South Texas Plains
2010 Census - 3,042
2000 Census - 3,457
Karnes City, Texas
Karnes City Texas History:
In 1890 the Buchel, Wagner and Company of Cuero purchased a 1,000 acre tract on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway and platted the town of Karnes City which was named in honor of Texas patriot Henry Wax Karnes. The Karnes City post office was established in 1891; the U.S. Postal Service added “City” to the name. R.F. Harris built the first store where the post office was initially housed. The first two hotels were the Sullivan House and the adjacent Kilodziej Hotel. An auction of town lots was held in 1892. After determining the town would grow, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built a side track where building supplies could be unloaded. Karnes City rapidly became a trade and cattle shipping center. In a December, 1893 election between Karnes City, Kenedy, Helena and Runge, Karnes City was voted Karnes County Seat; Helena had been the county seat since 1854. Helena disputed the election and in January, 1894 the county records were moved to Karnes City during the night. Construction began on a new courthouse and jail. In March the jail cafes and prisoners were transferred to Karnes City. In May a prisoner was hung from gallows constructed on the courthouse square. The Karnes County National Bank was chartered in 1900, the City National Bank was established in approximately 1907, and the Guaranty State Bank was established in the early 1920s; the latter two banks were later merged into the Karnes County Bank. The town was incorporated in 1914, the Chamber of Commerce was established in 1926, and a Masonic Lodge was established; the Woodsmen of the World met in the old bank building. The first school opened in 1891. The original school was a two story wood framed building. A new high school was built in 1925, and another one was built in 1961. The Karnes City Hall was designed by Gordon M. Smith, a renowned courthouse architect, DeHaven Pitts and Charles T. Weidner in 1941; it was paid for by the FDR Works Projects Administration (WPA). The San Antonio River is located north of Karnes City. Cibolo Creek’s mouth is located 5 miles north of Karnes City where the creek enters the San Antonio River. Karnes City is located at the intersections of U.S. 181 and SH 80 and SH 123, 62 miles north of Mathis, 47 miles east of Pleasanton, 6.7 miles northwest of Kenedy, 38.5 miles northwest of Goliad, 39 miles northeast of Three Rivers, 10 miles southeast of Falls City, 24.5 miles southeast of Floresville, 25 miles southeast of Stockdale, 12 miles southeast of Cestohowa, 5.7 miles south of Panna Maria, 7 miles southwest of Helena, 32 miles southwest of Yorktown, 58 miles southwest of Gonzales, 17 miles west of Runge, and 54 miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas.
Historic Karnes City, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“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 besieged 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 from Helena 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.”
Historic First Presbyterian Church, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“Karnes City's first edifice built for Protestant worship. Housed congregation originating in 1894 as a mission under the care of Helena Presbyterians, and organized as a church with 14 members in 1895 by The Rev. H. R. Laird, evangelist of the Western Texas Presbytery. Church building was completed in June 1901. Congregation celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1970.” 405 East Mayfield Street, 78118.
Historic First Baptist Church of Karnes City, Texas Historical Marker Text:
“This congregation was founded as a missionary church by The Rev. J. D. Walker in 1894, the same year the new town of Karnes City became the county seat of Karnes County. It is thought that early worship services were held in the school building. The first church building in Karnes City was the First Baptist Church erected in 1899. Other denominations shared the church building until they built their own church houses. Early baptismal services, held once or twice yearly, were administered in the San Antonio River or in a stock tank on a nearby ranch. As the membership grew, programs were added including a Women’s' Missionary Society, youth group, Sunday school, and Sunbeam Band. The church helped to establish mission churches in the area. A local radio program also served the area for many years. Several property and facility additions and improvements were completed through the years to accommodate the needs of the congregation, including a parsonage, auditorium, fellowship hall, and education building. The First Baptist Church continues to provide support, education and spiritual guidance for the area as it has for over 100 years.” 406 West Calvert Avenue, 78118.
Karnes County Courthouse, 1894:
County officials received bids for a new courthouse from architect John Cormack, and famous courthouse designers Alfred Giles and J. Riely Gordon. The contract was awarded to Cormack who died before the courthouse was completed. Cormack’s business associate, J.A. Austin completed the structure. The courthouse was designed in Romanesque revival style. The original turrets and clock tower were removed during a 1920s remodeling. The 1873 Karnes County Courthouse is located in Helena. Karnes County was named after Henry Karnes who was a soldier in the Texas Revolution. Originally from Tennessee, Henry Karnes was one was Sam Houston’s most important spies and worked closely with Deaf Smith. Karnes was sent with Smith to send word about the fate of the Alamo. Karnes was one of the men who found Susanna Dickerson after the fall of the Alamo. The 2010 Karnes County census was 14,824. (830) 780-3938. 101 N. Panna Maria Avenue. 
Karnes County Museum, Helena, Texas:
The museum complex consists of the 1873 courthouse, the old post office building, the Helena Union Church, the John Ruckman Home, the Sickenius farmhouse, and the jail. “Each year on a Saturday in December, the Helena Post Office operates for one day as a part of a Christmas celebration along the Alamo-La Bahia route; it issues special cachets and postal cancellations for mail sent throughout Texas and the nation.” The museum features exhibits depicting life in Karnes County in the 1800s. Annual events include the October Indian Summer Heritage Festival, and “Christmas along the Corridor” event in December. Open Fri-Mon, 11am-4pm. (830) 780-3210. The museum is located less than 0.5 miles northeast of the junction of SH 80 and 8167 FM 81 in Helena, Texas.
Karnes City Public Library:
The library provides traditional library programs, children, youth and adult programs, summer programs, public access computers with internet connections, and free Wi-Fi. (830) 780-2535. 302 South Panna Maria Avenue.