King Ranch Headquarters

The 825,000-acre King Ranch covers nearly 1,300 square miles, an area larger than the entire state of Rhode Island, on four separate Divisions of land known as Santa Gertrudis, Laureles, Norias, and Encino. These four Divisions are located in six South Texas counties: Brooks, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy. The Ranch had its beginning in 1852, when Richard King and Gideon K. Lewis set up a cattle camp on Santa Gertrudis Creek in South Texas. Formal purchase began in 1853, when they bought a Spanish land grant, Rincón de Santa Gertrudis, of 15,500 acres on Santa Gertrudis Creek in Nueces County. A short time later they purchased the Mexican land grant, Santa Gertrudis de la Garza grant, of 53,000 acres. During the mid-1850s, as partners, King and Lewis acquired more landholdings around the area of the creek. After Lewis died in April 1855, King acquired Lewis's half interest in the Rincón grant at a public sale. On December 5, 1860, Mifflin Kenedy, with whom King had been associated in a steam boating business, bought an interest in the Ranch. At that time all titles were put under the business name R. King and Company. King and Kenedy dissolved their partnership in 1868, and King retained Santa Gertrudis. That same year King fenced in a tract of his ranch that surrounded the Santa Gertrudis headquarters. During the rest of his life, King would purchase sixty additional pieces of land and amass vast land holdings throughout South Texas.

During the early days of the Ranch, King tried a variety of grazing animals including cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. His first officially recorded brand was the HK, in 1859. The now-famous Running W appeared in the 1860s and was registered on February 9, 1869, as the official brand for King Ranch—a mark that is still used today. To aid in the running of the Ranch, King brought approximately 100 men, women, and children he encountered on a cattle buying trip in Mexico to help tend his herds. From the beginning, these people have been known as los Kineños, or “King’s men.”

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John Ashton, Edgar P. Sneed, Bob Kinnan | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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King Ranch Headquarters is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

King Ranch Headquarters is classified as a Town


Latitude: 27.51737500
Longitude: -97.91702000

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2014