andrés Hernández received the first land grants and established ranches. La Bahía Road was a major travel route. Numerous permanent settlements were established from Spanish and Mexican land grants before 1830. Southern planters, German and Polish immigrants moved in between 1850 and 1860. Thousands of cattle were driven up the trail from Wilson after the Civil War. The county seat is Floresville, Texas.

Zapata County

Zapata County, a Brush Country county, is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande also in the Rio Grande Plain Region. It lies south of Laredo in the Rio Grande Plain. It is named for Antonio Zapata. Early histoy indicates Coahuiltecan hunter-getherer tribes, but historic tribes were Carrrizos and Tepemaca and Borrado Indians. José Vázquez Borrego founded  Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Hacienda close to San Ignacio in 1750. Vázquez increased his holdings as he built a ferry at Dolores which became the most important crossing on the Rio Grande by 1755. Water continued to be important years later when the International Boundary and Water Commission was formed to build the  International Falcon Reservoir. The county seat is Zapata, Texas.

Zavala County

Zavala County, a Brush Country county, is part of the Wild Horse Desert  and also one of the Winter Garden counties about 170 miles northwest of Corpus Christi. The county is named for Lorenzo de Zavala, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and first vice-president of the Republic.  Over a hundred archaeological sites show Coahuiltecans lived in the area; then Tonkawa, Lipan and Mescalero Apache Indians and Comanches. Early settlers were Grey White, Vivian, Rámon Sanchez, and Galván families. Withstanding the setbacks of history, the area established itself as the spinach capital of the world. The county seat is Crystal City, Texas.

 

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