Naming of San Benito

In 1903 with roadbed work already underway, Sam Robertson appeared and won the bid for tract laying and bridging from Robstown to Brownsville in into Hidalgo County, under his newly formed Southern Contracting Co.

On May 6, 1904, the supply train reached the banks of the Resaca de los Fresnos. The crew threw up a bridge across the channel and set up a supply camp named "Bessie" in honor of Yoakum's daughter.

In 1907, Sam platted his town naming it "Diaz" for Mexico's longtime president.

As the town grew, Robertson was not entirely satisfied with the name Bessie, and since "Diaz" was already taken by another Texas town, he began looking for another name. Rafael Moreno, an employee of Ben Hicks, suggested the town be called "San Benito," to honor his boss.


From an original map. Courtesy of the San Benito Historical Society

At least that was Robertson's story. There are others who say Moreno suggested the name as a combination of " Sam" (Robertson) and "Benny" (Hicks). Regardless of which is true, the name stuck. And it was given to San Benito (Benny) Montalvo, who is generally considered the first person born after the name was changed.