Monday, February 8, 2010

A Texas Love Story--the Kings

A TRUE TEXAS LOVE STORY—Robert and Henrietta King

In 1853, Captain Richard King purchased 68,500 acres that had been Spanish and Mexican land grants called Santa Gertrudis. The now-famous Santa Gertrudis breed, first strain of cattle originating in the Western Hemisphere, was developed in The Wild Horse Desert area of South Texas. The ranch sprawls across 825,000 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Henrietta Maria Morse Chamberlain was born in Missouri in 1832. She was the only daughter of a Presbyterian missionary, and she was only three when her mother died. She was often left with relatives when she was young and alone when she was older. After college, she moved with her father to Brownsville, Texas, where in 1849 he established a Presbyterian mission. Henrietta was a tall, lovely young woman, and her heart went out to the lonely, the sick, the poor, and especially, needy children.

Robert and Henrietta married in 1854, forming a most perfect union. Together, side-by-side, they ran the King Ranch. Their first home was a hut on the cattle ranch. She wrote in her memoirs:

"When I came as a bride in 1854, a little ranch home then — a mere jacal as Mexicans would call it — was our abode for many months until our main ranch dwelling was completed. But I doubt if it falls to the lot of any a bride to have had so happy a honeymoon. On horseback we roamed the broad prairies. When I grew tired my husband would spread a Mexican blanket for me and then I would take my siesta under the shade of the mesquite tree. ... I remember that my pantry was so small my platters were fastened to the walls outside. In those days, large venison roasts were our favorite viands. ... At first our cattle were longhorns from Mexico. We had no fences and branding was hard work" -Henrietta King

Richard died in 1885, leaving his wife of 31 years alone to run the ranch. Henrietta King lived until 1925, and she made the ranch profitable. She further developed their cattle breed which became the popular cattle variety across Texas. During her years alone, she built a public high school, a Presbyterian Church, and she supported local colleges and hospitals. She created the town of Kingsville by donating land when “Captain” died. She became the sole owner of the world’s largest ranch, and she ultimately created an empire of over one million acres.

“I doubt if any bride had so happy a honeymoon.” Henrietta King

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print



Published by: The Wild Rose Press


  1. Celia,

    I have always loved this love story. When I worked at the Nat.'l Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum here in Oklahoma City, they had a huge display about the King Ranch, and on the floor in one room is a map of all the huge ranches and cattle trails. I always thought this story was so lovely and dear. Great post!

  2. Now that was a woman who easily adapted and was grateful for what she had. Such an attitude makes life a whole lot easier!

    Morgan Mandel

  3. CHERYL--I loved her description of her honeymoon. So sweet and tender--how many woman today would find that romantic? Celia

  4. MORGAN--she would make a fantastic heroine in a sweeping Western saga. She did everything!! I've seen photos of her and the Captain in about 1900--she's in pants and cowboy boots and hat, with her foot propped on the bottom railing, laughing. Such joy. Celia

  5. I agree, Celia - she would make a great heroine in a sweeping Western saga. Her young life sounds marred with hardship, yet she endured and made something better.

    Thanks so much for sharing this insiprational story. I love visiting your blog because I always find out something new!


  6. STEPH--thanks for stopping by. I wonder how many of us could have coped as well as some of these early pioneers.I have a book titled Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine that chronicles 1st person accounts of Texas pioneer women over the space of almost 100 years.Awesome--Celia

  7. Hi Celia,
    I love how you have such a knack and interest in history. Thanks for sharing this with us. I feel like I have a bit more Texas in my heart.

  8. What a great love story to post for Valentine's Weekend. And what a legacy this lady left behind. Thanks for sharing, Celia.

  9. This is interesting and romantic. I like reading about this time era especially if it has to do with the west or Texas.

    Celia, you amaze me. How do you find all these fabulous stories?

  10. This is interesting and romantic. I like reading about this time era especially if it has to do with the west or Texas.

    Celia, you amaze me. How do you find all these fabulous stories?

  11. Ah, love it. Great blog. Hop on over to today. Tracy garrett's got a wonderful blog up on The King of Texas!


  12. What a wonderful love story - thank you for sharing it on your wonderful blog, Celia!

  13. Celia, fascinating and what a wonderful love story, a powerful woman and a powerful man.