Texas A&M University Kingsville, South Texas Archives

Kenedy Family Collection

Collection Summary

Creator Kenedy Family
Title Kenedy Family Collection
Dates: 1826-1973
Abstract: The Kenedy family contributed in the settling of South Texas and introducing large scale ranching to the coastal plains. Mifflin Kenedy, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, ferried supplies up the Rio Grande in a steamboat to the Texas troops during the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. Captain Mifflin Kenedy and Captain Richard King became friends and partners in acquiring huge tracts of land in South Texas where immense herds of wild horses roamed the plains. In 1875 Kenedy and King became chief supporters and financial backers of Colonel Uriah Lott in building a railroad from Corpus Christi to Laredo which became known as the Corpus Christi, San Diego & Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad Company. During the last half of the 19th century Mifflin Kenedy created a huge fortune and left a legacy to his family and South Texas.
Identification A1977-029; A1995-045; A1998-036; A2002-006; A2002-010
Collection URL http://archives.tamuk.edu/ead.php?xml=Kenedy%20EAD
Quantity: 340 linear feet
Location: Boxes 1-253; Photo Files; Rare Books; Flat Files
Language: English

Historical Note

Mifflin Kenedy and his wife Petra Vela-Vidal, were instrumental in the history of South Texas. Mifflin Kenedy was born on June 8, 1818 in Downington, Chester County, Pennsylvania to Quaker parents. Petra Vela-Vidal Kenedy was born in Mier, Mexico on June 29, 1825 to Gregorio Vela, the Provincial Governor under the Spanish crown, and Josefa Resendez Vela. Petra was married to a Spanish Army officer, Lieutenant Luis Vidal when she first met Kenedy. She had eight children with Vidal. Vidal was murdered and Kenedy married Petra in 1852 in Brownsville, Texas. He continued to work as a steamboat captain during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Mifflin was a Quaker, but he accepted Petra’s faith, Catholicism. Petra and Mifflin had six children along with her eight from Vidal, all of which Mifflin adopted. After the war, Miflin Kenedy partnered with Richard King and acquired hundreds of acres of land in South Texas which they began to settle. Kenedy and King were instrumental in taming the area; most notable was their campaign against Juan N. Cortina. One of Kenedy’s most significant contributions was the introduction of large scale ranching to the United States. He was among the first Texas ranchers to fence his land. Three generations used the Kenedy laurel-leaf brand. Kenedy also helped Uriah Lott to establish the Corpus Christi, San Diego, and Rio Grande railway line form Corpus Christi to Laredo and contributed to the building of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. When Mifflin Kenedy died in 1895 without leaving a will, his only surviving son, John Gregory bought out the other heirs’ interest in the vast Kenedy Ranch, La Parra. John G. Kenedy and his wife, Marie Stella, had two children, John Jr. and Sarita. Sarita was the last direct descendant of Captain and Petra Kenedy when she died in 1961. Upon her death the estate, worth an estimated $50 million, passed to the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation, a philanthropic foundation intended to benefit Catholic Charities.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains approximately 340 linear feet of documents, maps, photographs, books, blueprints, drawings and diaries. The documents include Spanish and Mexican land grants, military papers concerning the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, steamboat contracts with the federal government, legal agreements between Kenedy and King, and volumes of paper and correspondence on the building of the railways in South Texas. The railroad papers contain agent reports, business correspondence, maps, conductor reports, and legal papers. Ranching ledgers contain the breeds of cattle owned, birth of calves, branding information, and sale of livestock. Blueprints of La Parra, John Kenedy’s headquarters and home near Sarita, Texas illustrate the many phases of building of the structure. Drawings of the land and coast along with maps published early in the 20th century are included in the collection. An undated map of the waterways of the Gulf of Mexico and many maps of the Kenedy Pasture Company founded by Captain Kenedy are part of the collection. Ledgers by year contain the donations of the Kenedy Family to many charities.


The collection is arranged chronologically by year and then by format.

Index Terms

Kenedy, Mifflin, 1818-1895
Kenedy, Petra Vela, 1823-1885
Kenedy, John Gregory, 1856-1931
Kenedy, Marie Stella Turcotte, 1862-1940
East, Sarita Kenedy, 1889-1961
King, Richard, 1824-1885
Lott, Uriah, 1842-1915
Cortina, Juan N. (Juan Nepomuceno), 1824-1894
Kenedy Pasture Company
San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Company
Rio Grande Railroad Company
Dryden Holloway Company
Geographical Names
Texas, South
Kenedy Ranch (Tex.)
King Ranch (Tex.)
Kenedy County (Tex.)
Brownsville (Tex.)
Rio Grande Valley (Colo.-Mexico and Tex.)
Corpus Christi (Tex.)
Kingsville (Tex.)
Spanish Land grants
Mexican Land Grants
Ranches and ranching
Cattle trade
Wild horses