THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LVII OCTOBER, 1953 No. 2
e first State fair of areas
HORTENSE WARNER WARD
N UECES COUNTY, and Corpus Christi in particular, boiled
with activity in the late months of 1851 and the early
ones of 1852. Visitors who came to the frontier town
saw a pleasantly situated place on a broad bay.' The business
section was mainly on the beach, the residences scattered along
a high bluff behind. Land in the vicinity was extremely fertile.
Belts of timber grew near the coast. Beyond, a vast undulating
prairie extended from the Nueces River almost to the Rio Grande.
This plain, covered with the richest grass men had ever seen,
abounded with mustangs, deer, antelope, and large herds of beef
cattle. It was a virtual paradise.
But it did not hold the men who stepped ashore from the
New Orleans packet boats. The men did not see the greenness of
the land, for they were blinded by the glitter of California gold.
Corpus Christi served only as a way station on the long western
route to the California treasureland.
Colonel Henry L. Kinney, the founder of Corpus Christi, was
seriously concerned over this lack of interest. He was even more
concerned over a second and highly secret matter, of which notice
will later be taken. The Mexican War had brought sudden pros-
perity to Corpus Christi, but it was quickly gone again. The
discovery of gold in California took a heavy toll of the local
population and brought only transients to the seacoast. Colonel
Kinney was left with a vast empty acreage and no prospect of
filling it with substantial settlers who would make permanent
homes. It was imperative to change the situation to avoid
If the colonel could induce people to settle on Corpus Christi
'John Russell Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas,
New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, During the Years i85o, '5i, '52,
and '53 (2 vols.; New York, 1854), II, 528, 529.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed August 2, 2014.