Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Reinhart Legacy, Part I

Also, see ... Part 2, Commercial Buildings    Part 3, Churches
Part 4, Theresa's Scrapbook

INTRODUCTION. Way back on October 8, 2007, I posted a "Preview..." of a larger article yet to come, giving several pics and some clues about a particular Oklahoma City family and the legacy left by a couple of its members, without further identification. I said then that, "All this, and much more, will be shortly revealed!"

Now, more than 7 months later, here I am, late as usual! After that October 2007 post, I quickly proceeded to get caught up with the Oklahoma Centennial and quite a number of other things, e.g., the Sonics situation and 1st National Center, and I also had to focus on getting the Arcadia Images of America: Springlake Amusement Park book done. Now, at long last, I resume the project begun 7 months back ... The Reinhart Legacy, of which this Part 1. That legacy is quite vast and I'm not sure how many separate articles will be needed for it to be complete, but, beyond this, there are 3 other articles There is just that much to show and tell.

But, first things first. Before I get engrossed with this family's detail, I need to once again give credit where it's due ... to Norman Thompson, a huge benefactor of other articles here (e.g., Springlake Amusement Park and The Leo Sanders Collection). Norman is a member of this family, he being a great nephew of Martin and a great grandson of John Martin, Martin and Theresa's father, both shown below. I told him that I would like to take a photo of him, but, he said, nothin' doin'! But, he did give me this clipping from a May 11, 1948, Oklahoma City Times article, instead:

Norman Thompson In A Drainage Pipe

Norman said that, although the image was indeed him in a drainage pipe, the caption under the photo was wholly contrived by the newspaper person who asked him to get inside the pipe for a good photo-op -- Norman wasn't seeking shelter from the rain at all! Norman supplied me with photos and heirlooms from the Reinhart side of his family ... he thought I'd be mainly interested in his great uncle, Martin John Reinhart, but, in fact, I was equally and wholly enchanted by the journal kept by Martin's sister, Theresa Reinhart, during her teenage years in the mid-1910s. Doug Dawgz promise is that you will be, too, in a later Reinhart article!

In the "Preview" post, the "builder" was identified generally as being he who built a heck of a lot of buildings in Oklahoma City, many of which are still standing (e.g., 100 Park Avenue and Plaza Court). The name of that contractor is Martin John Reinhart, principal mover and shaker in the Reinhart & Donovan Construction Company.

Martin John Reinhart
(in this article, click on images for larger views)

Some of the Buildings Associated With Martin Reinhart

The second Reinhart family member generally identified in the Preview post was a teenager growing up in Oklahoma City in its early days. This child's name is Theresa Reinhart, Martin's youngest sister (of four), 17 years younger than Martin:

A Family Picnic on January 14, 1914
Theresa is probably 3rd from the left

A Closer View

A collage of some items in her legacy is shown below:

A Few Items Contained in Theresa's High School Journal

THE FAMILY. Although the focus of this series of articles is on Martin and Theresa, brother and sister, some family background is in order. Norman advises that,
The first Reinhart of this family came to the USA from Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, because of persecution against Catholics. They purchased a farm in Peoria, Illinois, where they manufactured bricks. John Reinhart inherited the farm and soon discovered coal. In 1880 he married and moved to Storm Lake, Iowa. He purchased some large farms and opened a hardware store.
I can't identify those in the photograph below of the Storm Lake hardware store, but maybe Norman will chime in and help us out!

Since the father, John Martin, and the son, Martin John, have such similar names, it's easy to get confused (as, sometimes, articles in the Oklahoman did when referencing Martin). Henceforth, when referencing the patriarchal "father," I'll call him, "John," and when referencing his son, I'll call him, "Martin." So, let's get the family tree straight for clarity. Martin and Theresas' parents were John Martin and Amelia Reinhart, and a "map" of their family tree is this:

Martin and his family were the first to migrate to Oklahoma City, in 1907 or 1908. Before moving, Martin was an engineering instructor at Iowa State University and he came to Oklahoma City with a new reinforced concrete process which would, of course, be invaluable in the construction company that he would come to lead and in the building of a new American city and in which process Rinehart & Donovan contributed greatly.

Two years later, in 1910, Martin's parents, John and Amelia, and Martin's sibling moved to Oklahoma City. It was from John's capital that the company Reinhart & Donovan would be formed, with son Martin as its principal leader. I'll get into that more in Part 2, not yet written.

Martin did not live in either of his parent's Oklahoma City homes, but Martin's sister, Theresa, did. The 1st home of John and Amelia was at 1100 NW 13th (now a vacant lot just west of Classen), and in 1918, they moved to their 2nd and last home at 515 N.W. 13th Street, both shown below:

1100 N.W. 13th

A recent photo of 515 NW 13th Street

Today, the 2nd home is owned by lawyer Elaine Schuster, Doug Dawgz law school classmate and friend, and you will see a few inside pics of this home in a later Reinhart article which focuses on Theresa.

As for Martin and his family, they eventually lived at 601 NW 33rd, shown in the County Assessor's 2004 photograph below:

I'll wrap up this introductory Reinhart article by showing a photo of the Reinhart family in 1942 when Norman Thompson (in the back row, 3rd from the left) was just a babe in his daddy's arms:

Same photo but with names imposed

A great amount of detail about Martin & Theresas' contribution to Oklahoma City history will appear in subsequent Reinhart Legacy posts. Martin's contribution is more "physical" -- buildings he built and the like -- while Theresa's is every bit as powerful because it sees, and shows, Oklahoma City through the eyes of a child growing up during the 1910s and thus provides a rare historic glimpse of our town -- not a "look back" as we ordinarily do, but a "look now" through Theresa's eyes which takes us back in time.

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Anonymous said...

The information you have given is excellent. I will add it to the history of the Reinhart family that came from Europe. The original family is from Kickapoo (Peoria), Illinois. The family chart is as follows:

Peoria, 1870 census (Kickapoo)
Reinhart Barbara 34 Bavaria
Reinhart Martin 37 France

Reinhart John 11 M W Illinois
Reinhart Josephine 9 F W Illinois
Reinhart Theresa 7 F W Illinois
Reinhart Anthony 5 F W Illinois
Reinhart Martin 3 M W Illinois
Reinhart Frank 3 M W Illinois

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me at jreinhart1@cox.net

Doug Dawg said...

Excellent, jreinhart1! I've still not finished the Reinhart series but will get to it in the next few months. The main undone parts are to finish Martin's part by focusing on some of the churches he built and to focus on Theresa Reinhart to show old Oklahoma City through the eyes of a teenage girl.