Raymondville, the county seat of Willacy County, is at the intersection of State Highways 186 and 448 and is bordered on the east by U.S. Highway 77; the community is twenty-two miles west of Port Mansfield on the Missouri Pacific line in the center of the county. It was established by Edward Burleson Raymond, who organized the Raymond Town and Improvement Company in 1904. In that year the post office was established, and Raymond's company, along with the Kleberg Town and Improvement Company, gave right-of-way to the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway. The railway in turn provided low-cost round-trip excursions for land seekers. Town lots were sold by Raymond and by Henrietta King, acting as agent for the King Ranch, Raymond's former employer. Raymondville, located in what was then Cameron County, had by 1914 a population of 350, four general stores, a bank, a newspaper, a hotel, a cotton gin, and a lumber company. Agriculture, primarily the raising of sorghum, cotton, citrus fruits, vegetables, and corn, drove the town's growth in its early years. It was a trade center for local farmers and by 1929 had a population of 1,800. In the 1930s it had at least three churches, two schools, a courthouse, a hospital, and a hotel, as well as businesses and manufacturing enterprises. By 1941 the town's population had increased to 4,050, with 150 rated businesses. By 1952 the population had grown to more than 9,000, probably because of a change in census-taking practices that incorporated residents formerly defined as rural into the community. Raymondville has continued its role as a commercial center for the truck and fruit crops produced in the surrounding area. In the 1960s industries at Raymondville included a cottonseed-processing plant, manufacturers of farm implements, producers of leather goods, fruit processors, and children's clothing manufacturers. Because of its location near the coast, Raymondville is a year-round recreation center. As of 1990 there were twenty-six different religious denominations with churches in the city. The Raymondville Historical and Community Center and the Reber Memorial Library are among the city's cultural institutions. The city has a mayoral government. The Raymondville City Hall includes a public assembly hall. The courthouse was built in 1922, and an annex was constructed in 1977. In Raymondville are seven schools, including a high school. During the 1970s the population decreased to slightly less than 8,000, but by 1990 it had increased to 9,830, with ninety-seven rated businesses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: James Lewellyn Allhands, Gringo Builders (Joplin, Missouri, Dallas, Texas, 1931). D. William Day, Cultural Resources Surveys and Assessments in Portions of Hidalgo and Willacy Counties (Austin: Prewitt, 1981). Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1957). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
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David W. Pitt