“…a sunny faced, natural child without the least trace of spoiling by all the attention he has received.” (Davenport Sunday Democrat, 15Sept1895, page 1)
Born in 1890 to parents Jacob and Grace Rueter, Davenport’s curly haired charmer Florizel Reuter was already musically and intellectually impressive at age five, when he was invited to study in Chicago, Illinois with Max Bendix, concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Bendix is said to have procured an especially small violin so that Florizel’s diminutive hands could master the instrument. Florizel was a protégé of Lyman J. Gage, who hosted a Davenport reception in Florizel’s honor in June of 1895, and was no doubt responsible for little Florizel’s appearances in the White House performing for President and Mrs. McKinley in 1899 and again for Theodore Roosevelt several years later.
“The exact future of this phenomenon cannot be predicted. He seems to be prematurely bright in all things for a boy of his years, and in the realm of harmony he is a wonderful genius.” (Davenport Sunday Democrat, 15Sept1895, page 1)
The precocious Reuter went on to study and perform extensively in Europe. The 1949 Davenport Daily Times reported that Florizel was applauded by kings, knighted by the Romanian throne, impoverished by war and left with only a wife and two valuable violins, an Obici and a Maggini valued at $25,000.
These are just two of the many images in our J. B. Hostetler Photograph Collection; over 10,000 of these glass plate negatives have been re-sleeved and researched. All the negatives are searchable by name on our website, and images are being scanned and posted regularly on the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive. So if you had family in our area at the turn of the twentieth century, or you’re interested in looking through windows to the past, try it out!