Mr. Speaker, Richard King is one of the many faces who shaped the ethics of hard work and endurance that define Texan values. He is the founder of King Ranch, but started his career as a river man, steamboat businessman, and later a livestock capitalist. He was born in New York City in 1824 to a poor Irish family. At only nine years old, Richard was indentured to a jeweler. However, he soon escaped as a stowaway on the Desdemona, a massive ship headed to Alabama.
Once arriving, he spent the majority of his on the Alabama river learning from other boaters, and by the time he was 16 years old, he was a steamboat pilot. Richard joined the army in 1842 to fight the Seminole War in Florida, and it is there that he met Mifflin Kenedy, who eventually became a longtime business partner. During the war, Richard King started and commanded the ‘‘Colonel Cross’’ to transport troops and supplies down the river.
When peace was made, Richard became a partner of M. Kenedy and Company, Mr. Mifflin Kennedy’s steamboat company. But he didn’t stop there. Richard began to expand his property, and after years scattered with trials, failures, and finally success, he became a master businessman. This aspiring gentleman’s purchases and income grew greater and greater by the day. In several partnerships, he bought land in the Nueces Strip in 1853, when he purchased the 15,500- acre Rinco´n de Santa Gertrudis grant from the heirs of Juan Mendiola, then 53,000-acre Santa Gertrudis de la Garza grant from Jose´ Pe´rez Rey.
These pieces of at first barren land became the birthplace of King Ranch. With expansions and renovations, this land increased, and by the time of his death in 1885, King had made over sixty major purchases of land and amassed some 614,000 acres. Every good Texan knows of the trails to northern markets and Ft. Worth stock market.
Richard sent more than 100,000 livestock up these trails, taking it upon himself to expand the Texas ranching industry. Richard King was not only a rancher, river man, and businessman, but a man of generosity and service to his country, using his resources as he could in every battle. He symbolizes the heart of the American dream, rising from an indentured servant and runaway boy, to one of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the West. He died at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. His last instruction to his lawyer was, ‘‘Not to let a foot of dear old Santa Gertrudis get away’’.
And that is just the way it is.