Texas was once an independent country: After winning its independence from Mexico in 1836, Texas became its own country, known as the Republic of Texas. It existed as an independent nation for nine years before being annexed by the United States in 1845.
Zapata County, located in southern Texas, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was initially inhabited by indigenous tribes, including the Coahuiltecan and Carrizo peoples, who relied on the Rio Grande River for sustenance and trade. Spanish explorers arrived in the 16th century, followed by Mexican settlers who established ranching communities.

During the Texas Revolution in the 1830s, Zapata County was part of the disputed territory between Mexico and the Republic of Texas. In the following decades, the area witnessed ongoing conflicts between Mexican cowboys and American ranchers seeking control over the land and cattle. In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially established the Rio Grande as the boundary between the United States and Mexico, solidifying Zapata County's place within Texas.

The county was officially organized in 1858 and named after Colonel Jose Antonio de Zapata, a local military hero. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Zapata County experienced economic growth through cattle ranching, oil exploration, and agriculture. The discovery of oil in the region brought an influx of workers and increased development.

In more recent times, Zapata County has played a role in immigration and border enforcement. As a border county, it has faced challenges related to drug trafficking and illegal immigration. The community has worked with local, state, and federal agencies to address these issues and maintain the safety and well-being of its residents. Today, Zapata County remains a vibrant community with a blend of Mexican and American cultures, attractive landscapes, and a close connection to its historical roots.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Zapata County, Texas.

  • 1767: The area that would become Zapata County is part of the Spanish province of Nuevo Santander.
  • 1848: Following the Mexican-American War, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, and the land becomes part of the United States.
  • 1858: Zapata County is established as a separate county from Starr County.
  • 1870: Zapata becomes the county seat.
  • 1884: The International-Great Northern Railroad is completed, opening up the area for increased settlement and trade.
  • 1920s: Oil is discovered in Zapata County, leading to a period of economic growth.
  • 1944: Falcon Dam is completed, creating Falcon Lake and providing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
  • 1996: Zapatistas, a revolutionary leftist group from Chiapas, Mexico, establish a camp in Zapata County in solidarity with indigenous peoples.