August Henry Runge born in New York City February 12, 1852, of German descent, both his parents having been born in Germany. His father, Henry August Runge, was engaged in the grocery business in the city of New York. He died when the subject of this sketch was but four years of age. His wife's maiden name was Marie Christina Sophia Kracke. She survived her husband for many years, passing away at her son's home in Minneapolis in 1885.
August attended the public schools of New York until he was twelve years of age, at which time his adventurous spirit led him to follow life on the high seas. He enlisted in the navy September 22, 1864, as an apprentice boy of the third class. His good behavior and close attention to his duties won for him in a short time promotion to the second class, and from there, by successive steps, to first class landsman, ordinary seaman and seaman. He was discharged from the navy, March 1, 1870, in the latter class. During his term of service, Mr. Runge served in the United States ships, “Savannah," "Fah Kee,” “Sabine,” “Colorado,” “Newburn,” “Pensacola," “Independence" and “Vermont,” which were attached to the North Atlantic, European and Pacific squadrons, under Admirals Farragut, Porter, Goldsborough, Thatcher and Craven.
After leaving the navy, he went to the oil regions in Pennsylvania. He here learned all there was to know about the drilling of wells, from running an engine to dressing tools. He was unfortunate enough, however, to sink all his surplus cash in a "dry hole. This discouraging him, he decided to seek his fortune in the west. He arrived in Minneapolis October 28, 1873, and was immediately engaged as an engineer with the Tribune company, which at that time had its offices in the old city hall. He remained with this concern until May, 1883, when he resigned to accept the appointment of first assistant chief engineer of the fire department. When Mr. Runge came to Minneapolis the city was protected by only a volunteer fire department. He joined this force October 3, 1874, with truck No. 1. Upon the disbursement of the volunteers, and the organization of the regular department in 1879, he was appointed captain of Truck No. 1. In December, 1881, he was appointed second assistant chief engineer, and in May of the following year first assistant chief engineer "at call." This office was made permanent in May, 1883, and from that time on Mr. Runge devoted all his time to the duties of this position. He was appointed chief engineer in January, 1890, and held this position until January, 1895, when he resigned. In January of the following year he was appointed to his present position of first assistant chief of the fire department. Mr. Runge has made an admirable record in this capacity. His judgment has been quick and accurate in the handling of large fires, and he has won for himself the complete confidence of the business community. He is a prominent member of the G. A. R. and Naval Veterans. He is present commander of Jacob Schaefer Post, No. 163, G. A. R.; past colonel and adjutant of Gettysburg Regiment, No. 3, Union Veterans' Union; general of the Army of Minnesota, Naval Veterans Union; ex-captain of Minnesota Naval Veterans' Association, and lieutenant-commander of the National Association of Naval Veterans. Mr. Runge is also prominent in Masonic circles and a thirty-second degree Mason. He is identified with the Episcopal church, and is a member of St. Andrew's. February 12, 1876, he was married to Miss Louisa von Ende, eldest daughter of the Hon. August von Ende. They have two daughters, Mabel Sophia, born March 22, 1878, and Anna Louisa Hazel, born September 4, 1885. Both the girls are musically inclined. Mabel sings soprano at the Church of the Redeemer, and Hazel, who is in the eighth grade at the Blaine school, has exhibited considerable talent in songs and dancing in this far western state.