The True Story of San Marcos

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If location is the major factor in determining the value of property, then San Marcos has been prime real estate for thousands of years; the unique San Marcos River area is considered by many to be the longest continuously inhabited area in the Northern Hemisphere. To the east of San Marcos lies the vast black land prairie; the beautiful Texas Hill Country rises dramatically to the west. San Marcos is blessed with fertile fields, abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery and a never-ending supply of cool, clear water.

From about 1691 until the Mexican Revolution in the early 1800s, Spanish explorers and settlers used the nearby “Camino Real,” also called the San Antonio Highway, and several attempts were made to establish a mission around the remarkable San Marcos Springs, where millions of gallons of clear water from the Edwards Aquifer bubble up from the earth each day. The longest lasting settlement was San Marcos de Neve, a community of several dozen from 1807 until about 1812. By 1814, the area was once again “Indian territory.”

The Story of San Marcos
Photo: texasranger.com

The first Anglo-American settler in the area was Thomas G. McGehee, who had been issued a league of land by the Mexican government in 1835. He began farming north of the present-day townsite. Among the first to settle at the present site of San Marcos were William W. Moon, Mike Sessom, and Dr. Eli T. Merriman, who arrived after Texas joined the United States in 1845. The fledgling community received a huge boost in security and prestige when General Edward Burleson moved there in 1848. The war hero and former Texas vice-president worked to establish a new county, named for renowned Texas Ranger Captain John Coffee Hays, and (with Dr. Merriman) laid out the town of San Marcos as the county seat. He also built the first sawmill there. San Marcos became a stop on the stage line from Austin to San Antonio in 1848; the first church was organized in 1847, and the first school in 1849.