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.
Kleberg County, located in southern Texas, has a rich and diverse history that traces back to its settlement by Native American tribes. The area was primarily inhabited by the Karankawa tribe, known for their hunting and fishing skills. European influence began in the 18th century when Spanish explorers arrived in the area.

The county's namesake, Robert Justus Kleberg, played a significant role in its development. Kleberg, a German immigrant, moved to Texas in the 1830s and became involved in politics and land acquisition. In the late 19th century, he purchased a large tract of land in the area, which eventually became the basis for the founding of Kleberg County.

The county witnessed significant growth and development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, due in part to the arrival of the railroad. The St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railway played a crucial role in connecting Kleberg County to the rest of Texas and facilitating economic growth through the transportation of goods and people.

Another major contributor to the county's history is the King Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the United States. Established in the 1850s by Richard King and Captain Mifflin Kenedy, the King Ranch played a vital role in Kleberg County's economy and development. Today, it remains an integral part of the county and a symbol of its rich ranching heritage.

In recent years, Kleberg County has seen further growth, particularly in the field of oil and gas production. The county's natural resources have led to the establishment of various industries, providing employment opportunities and contributing to its overall economic prosperity. With a blend of historical significance and modern growth, Kleberg County continues to evolve and thrive while honoring its past.

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

  • 1854 - Kleberg County was established from territory previously part of Nueces County.
  • 1858 - Captain Richard King and Gideon K. Lewis established the King and Lewis Ranch along the Santa Gertrudis Creek.
  • 1875 - King acquired the entirety of Lewis' interest in the ranch.
  • 1903 - A post office named Kleberg was established.
  • 1913 - Kleberg County was officially organized, and the town of Kleberg became the county seat.
  • 1918 - The county seat was moved to the newly formed town of Kingsville.
  • 1925 - The Texas Legislature formed the Kleberg County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 to oversee irrigation and drainage in the area.
  • 1933 - The Naval Air Station Kingsville was established.
  • 1940 - Kenedy County was formed from parts of Kleberg County.
  • 1954 - Hurricane Alice struck Kleberg County, causing significant damage.
  • 1980s - The King Ranch remained a significant economic and cultural influence in the county.