Kopperl, Moritz (1826–1883)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 27, 2016

Moritz Kopperl, banker, businessman, and legislator, was born on October 7, 1826, to Gabriel and Fanny (Bauer) Kopperl in Moravia; he was educated there and in Vienna. In 1848, at the invitation of his uncle, Maj. Charles Kopperl of Carroll County, Mississippi, he immigrated to the United States. For nine years he lived with Major Kopperl and in 1857, with A. Lipman, he set out for Texas. They settled in Galveston and started the dry-goods firm of Lipman and Kopperl, which flourished until 1861, when the Civil War blockades restricted trade and the store burned. At the end of the Civil War, Kopperl went into the cotton commission business. He subsequently diversified from exporting cotton to importing coffee and made Galveston one of the largest coffee-importing ports in the world. In 1866 he married Isabella Dyer from Baltimore; they had two children. In 1868 Kopperl became president of Texas National Bank, which was verging on failure, and brought it back to sound financial condition. He took over the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1877 and served as its president from 1877 to 1879. He also brought the railroad, which became a part of the Santa Fe System, back to financial stability.

In 1871 and 1872 Kopperl was elected to the Galveston City Council and worked to develop the harbor's shipping facilities. He served as chairman of the city finance committee and devised ways to meet Galveston's indebtedness. In 1876 he was elected to the Texas legislature, where he served as chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. He played a significant role in refinancing the government of Texas. In 1883, when his health began to fail, he sailed to Europe. He died in Bayreuth, Bavaria, on July 3, 1883. Kopperl, Texas, on the Santa Fe Railway in Bosque County, bears the name of this Jewish pioneer.

John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989).

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

Natalie Ornish, “Kopperl, Moritz,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kopperl-moritz.

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May 27, 2016