Leakey, the county seat of Real County, is on the Frio River at the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and Ranch Roads 336, 337, and 1120.
Archaeological excavations in the Frio Canyon region revealed Paleo-American, Archaic, and Neo-American occupations. Later, several Native American tribes, including Lipan Apache, Comanche, and Tonkawa inhabited or traversed the area.
Anglo-American settlement of the area began in 1856 when John Leakey, his wife Nancy, and a few others settled near a spring along the banks of the Frio River. Shingles and lumber were produced from the abundant cypress and cedar trees. In its first few years, the community was a lonely outpost that was subject to frequent Indian raids.
The last Indian raid in the Frio Canyon occurred on August 19, 1882, when a band of Lipan Apaches killed members of the McLaurin family at their home at Buzzard Roost above Leakey. One of the girls managed to escape and get help, but not before Mrs. McLaurin and Allen Lease, a boy living with them, were killed. The Indians were tracked into Mexico, and this time they were killed. Mrs. McLaurin and Allen Lease were the first two people buried in the Floral Cemetery in Leakey.
After the Civil War, many settlers began to arrive. In 1883, A.G. Vogel moved a post office from the community of Floral to Leakey. That same year, the Texas State Legislature created Edwards County and designated Leakey as the county seat less than a year later. 1883 was also the year that the area's first school was established on land donated by the Leakeys. A new school building was completed in 1890. In 1891, the Edwards County seat was moved from Leakey to Rocksprings. During the early 1900s, ranching superseded lumber, cotton cultivation, and corn production in importance to the local economy. The raising of Angora goats was a major component of the ranching industry. In 1902, the school in Leakey had a total enrollment of 102 students. The town's population was estimated to be 318 in 1904.
Real County was created from parts of Edwards, Bandera, and Kerr counties in the spring of 1913, with Leakey as the county seat. In 1919, Real County Judge Ed Kelly established the Leakey Independent School District. By the mid-1920s, the population had declined to around 120. A larger school building was completed in 1930. Soon after, several nearby schools, including West Frio, Cypress Creek, Rio Frio, Exile, Stanford, Dry Frio, and Harper were consolidated with Leakey schools.
Leakey was formally incorporated on June 11, 1951. Leakey was home to 450 people in 1960, 468 in 1980, 387 in 2000, and 357 in 2010. Leakey depends heavily on tourism because of the existence of the nearby Frio River, Garner State Park, Alto Frio Baptist Encampment and Laity Lodge.
Beverly Ann Chiodo, "Real County," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (January 1962). William W. Newcomb, The Rock Art of Texas Indians (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967). Grace Lorene Lewis, A History of Real County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1956).