The Franklin Hardin Chapter of Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) met on Saturday March 19th. Chapter President Debbie Sjolander of Dayton presented this month’s program in a virtual session. Having lived in Kingsville, Texas as a child, Debbie chose nearby historic King Ranch as her program.
An 825,000-acre property covering nearly 1,300 square miles in 6 counties, King Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island. It originated in 1852 when Richard King (1824-1885) and partner Gideon “Legs” Lewis (1823-1855) setup camp on Santa Gertrudis Creek. During his lifetime, King made 60 land purchases including acquiring 15,500 acres via a Spanish land grant and 53,000 acres via a Mexican land grant.
Domesticated Longhorns were icons of the ranch and some of the first hoof stock to comprise the early north bound Texas cattle drives. Business diversification ranged from farming cotton, grain, sugar cane, sweet corn, and turf grass – to retail ranging from home furnishings to commercial printing. The ranching business, however, has remained a core business with a stock of more than 20,000 cows.
Quarter horse breeding began in 1916 followed by thoroughbreds in 1934. Every horse on King Ranch is a descendant of one horse named Old Sorrel, the foundation sire of King Ranch and of the American Quarter Horse breed.
Humble Oil & Refining Company (now ExxonMobil) began drilling for oil on King Ranch as early as 1919. A large refinery was established in Kingsville to handle all the South Texas production. The first King Ranch oil well was completed in 1939 and by 1953 there were 650 producing oil and gas wells. In 1980, King Ranch formed an oil and gas subsidiary which encompassed operations in five states and the Gulf of Mexico.
Information about this DRT chapter is available on their Facebook page.