An early frontier fort of the Republic of Texas, King's Fort was built in June of 1840 by a survey party led by Warren A. Ferris, then Nacogdoches County surveyor. Dr. William P. King of Mississippi financed the expedition and accompanied Ferris. Because the fort was located on a favorite hunting ground for area Indians, settlement was delayed several years by fear of attacks. The fort, with its four cabins and a stockade, was used primarily as a way station and place of refuge for travelers.
William King continued his efforts to lure settlers to the area, buying area land until shortly before his death in 1841. When Charles F. Mercer's colonists began to arrive in the vicinity between 1844 and 1846, King's Fort became the center of a dispersed community known as Kingsborough.
Kaufman County was formed in 1848. The town lost its bid to be the county seat then and in 1850, but won a crucial election in 1851. The name of Kingsborough was changed to Kaufman according to state law. Though her legal claim to the title was disputed, King's widow, Frances Tabor, is credited with the donation of 150 acres of the Kingsborough tract to the county seat for a townsite.