Zapata County, Texas

From Academic Kids

Zapata County is a county located in the state of Texas. As of 2000, the population is 12,182. Its county seat is Zapata6. Zapata is named for Antonio Zapata, a rancher in the area and rebel against Mexico.

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Image:Map of Texas highlighting Zapata County.png

Contents

History

In or about the year 1746, Don Jose de Escandon, Count of Sierra Gorda, was commissioned by the Viceroy of New Spain to command the exploration and settlement of a large land area known then as Nuevo Santander. Escandon requested a fellow explorer to accompany him on this project of exploring and settling this vast area. Captain Miguel de la Garza Falcon was Escandon's choice. Falcon personally explored the Northern bank of the Rio Grande from present day Eagle Pass, southeastward to the mouth of the Rio Grande. On August 22, 1750, Jose Vazquez Borrego, a rancher from Coahuila, founded Nuestra Senora de los Dolores Hacienda which is located a few miles north of present day San Ygnacio. To settle the area, Vazquez moved 23 families from Coahuila. After a visit to Dolores in 1753, Escandon wrote to the Viceroy commending Vazquez and his colonists and noting that the community was well established. In 1818, after a series of Indian attacks, Hacienda Dolores was abandoned. The Coahuiltecan Indians were inhabitants of this area during the 17th and 18th Centuries, but became extinct by the year 1840.

The town site of Zapata is the largest in population in the county and is the county seat. The county and the town carry the name of Colonel Jose Antonio Zapata. Antonio Zapata was a native of Guererro Mexico, a village located just across the Rio Grande. He was a highly respected individual, rancher, a well-known Indian fighter and an honorable military soldier who gave his life for the cause of personal liberties during the short lived and ill fated attempt to establish the Republic of the Rio Grande. Colonists created a settlement at Carrizo which later became Zapata about 1770.

Texas proudly relates its history of having been under six flags- France, Spain, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederacy, and the United States. Zapata County and the surrounding area can add a seventh flag to their history, that of the Republic of the Rio Grande.

Until 1821, the area of present day Zapata County was part of the Spanish province of Nuevo Santander. From 1821 to 1836, this area was part of Mexico and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. From 1836 to 1848, this vast area was claimed by Texas as well as by Mexico. From March 1840 until November 6, 1840, Zapata County was part of The Republic of the Rio Grande. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, signed in 1848, settled the boundary of Mexico and Texas. All land north of the Rio Grande River became part of the United States, and all land south of the river remained as part of Mexico.

From 1851-1853, military posts were temporarily maintained in the area to combat border disturbances and Indian attacks. However, Indian incursions continued well into the later part of the 19th century.

The county of Zapata was created in 1858, when then Texas Governor Peter Hanborough Bell signed the bill creating the county.

During the Civil War, Zapata County was a ranching area with a population of 1248. Because of its isolation and the fact that there were few white residents and no slaves, the county remained largely unaffected by the war. The area's Mexican elite had to band together to protect the area from renegades such as Juan N. Cortina, who, because of the absence of federal and state troops, sized the opportunity to instigate hostilities between the wealthy landowners and the poor laborers. Despite the threat of violence, the population continued to grow. By 1870 it reached 1488 and by 1880 the population was 3636. In 1913, due to the Mexican Revolution, the population of the town of Zapata increased by about 500 people. The people of old Guerrero fled across the river to Zapata to seek safety from the horrors of war. Many of these people already owned property on the American side of the river, and life was not much different than it had been in Guerrero.

In the late 1910's, cotton began to be grown in commercial quantities. The county's farmers were producing 2,000 bales annually. The population by now was up to 4760.

In 1919, petroleum had been discovered in the county and some oil and gas activity began. A toll bridge between Zapata and Guerrero, Tamaulipas was completed in 1931. Another improvement occurred in approximately 1935 when U.S. Highway 83 was completed from Brownsville to Laredo. This connected Zapata to markets to both the north and the south for the first time. Due to this new highway, agriculture became important to the county. Within a period of about 10 years, Zapata County developed over 12,000 acres (49 km²) under cultivation and irrigation from the Rio Grande. The cattle, goat and sheep industries prospered also, as it was now no longer necessary to drive cattle by land to shipping points. With the new highway, cattle could be shipped to San Antonio by truck, with little or no loss of animal lives or weight of the animals. Two other significant accomplishments of the 1930's included the establishment of a water system in the town of Zapata, and the construction of an international bridge across the Rio Grande connecting Old Guerrero Mexico.

The economy of the county continued to improve to improve as more progress developed. Highway 83 was paved in Zapata County in the early 1940's. Falcon Dam was completed in 1954, and within several months, residents and businesses of Zapata, Ramireno, Falcon and Lopeno had to relocate farther east of the river on higher ground. Back to back hurricanes shortly after the completion of the Dam, filled the lake three years before the projected date, and expedited the relocation plans. The reservoir nevertheless was a boon to the county, bringing in tourism.

Between 1980 & 1990, the area grew rapidly, as retirees and others attracted by the reservoir came to take advantage of the low cost of living.

The Spanish-Mexican culture of the county is very influential, as this land was, for over 300 years, dominated by the Spanish, and the Mexicans, or descendants of these two groups of people. The language, religion, and social traditions were all passed down from generation to generation.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,740 km² (1,058 mi²). 2,582 km² (997 mi²) of it is land and 159 km² (61 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.80% water.

Adjacent counties

Demographics

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 12,182 people, 3,921 households, and 3,164 families residing in the county. Zapata County is estimated to be the 11th fastest growing county (+15.8%) in the state of Texas since the year 2000 (based on % of population change). The population density is 5/km² (12/mi²). There are 6,167 housing units at an average density of 2/km² (6/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 84.07% White, 0.41% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 12.64% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. 84.78% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 3,921 households out of which 43.20% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.20% are married couples living together, 13.00% have a female householder with no husband present, and 19.30% are non-families. 17.50% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.30% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.10 and the average family size is 3.52.

In the county, the population is spread out with 33.00% under the age of 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 24.10% from 25 to 44, 18.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.30% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 96.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $24,635, and the median income for a family is $26,722. Males have a median income of $26,294 versus $14,579 for females. The per capita income for the county is $10,486. 35.80% of the population and 29.30% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 46.10% of those under the age of 18 and 21.30% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Cities and towns

Religious establishments

Zapata County is a very religious community, with a large majority of the population being a member of the many churches that are centered in the county seat of Zapata. The following is a list of churches in Zapata County as of 2005.

  • Abiding Savior Lutheran Church
  • Church of Christ
  • Church of Christ Christian Union
  • Mission on the Hill Fellowship
  • Church of Christ in Christian Union
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Iglesia Pentecostes Rosa de Saron
  • Iglesia Christiana "Vida Abundante"
  • Interdenominational Services (Lakefront Lodge West)
  • King's Way Church
  • Lakeshore Tabernacle
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
  • Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Vida
  • Iglesia Cristo Misionera
  • United Methodist Church
  • Nueva Esperanza Iglesia Bautista
  • First Baptist Church
  • Surmise Baptist Church
  • Iglesia Pentecostes Emmanuel
  • Iglesia Adventista Del Septimo Dia

External link

 
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See also: List of Texas counties


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