Mathis is a city in San Patricio County, Texas, United States. The population was 5,034 at the 2000 census.
In 1887, when the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad was laying tracks across San Patricio County, Thomas H. Mathis received naming rights when he donated 300 acres (1.2 km2) for a townsite and school. Mathis and his brother J. M. Mathis, held 37,000 acres (150 km2) in the vicinity. The brothers had dropped out of the Coleman, Mathis, Fulton Cattle Company in 1879. Thomas Mathis owned an additional 60,000 acres (240 km2) around Mathis and built a fence enclosing the town. As late as 1906, Mathis was enclosed and arriving and departing trains had to be let in and out.
Mathis' success was partially fueled by residents of Lagarto moving to be near the railroad. The Mathis post office opened in 1890 and the towns first school was held in a private residence in 1893. Two years later, a one-room school was built and in 1913 a second railroad (The San Antonio, Uvalde and Gulf Pacific) arrived.
Cotton and corn crops were raised and ranching was an important part of the economy. During the 1930s, winter vegetable crops were grown and both railroads maintained shipping sheds. Mathis incorporated in 1939.
In the early 1950s, 7,000 acres (28 km2) of land two miles (3 km) north of town were developed for vegetable crops - complete with irrigation and deep water wells. Cotton, corn and sorghum replaced vegetables in the 1960s.
In the 1930s, the Nueces River was dammed and Lake Mathis (since renamed Lake Corpus Christi) was formed. Construction of the Wesley Seale Dam in the late 1950s raised the level of the lake to where it became desirable for weekend homes. In 1988, Mathis had a population of 5,910 which has since decreased to 5,034.
|Motto: Small town. Big lake. Great people.|
Location of Mathis, Texas
|Coordinates: 28°5′39″N 97°49′38″W|
Lake Corpus Christi is a 21,000 acres (85 km2) reservoir on the Nueces River, lying four miles (6 km) southwest of Mathis. The lake is a recreational spot in South Texas offering swimming, skiing, boating and fishing. Large areas of submerged brush in the upper reaches of this 27-mile (43 km)-long lake provide prime fish habitat. All fishing is good; however it is noted for its excellent catfish-channels, flatheads and blues; the record is a flathead weighing 60 pounds. Also noted for its white, black and striped bass; perch and crappie. The record largemouth bass is 13.5 pounds.
The area is a winter home for hundreds of winter Texans from all parts of the state and country as well as Canada. Around its more than 200 miles (320 km) of shoreline, numerous camps and parks provide campsites, boat ramps, fishing piers and RV and mobile home areas. A main attraction is Lake Corpus Christi State Park, whose 350 acres (1.4 km2) surround a cove, protected from the prevailing south-easterly winds by high limestone cliffs, and providing a scenic view of the main body of the lake. Favorable climate offers opportunities for year-round activities.
History abounds in the area, with former battlegrounds now lush with farmland, brush, and grass for grazing cattle. The Nueces River at one time divided Texas from Mexico. It was a much disputed boundary, and it was only after the Mexican War that the issue was settled, making the Rio Grande the official boundary. One of the more famous battles between the two countries was fought at Old San Patricio, founded by the Irish and located 10 miles (16 km) south of Mathis. The area, once inhabited by Karankawa and Lipan Apache Indians, became the site of several unsuccessful settlement attempts in the 18th and 19th centuries.