History of Black Hawk county, Iowa, and Its
Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.
As a merchant of Gilbertville, Joseph Reuter has gained an enviable reputation and a substantial success, his general store being one of the most prosperous in the town. He was born near Essen, Westphalen, Germany, in 1865, a son of John and Elizabeth (Billisbach) Reuter, both of whom were born in Neiderland, Germany, the former in 1839 and the latter in 1841. the father is still living but the mother died in 1902. John Reuter was a coal miner and farmer in his early life and followed those occupations until he came to the United States in 1881. He removed with his family to Eagle Center, Black Hawk county, Iowa, and found employment upon farms in that neighborhood until 1905. In that year he purchased land near Jubilee and operated his farm until he retired from business life. He raised both grain and stock and his industry enabled him to win success. In politics he was a democrat and served acceptably as road boss.
Joseph Reuter is the oldest in a family of five children and after arriving at suitable years began working as a farm hand. He saved his earnings with the view of becoming a landowner and eventually accumulated sufficient capital to buy a farm. He still owns one hundred and thirty-seven acres in Poyner township. Aside from the ordinary work of the farm he owned and conducted a threshing machine, which side line returned to him quite a good profit. He gave up agriculture and went into the furniture business in Waterloo, in which he continued for four years. At the end of that time he returned to the farm and devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits for seven years, but in 1913 he came to Gilbertville and entered the mercantile field here. He conducts a general store and carries a fine line of goods, seeking always to meet the demands of his customers. His courtesy and honesty together with the high quality of his goods have enabled him to build up in a comparatively short time a lucrative patronage.
Mr. Reuter married Miss Mary Schmitz, a native of Black Hawk county and a daughter of Jacob and Katrina (Gales) Schmitz. The father was born in Thrarer, Germany, and the mother in Luxemburg. Mr. Schmitz came to this county in 1849, when evidences of pioneer life were to be seen upon every hand, and became the owner of land in both Fox and Poyner townships. He entered enthusiastically into the work of developing his farm and of building up a healthy community life. He helped to erect schools and churches in his neighborhood and aided much in the securing of good roads. He was one of those who, coming here when the county had changed but little from the prairie over which the Indians roamed, were nevertheless undismayed and labored steadily and courageously to lay the foundations of a fine civilization. To Mr. and Mrs. Reuter were born eight children: John, who is in the store with his father; Clara and Joseph, at home; Bertha, Mary and Theodore, all attending the Sisters' school; Loretta; and Agnes.
The family belong to the Catholic church and Mr. Reuter is a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and also of the German Central Society of the United States, which is a national organization. He is likewise a member of the St. Laurensius Society and for the past four years he has been chief ranger of the Foresters, and in all of the organizations with which he is identified is well known and popular. His political beliefs accord with the principles of the democratic party and he supports the candidates and measures of that organization at the polls. He has held a number of minor offices and is always willing to aid in advancing the public welfare. He has a number of business connections in his community. He is a stockholder and the president of the German Savings Bank of Gilbertville, of which institution he has been the executive head since its incorporation. He also owns stock in the Gilbertville Light Company, the creamery company, and the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway. For six years he was president of the creamery company and in all of his business connections he has displayed marked ability and good judgment. He has been identified with the progress of the county in many ways, and his life has been a force that has made for advancement.
P. E. RITZ submitted by Mary Eldridge
P. E. Ritz, an attorney of Waterloo engaged in active practice in this city since 1913, was born at Sergeant Bluff, seven miles from Sioux City , Iowa , in 1882. His father, P. E. Ritz, Sr., was also a native of that place, born in 1860. He there carried on farming and is still living in that city, with the agricultural interests of which he has been identified from pioneer times. He is a son of John A. Ritz, who came from Pennsylvania and settled at Sergeant Bluff among the earliest residents of Iowa . At that time the Indians were more numerous than the white settlers and he had various experiences with the redmen. The prairies were covered with native grasses and the forests were uncut. Wild game of all kinds was to be had in abundance and there were also many wild animals, some of which were a menace to the live stock upon the farm. In addition to developing his farm property, John A. Ritz assisted in building the Northwestern Railroad from Sioux City to Omaha .
P. E. Ritz, whose name introduces this review, spent his youthful days under the parental roof and after mastering the branches of learning taught in the lower grades of school he entered the high school of Sioux City , from which he was graduated with the class of 1902. He then entered the Iowa State University and won his Bachelor of Arts degree with the class of 1907. His broad literary learn ing thus served as an excellent foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of professional knowledge. Deciding upon the practice of law as a life work, he began studying in the State University of Iowa and was admitted to the bar in 1909. For three years he was principal of the commercial department of the East Waterloo high school and was the organizer of that department. He was after ward made principal of the entire school and so continued for a year, but at the end of that time resigned his position to take up the practice of law, which he has since followed in all of the state and federal courts. He served as special assistant county attorney under W. P. Hoxie during the fall of 1913 and again in 1914. He has been connected with much important litigation tried in Waterloo and it is well known that he prepares his cases with great thoroughness and care, while in their presentation he is strong, cogent and logical.
In 1908 Mr. Ritz was married to Miss Ora Iris Crozier, of North Liberty , Iowa , and they have two children, Russell Wesley and Robert E. The parents attend the First Presbyterian church and genuine personal worth has won for them the high regard of an extensive circle of friends. Mr. Ritz is a member of the Commercial Club and Board of Trade and he has been identified with many in terests of worth in his city. He is a stockholder in the Chautauqua Association, is at present the secretary, and for four years acted as manager in planning and conducting the Chautauquas held here. He belongs to the Black Hawk County Bar Association and he enjoys the high regard and good-will of his fellow practi tioners because of his close conformity to the highest ethical standards of the profession. His interest in. all that pertains to the welfare of city and county is unabating and, while he holds to high ideals, he uses the most practical methods for their fulfilling.