South Padre Island used to be a beautiful, desolate place where native Karankawa Indians, migratory birds, and sea turtles were the only residents. The Island was granted to Nicolás Ballí from King Carlos of Spain in 1759 and later passed to his grandson, Padre José Nicolás Ballí. Padre José brought the first emigrant settlers, establishing a church and ministering to the Karankawa Indians.