Kleberg County Historical Markers

Map of Kleberg County Historic Sites

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Federal Raid from Camp Boveda | Camp Kingsville, U.S.A. | Camp San Fernando | Conner Museum, John E. | Englishmen in South Texas, 1568 | Near Site of Hide and Tallow Plant | Indian Burial Ground (Dietz Archeological Site) | King Ranch | Kleberg County | 1766 Exploration of Diego Ortiz Parrilla | Mexican Activities at Santa Gertrudis in the 1830's | Santa Gertrudis, Headquarters of the King Ranch | Taylor Camp Site | U.S. Army March to the Rio Grande, 1846, Approximate Route of

Federal Raid from Camp Boveda

Marker Title: Federal Raid from Camp Boveda
City: Riviera
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: Intersection of US 77 and FM 771, Riviera
Marker Text: On December 23, 1863, Capt. Jas. Speed of Gen. Napoleon J.T. Dana's Brownsville-based Federal army force raided unguarded King Ranch. Objectives were to capture or kill Capt. Richard King and destroy the Confederate cotton trade. King, forewarned, evaded the enemy. At King Ranch, the raiders killed Francisco Alvarado; captured C.S.A. Captains John Brown, Alvin Dix, W.S. Gregory and Jas. McClearly and Chaplain Hiram Chamberlain; rifled all buildings; dispersed ranch employees; declared the slaves free; confiscated all horses and mules; impounded Confederate government cotton, promising that if it were moved or burned, King's life would be the forfeit; and threatened further raids from Boveda by Col. E.J. Davis, former South Texas attorney turned Federal officer. Mrs. King and children moved to San Antonio for the war's duration; soon Col. J.S. "RIP" Ford's Confederate cavalry came to protect the cotton road and ranch. At Camp (Rancho) Boveda, near a ford on Los Olmos Creek, were seven cypress-walled water wells, possibly used by Gen. Zachary Taylor in 1846. Campsite is 2-1/2 miles east of this point, on lot 2, block 15, Koch subdivision number one, present Poteet Ranch.

Camp Kingsville, U.S.A.

Marker Title: Camp Kingsville, U.S.A.
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: roadside park, SH 141, west side of Kingsville
Marker Text: (1915 - 1917) Established in September 1915 by Lt. Joseph Dorst Patch, acting under orders of the United States Army during the troubles on the Mexican border. This camp served as the operational base for companies K, L and M of the 26th Infantry, U.S. Army. These units were detailed to defend the Armstrong, Kenedy and King ranches and the rail line from San Antonio to Norias against raids by Mexican insurgents striking north of the Rio Grande. Early in 1917, this camp was visited by the U.S. border commander, Gen. John J. Pershing, who later that year chose men of the 26th Infantry to become a vanguard regiment of the now famous First Division, American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. With departure of the chosen troops, bound for France, Camp Kingsville was closed. Joseph Dorst Patch, born December 8, 1885, at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., enlisted in 1909 and was commissioned in 1911. He married Minerva King of Agua Dulce. He served in two world wars, and was awarded the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star, and the Order of the Bath (British). Retired in 1945 as a major general, he turned to writing as a vocation. His home was in Corpus Christi, where he died November 21, 1966. Incise on back: Plaque dedicated to Memory of Joseph Dorst Patch, Major general, U.S. Army,... soldier, humanitarian, patriot.

Picture of Col. Santos Benavides
Col. Santos Benavides
Laredo Public Library
Camp San Fernando

Marker Title: Camp San Fernando
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Location: from Kingsville, take US 77 (business route) 3 miles north.
Marker Text: Military post on San Fernando Creek, near this site. Guarded the lifeline of the Confederacy, the cotton road, export-import route that ran from the Sabine River in East Texas to the Rio Grande. Manned 1862 by 32nd Texas Calvary flying Bonnie Blue flag; in 1863, a banner lettered: "We fight for our rights". Temporarily occupied, November 1863, by Gen. H.P. Bee. In February 1864 a strong complement arrived under Col. J.S. (RIP) Ford. Col. Matt Nolan reported to Ford a victory over Federals under Capt. C. Balerio 50 miles southwest on Banquete. Winning troops were under Capt. Thomas Cater, Wm. Tate, Taylor, and A.J. Ware, plus home guard under Capt. Santiago Richardson. (Capt. Richard King, of King Ranch, also served in the home guard.) Col. Ford's "Cavalry of the West" included Maj. Felix A. Von Blucher, chief of staff; capts. H.C. Merritt and J. Littleton, commissaries; Col. Albert Walthersdorff, technician; Capt. W.G.M. Samuels, ordnance. On March 30, 1864, the Arizona companies of Lt. Col. Daniel Showalter reached Camp San Fernando. In April Col. Ford and Col. Santos Benavides attacked the Federals in the Rio Grande Valley. Cols. Nolan and B.F. Fry continued to watch over the cotton road and "keep an eye" on Corpus Christi.

John E. Conner Museum/Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Museum Name: John E. Conner Museum/Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2172 Sta. 1
Street Address: 821 W Santa Gertrudis
City: Kingsville
Zip Code: 78363
Area Code: 512
Phone: 593-2810
County: Kleberg

Englishmen in South Texas, 1568

Marker Title: Englishmen in South Texas, 1568
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1973
Marker Location: Courthouse Square Kleberg at 11th Streets, Kingsville.
Marker Text: Fifty-two years before the celebrated landing of English settlers at Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts, three Englishmen traveled this South Texas area. They were sailors who had gone to sea in 1567 with Sir John Hawkins, an admiral of the fleet of Queen Elizabeth I, on a trading voyage. At Vera Cruz, Mexico, on Sept 26, 1568, Sir John was attacked by the Spanish, losing five of his six ships. Forced by famine and overcrowding to lighten the remaining crippled ship, he put ashore 114 of his men on October 8, 1568, near Tampico. Most went south, only to be captured by the Spanish; 26 went north, had indian fights and other misfortunes. Of the 26, only Richard Browne, David Ingram, and Richard Twide ever reached England again. That Browne, Ingram, and Twide passed through this part of Texas is evident by Ingram's testimony, given to her Majesty's secretary in 1582. He told of cannibal Indians along the Gulf Coast. Described the lush grass at the Rio Grande's mouth and the sandy regions north of that river, told of large "musquetas" and of eating prickly pear fruit. In 11 months of steady walking-- only once resting as long as five days-- they reached Frenchmen in Nova Scotia, and a ship captain took them to Europe. (1973)

Near Site of Hide and Tallow Plant

Marker Title: Near Site of Hide and Tallow Plant (King Ranch, 1866-69)
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Location: From Kingsville take SH 141 about 5.5 miles west, marker is on south side of road.
Marker Text: Business founded by Capt. Richard King to advance economic recovery after the Civil War had ended in 1865. The King Ranch beef herds were "money on the hoof", but cull animals also had value if by-products (hides for leather, tallow as a soap ingredient, etc.) could be salvaged from them. A slaughtering plant was built on Santa Gertrudis Creek, about two miles west of ranch headquarters and north of this marker. The tallow was rendered in round iron vats about 18 feet long and six feet in diameter. In service only a short time (plant closed within four years), two of these remained at the old site for 50 years. One of the two was later moved to the Kingsville oil field for use as a storage tank. When it proved unsatisfactory, it was returned and placed at sillo barro pens for water storage. Second vat was cut up for scrap iron during World War II. Site of the old plant is still called "Matanza" (slaughter) pasture. Descendants of the hide and tallow plant employees are working a century later as King Ranch cowboys.

Indian Burial Ground (Dietz Archeological Site)

Marker Title: Indian Burial Ground (Dietz Archeological Site)
City: Riviera
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: intersection of US 77 and FM 771, Riviera.
Marker Text: Centuries old, this burial ground was once used by the primitive Karankawa Indians. A little-known group, this coastal tribe cared for Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca when he was shipwrecked in Texas in 1528. Although previously looted, the site produced over 20 skeletons when excavated by archeologists in 1927 and later. Also found were large quantities of burned human bones (suggesting ritual cannibalism), potsherds, arrowpoints, flint tools, fire implements, and shells. European explorers found the Karankawas unusually tall and muscular, but were repelled by their habits of tattooing and painting their bodies and smearing themselves with alligator grease to keep off insects. Much ritual attended Karankawa death, especially that of boys and young men, who were mourned for an entire year. Three times a day the family wept for the departed youth. After a year, the mourners purified themselves with smoke in a special rite. Ordinary persons were buried in shallow graves with some tools and ornaments, but shamans (medicine men) were cremated during a ceremonial dance. Never very numerous, the Karankawas drifted into Mexico after the white man's diseases and enmity reduced them to a handful of survivors.

King Ranch

Marker Title: King Ranch
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1979
Marker Location: Visitors center, King Ranch, SH 141, west side, Kingsville.
Marker Text: Richard King (1824-1885), a Rio Grande steamboat captain, bought two Spanish land grants on Santa Gertrudis Creek and founded the legendary King Ranch in 1853. He brought longhorn cattle from Mexico and battled droughts and cattle thieves to build a profitable ranch. Operating first in partnership with G.K. ("Legs") Lewis and later with Mifflin Kenedy and James Walworth, King became sole owner in the late 1860s. During the Civil War (1861-1865), the King Ranch was a way-station for Confederate cotton going to Mexico. Herds carrying King's famous "Running W" brand followed the cattle trails to northern markets in the 1870s. After King died, his widow Henrietta (Chamberlain) (1832-1925) named as ranch manager Robert Justus Kleberg (1853-1932), who later married her daughter Alice Gertrudis King (1862-1944). The ranch became less isolated in the early 1900s, when the railroad arrived and the town of Kingsville was settled. Constant improvement of herds by King-Kleberg descendants produced a new breed of cattle, the Santa Gertrudis, and fine quarter horses and thoroughbreds. Petroleum was discovered on ranch property in the 1930s. Today the King ranch has grown to almost one million acres in south Texas, plus holdings in other states and nations.

Kleberg County

Marker Title: Kleberg County
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: roadside park, SH 141, west side of Kingsville.
Marker Text: Formed from Nueces County, created February 27, 1913. Organized June 27, 1913. Named in honor of Robert Justus Kleberg, 1803-1888, a pioneer German settler in Texas, a veteran of San Jacinto. Kingsville, County Seat

1766 Exploration of Diego Ortiz Parrilla

Marker Title: 1766 Exploration of Diego Ortiz Parrilla
City: Riviera
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: from Riviera, take US 77 about 4 miles north to roadside park.
Marker Text: First expedition to give detailed descriptions of Texas' offshore islands and to refer to Corpus Christi Bay by its present name. The exploration was ordered by the Viceroy of New Spain in the midst of rumors that the English planned to encroach on Spanish territory. Parrilla, who had fought the Moors for Spain before holding positions of civil and military leadership in the New World, was ordered to expel any intruders. He began his trek at San Juan Bautista on the Rio Grande, September 13, 1766. At Corpus Christi Bay a detachment marched south to explore the coastal islands. Their report of uniformly bleak, treeless, waterless dunes (including this area) cast doubt on the feasibility of enemy occupation. At this point, torrential rains and floods impeded the party's progress. At La Bahia (present Matagorda Bay) Parrilla was luckily able to interview some of the soldiers serving along the coast and thus he obtained knowledge of the geography of the area and its Indians as far north as Trinity Bay. After several months Parrilla returned, having helped disprove rumors of the English intrusion and bearing vital information on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Mexican Activities at Santa Gertrudis in the 1830's

Marker Title: Mexican Activities at Santa Gertrudis in the 1830's
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: roadside park, SH 141, west side of Kingsville.
Marker Text: As a favored camp, important in Mexico's relations with early Texas. Visited June 1832 by Matamoros citizens on their way to compliment Irish settlers with a feast at Banquete Lake, 25 miles to the north. Gen. Juan Urrea camped here Feb. 25, 1836, with his unit of Santa Anna's invading army. With him were several persons who became agents of mercy to the Texans-- a famous Mexican woman known as "The Angel of Goliad"; Col. Francisco Garay, and Lt. Col. Juan Holsinger. But also with Urrea was Lt. Col. Jose de La Portilla, who under orders from Gen. Santa Anna carried out the 1836 Palm Sunday Massacre at Goliad. The Mexicans left Santa Gertrudis to fight Texans at San Patricio, Agua Dulce, Refugio, and Coleto. Santa Gertrudis soon afterward saw Mexican armies in retreat. Gen. Urrea returned here in May, heading south. Gen. Vicente Filisola and other officers also returned here June 11, as aftermath of defeat of the Mexican army at San Jacinto. With them were 4,500 soldiers, throngs of camp followers, numerous fleeing Negro slaves, thousands of draft and cavalry horses, and even herds of captured range cattle. The camp at Santa Gertrudis was used often after 1830's by soldiers of Texas and the United States.

Santa Gertrudis, Headquarters of the King Ranch

Marker Title: Santa Gertrudis, Headquarters of the King Ranch
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1980
Marker Location: On private property--King Ranch off SH 141 at west edge of Kingsville.
Marker Text: On this site, part of the De La Garza Santa Gertrudis land grant purchased by Captain Richard King in 1853, has stood each of the King Ranch headquarters. The first, an adobe jacal, was replaced by a frame cottage which later burned. Under the direction of Robert J. Kleberg, Sr., this house was designed by Carlton W. Adams for Mrs. Henrietta King. Completed in 1915, it is the family home of Captain King's descendants who are owners of the King Ranch.

Taylor Camp Site

Marker Title: Taylor Camp Site
City: Kingsville
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: Business Route 77, south of Kingsville
Marker Text: In 1846 Zachary Taylor's army marched from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande. On March 10,11, 12, 13, the four regiments in succession camped at this spot on Santa Gertrudis Creek. War with Mexico over the boundary of Texas began soon. The first battles-- Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma-- occurred near present Brownsville. General Mariano Arista led the Mexican army. The results of the war: the boundary of Texas was fixed at the Rio Grande; the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the United States New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California; a notable group of men got training for later public service. Of the 251 officers camped here, many rose to national fame. The Honor Roll Twelve leaders in the Texas battles gave name to United States forts in Texas: Wm. G. Belknap, Jacob Brown, J.E. Blake, W.W.S. Bliss, Theodore L. Chadbourne, James Duncan, Clinton R. Gates, Zebulon P. M. Inge, George T. Mason, J.B. McIntosh, Samuel Ringgold, William Jenkins Worth. Many who camped here became commanders of great armies in the Civil War. Among them: Angur, Bee, Bragg, Kirby-Smith, Longstreet, Meade, Pemberton, Reynolds, Twiggs, Whistler. Two of them-- Zachary Taylor and Ulysses Simpson Grant-- became President of the United States. Kleberg County Historical Survey Committee, 1963

Approximate Route of U.S. Army March to the Rio Grande, 1846

Marker Title: Approximate Route of U.S. Army March to the Rio Grande, 1846
City: Riviera
County: Kleberg
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: from Riviera take US 77 about 4 miles north to Roadside Park.
Marker Text: Battle road of General Zachary Taylor and largest U.S. Army fielded in first half of the 19th century. After annexation of former Republic of Texas was approved in 1845, the United States sent Taylor to occupy area below the Nueces-- to support claim to all land east of the Rio Grande. In August 1845 he reached Corpus Christi where he waited while U.S. and Mexico tried to reach boundary agreement. He also sent out engineers to map a road parallel to the Gulf, where the U.S. Navy watched the crisis. His army-- including on its rosters two later U.S. presidents and later many statesmen and generals-- drilled throughout a rainy winter. On orders from Washington, it moved toward Rio Grande in March 1846. Along its path were few people but much game-- wild cattle, antelope, deer, mustang horses, wild turkeys. Although challenged about 70 miles south of here by a Mexican patrol, Taylor proceeded to occupy Rio Grande Valley. April attacks and May battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma caused the United States to declare war. Afterward many troops took this road and joined the fighting, which fixed the Rio Grande as boundary and gained for U.S. lands now in Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico.


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