Hello, Caroline Clemmons here filling in for Jeanmarie Hamilton, who has a home repair emergency today.
Because Jeanmarie and I each write Texas settings for our historical romances, I thught I'd include a post on Texas history. No groaning, please! I promise this will NOT be a pedantic treatise. Grades will not be taken nor test given. Probably. Okay, no tests. Let me tell you about Richard King, nicknamed The King of Texas.
He told his partner in the steamboat business that land and livestock had a way of increasing in value. Cattle, horses, sheep, and goats would reproduce themselves into value. Boats had a way of wrecking, decaying, falling apart, and decreasing in value and increasing in the cost of operation.
King met with his friend, Texas Ranger Gideon Lewis, and the two men hammered out a partnership to establish a small ranch on the banks of a creek in South Texas. King was to provide the capital while Lewis and his Ranger patrol would provide protection from rustlers and Indians. As his cattle operation grew, King located the Mexican owners of the original Spanish land grant to which he had staked his claim and purchased 15,500 acres from them for $300. Shortly afterwards he added 53,000 acres for which he paid $1,800. King was something of a visionary and dammed a small stream on the property. When drought hit the area--as it always does in any part of Texas--he was the only ranch with a good supply of water.
King and his foreman traveled across the Rio Grande to Mexico and bought cattle at low prices. On one occasion, after buying all the livestock in a particularly poor village, he offered to take the town's entire population back to the ranch and put them to work. This was the beginning of Los Kineros, the King People, progenitors of generations of intensely loyal Mexican tenant families who worked the King Ranch.
By the time the Civil War broke out, King was one of the largest landowners in Texas, if not the largest. With a wife and three children to care for, he had increased his holdings to support twenty thousand head of cattle and three thousand horses. He initiated a series of livestock breeding experiments that he hoped would result in better, more durable strains of horses and cattle.
After King's death in 1885, his son-in-law Robert Kleberg took over the operations of the ranch. Following in his mentor's steps, Kleberg and those family members who succeeded him turned the King Ranch into the world's largest livestock operation with branches in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Cuba, Brazil, and Australia. King's initial efforts lived up to his name, The King Of Texas.
Reference, IT HAPPENED IN TEXAS, by James A Crutchfield, Falcon Press, Helena, Montana, 1996.