Monday, March 7, 2011

A TRUE TEXAS LOVE STORY--Richard and Henrietta King

CAPTAIN RICHARD KING
In 1853, Captain Richard King purchased 68,500 acres that had been Spanish and Mexican land grants called Santa Gertrudis.
KING COWBOYS
AND
SANTA GERTRUDIS CATTLE
The now-famous Santa Gertrudis breed, first strain of cattle originating in the Western Hemisphere, was developed in The Wild Horse Desert area of South Texas. The ranch sprawls across 825,000 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.
HENRIETTA KING
Henrietta Maria Morse Chamberlain was born in Missouri in 1832. She was the only daughter of a Presbyterian missionary, and she was only three when her mother died. She was often left with relatives when she was young and alone when she was older. After college, she moved with her father to Brownsville, Texas, where in 1849 he established a Presbyterian mission. Henrietta was a tall, lovely young woman, and her heart went out to the lonely, the sick, the poor, and especially, needy children.
A JACAL (HAH-CAHL)
A CRUDE MEXICAN HUT
THE KING'S FIRST HOME ON THE RANCH
"I doubt if any bride had so happy a honeymoon."
Henrietta King
Robert and Henrietta married in 1854, forming a most perfect union. Together, side-by-side, they ran the King Ranch. Their first home was a hut on the cattle ranch. She wrote in her memoirs: 
YOUNG HENRIETTA AND HER HORSE
"When I came as a bride in 1854, a little ranch home then — a mere jacal as Mexicans would call it — was our abode for many months until our main ranch dwelling was completed. But I doubt if it falls to the lot of any a bride to have had so happy a honeymoon. On horseback we roamed the broad prairies. When I grew tired my husband would spread a Mexican blanket for me and then I would take my siesta under the shade of the mesquite tree. ... I remember that my pantry was so small my platters were fastened to the walls outside. In those days, large venison roasts were our favorite viands. ... At first our cattle were longhorns from Mexico. We had no fences and branding was hard work" -Henrietta King
ORIGINAL COWBOYS
Richard died in 1885, leaving his wife of 31 years alone to run the ranch. Henrietta King lived until 1925, and she made the ranch profitable. She further developed their cattle breed which became the popular cattle variety across Texas. During her years alone, she built a public high school, a Presbyterian Church, and she supported local colleges and hospitals. She created the town of Kingsville by donating land when “Captain” died. She became the sole owner of the world’s largest ranch, and she ultimately created an empire of over one million acres. 
THE KING MANSION
ON THE RANCH
IN THE SOUTHERN WILD HORSE DESERT
OF TEXAS
“I doubt if any bride had so happy a honeymoon.” Henrietta King
*****
Note: The Kings had five children who inherited the ranch. Today, the decendents own and operate the King Ranch, Inc., a worldwide coporation.
I hope you enjoyed the story of Robert and Henrietta.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com http://www.celiayeary.com

21 comments:

Liz Fichera said...

Did the Kings have any children?

Celia Yeary said...

Liz--thanks for asking that. I forgot about the childdren, so I added a note at the bottom.
They had five children, and upon his death after 35 years of marriage, Henrietta took over and ran the ranch for decades, making it into what it is today. The oldest daughter, Alice, helped her set up a trust upon her death. Later, the ranch became a corporation, still owned by the King's decendents. Celia

Doc Nani said...

This is so interesting. I have read about the King ranch for years. Thank you for sharing.

Judy said...

Hi, Celia--I am a native Texan (who wants to go home!) but I did NOT know the story of the Kings! I have always been familiar with the King Ranch--just goes to show you, there's always a story behind the story. Thanks for sharing! And a belated Happy Texas Independence Day to you. Remember the Alamo!

Tanya Hanson said...

Good one, Celia. I visited the Menger Hotel in San Antonio not long ago and it's supposedly haunted by Richard. In a good way LOL. Remember the Alamo...I LOVED it. Spent several days in SA all by myself after the Wild Rose Press retreat in Bandera. I had such a great time being a Texan for a few days.

Kathleen said...

Hi Celia. Thank you so much for the story of the King family. We have traveled Texas quite a bit, camping and staying at many of its beautiful state parks and knew of the ranch. I believe that it has its own zip code. Is that correct? Anyway, thanks for the story.

Kathy

Celia Yeary said...

Doc--I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the Kings, and thanks for stopping by--
Celia

Celia Yeary said...

JUDY--what's keeping you? Come back to Texas where you belong!
I enjoyed a Texas Independence Day party as a friend's house--she had a cake with 175th on it, the Lone Star flag flying out at the street--lots of fun, attended by Texans and a few Yankees who had no idea what they were doing there! Celia

Celia Yeary said...

TANYA--I'd forgotten about the Menger and the ghost of Richard there.We stayed in the hotel way back in 1964--my husband had business there, and our small daughter and I went with him. Very nice. I'm glad you spent a day there--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

KATHLEEN,yes, the ranch has its own zip code. It's also expanded ranching operations and the breed of cattle into Cuba, Argentina, and a few other places with cattle ranches.
Come back soon! Celia

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

What an interesting accounting of this great couple. That mansion was a FAR cry from the hut they lived in while it was being built. She was an amazing woman to be able to carry on in her husband's place during that time of history. Thanks for sharing their lives with us today.

Marin Thomas said...

Celia, I loved your post. I always wanted to tour the King Ranch when we lived in Texas and now I wish more than ever that I had. Great photos!

MJFredrick said...

I love their story. I'm a native Texan, but I didn't know much about the Kings until I went with my buddy Trish two years ago. He was a fascinating man, and would make a great romance hero.

Celia Yeary said...

Paisley--yes, she was an amazing woman. That she literally built the town of Kingsville, a high school, a church, etc. shows her deep missionary spirit she was raised with. I've read more about her and it seems she truly cared for everyone under her employ. A grand lady, for sure.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MARIN--I've never toured it myself. One day, it'll be on my agenda. Thanks--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MJ--well, the movie Giant with Rock Hudson was patterned after the King Ranch. The real ranch, though, is in deep South Texas in the Wild Horse Desert. The movie Giant was filmed out in Big Bend country. I once saw the old frame of the ranch house in the movie--it sits way out in the middle of nowhere, just a skeleton.
The King Ranch has been in inspiration to many movie makers! Celia

jrlindermuth said...

Interesting story about a fascinating pioneer couple. I've driven across a portion of the ranch (en route to Mexico), and it is huge.

jrlindermuth said...

Interesting story about a fascinating pioneer couple. I've driven across a portion of the ranch (en route to Mexico), and it is huge.

jrlindermuth said...

Interesting story about a fascinating pioneer couple. I've driven across a portion of the ranch (en route to Mexico), and it is huge.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I love this post. The Kings certainly moved from one extreme to another in homes. I'm so glad they succeeded.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Celia, don't you think Richard King looks a little like the old actor Howard Keel?