KING OF THE VILLE
Captain King, the 19th century entrepreneur responsible for creating the "birthplace of American ranching," was born to Irish parents, spent his childhood in New York City, stowed away on a ship bound for Alabama, served in the U.S.âMexico War, and based his ranching style on the centuries-old Hispanic legacy of petrón-peón feudal rule. Add it all together and you've got a decidedly global flavor to the more provincial Texas reputation of Richard King and his famed King Ranch. King lived a cinematic life, wheeling and dealing from age 11 on and died a wealthy man. His wife Henrietta and son-in-law Robert J. Kleberg would be responsible for establishing his namesake town as well as elevating the fortunes of the King Ranch, still one of the largest working ranches in Texas.
Today, in this history-rich Texas Main Street city, expect to be enchantedâstarting at the original depot serving as a visitors center and railroad museum enter a downtown district full of jewelry and leather craftspeople, an old fashioned soda fountain and welcoming dining spotsâall the way to the 1914 Kleberg County Courthouse. Catch the tours and exhibitions of the Captain's legacy where a restored mercantile and an early-1900s ice plant house collections of depth, heritage, and history. See preservation in progress at the 1909 H.M. King High School, built on the original spot where cattle were gathered before heading up the trail to market. Kingsville is also home to Texas A&M University-Kingsville where the John E. Conner Museum serves up an entertaining dose of natural and cultural history, providing a thorough picture of one of the state's most defining eras.