The Wurlitzer Family, Part 1 - February 17, 2014

We here at the American Treasure Tour blog are confident, as we enter the post-Valentine's Day blues, that you need a little pick-me-up.  Something different from the celebrities and record albums we have been talking about.  As you know, the Tour contains one of the world's largest collections of nickelodeons and band organs  We did extensive* polling and have decided to spend some time discussing one of the most prominent families behind the manufacture of mechanical music in the United States.  

(*No actual polls were conducted, we just wanted to make it sound good.)

Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer was born in Schoneck, Saxony, Germany on January 30th, 1831.  His family had been manufacturing quality instruments for centuries by the time of his birth - starting with his lute-making ancestor Heinrich Wurlitzer (1595 to 1656).  Franz Rudolph took a big step when, at age twenty-two, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio without his family's blessing.  He set up shop there and imported Wurlitzer-produced instruments, mostly violins, and was treated like any other client of the business.  He began raising his own family, including three sons.  By 1865, his business was so successful that he built his own factory in Cincinnati to produce instruments, primarily for military bands.  Four years later, he opened a branch in Chicago and in 1890 it incorporated as the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company.  

For more on the Wurlitzer family, join us tomorrow for our next exciting installment....


Schoneck, the town in Saxony, Germany where Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer was born, is a short 2-1/2 drive (respecting the speed limit, of course) of what city, made famous for being the setting of post-World War II trials?

a)  Berlin

b)  Dresden

c)  Munich

d)  Nuremberg

e)  Frankfurt

Answer Below


The law dictates that presidential elections occur on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November  (this means no federal election will ever happen on November 1st, for some reason).  The presidential election of 1800 determined that John Adams, the incumbent, would not serve a second term, since he placed third in the election.  There was a problem, though.  In the early republic, the person with the most votes became president, and the person with the second-highest would become vice president.  The system was improved after the debacle of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for first (although Burr was "supposed to" be the vice presidential candidate).  The vote went to the House of Representatives for resolution.  It was on this day in 1801 when Alexander Hamilton's behind-the-scenes negotiations compelled Jefferson into the presidency.  Hamilton believed Burr was the worse man for the job and convinced people to change their votes in favor of Jefferson.  Within three years, Hamilton's anti-Burr campaigns would compel the two men into a disastrous duel.  Soon after that, Jefferson accused Burr of treason against the United States, a crime punishable by death....

For decades, the Ford Model-T had the record for being the best-selling car in the United States. On this date in 1972, that changed, when numbers for the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed those of the car that put Americans behind the wheel.  The VW was affordable and practical, much like the Model-T had been in the nineteen-teens.  A poll in 1999 designated the Beetle one of the four most important cars of the 20th century, alongside the Model-T, the Mini, and the Citroen DS.


On this day in 1843, Aaron Montgomery Ward was born in Chatham, New Jersey to a large lower-middle class family. They moved to Michigan when he was nine.  Hugely ambitious, the young man did any kind of work he could find until he struck upon the notion of creating a mail order company to cut out the middle man and bring products directly from the manufacturer, through his catalog, to his customers.  It worked, and by 1880 his catalog company was in business.  (Sears' famous catalog would come around sixteen years after Ward started his.)  The catalog is considered by some to be one of the most-influential books ever printed in the United States, although the last department store chain it inspired closed its doors in 2001.


The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business. - Aaron Burr

Answer - d)  Nuremberg - The Nuremberg Trials placed suspected Nazi war criminals on trial to account for crimes executed during World War II.