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SAN YGNACIO, TEXAS

Zapata County, South Texas
Highway 83
30 miles SE of Laredo
14 miles NW of Zapata

Population: 853 (2000) 895 (1990)

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Sundial over doorway
The 1851 sundial and doorway
TE Photo

History in a Pecan Shell

The town of San Ygnacio was settled in 1830 - making it the oldest town in Zapata County. It was named for the patron saint of Guerrero, Saint Ignatius Loyola.


The land was originally granted by Col. José de Escandón to José Vázquez Borrego and was one of 23 settlements founded by Escandón.

Jesús Treviño, the leader of the settlers built a fortified residence at the site.
(See Readers' Comments)

A small sundial was placed at the home in 1851 - an unusual item considering the time and place.
( See Sundial in San Ygnacio)

Confederate troops fought followers of Juan Cortina here during the Civil War.

In 1890 revolutionaries against the regime of Porfirio Díaz led raids into Mexico from San Ygnacio. In June of 1916, troops of President Carranza crossed the border and engaged a U. S. Cavalry unit stationed there.

During the early 1900s San Ygnacio had a post office, several stores, a drugstore and remained a commercial center for the region.

The population in 1908 was just under 200 persons. It doubled by 1931 but decreased back to 225 by the end of WWII.

San Ignacio was used (like Roma) for scenes in the 1951 movie Viva Zapata with Marlon Brandon in the title role.

San Ygnacio Texas Jesus Trevino house, endangered
Part of the Treviño compound
An Endangered Historic Property
TE Photo

San Ygnacio Historic District

San Ygnacio was to be included on the list of other towns flooded for the building of Falcon Dam, but in 1951 residents petitioned to have their town spared on the grounds that they were high enough to escape flooding. The town was spared, but was damaged in a flood two years later.

The 36 buildings that comprise the Historic District are the same style as those found in Old Guerrero and Revilla, which now sits underwater in the Falcon Reservoir.

Many of the homes have been beautifully and authentically restored, and San Ygnacio joins Jefferson and Castroville in the small sorority of Texas communities that have somehow managed to escape progress.

1982 the La Paz Museum was opened as the official Zapata County museum on the campus of the Arturo L. Benevides Elementary School, which was built in 1967 and enlarged in 1981.

The post office, established in 1876 by first postmaster Fernando Uribe, is in the historic Trinidad Uribe home, built in 1874 and restored in 1984 by María Eva Uribe Ramírez. (See Forum below)

cactus on roof top
Cactus on roof top
TE Photo

San Ygnacio Chronicles

  • Sundial in San Ygnacio by Mike Cox
    The weathered sundial positioned on top of the arched entrance to the old family fort at San Ygnacio tells more than the time – it tells a story.
  • sundial on the roof
    The 1851 sundial placed by Jose Villareal
    TE Photo
    San Ygnacio, Texas Forum
    Subject: Correction on Treviño Fort/Post Office San Ygnacio Texas
    (1)Jesús Treviño, the leader of the settlers built a fortified residence at the site.
    (2)The post office, established in 1876 by first postmaster Fernando Uribe, is in the historic Trinidad Uribe home, built in 1874 and restored in 1984 by María Eva Uribe Ramírez.

    Would like to make a correction on Treviño Fort in San Ygnacio, Texas. Also known as Treviño/Uribe Fort. Fort is on land bought by don Jesus Treviño who built a ONE room stone building in 1830 for protection from Indians and for him to stay when he visited the ranch. Room was 18 feet by 20 feet with one door facing South. It was after his death in 1843 that his daughter inherited the ranch site that his son in law, don Blas Maria Uribe, built the Indian fort as it is known. Work on rooms facing river and walls on South, East and North were added in 1850 to 1854. Again, don Blas added a room to Northeast corner of fort in 1871 and in late 1800s and early 1900s, don Jose Dionicio Uribe, his son who bought out his brothers and became sole owner of the Fort, made several modifications.. making enclosed Kitchen next to original room made by don Jesus.

    Original Post Office in San Ygnacio was at don Fernando Uribe's house, across from Nortwest corner of Fort. That was original Post Office and doña Margarita Sanchez de Uribe, present owner and resident of that house, has several items from original Post Office, including certificate naming don Fernando Post Master.

    Please read story on San Ygnacio, written by Roberto D. Uribe and part of story pertaining to building of Fort also written by Roberto and edited by me since he left us for a better world.
    http://www.incdef.com/san%20ignacio/ignacio.asp http://www.incdef.com/san%20ignacio/chapter2.asp
    Thank You - Antonio E. Uribe, February 16, 2004


    The Trevino Fort has been National Historic Landmark since 1998. It is co-owned by the River Pierce Foundation and the heirs (Alfonso Herrera, Raquel H. Ramirez, and Abigail H. Molina) of the family who founded San Ygnacio. The River Pierce Foundation, founded in 1990 is dedicated to the cultural and historic preservation of San Ygnacio. - Christopher Rincon, Director, The River Pierce Foundation, June 19, 2003
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.
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