Hertzberg, Theodor Rudolph (1817–1903)

By: H. T. Edward Hertzberg

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: October 30, 2019

Theodor Rudolph Hertzberg, businessman, editor, state senator, Texas immigration commissioner for Europe, and diplomat, third son of Eduard and Sophie (Schultz) Hertzberg, was born of Protestant parents in Halberstadt, Prussia, on June 6, 1817. His father, a remarkably energetic organizer, served an unprecedented fifty-six years in the German postal system, his last nineteen years as postal chief of the district surrounding Münster, Germany. While earning his doctorate from the University of Jena, Hertzberg absorbed the ideas of liberal reform endemic in Europe in 1848. He then immigrated to Texas, reaching Galveston on December 2, 1849. He moved to San Antonio and entered partnership in a tobacconist's shop, Hertzberg and Simon, and later in a real estate concern, Hertzberg and Wimer. He became a naturalized citizen in San Antonio on April 11, 1856.

As a member of the Casino Club, Hertzberg helped to organize the German-English School on South Alamo Street, to which he and many others contributed funds. Family accounts relate that he occasionally lectured and taught there. He made no secret of his liberal and strong antislavery convictions, views largely shared by the other Germans. Frederick Charles Chabot writes that in 1860 Hertzberg took over the Texas Staats Zeitung, founded as a Democratic newspaper, "and made it a Unionist paper."

Hertzberg had been married in Europe but lost his wife and son there in childbirth. In 1859 he married Emilie Grothaus, also an immigrant. They had three children. When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Hertzberg moved his family to Saltillo, Mexico, where he stayed until 1865, when he returned to San Antonio and expanded his business interests by becoming a notary public, the general agent for major German and United States insurance companies, and forwarding agent for a German sailing-ship line. In March 1869 he became co-owner (with August Siemering) and editor of the San Antonio Freie Presse für Texas.

Already prominent politically as secretary of the Bexar County Republican Executive Committee, Hertzberg was elected state senator on the 1870 Republican ticket. Being an upright man of firm principles, however, he became disenchanted with the position because of the many importunities for his influence in shady schemes, all of which he rejected. He resigned in December 1871 to accept the appointment as commissioner of the Texas Immigration Bureau for Europe offered by Governor Edmund J. Davis. During his service as senator and throughout his subsequent three-year duty in Europe as commissioner, his name remained in the masthead of the Freie Presse. Thereafter, in 1875, Hertzberg accepted employment in the department of foreign languages of the Government Printing Office in Washington. In 1881 he was appointed by President Chester A. Arthur as United States consul in St. Étienne, France, a post he held for five years. Thereafter he retired to San Antonio, where he continued occasionally to write articles on matters of public interest. Family sources relate that he was asked to be a candidate for mayor of San Antonio, but that he declined. In May 1892 he built a brick home at 155 Crofton Avenue in San Antonio, where he lived with his wife and family members until his death on March 18, 1903. In 1969 the house became a Texas historical landmark.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). Chester William and Ethel Hander Geue, eds., A New Land Beckoned: German Immigration to Texas, 1844–1847 (Waco: Texian Press, 1966; enlarged ed. 1972).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Business
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
  • Politics and Government
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Organizations

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. T. Edward Hertzberg, “Hertzberg, Theodor Rudolph,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hertzberg-theodor-rudolph.

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January 1, 1995
October 30, 2019