Born in New York City on July 10, 1824 into a poor Irish family, King was indentured as an apprentice to a jeweler in Manhattan at the age of 9. In 1835, he ran away from his indenture, stowing away on a ship bound for Mobile, Alabama. Upon discovery, he was adopted into the crew and trained in navigation, becoming a steamboat pilot by the age of sixteen. While serving in the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842, he met Mifflin Kenedy, who would later become his partner. From 1842 to 1847, King would operate steamboats on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee rivers, in Florida and Georgia.
- Birth Name: Richard King
- Known: Riverboat captain, entrepreneur and founder of the King Ranch
- Born: 1824, July 10
- Died: 1885, April 14
- Age: 60y ⋅ 9m ⋅ 4d
- Cause of death: cancer, stomach