The Wurlitzer Family, Part 2 - February 18, 2014

Welcome back to the American Treasure Tour blog and the continuing saga of the Wurlitzer family in the United States!  Yesterday, we talked about Franz Rudolph, the father of the American branch of the family.  His successes included an expansion of the company's instrument-manufacturing business with the construction of factories in Cincinnati and Chicago. Today, we are going to talk about his eldest (of three) sons:  Howard Wurlitzer.

Howard was born in 1871 and joined his father's firm while it was still headquartered in Cincinnati at the age of twenty-eight.  At the time, Wurlitzer primarily manufactured musical instruments and distributed music boxes produced by the Regina Company, but Howard's ambition and vision made Wurlitzer one of the most important names in the new industry of mechanical music.  In 1908, Wurlitzer acquired the North Tonawanda, New York-based mechanical music plant of the DeKleist company and helped to establish that small suburb of Buffalo as the country's capitol in the production of band organs and nickelodeons, while it was already the center for the manufacture of carousels.  Howard oversaw production in the new factory from the heydey of the mechanical music era until his death in 1928, by which time technological advances in radio and the phonograph required the company to re-assess its priorities.  


What was the full name of DeKleist, the man who emigrated to the United States from Germany to manufacture the first of the American-style band organs?

a)  Johann Joseph Klaus DeKleist

b)  Frederick Joseph Eugene DeKleist

c)  Wolfgang Joseph Adolph DeKleist

d)  Hanz Joseph Fritz DeKleist

e)  Hermann Joseph Franz DeKleist

Answer Below.


Few pieces of American literature have had the social impact of the book that was published in the United States on this date in 1885, a full three months after its release in England.  Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn largely takes place in the south before the Civil War, and describes the adventures of a boy trying to help a runaway slave get to freedom.  Twain's use of coarse, often offensive, language in telling his story surrounded the book in controversy both upon its release in the 19th century and today, putting it on the list of banned books by some communities, although it is widely considered an anti-racist novel that describes a specific moment in time.  People tend either to love or hate this novel; however, it is impossible to dismiss its impact on our culture.    

Robert Phillip Hanssen was an agent for the FBI for twenty-five years.  He joined in 1976, but within three years he was selling American secrets to the Soviet Union.  This was at the height of the Cold War, which created tensions between the two countries that many feared would turn hot.  It is difficult to accurately determine the extent of the damage Hanssen did for the FBI and the USA for the next twenty-two years, although there can be little doubt that his betrayal of America caused the deaths of some of our other agents around the world.  Aldrich Ames was another American traitor selling secrets to the Soviets, and employed by the CIA, who worked with Hanssen to maintain their secrets until both men were eventually caught.  We can take some comfort knowing that Hanssen's capture and exposure on this day in 2001 ensured that he would be out of circulation.  He will be living the remainder of his life in a high-security prison in Colorado, a traitor to his country.


Charles Lewis Tiffany established the highly-prestigious Tiffany & Company in 1837, associating his name with quality jewelry.  His son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, served to take his father's success to the next level.  Born on this day in 1848, the junior Tiffany's interests were not in jewelry but in stained glass.  He became internationally known for the beauty and quality of his glass, which is still regarded as the benchmark against which most stained glass is compared to this day.

A short 110 years after Louis Comfort Tiffany entered this world, Dennis DeYoung entered the world in a suburb of Chicago.  He formed a band with his schoolmates when he was thirteen that eventually morphed into Styx.  The rock band became famous with their number one song "Babe," released in 1979, and they stayed in the spotlight through much of the 1980s.  They are still very much around, and can occasionally be found on tour, so keep your eye on your local concert listings!

Color is to the eye what music is to the ear. - Louis Comfort Tiffany

Answer:  b)  Frederick Joseph Eugene DeKleist