Born Nov. 23, 1846 in Germany, he came to Fort Smith with the family of his father, Casper Reutzel two years later. His first business experience was working wIt a mercantile house on North Second Street (then Washington Street). When the business closed and moved north with the Civil War, he was recommended to the federal quartermaster, Union troops having retaken the fort. Reutzel was made chief clerk and had his office in the fort's commissary building. He had charge of the issuance of commissary supplies to soldiers and refugees.
After the war ended, Reutzel formed a partnership with C.F. Bocquin. Bocquin & Reutzel "were the leading merchants, the largest cotton buyers and agents for several of the steamboat lines." While occupying a building on Garrison Avenue, they laid the first concrete sidewalk in Fort Smith.
Seeking to cash in on a building boom in Fort Smith in 1887, the firm gave up the mercantile business and devoted its entire time to construction and to real estate investment. Bocquin & Reutzel also was awarded the contract for paving Garrison Avenue with brick. It furnished the brick from its own plant on Towson Avenue. The boom eventually collapsed and the firm was dissolved.
With its dissolution, Reutzel took on a career as an independent contractor, doing sidewalk and gutter work and providing supplies for such work.
He was active in the social life of the city until a few years before his death when he began to suffer from "locomotor ataxia." Henry Reutzel was a prominent and highly ranked Mason and a member of the Presbyterian church.
He made his home with Sophia Kannady until her death then secured a room with Mrs. Jennie Dillard at 117 N. Eighth St.
He died January 1913 at the age of 66. He was buried at Oak Cemetery. His brothers were John and Charles. His sisters were Mrs. Charles Bracht and Mrs. Annie Kirschke.
|Source: "Henry Reutzel, Pioneer Citizen, Passed Away After A Busy Life," Fort Smith Times Record, Jan. 8, 1913, p. 8.