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Kleiber, Joseph (1833–1877)

John H. Hunter Biography Entry

Joseph Kleiber, real estate and railroad developer, son of JohnGeorge and Teresa (Zola) Kleiber, was born at Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, on May 28, 1833. He immigrated to the United States, lived in New Orleans for a time, and then moved to Point Isabel (now Port Isabel), Texas. In 1856 he married Emma Henrietta Butler; they had five children. Kleiber purchased a drugstore in Brownsville in 1860; he continued to operate it while he served as Confederate postmaster there. During the Union occupation of Brownsville he moved his family to Matamoros, Tamaulipas; there he sold merchandise to Confederate forces and engaged in the contraband cotton trade. After the Civil War he reestablished his mercantile business and his home in Brownsville; he soon became associated with Humphrey Eugene Woodhouse, John Salmon (Rip) Ford, Simon Celaya (see SAN ROMÁN, JOSÉ), and others in building the Rio Grande Railroad between Port Isabel and Brownsville (see PORT ISABEL AND RIO GRANDE VALLEY RAILWAY) and became the company's secretary and auditor. In August 1874 Kleiber resigned his railroad posts and became a real estate dealer in Central Texas. He died in Austin on August 13, 1877, and was buriedin the Old City Cemetery in Brownsville. He left a collection of letters in English, Spanish, and French, dated October 11, 1860, to July 10, 1877, which give a picture of the life and times of South Texas during that period.

James Lewellyn Allhands, Gringo Builders (Joplin, Missouri, Dallas, Texas, 1931). LeRoy P. Graf, The Economic History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1820–1875 (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1942). Joseph Kleiber Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Rio Grande Roundup: Story of Texas' Tropical Borderland (Mission, Texas: Border Kingdom, 1980). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

John H. Hunter, “Kleiber, Joseph,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.