Reportedly born in Mississippi, HARDIN RICHARD RUNNELS is said to have migrated to Texas with his mother after his father’s death. In his early twenties at that time, he settled in Bowie County, where the family established a cotton plantation. He represented Bowie County in the Texas Legislature from 1847 until 1852, serving as Speaker for two years. In 1855 he was elected Lieutenant Governor. Two years later, he defeated Sam Houston (a Know-Nothing at the time) in the race for governor. As governor, he sought federal frontier military protection. Although the number of troops in Texas increased, so did Indian raids, which led to dissatisfaction with the Runnels administration. Runnels was defeated by Houston in 1859 and retired to his cotton plantation. He was a delegate to the Secession Convention of 1861 and to the Constitutional Convention in 1866. After the Civil War, he became an organizer of the Texas State Historical Association. He died at his farm and was buried in the family cemetery in Bowie County. In 1929 his remains were exhumed and reinterred in the State Cemetery.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.