Friday, January 16, 2009


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 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 long horns 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
I hope you enjoyed the story of Robert and Henrietta. My first release, ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, follows the fictional love story between Ricardo and Cynthia. Much of the research I did for the book concerned the King Ranch and the love and admiration the owners had for each other.
PLEASE NOTE: I have a special interview on Jane Richardson’s blog HOME THOUGHTS FROM A BROAD. She has put together an especially lovely blog about me and my book. Please read:


Cheryl said...

This is one of my favorite TRUE stories! So romantic, and in the true "pioneering" spirit! I read Jane's blog about All My Hopes and Dreams and about YOU! VERY NEAT!!! I want to get this book in paperback, so I'm waiting until next month. Great post on the King Ranch.

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Celia,
I've been to Kingsville. My niece used to live there. A dry area with loads of scrubby trees, mostly mesquite. Not the best tree for shade but I guess when that's all there is, you don't complain. What an awesome love story. One of these days I hope to read your book.

Deborah Schneider said...

I enjoyed this story of "true love" and the development of the King ranch. Whenever I'm inclined to complain about how hard my day is, I try to remember pioneer women and the trials and tribulations they endured.

Loretta said...

With as rough and tough as the old West was, it is refreshing to hear a different side of life. A true love story--the essence of a good novel. Thanks for sharing.

Paty Jager said...

What a wonderful love story and story of the pioneer strength and determination. Thanks for sharing!

Lauri said...

Wonderful post, Celia! I love the excerpt from her journal! (And the excerpt of your story!)

I need to make a trip to Texas just to see all the places that have been talked about on this blog!

Tanya Hanson said...

hi Celia, I too really enjoyed the excerpts both fiction and non-fiction. I so admire these strong forebears of ours.

Great post.

Karen said...

buy viagra

viagra online

generic viagra