Karnes County, Texas

Karnes County, located southeast of San Antonio in the Rio Grande plain region, is bordered on the north by Wilson County, on the east by Gonzales and DeWitt counties, on the south by Goliad and Bee counties, and on the west by Atascosa and Live Oak counties. The county seat, Karnes City, is fifty-two miles southeast of San Antonio.

Cities, Towns & Communities

Coy City | Czestochowa | Ecleto | Falls City | Gillett | Harmony | Helena | Hobson (Castine) | Karnes City – county seat | Kenedy | Lenz | Panna Maria | Pawelekville Runge | Wintergreen


On February 4, 1854, the legislature complied, passing a measure to establish a new county, named Karnes for Texas revolutionary leader Henry Wax Karnes, with Helena as county seat. The first elections for county offices were held on February 27, 1854, and a wood frame courthouse was erected soon thereafter. Despite the establishment of a county legal structure, Karnes gained a reputation as a hideout for rustlers and outlaws.During the mid-1850s new immigrants arrived in the county. A large group of Poles from Upper Silesia, led by Franciscan priest Leopold Moczygemba, settled at Panna Maria in 1854, near the junction of the San Antonio River and Cibolo Creek, establishing the first Polish colony in the United States.The arrival of the railroads also changed the face of the county in other ways. After the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway, which built through the area in 1886, missed Helena, the county seat was moved in 1894 six miles west to a new railroad town named Karnes City. Kenedy, established as a roundup station for cattle grazing on the open range, became a town in 1887, and several other new towns, including Falls City and Hobson (known at the time as Castine) grew up along the route of the railroad. The population of the county also began to grow. As late as 1890 Karnes County was still sparsely settled, with a total population of 3,637. In 1900 the number of inhabitants had nearly doubled to 8,681, and by 1910 the county had a population of 14,942. 

County Histories

A History of Karnes County and Old Helena, 1969, by Hedwig Krell Didear.

“Pioneer Days in Karnes County,” Frontier Times, August 1928 by Henry C. Fuller.


Karnes City, TX 28° 53′ 5.9172″ N, 97° 54′ 3.0096″ W

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