Runge, Henry (1816–1873)

By: Henry Hauschild

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 26, 2021

Henry Runge, businessman, was born in Bremen, Germany, on April 11, 1816, the son of a large landowner. His younger brother became known as "Long" Runge, and Henry was called "Short" Runge. After receiving a thorough mercantile training he moved to Indianola, Texas, via Baltimore and New Orleans. In Indianola he established a general store in a tent and quickly became one of the most prominent and successful businessmen in Texas. He concentrated on shipping and banking and in 1845 established the first private unincorporated bank in Texas. He was appointed United States consul at Indian Point (Indianola) and had considerable contact with John O. Meusebach and the Adelsverein. In 1851 Runge married Julia Hornung, an immigrant from Hildesheim, Germany, who was eighteen years his junior. The couple had six children. A son, Henry J., founded Arcadia, Texas, where a Runge Park is located. A daughter, Johanna, married Julius Runge, a cousin, and started the first free public kindergarten in Galveston. 

In 1858 Runge helped organize the Indianola Railroad Company. In 1861, when the Civil War compelled the abandonment of many enterprises on the coast, Runge moved temporarily to New Braunfels, where he established a large cotton factory with machinery imported from England. In 1862 he supplied cannons to Col. Augustus Buchel for the defense of the coast. At the close of the war Runge reestablished his business house, H. Runge and Company, in Indianola, with branches in Victoria and Cuero. In 1866 the Runge family moved to Galveston, where Runge operated a business under the name of Kaufmann and Runge, with major interests in shipping, merchandising, and banking. In 1895 Runge's Cuero branch established the town of Nordheim, where the company had extensive holdings.

Runge died in Galveston on March 16, 1873, leaving a seventy-five-page will that was said to be the longest ever probated in Texas. After his death his family moved to Hannover, Germany, where his children later became prominent in politics, publishing, and merchandising. Runge, Texas, was named after Henry Runge.

Galveston Daily News, March 18, 1873. Brownson Malsch, Indianola-The Mother of Western Texas (Austin: Shoal Creek, 1977). Annie Doom Pickrell, Pioneer Women in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1929).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business

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

Henry Hauschild, “Runge, Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

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July 26, 2021