Sarita Kenedy East’s Rosary and Prayer Book

Ranching family heir and philanthropist

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Sarita Kenedy East (1889–1961), heir to the famed Kenedy Ranch, was devoutly Catholic and used her influence and wealth to support the Church and its charitable endeavors. This rosary and prayer book are from her First Communion in 1902.

Mifflin Kenedy and his family, including his granddaughter Sarita Kenedy East, were instrumental in the economic development of South Texas, having a hand in ranching, shipping, railroads, land development, oil, and philanthropy. Mifflin married Petra Vela, a wealthy land-owning widow with eight children, in April 1852, and they had six children. Petra’s devotion to the Catholic Church and generosity to the community was passed down to her children and grandchildren.

When Mifflin died in 1885, his only surviving son, John Gregory, bought out the other surviving heirs’ interest in the Kenedy Ranch. His children — Sarita and John, Jr. — were the last generation of Kenedy heirs to manage the ranch. When Sarita died in 1961, she left the ranch’s main house, chapel, and cemetery to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. She also created a philanthropic foundation that assists Catholic charities.

Making his wealth as a steamship captain, Mifflin purchased ranch land with his steamship business partner Richard King in 1860. He sold his share to King eight years later, dissolving their ranching partnership but maintaining their steamship partnership until 1874. In June 1868, Kenedy purchased the Laureles Ranch, located 22 miles south of Corpus Christi. Soon after, he registered his brand, choosing a laurel leaf because of the ranch’s abundance of laurel trees.

The family lived on the Laureles Ranch for 11 years before Mifflin sold it to a Scottish cattle syndicate for one million dollars. Already owning several land grants in what is today Kenedy County, he purchased La Parra just south of Baffin Bay in 1882. He acquired several more surrounding grants and made La Parra the headquarters of the newly-created 400,000 acre Kenedy Ranch.

Today, the Kenedy Ranch is managed by two charitable organizations — The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and The John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust — that focus on land stewardship and habitat conservation.

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Sarita Kenedy East’s Rosary and Prayer Book Artifact from Sarita, TX
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