Richard King was a son of Irish immigrants in New York, where he was orphaned and worked for a jeweler. After suffering from being enslaved he stowed away on a commercial boat heading south. While on the boat for several days he was soon discovered and had to work for his passage (Kernaghan). In doing so, this made King a man of the sea and he enjoyed the way of life. He soon became a captain of a steamboats on the Rio Grande.
While he was on a trip to Corpus Christi to the Lone Star State Fair he had not seen water for 124 miles until he came across the Santa Gertrudis Creek in south Texas.
He had seen a future in this land and wanted to make it his own. When he reached Corpus Christi, he partnered with famous Texas Ranger Gideon K. (Legs) Lewis and they bought and old Spanish land grant,Rincon de Santa Gertrudis, consisting of 15,500 acres (Kernaghan). King had to exchange his large vessel for this grant, but it did not stop here. A short time later they purchased the Garza Santa Gertrudis grant of 53,000 acres, and during the mid-1850s, as partners, King and Lewis aquired more landholdings around the area of the creek (Aston). They continued buying and expanding to its largest of 1.2 million acres in four huge sections surrounding the 800,000 acre ranch of King's friend Mifflin Kenedy, who was previously a partner with King during their earlier steamboat business. After Lewis died in April 1855, King managed to aquire Lewis's half interest in the Ricon grant at a public sale (Ashton).
While Richard King was an adventurer, there are records that show he was an astute businessman who realized early on that he had to invest in and support the infrastructure around his enterprises (Kernaghan).
|Richard King's workers became known as kinenos, "Kings men."|
|Robert J. Kleberg 1803-1888|
Video containing the origin of the King Ranch:
1. Ashton, John and Sneed Edgar P., “KING RANCH,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apk01), accessed March 28, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
2. Dawson, Joseph Martin. "The Cattle Range Goes Modern." Nation's Business. 19. no. 11 (1931): 82.
3. Kernaghan, John. "The King Ranch." ProQuest. XVI. no. 6 (2001):90.http://search.proquest.com/docprintview/211213318?accountid=4117 (accessed March 30, 2012).