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|Kleberg and nearby counties
were the scene of a little known drama in North American history. In
1568, English privateer John Hawkins suffered grave damage to his
fleet in a raid on a Spanish coastal town in Central America. One of
his ships sank, and the others were so badly damaged that there was
not room aboard for the entire crew to make the trip back to
England. The ever-resourceful Hawkins put 114 sailors ashore just
south of the mouth of the Rio Grande. Most of the castaways were
lost to history, but David Ingram, Richard Brown and Richard Twide
walked first to Canada and then to the Atlantic coast, where they
were picked up in October 1569 by a French ship and returned to
Kleberg County was created from Nueces
County in 1913 and organized in that same year. It was named for
Robert Justice Kleberg, an 1880 graduate of the University of
Virginia, lawyer, friend of Capt. Richard King, and founder of the
825,000 acre King Ranch. After King's death in 1885, his widow,
Henrietta King, asked Robert Kleberg to help run the ranch of her.
Kleberg married Alice Gertrudis King, youngest daughter of Henrietta
and Richard King. Their son, Robert Justice Kleberg Jr., managed the
ranch after his father's death in 1933 until his own death in
The town of Kingsville was really the
creation of Henrietta King. anticipating a railroad to Brownsville,
just after the turn of the century, she designated a large piece of
the ranch near the headquarters as incentive for rail construction.
In 1903, when the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad was
built along that line, the town of Kingsville was surveyed and laid
out by the King Ranch surveyor. Lots were sold, and eventually the
town became a cattle-shipping point, railroad repair facility and