The first oil well in the United States was drilled in Texas in 1859. The discovery of oil transformed the economy of the state and helped to make Texas one of the wealthiest states in the nation.
Karnes County, located in south-central Texas, has a rich and varied history. The area was first inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Karankawa. Evidence of their presence can still be found through archaeological sites and artifacts. In the 18th century, Spanish explorers and missionaries began to settle in the region, establishing several missions. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that Karnes County began to see significant development.

In the mid-1800s, Karnes County became an important center for the cattle industry. Large ranches began to emerge, and the county became a hub for cattle drives. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s further boosted the local economy, offering new opportunities for trade and transportation. With the influx of settlers, new towns were established, including the county seat of Karnes City.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Karnes County experienced several oil booms, which brought prosperity and economic growth to the area. The discovery of oil in nearby fields, such as the Pettus and Helena fields, attracted numerous oil companies and workers. This led to a surge in population and a construction boom in the county, with new buildings and businesses appearing throughout the area.

In recent decades, Karnes County has continued to be influenced by its strong ties to agriculture and oil. The agricultural sector remains a vital part of the local economy, with ranching and farming playing a significant role. Oil and gas production, while fluctuating, still contribute to the county's economy. Today, Karnes County is known for its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, attracting visitors to explore its historical sites, parks, and thriving small communities.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Karnes County, Texas.

  • 1824 - Karnes County is established as a municipality in Mexico's Coahuila y Tejas state.
  • 1830s - Settlers from the United States begin arriving in the area, including the town of Helena.
  • 1834 - Karnes County is officially organized under the Republic of Mexico.
  • 1836 - Texas gains independence from Mexico, and Karnes County becomes a part of the Republic of Texas.
  • 1854 - The county's seat of government is moved from Helena to Karnes City.
  • 1861-1865 - Karnes County residents participate in the American Civil War, with some serving in Confederate forces.
  • 1885 - The Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway is completed, providing easier transportation access to the county.
  • 1902 - The discovery of oil in Karnes County leads to economic growth and development in the area.
  • 1920s-1930s - The county experiences periods of prosperity and decline due to changes in the oil industry.
  • 1940 - U.S. Army establishes the Karnes City Army Air Field, which later becomes the site of the Karnes County Airport.
  • 1954 - Hurricane Alice causes significant damage to Karnes County.
  • 1970s-1990s - The oil industry continues to play a significant role in the county's economy.
  • 2010 - The Eagle Ford Shale boom brings renewed economic growth to Karnes County.