Runge is at the junction of State Highway 72 and four farm roads, east of the San Antonio River, three miles west of the DeWitt county line, and nine miles east of Kenedy in southeastern Karnes County. The settlement developed in 1887 in the vicinity of earlier Sulphur Spring, Mineral Spring, and Hortonville and was named after Henry Runge, a pioneer merchant and banker whose company helped develop the town. When Gustav Tips arrived to build a store for H. Runge and Company, the town had a house and a street. The post office at Runge opened in 1887. By 1890 Runge had grown to be the largest town in Karnes County. Among its businesses were a mercantile store, a lumberyard, a livery, a depot, a drugstore, a sheet-metal works, a barbershop, a saloon, a mill, and a gin. By 1895 the community had a population of 750, thirty business, three churches, and a two-story frame school that employed five teachers. The Runge Independent School District built a school for $5,000 in 1892. By 1902 it had 312 students. In 1901 eleven grades were being taught; that year the district rented a home for four dollars a month to be used as a school for Mexican-American children. In 1914 the Runge school for whites taught grades one through eleven and had twelve teachers; the Mexican-American school had three teachers, and the African-American school had two teachers. In 1937 the schools had 651 students and seventeen teachers. A new brick school for white students was constructed in 1917. This building burned in 1930 and was replaced with a new school, completed in November 1930 at a cost of $120,000. A new school was built for Mexican-American children for $2,800 in 1931. All schools were integrated in the mid-1950s, following the United States Supreme Court decision holding segregation to be unconstitutional.
A bandstand, built originally in the 1890s and rebuilt in 1924, occupied the center of the public square, where it remained in 1993. An eight-piece orchestra had been established in 1891. The bandstand was designated an official historic site and given a historical marker in 1970. The coming of a circus or the day of a parade was always an exciting event. To enhance social life, the people formed numerous and social groups, including a Masonic lodge chartered in 1897 and consolidated with the Kenedy lodge in 1982. Much of Runge's growth was concomitant with the life of one of its most active citizens, Gustav (Gus) Tips. Tips moved to Runge in 1887 and established the firm of Reiffert and Tips. In 1905 he purchased a new store and continued merchandising. His firm built the first cotton gin, and he assisted in organizing two banks, the First State Bank and the Runge National Bank, succeeded later by the Community State Bank and the Victoria Bank and Trust. Tips was elected the first mayor of Runge at the time of its incorporation in 1912. Before incorporation the town was managed by the Runge Town Company with Tips as its agent. The city of Runge built a two-story city hall, fire station, and auditorium in 1931. A tornado hit the south part of Runge on May 6, 1930, killing twenty-seven and injuring thirty-four. The Runge Museum, established in 1973, was destroyed in a fire on February 29, 1992. In 1993 the community was active in developing its historical and cultural resources as a part of the area between the Alamo and La Bahía. The economy of Runge has been based on farming, ranching, dairying, oil, and gas. The population has remained relatively stable over the past fifty years, growing from 1,001 in 1940 to 1,244 in 1980 and dropping to 1,139 in 1993. In 2000 the population was 1,080.