Kleberg, Rudolph (1847–1924)

By: Craig H. Roell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 13, 2019

Rudolph Kleberg, politician, newspaperman, and attorney, was born on June 26, 1847, in a log cabin at Cat Spring, Texas, the son of Robert Justus and Rosalie (von Roeder) Kleberg. The family moved the next year to DeWitt County, where he received a private education. He served the Confederacy in 1864–65 in Gen. Thomas Green's Fourth Texas Cavalry. About 1868 he graduated from Concrete College in DeWitt County, after which he taught school at Yorktown and studied law in San Antonio. He was admitted to the bar in 1872 and began practice in Cuero, where, with the help of W. C. Bowen, he established the Cuero Star, a weekly newspaper that he edited for four years. He published outspoken editorials criticizing the violence that marked DeWitt County during Reconstruction, especially the Sutton-Taylor Feud. He served as county attorney for DeWitt County from 1876 to 1880. In 1882 he formed a law partnership with William Henry Crain, and on November 7 of that year he was elected as a Democrat to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1884. As a member of the Committee on Finance he was instrumental in procuring the first general appropriation for the University of Texas and the funds to purchase the Alamo. In 1885 President Grover Cleveland appointed him United States attorney for the Western District of Texas, a position he held until 1889. In April 1896 he was elected to fill the vacancy in the United States Congress left by the death of his law partner, Crain; Kleberg was reelected to the Fifty-fifth, Fifty-sixth, and Fifty-seventh congresses and served until March 3, 1903. At the time of his death in Austin, on December 28, 1924, he was official court reporter of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a post he had held since February 24, 1905. He was survived by his widow, the former Mathilde Elise Eckhardt, whom he had married in 1872, and five children.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Craig H. Roell, “Kleberg, Rudolph,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kleberg-rudolph.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 13, 2019