Kleberg County, Texas

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Kleberg County, Texas

postcard, main building 1915.

Adjacent counties

Nueces County
North arrow
Jim Wells County
West arrow Kleberg County, Texas East arrow East
Gulf of Mexico
South arrow
Brooks County
Kenedy County
Nueces County (north)
Kenedy County (south)
Brooks County (southwest)
Jim Wells County (west)


Kleberg County was created and organized in 1913 from Nueces County.[1] It is named for rancher Robert Justus Kleberg Jr. (1853-1932).[2] His father Robert Justus Kleberg (1803-1888) fought in the battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.[3]

Karankawa and Coahuiltecan Native Americans were long-time residents in the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain.

The future Kleberg County was part of the Spanish province of Nuevo Santander, which encompassed the area between Tampico, Mexico and the Guadalupe River in Texas. The County was named for Robert Justus Kleberg, immigrant..[4]

1747, Joaquín de Orobio y Basterra led a small party of soldiers across the area that is now Kleberg County, gathering the first information on the county. A few years later, Spanish authorities founded a number of towns on the banks of the lower Rio Grande, and much of the land north of the Rio Bravo/Grande was granted to ranchers from those communities, including large tracts.

1846 Gen Zachary Taylor went through this area with his American troops toward the Rio Grande River.[5] 1846-48 - Mexican-American War
Post 1846, land was designated as Nueces County. [5]

1847-53 -King Ranch, located in portions of Brooks, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy Counties.. Acreage- 825,000 Acres Primary use of the Ranches: Cow-calf, feed yard, farming, horses, oil and gas, wild game hunting, birding. This is the most successful ranch of Texas with the most stories.. Captain Richard King, stow-away on a steamship and pilot during the Mexican American war and later the Civil War. He made a fortune on his steamship business. When he founded the ranch, he knew almost nothing about cattle ranching. He made smart decisions on buying land with the only fresh water. King was also able to coax a whole Mexican town of vaqueros to move to his ranch in Texas and thus work for him..The King Ranch, Inc.—it was incorporated in 1934—has diversified interests ranging from agribusiness to oil and gas, and it is co-owned by Captain King’s heirs and other stockholders.[6]

1853 Richard King purchased the Santa Gertrudis grant in Kleberg County from the heirs of the original Spanish grantees and started the King Ranch. [5]

History of Kleberg County is similar to that of the Ranch history for 50 years.. [5]

1903- the St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railway railroad was built through South Texas to Brownsville.[5]

Henrietta King, owner of the King Ranch opened land for sale from the ranch.[5]

A surveyor employed by the ranch did the surveying and platting of Kingsville town in a pasture. (3 miles East of headquarters).[5]

Before the railroad arrived, some lots were sold.[5]
Farmers began to grow cotton, and vegetables.[5]

1912 Kingsville population was 4,000.[5]

See Ricardo and Riviera.

The Railroad had built shops and headquarters in Kingsville. Employees of the Railroad thus shopped there.

Some began ranching and many invested in Jersey cows. Soon milk was sold to a creamery in Kingville.[5]

The Creamery provided income and place to work for farm families. .[5]

Kingsville expanded faster due to the railroad with its offices and shops there. The railroad employees shopped there. (1/3 of the population was Railroad employees.)[5]

Time came when people wanted the county to be its own county instead of part of Nueces County. [5]

1913 The Texas legislature established Kleberg County named for Robert Justus Kleberg His son also with same name Robert Justus, Jr. was manager of King Ranch..[5]

The law established 5 residents to organize it. They used Anton Felix von Blücher to do the surveying. [5]

(NOTE there is a digital library in Corpus Christi where the von Blücher papers are archived. In those papers were named the great grandfather of this author - (receipts of payments he made for Richard King in the mid to late-1850’s.

1913- county officers were chosen, with Kingsville as the county seat. They were to build a courthouse and a hospital. These officers used rented offices in downtown Kingsville while the courthouse was being built.It was completed 1914.

1919 - Bond issue to build hard surface highway running southward from Nueces county line through Kingsville, and Ricardo to Riviera.[5]

1919 First Oil well was producing with other oil exploration underway. [5]

1921- First cotton mill. [5]

1925- South Texas Teachers College established ( now Texas A & M University at Kingsville). [5]

1920’s Population increased from 4,470 to 12,451 in 1930. [5]
1935 - Loyola Beach developed[5]
1940- population was 16,857 the increasse was aided by the Naval Auxiliary Station (or Naval Air Station, Kingsville) a d a celanese plant employees made homes here..[5]

1950’s the railroad closed its offices, shops, moving employees out. but population continued to grow[5]

East Family Ranches, in counties: Brooks, Cameron, Hildago, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Kleberg, Starr, And Willacy counties. (340,000 Acres) used for Cattle, oil, gas, no known date of founding.
This ranching family will not talk to the press. According to the 1957 book, "The King Ranch" by Tom Lea: Tom T East a rancher married Alice Kleberg, granddaughter of Richard King and the King Ranch in 1915. The newlyweds went to live on Tom East's San Antonio Viejo Ranch located 75 miles from the King Ranch. The Easts suffered financial troubles and sold their 77,000 acres . After this the first oil well was found on their ranch San Antonio Viejo.).. Upon Alice Kleberg's death, her estate was transferred back to the East family.
Robert and Evelyn East, widow of his brother own the East Family Ranches. Robert owns the San Antonio Viejo, Casa Verde and San Pablo while while Evelyn East owns the Santa Fe.[7]

Bass Family Ranches, Location in Aranasas, Atascosa, Brooks, Hidalgo, Johnson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Parker, Red River and Tarrant counties (ACREAGE: 150,000 Acres) .

The Basses are similar to the Easts. The family is very tightlipped. Neither the family or employees will confirm location, acreage. According to what we can find, there are 3 Texas ranches.

1) Lee Bass owns El Coyote (S of Falfurrias )
2) Ed owns the Wainscot (SW of Fort Worth)
3) the Bass family owns the San Jose cattle company on the Gulf Coast as well as additional acreage scattered around Texas..
4) Winfield Scott founded Winscott, founded by Winfield Scott (Fort Worth millionaire)
5) San Jose Ranch is located on San Jose Island (north of South Padre. Cattle would have to swim or be transported by barge to and from the mainland. (The Island has an airstrip, but is used for people).[8]

Land Grants

July 25, 1853 - Rincón de Santa Gertrudis grant (15,500 acres), purchased by Richard King from Juan Mendiola of Camargo for $300[9]

May 20, 1854 - Richard King an "Legs" Lewis purchased the de la Garza Santa Gertrudis grant (53,000 acres) from Praxides Uribe of Matamoros, Tamaulipas for $1,800, on the condition of a perfected title (complete documentation of the land grant).[9]

Rincón de los Laureles grant was purchased from José Pérez Rey]] and María José Pérez Rey, by Miflin Kenedy and Richard King. It is still in the family today.[9]


U.S. Highway 77
The future route of Interstate 69E is planned to follow the current route of U.S. 77 in most places.
State Highway 141
State Highway 285
Farm to Market Road 771
Park Road 22


Location - Texas VALLEY- Kleberg County locale is south of Corpus Christi on U.S. Highway 77 in the Rio Grande Plain region of South Texas. 853 square miles lies on the mainland and remainder is on Padre Island.

Latitude/Longitude: 27°50' north latitude and 98°00' west longitude.

Type: grassy plain

Elevation: sea level to 150 feet, part of the county's

Creeks/Rivers: San Fernando, Santa Gertrudis, Escondido, and Los Olmos, flow into the Callo del Grullo and Baffin Bay- SEs part

Soil - The county's clay and loam soils are covered in places with such brush as huisache, mesquite, and ebony.

Temperatures- January minimum of 48° to an average July maximum of 96°

Rainfall- 26.5 inches.

Growing season- 314 days.

National protected areas Padre Island National Seashore (part) on Wikipedia

State protected areas Padre Island National Seashore (part) on Wikipedia


Stock raising
Oil since 1919

Parent County/Formed From

Kleberg County was organized in 1913 and is named for Robert Justus Kleberg (b1803), an early settler.

County Seat

The county seat is Kingsville. Kleberg County is included in the Kingsville, Texas Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Government Offices

Kleberg County is named in honor of Robert Justus Kleberg

1913 Texas legislature established Kleberg County named for Robert Justus Kleberg His son also with same name Robert Justus Kleberg, Jr. was manager of King Ranch..[5]

(of Note: Wikidata does not want Sr. on the first person named that, it wants a son if pertinent to be named with ,Jr.)

The law established 5 residents to organize it. They used Anton Felix von Blücher to do the surveying. [5]

1913- county officers were chosen, with Kingsville as the county seat. They were assigned to build a courthouse and a hospital. These officers used rented offices in downtown Kingsville while the courthouse was being built. [5]

The 1914 Kleberg County courthouse was built one year after the county was organized and is the only courthouse the county has ever had. The style is Texas Renaissance, built of brick, tile, concrete. [10]

Kleberg courthouse.


In 2000 the census showed Kenedy County had 31,549 people, showing a population density of 36 people/square mile.
The racial makeup of the county was 71.87% White, 3.70% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 1.47% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 19.00% from other races, and 3.25% from two or more races. 65.41% of the population were Hispanic. [4]

This population was spread out with 27.30% under the age of 18, 15.70% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 19.00% from 45 to 64, and 10.60% who were 65 years of age or older. [4]

The median income for a household in the county was $29,313, and the median income for a family was $33,055. This lower income thus was $13,542. yielding 26.7% of population below the poverty. This included 35.5% under 18 years and the elderly (15.6). [4]


1920 -- 7,837 —
1930 -- 12,451 58.9%
1940 -- 13,344 7.2%
1950 -- 21,991 64.8%
1960 -- 30,052 36.7%
1970 -- 33,166 10.4%
1980 -- 33,358 0.6%
1990 -- 30,274 −9.2%
2000 -- 31,549 4.2%
2010 -- 32,061 1.6%
Est. 2015 -- 31,857


  • Santa Gertrudes Division of the King Ranch is in the western part of county.
  • Laureles Division of the King Ranch occupies central area, eastward to coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. (250,000 acres). This is the largest division, is fenced, and closed to the public.

Cities, Town(s), CDP, Sparsely Populated Places

Kingsville (county seat)
Corpus Christi (partly in Nueces County)
Loyola Beach

Riviera was established by Theodore F. Koch in 1907 after he purchased 20,000 acres of land from Henrietta Chamberlain King. Riviera was located 9 miles from Ricardo

Ricardo was established in 1908 was located on the St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railroad railroad six miles south of Kingsville, and was started as a trading center for farmers living nearby.[11]


  • Total 1,090 sq mi (2,823 km2)
  • Land 881 sq mi (2,282 km2)
  • Water 209 sq mi (541 km2), 19%

Things to do/see

Texas Historical Markers

As of October 2022 there are 27 state historical roadside markers in Kleberg County. The Texas Historical Commission - Texas Historic Sites Atlas provides access to content of the markers. Searches can be done by statewide, by county, key words and types of markers,





  1. Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas - Kleberg County
  2. Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas - Kleberg, Robert Justus [II (1853–1932)]
  3. Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas - Kleberg, Robert Justus [I (1803–1888)]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleberg_County,_Texas
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hck10
  6. http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-biggest-ranches/
  7. http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-biggest-ranches/
  8. http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-biggest-ranches/
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 on Wikipedia
  10. http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasGulfCoastTowns/Kingsville-Texas-Kleberg-County-Courthouse.htm
  11. Kleberg County, Texas in the Handbook of Texas Online

See also

Don Graham, The Kings of Texas: The 150-Year Saga of an American Ranching Empire, ISBN 0-471-39451-3
John Cypher, Bob Kleberg and the King Ranch: A Worldwide Sea of Grass, ISBN 978-0-292-71187-7
Tom Lea (1957), The King Ranch. Two volumes. 838 pages. Index. Maps and drawings by the author. Boston: Little, Brown. Library of Congress catalog card:57-7839

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Hello managers,

I was born and raised in Kingsville, Kleberg county. I would like to do some updating on this page. Do any of you have plans for changes?

Mary, this would be similar to what I recently did for Kendall county.


posted by Stuart Awbrey