Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

San Benito


Irrigation and the railroad may have put San Benito on the map in 1907 but music would make the town shine 100 years later. The town's name is a curious concoction by Rafael Moreno, employee of Anglo business partners Sam Robertson and Benjamin Hicks, who created San Benito. Moreno, who called Hicks "Benny," made "Sam" into "San" and "Benny" into "Benito" in order to come up with San Benito. The name stuck, replacing the previous designation "Bessie" (a name perhaps better suited for everyone's favorite milk cow). The San Benito Historical Society Museum tells the story of San Benito's past. But the town's Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum shows why it's special. San Benito, like many border communities in South Texas, gave rise to conjunto, music that merges Mexican, American, and European sounds together to produce a style both unique and with universal appeal. The style's distinct accordion and bajo sexto (a version of the 12-string guitar) sound creates perhaps one of the most irresistible dance music genres today. Hear it at the one of the many performances at the Narciso Martí­nez Cultural Arts Center, named for the father of conjunto, or try it out at La Villita, San Benito's own historic dancehall. For all the rockers, San Benito honors their Grammy Award-winning native son with a museum all his own—the Freddy Fender Museum. Shimmy or shake, San Benito's got you covered.