The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 435
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Notes and Documents
"Dump Road" to present South Staples Street. A local population
which had doubled during the Ropes Boom dropped to 4,700 in
9goo, an increase of a mere 300 since the census in 18go.' Corpus
Christi was still a cowtown and coastal village.
The Nueces River Valley was the cradle of the Plains cattle in-
dustry, and livestock had long nurtured the economy of Corpus
Christi. Before 18oo the herds had grazed northward from ranches
along the Rio Grande and the first Spanish settlers had followed
their cattle to the coastal plains of Nueces County.' In 9goo Corpus
Christi's basic wealth still stemmed from the descendants of the
original longhorn cattle which had developed from the Spanish herds.
The visible manifestation of the stockmen's fortunes was a row
of imposing houses standing high above the town along the forty-
foot bluff rimming the bay. The first residences and the business
district were built on the beach near the shore, but the town's show-
places viewed the bay above the roofs of the business buildings.
One of the earliest was the "Magnolia Mansion" of Martha Rabb,
famous in the 188o's as the "Cattle Queen of Texas." Mifflin Kenedy
built his steam-heated, gas-lit, modernized Italian villa in 1885. The
most imposing mansion of all was erected in 1893 by Henrietta M.
King, who for forty years-from her husband's death until her own
in 1925-was mistress and sole owner of the King Ranch. These
majestic houses of the rich formed only an elegant facade, however;
the area immediately behind them was described on an early city
map as "almost entirely occupied by Mexicans living in Jacales."'
Sheep had replaced cattle for a few years during the 187o's and
188o's, but disease and rainy spring weather had thinned their num-
ber and brought back the cattleman and his herds. In 1900oo the plow
had only begun to scratch the fertile plains. But the farmer was
threatening the rancher's use of lands too rich to be harvested only
by cattle. According to Mary A. Sutherland, Corpus Christi's early
historian, many truck gardeners of the 1890's became convinced
that "cabbage nurtured on the near coast dews was of superior qual-
ity." More cabbage was shipped from Corpus Christi than any other
2Ibid., 156-159; Mary A. Sutherland, The Story of Corpus Christi (Houston, 1916), 54.
3Walter Prescott Webb, The Great Plains (Boston, 1936), sog- 14.
'Corpus Christi Caller-Times, November 5, 1939, January 18, 1959; "Map of Corpus
Christi" (n.p., [c.1885]). Martha Rabb sold her immense holdings in 1884 and two years
later Robert Driscoll acquired these lands. The Rabb Ranch was the foundation of the
fortune left by Driscoll's daughter, Clara, to establish a free hospital for the children of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/447/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.