Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 18
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Southeast Texas as H. Runge and Co. The
firm showed an incredible resilience recovering
from the losses it suffered during the
hurricanes. One can only speculate as to
the company's influence and significance if
unhampered by these natural disasters.
Henry Runge established the firm in
1845 as a forwarding business, shipping
goods by ox cart and mule-drawn wagons to
faraway places such as Eagle Pass, Fort
Clark and El Paso. Runge's association was
short-lived as he sold his interests in 1867
to partners Emil Reiffert, William Frobese
and Edward Mugge. Despite this change,
the firm continued to operate as H. Runge
and Co. It opened one of the first commercial
establishments in Cuero in 1873 when
regular rail service began. Edward Mugge
eventually assumed responsibility of the
Cuero branch. The 1875 storm nearly
devastated the firm but its owners were a
determined group and the company rebounded.
Frobese joined his partner in
Cuero, and like several other former residents
of Indianola, dismantled, relocated
and rebuilt his house.
Catastrophe struck again in 1886. Although
its Indianola store was one of the
few structures to survive the hurricane, H.
Runge and Co. suffered greatly. To overcome
these setbacks, the firm took drastic
and decisive action. Its headquarters were
moved to Cuero where facilities were already
in place and were well established.
Diversification was seen as the key to recovery
and even greater success, and the
company consequently expanded its operations.
It purchased Cuero's mill and cotton
gin and branched into the furniture,
hardware, implement and dry goods businesses.
The principals-Reiffert, Frobese
and Mugge-acquired extensive land and
cattle holdings in DeWitt, Karnes and
adjoining counties and founded Nordheim
in southwestern DeWitt County to serve as
H. Runge and Co. survived until the
Great Depression when financial difficulties
forced it, as well as innumerable businesses
across the country, to cease operations.
Its legacy is well represented by the
many commercial buildings it erected in
Cuero. The company's success can also be
measured by the residences of its owners.
The homes of Mugge, Frobese and Reiffert
are architectural gems in an area with
many fine historic dwellings and are among
the most outstanding in Southeast Texas.
Another successful Indianola business
that relocated to Cuero was established by
18 HERITAGE * SPRING 1989
TOP : H. Runge & Co. building at the left in
downtown Cuero. National Register, THC
J. M. Reuss. A physician from Wurzburg,
Germany, Reuss was among the many
immigrants who came to Texas to seek a
new life. He landed in Indianola intending
to settle in one of the German communities
in the Texas Hill Country. Upon his
arrival, however, he found conditions
deplorable, and local demands for proper
medical care and his own sense of social
responsibility prevented him from continuing
his journey. His decision to stay
proved significant, especially when a cholera
epidemic spread through the city in
1847. He also treated and cared for many
who fell victim to yellow fever in later
years, and his report on the outbreak published
by the Medical Association of Philadelphia
provides insights into early medical
practices as well as conditions in Indianola
in the mid-19th century. Reuss soon
established a drugstore there and opened a
branch facility in Cuero when the railroad
reached the city. After the 1875 hurricane,
he moved his entire operation to Cuero.
Known as J. M. Reuss and Son Drugs,
the store was a prominent fixture on Main
Street. His sons, Oscar and J. H., shared his
concern for helping people and followed
his footsteps in the medical profession.
Oscar took over the drug store while J. H.
eventually established the Reuss Memorial
Hospital on the city's north side. The hospital
has since been demolished and replaced
with a shopping center, but the drug
store continues to this day, one of the
oldest commercial endeavors in Cuero. Joe
Reuss, who presently owns and operates
the business, represents the fourth generation
of the Reuss family to run the store. An
active preservationist with a strong sense of
the past, he has restored and rehabilitated
several commercial buildings in Cuero
including the old Heaton Brothers Drug
Store, an early but now defunct competitor
of J. M. Reuss and Son Drugs.
These are but a few of the people, businesses
and buildings that serve as a link to
the old port of Indianola. Cuero's citizens
have always cherished their rich history
and have been remarkably successful in
maintaining and preserving the legacy of
Indianola in their town.
David Moore is a principal of Hardy-HeckMoore,
an Austin-based historic preservation
firm hired by the City of Cuero to
prepare a Multiple Resource National Register
Nomination. Financial assistance was
provided by a matching grant-in-aid by the
Texas Historical Commission.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989, periodical, Spring 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45432/m1/18/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.