History of Corpus Christi, Texas

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Map of Corpus Christi in 1887
Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 175
1870 2,140 1,122.9%
1880 3,257 52.2%
1890 4,387 34.7%
1900 4,703 7.2%
1910 8,222 74.8%
1920 10,522 28.0%
1930 27,741 163.6%
1940 57,301 106.6%
1950 108,287 89.0%
1960 167,690 54.9%
1970 204,525 22.0%
1980 231,999 13.4%
1990 257,453 11.0%
2000 277,454 7.8%
2010 307,953 11.0%

Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County,[1] it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties.[2] The population was 277,454 at the 2000 census; in 2006 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 285,175,[3] making it the eighth-largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the three-county Corpus Christi Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger Corpus Christi-Kingsville Combined Statistical Area. The translation from Latin of the city's name is Body of Christ, given to the settlement by the Spanish, in honor of the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharist). The city has been nicknamed The Sparkling City by the Sea, particularly in literature promoting tourism.

Before Corpus Christi was known as Kinney's Rancho or Kinney's Ranch it was on a site known as the Old Indian Trading Grounds where traders smuggled contraband goods to sell and trade in Mexico as early as 1829.[4]

Texas Revolution and Mexican-American War[edit]

Corpus Christi was founded in 1839 by Colonel Henry Lawrence Kinney as Kinney's Trading Post, or Kinney's Ranch, a small trading post to sell supplies to a Mexican revolutionary army camped about 25 miles west, just three years after Texas declared independence from Mexico but the post was located in the disputed territory south of the Nueces River.[5] In July 1845, U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor set up camp there in preparation for war with Mexico, where they remained until March 1846, when they marched south to the Rio Grande to enforce it as the southern border of the United States.[6]

Civil War[edit]

On February 23, 1861, in a statewide vote on secession, the vote in Corpus Christi was 87 for secession and 40 against, which brought the total vote in Nueces County to 164 for and 42 against. There were many Union sympathizers in the city. Some originally came from the North and some were veterans of the Mexican War.

In the second week of August 1862, five Union warships under the command of Lt. J.W. Kittredge sailed into Corpus Christi Bay and bombarded the city. Stores and houses below the bluff made easy targets for Kittredge's guns. The bombardment did considerable damage to the town. Many of the residents had evacuated before the battle. After it was over, people began to return to town. The Confederates, provoked by the attack, then began to take revenge by plundering the homes and property of known Union supporters.[7]

Port of Corpus Christi[edit]

The port of Corpus Christi opened in 1925 after culminating efforts that began as early as 1848 to obtain a deep-water port.[5] The Port of Corpus Christi currently is the sixth largest U.S. port and deepest inshore port on the Gulf of Mexico, it handles mostly oil and agricultural products. In 2005 it was ranked as the 47th largest in the world by cargo tonnage.

Natural disasters[edit]


Corpus Christi has been affected by many hurricanes and tropical storms.




1828 Known as the Old Indian Trading Grounds.

  • Manuel de Mier y Terán toured through Mexico's province of Texas. Terán noted that some officials favored Corpus Christi as a port, referring to the area on the bay since there was no settlement called Corpus Christi at the time.[4]


  • Mexico gains independence from Spain
  • The Old Indian Trading Grounds become part of Mexico.


  • Traders are known to have landed on the coast on the Corpus Christi Bay. No civilization is apparent to traders.[4]


  • Texas gains independence from Mexico
  • The Old Indian Trading Grounds become part of the Republic of Texas although the area was claimed by both Texas and Mexico.

1839 Known as Kinney's Ranch or Kinney's Trading Post

  • Kinney's Trading post or Kinney's Ranch is founded by Henry Kinney.


  • On January 17 the unrecognized country of the Republic of the Rio Grande claimed the area south of the Nueces River which included Kinney's Ranch.
  • On November 6 the Republic of the Rio Grande collapsed.
  • Possession of the area returns to the Republic of Texas while Mexico still claimed the area as its own.


1847 Known as Corpus Christi

  • the city took the name Corpus Christi because a "more definite postmark for letters was needed."[6]


  • Corpus Christi was incorporated on Sept. 9.
  • Residents elected a city council and a mayor, Benjamin F. Neal, who served from 1852 to 1855.[6]


  • Corpus Christi has a population of 175 according to the U.S. Census.



  • Confederate States of America collapses and possession returns to the United States of America.



After Hurricane Allen, 1980

'"1914"' Rotary Club of Corpus Christi was chartered August 1, 1914, the 125th club of Rotary International. Rotary was instrumental in the early development of Corpus Christi, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Port. 1926





  • Selena, a popular Mexican-American pop singer was shot and killed.



See also[edit]

Other cities in Texas


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Givens, Murphey. "City Built on Old Trading Grounds" Caller-Times. November 25, 2009. Web. January 16, 2015.
  5. ^ a b [3][dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d e "City of Corpus Christi". Cctexas.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Town bitterly divided during the Civil War". Caller.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lessoff, Alan. Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History (University of Texas Press, 2015) 360 pp.