San Patricio Landmarks

San Patricio Landmarks
San Patricio is a small town in Texas about 35 miles northwest of Corpus Christi. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, James McGloin and John McMullen founded the town in 1829 after the Mexican government gave them permission to settle 200 Irish Catholic immigrants. The partners recruited newly-landed Irish immigrants in New York and hired two ships, New Packet and Albion, to take them to Corpus Christi. Several landmarks from the early Irish period still survive in San Patricio, but because there's no longer a post office there, all these landmarks now have Mathis, Texas, street addresses.

St. Patrick's Church

The Catholic community has built four churches in San Patricio, according to "Culture, Landmarks, Legends and Tales from the Irish Colonies," published by Texas A&M University. The first church was, in fact, the very first public building project the residents undertook. Directed by the Reverend Henry Doyle, the builders cut willow poles, drove them into the ground upright, mixed clay and boiled moss and used it to chink the spaces between the poles, and put a roof of wild palmetto fronds atop the structure. They finished it off with a river sand floor.

The church and all its records burned in 1858, but the Catholics immediately set about rebuilding it. The nephew of city founder James McGloin, Alexander McGloin, who was a carpenter, designed the second church and helped build it. It served its community from 1859 until 1919, when a hurricane leveled it.

At that point, the parishioners of San Patricio began hearing rumors that their church was going to be relocated to the nearby town of Mathis. They protested to the Most Reverend E.B. Ledvina, who agreed to keep the church in San Patricio and also managed to find funds to rebuild it. In 1922, the Catholics erected a frame building on the old church site, later adding a bell tower and extending the back of the church. Shortly thereafter, the building was moved so the community hall could be expanded. In 1961, the pastor, the Reverend E. G. Bartosch, asked the bishop to allow the community to build a better, larger church. The fourth church is a brick building that's still in use. The third church building, unfortunately, fell victim to Hurricane Celia in 1970.

St. Patrick's Mission
20742 Magnolia Street
Mathis, TX 78368
Phone: (361) 547-5749

The Old Cemetery on the Hill

Texas A&M University reports that the Old Cemetery dates to the days of the Spanish in Texas. The first Spanish settler there was Martin de Leon, who brought his family to his new ranch from Mexico around 1800. He remained there until 1811, when he moved his ranch to the Guadalupe River country. Thus it's probable that de Leon's relatives and employees were the first people buried in the Old Cemetery on the Hill.

When the Irish came to San Patricio, they continued to bury their dead in that cemetery, including one of the town's founders, James McGloin, and several of his descendants. In 1872, the pastor of St. Patrick's church insisted that his parishioners had to be buried in the new cemetery, which is adjacent to the church. Some Catholics, however, continue to ask to be buried on the hill, with their family members.

The Old Cemetery on the Hill
3800 Block of E. Fitzgerald (also County Road 1441)
Mathis, TX 78368-4203

San Patricio County Courthouse

The original San Patricio County Courthouse was a wooden structure built in 1872; it burned to the ground in 1889. The San Patricio Restoration Society, established in 1978, spearheaded the rebuilding of a replica of the courthouse. The society used funds brought in by the World Championship Rattlesnake Races, held in San Patricio every St. Patrick's Day, to build the replica, which was dedicated in 1987.

San Patricio County Courthouse Replica
4638 Main Street
Mathis, TX 78368-4430

Article Written By Cheyenne Cartwright

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.

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