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LAURELES RANCH

LAURELES RANCH. The Laureles Ranch, on an old Spanish grant twenty-two miles south of Corpus Christi, was acquired from the heirs of the original grantee by Mifflin Kenedy, partner in the King Ranch from 1860 to 1868 with Richard King. José Pérez Rey and María José Pérez Rey named the grant Rincón de los Laureles, "Corner of the Laurels," probably from groves of laurels that were growing there. When King and Kenedy dissolved their partnership on November 5, 1867, King remained on the Santa Gertrudis grant, and Kenedy took up residence at Laureles. Three days later Kenedy signed papers by which he purchased twenty-six leagues of land of the Laureles grant for his own independent ranching establishment. In 1878 he began fencing his huge properties with lumber imported from Louisiana and Florida by boat. This original fence, finished in 1869 and surrounding 131,000 acres of his new purchases, is generally credited with producing one of the first large enclosures in the area. Kenedy made numerous other improvements on the ranch and also introduced better livestock to build up the herds. In 1882 the Laureles Ranch was bought by the Texas Land and Cattle Company, a Scottish syndicate, for more than $1 million. In 1887, when many of the Scottish cattle companies faced ruin because of the low prices then prevailing for cattle, the directors of the Texas Land and Cattle Company appointed John Todqv of Edinburgh, Scotland, manager of the ranch. From the time he took over, Tod steadily improved the quality of the cattle by introducing purebred Hereford, Shorthorn, and Aberdeen-Angus cattle; he won many prizes with his stock at the leading Texas shows.

The ranch passed into the possession of Henrietta King, widow of Richard King, on October 25, 1906. The property, including the old Laurel Leaf brand that Kenedy had registered in 1868, was turned over to the King Ranch in November 1907, when the Tods left for Britain. By the middle of the twentieth century, the Laureles Ranch was the largest of the four divisions of the King Ranch, extending north from the shores of Baffin Bay to the Nueces county line and totaling more than 250,000 acres. It has carried more cattle than any other division of the ranch; its soil is deep and black and produces an abundance of forage and grasses; it has maintained mares and supplied horses for cow outfits on the division. Employees on the Laureles include several generations of the same family, born and raised on the division. Headquarters of the Laureles division is east of Kingsville and south of Corpus Christi. In the 1990s the ranch was still a privately owned corporation inaccessible to the public.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, June 12, 1953. Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1957). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Mifflin Kenedy, Ranches-King).

John Ashton

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John Ashton, "LAURELES RANCH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apl04), accessed September 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.