King, Richard(1825–85) steamboater, rancher; born in Orange County, N.Y. He escaped from a jewelry apprenticeship and worked as a steamboatman for some 20 years. In 1852, he purchased 15,500 acres in southern Texas; by the end of his life, he had expanded the property to include over 600,000 prime acres and 100,000 head of cattle. Although he was said to be ruthless and autocratic in acquiring and running the King Ranch, he was also known for his hospitality. His heirs eventually expanded the King Ranch to some 1,000,000 acres (larger than Rhode Island) but these were divided in 1935.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.