Before any towns existed within Kings County, a handful of pioneers called it home. The Landmark tree, a huge sycamore located on Lacey Boulevard near Avenue 18-3/4, stood as a beacon to guide early settlers over the otherwise barren valley floor. Cattlemen and gold miners initially settled along the Kings river; and farmers, storekeepers and oilmen later followed.
In 1877, the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad brought additional growth and new arrivals from around the world. In 1893, local voters approved the formation of a new county when a portion of Northern Tulare county was divided to form Kings County.
Today, Kings County combines its relation with it’s colorful past history with a optimistic and enthusiastic vision for it’s future.
County Seat: Hanford
County Population: 154, 434
Population per Square Mile: 104.05
Total Assessed Value: $5.9 Billion
Land Area (Square Miles): 1,391
Earthquake index: 0.4
Railroads: Burlington Northern & Santa Fe, Union Pacific & San Joaquin Valley Railroad.
Major Roads: Interstate 5, Highway 41, Highway 43 & Highway 198
County Elevation: 175 feet above sea level at Tulare Lake to 3500 feet above sea level at the Kings County/Monterey County Boundary.
Total Acres: 890,545
Total Harvested Crop Acreage: 655,132
Foreign Ownership: 4009 Acres
Total Farmland: 749,100 Acres
Public Ownership of Land (acres):
Average length of growing season: 257 days
Average date of last spring frost: March 3
Average climate: 196 sunny clear days, 74 partly cloudy days & 95 cloudy days
Average date of first fall frost: November 18
Kings County is a county located in the Central Valley of California. It is located in a rich agricultural region. Kings County is also home to NAS Lemoore, which is the U.S. Navy‘s newest and largest master jet air station. The county seat is Hanford. The United States Census Bureau defines Kings County as encompassing the entire Hanford–Corcoran Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 152,982 at the time of the 2010 U.S. Census. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the county’s population included 18,640 state prison inmates as of March 31, 2010. The California Department of Finance estimated that Kings County’s population was 152,739 as of July 1, 2011.
The area was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. It was colonized by Spain, Mexico and the United States.
An 1805 expedition probably led by Spanish Army Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga recorded discovering the river, which they named El Rio de los Santos Reyes (River of the Holy Kings) after the Three Wise Men of the Bible. At the time of the United States conquest in 1848, the new government changed the name to Kings River.
In 1880, a dispute over land titles between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad resulted in a bloody gun battle on a farm 5.6 mi (9.0 km) northwest of Hanford; seven men died. This event became known as the Mussel Slough Tragedy.
Kings County was formed in 1893 from the western part of Tulare County. In 1909, by an act of the state legislature, 208 square miles (540 km2) of Fresno County territory was added to the northwest portion of Kings County.
Settlers reclaimed Tulare Lake and its wetlands for agricultural development. In surface area, it was formerly the largest body of freshwater west of the Great Lakes, and supported a large population of migratory birds as well as local birds and wildlife. Monoculture has sharply reduced habitat for many species.
In 1928, oil was discovered in the Kettleman Hills located in the southwestern part of Kings County. The Kettleman North Dome Oil Field became one of the most productive oil fields in the United States.
In 1933 during the Great Depression, cotton pickers in the southern San Joaquin Valley, mostly migrant Mexican workers, went on strike. During the strike, 3,500 striking farm workers lived in a four-acre camp on the land of a small farmer on the outskirts of Corcoran. Ultimately, the federal government intervened to force both sides to negotiate a settlement.
The completion of the California Aqueduct in the early 1970s brought needed water for agriculture and domestic use to the westside of the county.
Santa Rosa Rancheria Indian Reservation
Santa Rosa Rancheria is the reservation of the Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria. It is located 4.5 miles (7.25 km) southeast of Lemoore, California. Established in 1934 on about 40 acres (16.2 hectares), the Santa Rosa Rancheria belongs to the federally recognized Tachi Yokut tribe. It is the site of the Tachi Palace hotel and casino. The population was 517 at the time of the 2000 United States Census. Ruben Barrios was elected as the Tribal Chairman in 2009.
The Santa Rosa Rancheria expanded in size over the years to 643 acres (260 hectares) by the beginning of 2008. On May 28, 2008, then–Tribal Chairman Clarence Atwell Jr. and Dale Morris, Pacific Region Director of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, signed documents that added an additional 1,163 acres (471 hectares) of trust land, thus enlarging the Rancheria to 1,806 acres (731 hectares).
– Kingston is a former town that is no longer in existence. Originally in Fresno County, until 1909 when Fresno County lands in the vicinity, south of Kings river were transferred to Kings County, California. It was located on the south bank of the Kings River 8.5 miles (13.7 km) northwest of Hanford at Whitmore’s Ferry.
L. A. Whitmore established the ferry in 1854. It was founded in 1856 by Lucious A. Whitmore who operated the first ferry to cross the Kings River. The town of Kingston grew up around the ferry at the place where an old Spanish road called El Camino Viejo á Los Angeles (The Old Road to Los Angeles) crossed the river. Kingston became a stopping place on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from 1858 to 1861 and a stage route between Stockton and Visalia after 1858. A post office operated at Kingston from 1859 to 1862, and from 1866 to 1890, when the service transferred to Lillis. Until at least 1872, the only store between Millerton and Visalia was in Kingston. The first school in the area was probably the one established as early as 1860 in Kingston.
Oliver H. Bliss operated the Kingston ferry after Whitmore, beginning in 1859. Bliss built a temporary toll bridge with two boats and planking in 1872. In 1873, John Sutherland purchased Bliss’s interest in both the ferry and the bridge and built a permanent bridge that year.
On December 26, 1873, Tiburcio Vásquez and his bandit gang made a bold raid, robbing the entire village. Reportedly 35 or more men were tied up and over $2,000 in loot was hauled away. Subsequently, the town declined and by the 1890s Kingston was abandoned. Oliver Bliss’ livery stable was the last remaining building and stood until 1930.
The site of the town is now a California Historical Landmark (#270), which can be found in Kingston-Laton County Park in Kings County.
– The Mussel Slough Tragedy was a dispute over land titles between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) that took place on May 11, 1880, on a farm located 5.6 miles (9 km) northwest of Hanford, California, in the central San Joaquin Valley, leaving seven people dead. Frank Norris‘ 1901 novel, The Octopus: A Story of California, was inspired by this incident, as was W. C. Morrow‘s 1882 novel Blood-Money. The exact history of the incident has been the source of some disagreement, largely because popular anti-railroad sentiment in the 1880s made the incident to be a clear example of corrupt and cold-blooded corporate greed. Muckraking journalists and anti-railroad activists glorified the settlers and used the events as evidence and justification for their anti-corporate crusades. The site of the episode is now registered as California Historical Landmark #245. The historical marker is at 36°23′21″N 119°42′31″W on the east side of 14th Avenue, 350 yards (320 m) north of Elder Avenue.
– Daniel Rhoads (December 7, 1821, Paris, Illinois – December 4, 1895) was a California, USA, pioneer and rancher who helped rescue the Donner Party. He grew up in Illinois, but he became interested in an account of General John C. Frémont‘s first trip to California, and decided to go to the West Coast.
In 1846, he and his wife Amanda Esrey and other family members made the 5-month journey across the country, arriving in Wheatland, California on October 4, where they stayed for about a month before settling near Sutter’s Fort in the Sacramento Valley. While working on a ranch there, word of the Donner Party‘s plight reached them and Rhoads was a member of the first group of rescuers. They had to carry supplies and provisions on foot for 80 miles (129 km) through the snow, but were able to return with eighteen people.
During the California Gold Rush, Rhoads mined the American River, making about $8,000 in gold. Using this money, he purchased a ranch outside of Gilroy, California. During a drought in 1857, he took his livestock to the Kings River. His family joined him 1860, moving into an adobe he constructed in Kingston. El Adobe de los Robles Rancho (“the adobe of the oaks ranch”), still standing, is the second oldest in San Joaquin Valley and has been continuously occupied since its construction. It is registered as California Historical Landmark #206.
During his time in Lemoore, he became involved with local banks, serving as the vice-president of the Bank of Hanford as well as the president of the Bank of Lemoore. He enjoyed banking so much that he eventually moved to San Francisco, serving as one of the directors of the Grangers’ Bank of San Francisco. He died in San Francisco, and is buried in Lemoore.
– Kings County Courthouse was erected after Kings County was formed; it opened in 1896. Constructed in an eclectic mix of styles in a park in the center of Hanford, it was expanded in 1914. The building served as the county’s courthouse until 1976 when it was replaced by the new Kings County Government Center on West Lacey Boulevard.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The old courthouse was remodeled in the early 1980s and now houses offices, small shops and restaurants.
Hanford Carnegie Library, now the Hanford Carnegie Museum, was built in 1905 as one of the many Carnegie libraries that were funded by the steel industry magnate, Andrew Carnegie. The library was replaced by a new structure at a different location in 1968. The old library was subsequently renovated and re-opened as the Hanford Carnegie Museum in 1974. The building is of Romanesque Revival architecture with displays of furniture and photos describing the history of the Hanford area .
China Alley in Hanford, California traces its roots to 1877, when the Central Pacific railroad was extended westward into the area and the new town of Hanford was formed.
Numerous Chinese came to the area, many initially to help build the railroads, but others came for farming and agricultural purposes. China Alley grew rapidly and the Chinatown prospered to include restaurants, homes, boarding houses, grocery stores, laundries, herb shops with reputable herbal doctors, sundries stores, gambling establishments, a Chinese school and a Taoist Temple. It soon became known as a “city within a city” with buildings lining both sides of the alley made from bricks formed and fired on site.
Visiting Hanford’s China Alley Historic District is a fascinating adventure that allows us to step back into history. As visitors enter China Alley today, they are met with a sense of historic ambiance that is reminiscent of a strong cultural heritage. Many of the buildings lining the alley are visually unaltered and remain largely as they did over 100 years ago.
Various myths and folkloric legends have weaved their way into tales of this historic Alley. It has been alleged that the population of Hanford’s Chinatown went from a small but thriving number of residents to a crowded metropolis rivaling the Chinatowns of San Francisco and Los Angeles. The stories of underground passageways that connected the basements of some merchants on China Alley have been wildly embellished to include tall tales of an expansive network of subterranean tunnels that reached far away from the Alley’s core.
Some minor alterations to the ground floor of several of the buildings occurred while creating The Chinese Pagoda and Imperial Dynasty restaurants in the late 1950s. These restaurants were established and operated by the Wing family and once served as a catalyst for the revitalization of China Alley. For nearly 50 years until its closure in 2006, the Imperial Dynasty was recognized as a world renowned restaurant serving continental cuisine. The restaurant became famous for its gourmet dinners, extensive wine cellar, and escargots bourguignon. Certified executive chef Richard Wing is widely credited as the originator of fusion cuisine as he combined Chinese and French cooking techniques that became known as Chinoise.
One of the highlights of China Alley is The Taoist Temple Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Temple and Museum offers a rare and authentic experience of entering a unique and historic cultural structure that has remained mostly unchanged over the years.
Upstairs in the Taoist Temple Museum, the original Temple exists where visitors are first met with large plaques covered with Chinese characters that list the names of members of the Sam Yup Association who donated funds for the construction of the building. On the south wall are wooden figures of the eight immortals while their corresponding ceremonial staves are displayed next to the stairwell. In a corner of the room is a ceremonial brick oven in which symbolic paper money or clothing was burned as an offering to an individual’s ancestors. Silk embroideries throughout the Temple featuring animals, birds, and shiny objects have various symbolic meanings. A variety of tools used for individual worship remain where they were once used. Apparent on the ceiling are different methods of lighting from bygone eras that were used to illuminate the Temple. A separate room behind an elaborate altar served as a schoolroom so children could learn of their cultural heritage and beliefs.
The street level of the Taoist Temple Museum includes rooms that once served as sleeping quarters for single men. These rooms now reveal a variety of artifacts from the everyday life of Hanford’s Chinese residents including kitchen items, gambling matter, and articles and furnishings from several of the Alley’s herb shops. Along the walls of the single hallway are photos of the early populace and structures of the area. A small shop occupies the front of the ground floor where informative books and commemorative items can be purchased with the proceeds used to assist in ongoing maintenance of the Temple and the restoration of other buildings in the Historic District.
– The Moon Festival
The Moon Festival is an exciting annual event that takes place the first Saturday in October from Noon to 5 PM. The Cal Poly Lion Dancers and the Fresno Gumyo Taiko Drummers are the entertainment highlight of this event. The Taoist Temple and Museum is open for tours and the Temple Garden is open for tasting tea and mooncakes. China Alley is filled with fun activities, art and crafts, various demonstrations, refreshments and Chinese food. After the festival, the Cal Poly Lion Dancers visit the various Chinese restaurants in town to the surprise of their patrons.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 1,391.49 square miles (3,603.9 km2), of which 1,390.99 square miles (3,602.6 km2) (or 99.96%) is land and 0.50 square miles (1.3 km2) (or 0.04%) is water.
Kings County is bordered on the north and northwest by Fresno County, on the east by Tulare County, on the south by Kern County and a small part of San Luis Obispo County and on the west by Monterey County.
Most of the historic Tulare Lake was within Kings County. Although reclaimed for farming late in the 19th century, it was the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes.
The economy is based on agriculture. Other important employers include NAS Lemoore, the U.S. Navy‘s largest master jet base and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation which operates three state prisons in Kings County.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the median household income in the county was $44,020 and that 29,606 residents, 22.5% of the population, were below the poverty line. Furthermore, an estimated 29.7% of children under age 18 lived in poverty. In 2009, according to the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis, average per capita income was $30,646 in Kings County compared with $42,395 in California as a whole. In 2003, Kings County had the lowest per capita income in the state of California.
The homeownership rate was 54.2% at the time of the 2010 census.
Taxable sales in 2007 totaled $1.33 billion.
Kings County has not escaped the effects of the late 2000s recession. The unemployment rate in January 2012 was 16.9%, up from 10.1% in July 2008. According to the California Employment Development Department, as of January 2011, civilian employment totaled 49,200 and an additional 11,000 people were unemployed. Many residents of Kings County were employed in services (30,100 persons, including 14,600 government employees) and agriculture (5,700 employees) as well as in some manufacturing enterprises (3,400 employees) and construction (800 employees).[ Median household income fell over 8% from an estimated $48,419 in 2007 to $44,506 in 2009 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, stated in an October 2010 newspaper interview that nearly half of Kings County’s personal earnings come from government jobs, which pay more than agricultural employment. From 2007 to 2009, government jobs held steady while the county’s agricultural sector took the biggest hit. Kings County’s dairy industry dropped from $670 million in milk sold in 2008 to $411 million in 2009 – a 39% drop. By mid-2009, the price paid to milk producers had dropped to a point that was far below the cost of production according to a July 2009 quote from Bill Van Dam, CEO of the Alliance of Western Milk Producers. By December 2010, milk prices had increased to about $13 per hundredweight from a low of below $10 in 2009. However, the price of corn used for feed had increased because of its use by the ethanol industry. Van Dam was quoted that month as saying that at current prices, dairy operators are at or close to the break-even point.
Superintendent of Schools Tim Bowers: The Mission of Kings County Office of Education is to provide Leadership and to promote the most relevant Education Program for Kings County Students.
Armona Union Elementary School District:
Central Union School District
Corcoran Unified School District
Hanford Elementary School district
Hanford Jt. Union High School District
Island Union School District
Kings River-Hardwick Union School District
Kit Carson Union School District
Lakeside Union School District
Lemoore Union Elementary School District
Lemoore Union High School District
Pioneer Union School District
Reef-Sunset Unified School District
The 2010 United States Census reported that Kings County had a population of 152,982. The racial makeup of Kings County was 83,027 (54.3%) White, 11,014 (7.2%) African American, 2,562 (1.7%) Native American, 5,620 (3.7%) Asian, 271 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 42,996 (28.1%) from other races, and 7,492 (4.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 77,866 persons (50.9%).
The U.S. Census does not identify how many residents are illegal immigrants. However, the Public Policy Institute of California issued a report in July 2011, which estimated there were 9,000 unauthorized immigrants living in Kings County in 2008, which would be 5.8% of the county’s population.
In January 2008, the Kings County Clerk reported that of 45,444 registered voters, 21,685 were Republicans and 16,664 were Democrats. Kings has long been a strongly Republican county in Presidential elections. The last Democratic candidate for President to win the county was Hubert Humphrey in 1968.
Kings County is part of California’s California’s 20th congressional district, which is held by Democrat Jim Costa. The county is represented in the California State Senate by Democrat Michael Rubio and in the California State Assembly by Republican David Valadao.
On Nov. 4, 2008 Kings County voted 73.7 % for Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.
Kings County is a general law county under the California Constitution. That is, it does not have a county charter. The county is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. Supervisors are elected by districts for four-year terms. There are no term limits in effect. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected annually by the Board of Supervisors from among its members. On January 3, 2012, the Board elected Supervisor Richard Fagundes as Chairman and Supervisor Doug Verboon as Vice-Chairman to serve during 2012. Other Supervisors include Tony Barba, Richard Valle and Joe Neves.
The Board of Supervisors appoints a County Administrative Officer. Currently, that office is held by Larry Spikes.
Kings County Board of Supervisors
Kings County is a “general law” county, which means the county governmental structure is determined by the State Constitution and State General Law. The Board of Supervisors is the governing body for Kings County and many county special districts. Each of the five members of the Board is elected on a non-partisan basis to a four-year term.
Their terms overlap: two are elected during presidential election years and three during state general election years. Board members begin their terms at the first meeting in January, at which time they choose a new chairman. The Board has a status similar to a board of directors of a large corporation in that it sets policies and depends on the County Administrator, county officials, and department heads to carry out its wishes. The Board of Supervisors has administrative, legislative and quasi-judicial duties and responsibilities prescribed to it by the California State Constitution and Statutes.
June 2012 Primary Election
Board Of Supervisors
County Supervisor, District 2
Richard Valle – 4 years
County Supervisor, District 5
Richard Fagundes – 4 years
Superior Court Judge – 6 years
U.S. Representative in Congress 21st District
Jim Costa (D) 2 years
State Assembly 32nd District
David Valadao (R) 2 years Dec. 1, 2012
Will take office on Jan. 2, 2013
Important Root Issues for Prayer in Kings County
1.More than 60% of the population in Kings County is estimated to be overweight or obese. These high rates are fueled by environments that don’t support access to healthy, affordable foods and physical activity opportunities. In 2005, “The Public Health Department “used this opportunity to work with planners to take a non-traditional prevention approach based on Smart Growth principles.
2. What if all residents of King County had the same opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation or disability? What if all residents of King County had the opportunity to receive the same quality education, the same access to basic health care, the same opportunities to work for a living wage, the same access to affordable housing, the same ability to live in safe neighborhoods, and the same opportunity a new, better and very different King County would emerge. We can be the catalyst for this change through prayer.
3. The King County Parent Coalition is a grass roots program of The Arc of King County comprised of parents and family members who take non-partisan action to improve the lives of their family members who have developmental disabilities. This program is funded by a grant from the King County Developmental Disabilities Division.
The Parent Coalition advocates work with elected officials at all levels of government. This group also works closely with state and county developmental disabilities staff. Each year, in late November, the Coalition co-sponsors with the King County Board for Developmental Disabilities, a Legislators’ Forum for the 48 legislators in King County. This is the largest gathering of King County’s developmental disability community, and provides an opportunity for families and people with developmental disabilities to express their opinions.
Pray through these seven Points:
Peace over Kings County in all cities, towns, neighborhoods and streets. (Phil. 4:6-7)
Release the Spirit of Adoption over Kings County turning the hearts of Fathers to their Children and the hearts of Children to their Fathers—all seeking The Father. (Rom 8:15)
Eradicate the works and effects of the enemy in the minds and hearts of people as well as the injection of Light, to counter darkness, in the systems that influence our culture: Government, Education, Business, Media, Arts/Entertainment, Family and Religion. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Prepare and repair the Temple within the heart of the believer. Restore and enhance our unwavering love for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well as for All those made in His image. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Activate the Whole Body of Christ, in unity and honor, for the work of ministry to others. (Eph. 4:11-14)
Release laborers into the Harvest Fields. Open their minds to the opportunities around them in the areas that God has placed them at work, home, and church. (Matt. 9:37-38)
Establishment of God’s Kingdom—His rule and reign of Love, Justice, Mercy and Excellence and Righteousness over Kings County, and the United States. (Matt. 6:9-10)
Our Focus: The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Resources of Information