a Pecan Shell
In December 1890,
a group of Cuero
businessmen bought 1,000 acres alongside the San Antonio and Aransas
Pass Railroad to be the next county seat. Originally named Karnes,
after Texas patriot Henry Wax Karnes, "City" was added by postal authorities
when the post office opened in 1891. In 1892 an auction was held and
the railroad built a spur to facilitate the unloading of lumber for
new homes and businesses.
An election was held in December 21, 1893 to determine whether Runge,
or Karnes City would be the seat of government. In January 1894 records
were moved from Helena
to Karnes City. A new courthouse
and jail were built and on May 25, 1894, a prisoner was hanged on
the new courthouse lawn, five months before the courthouse was dedicated.
The first newspaper began publishing in 1891 and the first school
in Karnes City opened in October of that year. The building was used
for classes, public dances and church services on Sunday. The Karnes
City Independent School District was organized on May 24, 1894. In
1925 a new high school was built and a library was built in 1972.
Population in various years:
Seat of Karnes
County; was founded in Christmas season, 1890, when a partnership
headed by Otto Buchel bought 1,000 acres of land from J. L. Calvert
for $5 an acre. The tract was near the geographic center of the county
and adjoined the right-of-way of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad.
The young town was first named Karnes in honor of Henry W. Karnes
(1812-1840), Texas Ranger hero. Although a small, mild-mannered man,
Karnes was conspicuous for his cool courage in battle. Red-headed,
he was once beseiged by a group of Comanche women who attempted to
wash the "berry juice" out of his hair.
When the first Karnes post office was established April 1, 1891, "City"
was added to the name. The new town grew so fast that within three
years citizens petitioned for an election to remove the county seat
to Karnes City. The voters favored Karnes City two-to-one and the
move was made January, 1894.
Having grown steadily since 1891, Karnes City has had seven newspapers,
four banks, and many businesses. During the railroad boom, when a
train was the most exciting way to travel, six passenger trains per
day came through town. The economy of the area has been based on ranching,
farming, uranium, oil, and gas.
Landmarks / Attractions
The two water towers
of Karnes City
TE Photo 8-03
The Karnes City City Hall
1939 photo Courtesy TXDoT
Subject: Karnes City Fire in 1910
"I have attached a photo that I found on a post card that says
Karnes City Tex. Oct 28. 1910. I was curious what building was recorded
to have burned down on that date?" - Bill Vickers, April 30,
|Karnes City Oct
28, 1910 fire
Photo courtesy Bill Vickers
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact