Christian Runckel, the superintendent of schools at Dutch Flat, is one of the prominent educators of Placer County. A sketch of his life is therefore of interest in connection with biographical mention of other leading and representative citizens of his town and county, and briefly, is as follows:
Christian Runckel was born in Dutch Flat, Placer County, California, July 27, 1868, and is of German descent. His father, Justus Henry Runckel, was born in Germany, January 13, 1832, of German parentage, and belonged to a mercantile family, generation after generation, for a period of hundred and fifty years, having been engaged in business at the same stand.
In 1852, leaving the business and home of his forefathers, Justus H. Runckel immigrated to America, landing at New York, where he remained until 1856, and that year came to California, making the journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Upon his arrival in California, Mr. Runckel engaged in mining on the middle fork of the American River, where he was fairly successful. Mining, however, was not suited to his tastes, and in 1857 he came to Dutch Flat and established himself in a bakery and mercantile business, which he conducted successfully until he retired in 1892. Also he was interested in fruit growing on lands which he owned in the town site, apples and Bartlett pears being his specialty, and most of his trees having been planted by his son Christian. An ardent Democrat, the elder Runckel was an active participant in the politics of the county, and fraternally he for years maintained membership in the I. O. O. F., being identified with both branches of the order and also with the order of Rebekahs. In 1859 he married Miss Louisa Held, like himself, a native of Germany, and of the eleven children born to this worthy couple nine are still living. The mother also is still living, and is in the enjoyment of excellent health. The father departed this life in 1896, at the age of sixty-four years.
Christian Runckel was educated in the public schools of his native town and in a private normal school in Auburn, and began his life work as a teacher, when only nineteen years of age, at Lowell Hill. For the past ten years he has taught at Dutch Flat, where, at this writing, he holds the position of superintendent of schools. Here, with the valued assistance of the school board, he has been instrumental in bringing the school interests of Dutch Flat up to a high standard. A new schoolhouse has been built, equipped with all the modern appliances found in the up-to-date schools, and the teachers work in harmony with their superintendent. It is a fact worthy of note that the county superintendent paid Dutch Flat the compliment of having the best school building in the county.
Like his father before him, Mr. Runckel has taken an active interest in the politics of the county and keeps himself as well posted on political matters as he does in educational affairs. He was at one time the candidate of the Democratic Party for the office of representative of his county in the state assembly. Another honor conferred upon him by his Party, and one which he esteemed more highly was his nomination for state superintendent of education, but, although he made a satisfactory run, he, with the rest of the ticket, was defeated. A county office which he now holds is that of president of the board of education.
Mr. Runckel was the originator and organizer of the Order of the American Flag, which has received a state charter. The object of the organization is to inculcate patriotism and a love for the civil liberty which the flag represents, and also to inculcate a more thorough knowledge of the grand principles on which a government by the people for the people rests.
In the midst of his other work Mr. Runckel was for three years the editor of the Colfax Sentinel. Nowadays, when not occupied with his educational work, Mr. Runckel busies himself among his fruits and flowers. He owns the pleasant home he occupies and a fruit ranch.
He was married in 1894 to Miss Sophia Cadwallader, a native of Nevada County and a graduate of Napa College. Previous to her marriage Mrs. Runckel was a successful teacher. They have a pleasant home in which interest centers around two little ones, a son and daughter, Christian, Jr., and Martha. Mr. Runckel and his wife are identified respectively with the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Native Daughters of the Golden West; he helped to organize the parlor in Dutch Flat, and was its first president. He is also a member of the I. O. O. F., and has passed all the chairs in both branches of the order.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.