Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paul Gruetzmacher

Paul Gruetzmacher at age 32 in 1888.

Paul Gruetzmacher was born in Germany around November of 1852, to Louis Gruetzmacher and Matilda Schuler. His burial certificate states he was born in Havelberg. He arrived in Galveston after June of 1858 with his mother and 3 siblings on board the ship "Fortuna" from Germany.

Paul is listed in the 1860 census with his parents at Hallendale in Grimes County, Texas. I have found no information about Hallendale.

By the 1870 census, with his father Louis having died of disease in the Civil War, his mother had moved the family to Galveston.

In the 1872 and 1874 Galveston City Directories, Paul is listed as living with his mother at 324 E. Market Street. By 1876 they are located at the corner of 19th Street and M 1/2.

From 1872 through about 1878 he is employed with (or quite possibly in partnership with) A. Stein & Co. A picture of this partnerships streetfront operation exists in Grace Newton's scrapbooks. The photographs shows a signboard reading "Paul Gruetzmacher & Co." directly above a sign for "A. Stein and Co." Grace's notes place the print shop on Mechanic, above the stationers.

From this information, I suspect that the photograph above was taken from 1872 to 1878, when Paul was partners with Stein. I believe Aunt Grace was in error as to the location, as the city directories never locate Paul's (or Louis') print shops on Mechanic.

In researching the location, I dug out my copy of "The Galveston That Was" by Howard Barnstone (1966), and found the picture above (and several more) of the "Willard Richardson Building" that was built in 1858. Located at 2217 Market Street, it was demolished around 1964. Upon close comparison of architectural details, especially the windows, I believe that this building was in fact the true location of Paul's first print shop in Galveston.

The building later was utilized by a series of bookstore's, first as Bacon's (with a job printer as co-tenant), next as Purdy's, from 1909 until 1930, and lastly as Henry's Bookstore from 1945 to 1963.

Barnstone describes the building as "One of the most luscious of the iron fronts to be built anywhere...." The iron front for Richardson's building came from the Philadelphia foundry owned by Sanson & Farrand.

Around 1876 Paul married Augusta Altmann, the daughter of William Altmann and Augusta Needemann.

In the June 5, 1880 census, Paul and his family consists of his wife Augusta, and children Clara and Mattie. His mother-in-law Augusta is also living with them. The 1880-81 City Directory shows the family living at 610 Avenue K. Paul now has his own store, Paul Gruetzmacher & Co., Books and Stationery, located at 125 Strand, between 22nd and Tremont (23rd) streets. His brother Louis also works there.

The 1881-82 edition of the City Directory shows Paul and family are now living at 607 Avenue K, between 12th and 13th streets, on the south side of the block.

In the 1882-83 City Directory, Paul is shown working at the William Terry & Co. print shop with his brother Louis.

The Galveston Daily News for October 4, 1885 reports that P. Gruetzmacher is on the arrangement committee for the Galveston Lodge No. 774, Knights of Honor which is celebrating their anniversary.

According to the 1886-87 edition of the City Directory, brothers Paul and Louis have their own print shop, Paul Gruetzmacher & Bro., located at 171 E. Strand (old street numbering), between 21st and 22nd streets. The family has moved again, this time to 611 E. Avenue I, between 12th and 13th streets.

Soon, Paul is working for Clarke & Courts printing concern, according to the 1888-89 City Directory. The family has moved once again, this time to a house on the north side of E. Avenue N, between 19th and 20th. This location is the final home for the family, 1910 Avenue N, which survives the 1900 Storm and, as of 2010, is still standing.

The Galveston Daily News for February 14, 1889 has an advertisment for Paul Gruetzmacher, Job Printer, Strand near Center, Telephone 84. And by the time of the 1890-91 directory, Paul has his own print shop over 2109 Strand (new street numbering), between 21st and 22nd streets.

In The Galveston Daily News for May 7, 1893, (and other dates) there is an advertisment for "Paul Gruetzmacher of the Tenth Ward is a candidate for Alderman at Large Election June 6, 1893. Respectfully solicits your vote and support."

In the June 12, 1893 issue, The Galveston Daily News calls him Alderman at Large Paul Gruetzmacher, so he obviously won the election. Over the next few years, until June of 1895 when he was either voted out or did not run for reelection, he is mentioned in the newspaper along with his fellow city aldermen.

Paul Gruetzmacher announces in the paper that he is now with Knapp Bros., Stationers and Printers, Center and Mechanic. --The Galveston Daily News, January 24, 1896. Paul is called a printer in the 1896-97 city directory, as well as the 1898, and the 1899-1900 edition, but there is no mention whether he was working for someone else, or if he again had his own shop.

In the June 7, 1900 census, Paul and his family, consisting of his wife, Augusta, and their children, Clara, mattie, Augusta, Pauline, Emilia, Otto, Paul, Edward, Arthur, and Edith, are living at the house at 1910 Avenue N. The census reports that Paul owns the home.

Next door the the Gruetzmacher's, at 1906 Avenue N, is George Maguire, a clerk in the telegraph office. Could this have been how Matilda Gruetzmacher and Andre' Hutt Newton met? Even in 1900, the telegraph world was probably a small one, and Andre', as the son and nephew of telegraphers, may have visited Maguire as a courtesy of the Newton telegraph clan.

One of the classic reports of the 1900 Storm is that a print shop collapsed over a bar during the early hours. While this would be a terrific family legend, I doubt that this shop belonged to Paul Gruetzmacher.

Frank Heizer has recently provided me with the following information: "At the lunch hour, as the wind increased in velocity, the first deaths occurred. At Ritter's Cafe and Saloon on Mechanic Street, a popular lunch spot for businessmen, a blast of wind tore the roof from the building, collapsing the ceiling onto the ground-floor dining room." --Houston Chronicle, Aug 28, 2000.

And from the book "The Great Galveston Disaster" by Paul Lester, 1900, Alexander Spencer tells about his father being at Ritter's Cafe, where he was killed. Stanly Spencer was sitting on a desk, with his hands clasped over his head, a favorite position of his, talking to Mr. Lord and a Greek, named Marcleitis. "Ritter's cafe was a strongly-built brick building, which was thought to be very safe, but, unfortunately, it was at the foot of a short street leading to the wharf. This gave the wind from the Gulf full sweep against it. There were several other men in the cafe, and one of them said: 'Why, did you all know there are just thirteen people in this room?' Papa laughed, and remarked that he was not superstitious. Just then the crash came, killing five of the thirteen. In the floor above the cafe was a large printing establishment. A beam hurled down by the weight of the presses above struck papa, killing him instantly."

The last listing for Paul Gruetzmacher in the City Directory was in the 1903-4 edition, where he is called a city solicitor for the Hatch, Millis & Co. firm. Was this a type of lobbyist?

Paul died at his home at 1 A.M. on December 2, 1905. He was suffering from cancer of the larynx. He was buried the next day at Cahill's New Cemetery, which was later renamed Lakeview Cemetery. There is a good-sized family plot reserved for the Gruetzmacher's there, with a low cement border surround. On one edge of the surround the family name is carved in relief. There are no headstones within, as of the 1980s.

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