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St. Joseph Island

Art Leatherwood General Entry

St. Joseph (San José) Island, whose center point is 28°00' north latitude and 96°56' west longitude, is a sand barrier island in Aransas County. It is separated from Matagorda Island on the north by Cedar Bayou and from Mustang Island on the south by Aransas Pass. St. Joseph Island is about twenty-one miles long and five miles wide. It protects Aransas Bay and the mainland from the storms and tides of the Gulf of Mexico. The French landed parties on the island in 1712 and 1718. José de Escandón explored St. Joseph, Padre, Mustang, and Matagorda islands in 1766. The combined islands of St. Joseph and Matagorda were also known as Culebra. The first United States flag to be raised in Texas is said to have been raised on St. Joseph Island by United States troops on July 26, 1845. Forts were erected at various times on the south end of the island. Aransas, a town, prospered on the south end of the island between Texas independence and the Civil War. The north jetty, which protects the shipping channel through Aransas Pass, is anchored to the south tip of St. Joseph Island. The island is largely uninhabited today.

Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “St. Joseph Island,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 29, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.