The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Written in response to the Hollywood movies, the book also misses an oppor-
tunity to enrich its historical inquiry of the Spanish/Mexican roots of its subject.
Leroy Webb's mother, grandfather, and great grandfather were New Mexico
Mexican Americans. His wife Nora's grandmother was a Mexican American.
Many of the ranches and horsemanship methods he admires were strongly influ-
enced by the Mexican culture. Ironically, the only reference to the Mexican cow-
boy heritage is the assertion that "The transition of cowboys begins with the
defenders of the Alamo, Sam Houston, and others" (p. 181).
Written subjectively from secondary sources, the book appeals to the tri-
umphal history of the western cowboy. It was probably not intended as great lit-
erature or history, but it does succeed in portraying Leroy Webb as a colorful
cowboy hero.
Austzn Communzty College Andres Tijerina
Kings of Texas: The 15o-Year Saga of an American Ranching Empzre. By Don Graham.
(Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Pp. xiii+289. Acknowledgments,
photographs, map, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-471-39451-3. $24.95,
cloth.)
Don Graham, Dobie Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says that
since a boyhood family vacation to South Texas in the 1950s he has never been,
as the ditty goes, "offen the King Ranch." A 1998 Texas Monthly article on the
ranch made the subject irresistible, and a book was in the works. The result is a
judicious, eminently readable insight into a family, their ranch, and their influ-
ence on the development of a sizable but little-studied section of Texas. Clear
discussion of two history-laden lawsuits adds considerable substance, and the un-
footnoted research is extensive, even though all outsiders have been denied ac-
cess to ranch archives.
Graham's intended nineteenth-century emphasis begins with Richard King's
arrival, in 1847, on the lower Rio Grande, where he joined with another steam-
boater, Mifflin Kenedy, to profit handsomely during the Mexican War. Their lu-
crative freighting venture continued until 1854, when Captain King married
Henrietta Morse Chamberlain, daughter of a Brownsville pastor. During the
185os, he began buying large parcels of land for pennies an acre south of the
Nueces, where his first purchase was along Santa Gertrudis Creek, site of the first
Main House. The Civil War found King shipping Texas cotton to neutral Mexico
for transshipment around the Union blockade. After the war, incessant Anglo
and Mexican depredations and trans-border cattle rustling inflamed the Nueces
Strip and called forth the unrelenting guerrilla tactics of King's friend, leg-
endary Texas Ranger captain Leander McNelly. Wartime income again financed
acquisition of more land and cattle, thousands of which trailed his Running W
brand northward during the long-drive era.
In 1879 King faced a lawsuit filed by Helen Chapman, widow of a former busi-
ness associate. She claimed half the Rinc6n de Santa Gertrudis grant, which en-
compassed over fifteen thousand acres. Her attorney, Robert J. Kleberg, won a
favorable court ruling. The ruling was never implemented, again owing to Kle-
berg, who accepted King's retainer while receiving a payment of $5,811.75 on

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed April 20, 2014.