Life Along the Loop: Macdona, TX, is small town with big history

Area on SW Loop 1604 dates back to days before Texas statehood

SAN ANTONIO, TX – If you’ve ever been to the area along Loop 1604’s southwestern edge known as Macdona, chances are it was a short visit. It’s only roughly one and a half square miles in size.

In fact, Macdona is too small to be considered a town. Instead, it officially is classified as a “Census Designated Place,” or an area with a population that is regularly calculated by the U. S. Census Bureau.

While it may be small in size, the area has a big history that dates back to the days before Texas even was declared a state.

James Benavides, with UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, said Macdona first became a glimmer on the Republic of Texas map in 1837 when then-President Anson Jones began parceling out about 14,000 acres of land along the Medina River. 

Some of it ended up in the hands of George Macdona of Cheshire, England. He then sold his parcel to John Macdona of Paris, France in 1875.

“So that’s probably where the township gets its name,” Benavides said. 

The name, however, did not become official until around 1882. What would later become the Southern Pacific railroad company placed a rail station and switch on a piece of land there and named it Macdona on its map, he said.

“The railroad does come in and, yeah, you've got a boomtown going,” Benavides said. “And it becomes responsible for one of the largest corn, one of the largest cotton crops in the region."

By 1905 the train station had become the center of town’s activities and a popular destination for weekend trips and family outings. Benavides said its popularity continued until around the time of World War II when industrial jobs began to draw people to bigger cities.

The latest census figures show Macdona is home to only about 350 people. Eva Garcia has been living there since the 1980s and worries about its future.

“We don’t have any stores,” she said. “We have nothing but a little post office and a church.”

She said she remembers a day when there was a bar and convenience store next door to her home. Now, the nearest business is a two mile drive, she said.

"All of the elder people have passed and the young ones that they left, they have moved out and nobody's here,” Garcia said.  "It's kind of sad that it's fading away".

Garcia, who is in her 70s, said while the future of the area she has called home for decades may be uncertain, it’s the only place where she’d want to live.

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