Known as the founder of Corpus Christi, Pennsylvania native Henry Lawrence Kinney (1814-1861) was trained to become a merchant by his father, Simon Kinney. He helped lay out the town of Peru, Illinois, and eventually made his way to this part of Texas in 1838.
The trading post he established in 1839 on a bluff overlooking Corpus Christi Bay opened the way for settlement of the town of Corpus Christi. Much of Kinney's initial trade was in smuggled goods for Mexican Federalists. General Zachary Taylor's choice of Kinney's outpost as a camp site for his army helped to multiply profits rapidly. Kinney served as Quartermaster when the troops moved to the Rio Grande in 1846. A successful politician as well, Col. Kinney, as he was known, represented his district in the state legislature at various times from 1846 until 1861. He eventually came to own most of the land that now makes up Nueces County, selling town lots in Corpus Christi to many of the soldiers in Taylor's army.
Not always a success, Kinney organized the "Lone Star Fair" in 1851 to attract settlers. The enterprise failed, as did later attempts to control part of Nicaragua. Henry Lawrence Kinney died in Matamoros, Mexico, and is buried there in an unmarked grave.