University of Texas
December 23, 1975–January 23, 1926
Note: It appears that Fritz was a junior, therefore I will refer to him as Fritz and his father as Fritz Sr when the reader might be confused.
Fritz Reichmann was born December 23, 1875, to Johann Friedrich "Fritz" (1850–1880) and Ellen Marie Adolphine Schumann (1856–1943) Reichmann in in Austin, Texas. Johann, shown at right in a uniform, was born in Kassel, Germany. He had come to New York City in 1866, following his brother, who was in the theater business. He moved to Austin and in an 1872 Austin Directory, he was a clerk with Walter Tips & Co, a hardware merchant at Congress Avenue b Bois d’Arc and Hickory Street. His grandnephew, Phil Sterzing says he was told that Fritz Sr. became the manager of the Millett's Opera House. This ad for the house contains his name.
Sterzing also reported that Fritz Sr. was a member of the Austin City Council. Minutes from the November 18, 1879 council meeting confirms his information. Tragically Fritz Sr. died shortly after his election.
Fritz Sr. died December 25, 1880, in Austin. His grandnephew, Phil Sterzing, says it occured in Austin after his wife gave him a new horse as a gift and he went for a buggy ride. The horse bolted and fearing a crash, he jump from the buggy, breaking his neck. The back of the photo of him say it occured at San Jacinto and 16th street. He was only 30. His son, Fritz, would have been five years old.
On January 3, 1881, one week after Fritz's death the City Council of Austin met and adopted the following resolution:
The following resolutions were read received and on motion, adopted.
Austin Texas January 3rd, 1881
Since last we met, death has come amongst us and stricken down one of our number—respected, honored, and esteemed Fritz Reichmann, Alderman of the Seventh Ward, who so lately “went in and out among us” in the strength of vigorous manhood, the admiration of his friends, the pride of his constituents and the idol of his family is no more. And through his vacant seat within this bar is a forcible reminder that there is one absent who will never again meet with and assist us in our councils. Still such was the suddenness of his demise that shocked by the blow, we scarcely realize that it is the work of death.
As an officer of the city, Alderman Reichmann was inflexibly devoted to duty and its interests. As a citizen he was public spirited and enterprising, and as a friend he was fine and steadfast.
As associate in our municipal government, as citizen and as friend, it is therefore meet and proper that we should pause to bear testimony to
his worth and pay tribute to his memory; to this end, therefore be it
Resolved– That in the death of Fritz Reichmann, late alderman from the Seventh Ward, the city of Austin has lost a valuable representative of our council board and a patriotic citizen.
Resolved that it is our pleasure to bear testimony to the fact that his career as an officer was ever characterized by fidelity to duty while his intercourse with and his bearing towards us always described the courtesy of the gentleman.
Resolved that to his stricken household we tender our sincerest sympathy.
Resolved that a copy of this resolution be spread upon the minutes of the council and one (copy) under the seal of the city, signed by his honor, the mayor, to be attested and forwarded by the city clerk to the family of the deceased.
Fritz's mother, Ellen Marie was born in Round Top, Texas, on May 3, 1856. Fritz had two sisters, they were Emma Reichmann Rogers (1874–1915), and Ellen Martha Reichmann Kuehne (1877–1963). Ellen married Water F. Kuehne (1874–1956).
Ellen, Fritz's mother apparently taught German as a source of income following the death of her husband. Below is an advertisement that appeared in the June 1890 Austin American-Statesman.
Fritz Reichmann's Education
Fritz was a student at Austin High School in Austin, Texas, in 1892 and was valedictorian.
In 1894, he was on the Ball committee at UT.
In 1896, Fritz Reichmann was in the University of Texas Engineering Department as a student. He graduated that year with a BS
Above is a photo of the graduating class of 1896. It is from the University of Texas Cactus yearbook. Fritz is in the bottom left quadrant. He is top left of the four men, hair parted in the middle with a very high collor. He is looking to our right.
At 1897 June meeting, the regents approved appointment of faculty member, Edwin Fitch Northrup, from “Associate Professor of Physics to Associate Professor of Physics [sic].” At the December regents meeting, Professor Northrup formally resigned, effective immediately. He moved to Princeton. A tutor, Fritz Reichmann, was placed in charge until William Mather arrived. Reichmann had served as chair since October when Northrup first announced his resignation. Reichmann also had degrees in civil and electrical engineering. His UT master's thesis, completed in 1897, was entitled, Ohm's Law.
In 1900 Census, Fritz was boarding in Austin with the Rogers family. He is listed as a teacher.
In 1900, the University of Chicago yearbook listed him as a member of The Southern Club. He was appointed a Fellow in Physics for the 1899-1900 school year.
Fritz earned a PhD at the University of Chicago in 1901; his dissertation was entitled, The Capacity of Condensers at Small Distances.
While at the University of Chicago he was an Assistant in Manual Training at the Morgan Park Academy which was a high school run by the University of Chicago.
Marriage of Fritz and Edith Cheatham
Fritz and E. Edith Cheatham were married in Norfolk, VA, on June 18, 1902. Edith's parents were Rev. Henry Clay and Emma Dennis Llewllyn Cheatham. Rev. Cheatham was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church-South. Edith was born in July 3, 1876. in Richmond, VA. Edith had received an A. M. degree in mathematics in 1896 from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, VA. Her sister, Blanche Edna Cheatham (1878–1968) (In 1938, Edna married James Lee Branton (1889–1953)), had entered RMWC in 1893 and also received a degree from Randolph-Macon in physics in 1896. Edith remained at Randolph-Macon as a teacher of mathematics from 1896–1898. She next attended the University of Chicago studying mathematice during 1899-1900. In 1901 she was an assistant in mathematics at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia. The photo below from the 1901 Longwood yearbook, The Virginian, show "Miss Cheatham" at the left end of the small second row. Edith and Fritz apparently met at the University of Chicago, they are listed in its yearbook in 1901 as members of The Southern Club. Edith taught and was the Head Mistress at the Kimberly School in Montclair, NJ and at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.
Their children were Frances (born Troy, N. Y., Nov. 21, 1905.) and Edith L. Reichmann Light (1908–1973). Edith was married to John Uhrich Light (1901–1950).\
Fritz Reichmann's Professional Career
In 1903, the yearbook, Varia Historia, lists Fritz is an instructor at Adelbert College of Western Reserve University in Cleveland. His favorite book is "Peck's Bad Boy."
In 1906–1911, Fritz was Superintendent of Weights and Measures for the State of New York. He became a champion of regulation of weights and measures in commerce. He spoke at many conferences about how the public was being short changed in its purchases of items that were prices by weight or volume. He wrote many articles and gave many speeches in a language the public could understand. He was quoted in newspapers across the nation. In 1910, he estimated that the citizens of New York City were "Robbed on betwen $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 each year due to inaccurate weights and measures. He encountered much opposition from companies, however in 1912 the governor of New York sign a bill regulating weights and measures. Fritz integrity and commitment are confirmed in the article below.
In the March 28, 1914, copy of the New York Times the following article appeared:
In finding a successor to Dr. FRITZ REICHMANN, State Superintendent of Weights and Measures, Gov. GLYNN need not have looked further than Dr. REICHMANN himself. To that modest gentleman this city, the State and the nation owe a widespread reform of “trade customs” that operated to defraud customers in retail shops everywhere. Mr. JOHN F. FARRELL, whom the Governor has nominated to succeed him, will have to endure trying comparisons.
Dr. REICHMANN’S exhaustive report to Gov. HUGHES and Mayor GAYNOB in March, 1910, which indicated that nearly half of all the scales in this city, two-thirds of all the weights, and more than half of all the measures used by petty tradesmen in their daily sales were fraudulent, started a healthy reaction that was felt in the chief cities of the country. As a result of his efforts an efficient Bureau of Weights and Measures has been established in this city. The State law has been amended, setting up proper standards and requiring that the State Sealer periodically check weights and measures in all the State’s divisions.
In the sale of every and any commodity there shall be written or printed representation of the quantity and quality of the commodity to be delivered, the representation to be readily understandable. A commission shall be established to formulate rules and regulations for markings and tolerances and to decide whether a representation is correct, reasonable, and equitable.
This would make a good uniform law for all the States. Its principle is basic, in that it would assure to every honest retailer that his competitor would not undersell him by the abominable means of short weighiing and measuring and by inferior grading.
In 1906, while in Troy, New York working for W. & L. E. Gurley Corporation, Fritz received a patent (Patent No. 821,745) for a portable balance. The balance could be conveniently folded into a box for travel. The patent can be read here.
The Gurley Company was one of the first companies in the nation to make precision instruments. The company, run by William Gurley and his brother, Lewis Ephraim, were leaders in the field and published a regularly updated manual of instruments and their operations and were engaged in producing military products for the American Civil War, which included "brass fuse-plugs for naval projectiles and an improved type of brass trimming for saddle trees." In the 1960s, the company was acquired by Teledyne Company, and was sold again in 1993 and continues as Gurley Precision Instruments today.
In 1907, the Detroit Free Press rand the following article. Publicity such as this by Fritz Reichmann was responsible for the reform of weights and measures in the country. You will have to zoom your browser to read the text. It is worth doing.
In 1912, the following article appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), May 17, 1912.
In 1915, while in Albany, New York, Fritz received a patent (Patent No. 1,138,687) for an spring-balance scale that compensated for errors due to temperature changes. The patent can be read here.
In 1916, the Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York) ran the following ariticle in their June 8, edition.
FRITZ REICHMANN HERE
HOLDS GOOD POSITION
One of the most interesting men attending the convention of weights and measures officials in Elmira this week, is Dr. Fritz Reichmann, the honorary president of the New York State Association of Scalers of Weights and Measures.
Dr. Reichmann formerly was the state superintendent of weights and measures. He is regarded as an authority on scales of all kinds, weights, etc. It was due to his efforts while in the employ of New York state that the present laws relative to honest measures and weighing were enacted. He also inaugurated a campaign of law enforcement. He has done much to protect the public against frauds in scales and measures.
Although a young man, Dr. Reichmann has achieved many successes in patents, perfecting weighing devices, etc. He also is a former college professor.
Soon after he retired from state work, he became consulting engineer and service department manager for the Fairbanks Scale Company, and he holds that position now. His position is peculiar in many respects because he acts in a capacity of consulting engineer for several companies that make the scales. In this work he makes recommendations to the companies as to what kind of scales they should buy. Such recommendations are made after thorough tests and competitive bids and it is not always the Fairbanks scales that are finally selected. It matters not to Dr. Reichmann what kind of scales are used.
The Fairbanks Company is back of the general movement for honest weights and measures and are supporting Dr. Reichmann for this reason.
In 1917, Fritz published an article in Scientific American entitled "Weighing Apparatus in Industrial Plants Suggestions for the Selection and Maintenanc" SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, March 31, 1917, Volume 83, Issue 2152 supp
The 1917, University of Texas yearbook, has an entry for Fritz: C. E., 96 M. S., 96 Ph D., 01; Phi Gama Delta; Engineering; N. Y. State Supt of Weights and measures, 06-13. Broome and Lafayette Sts. and 717 W, 177th St., New York, N. Y.
In 1918 Fritz worked for Measuregraph Company in Webster Groves, St. Louis County, MO.
In 1920, Fritz, Edith, Frances and Edith were living in Webster Groves, St. Louis County, MO. He is president of a manufacturing company.
In 1922, Fritz was a consulting engineer in Louisville, KY.
Grandnephew Phil Sterzing recalls the family having a transformer business in New Jersey, which Fritz's daughters continued to run long after he died.
Fritz died January 23, 1926, in Pittsburgh, PA of a heart attack. He was 51. The death certificate list his profession as development engineer.
Fritz Reichmann's ashes were returned to Austin and are buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, Texas. Edith died on January 31, 1964 at the age of 87. . She is buried in Restland Memorial Park Cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey.
Ten years after Reichmann's death, this article appeared in the Austin Statesman newspaper.
Weights and Measures Association Sends
Floral Tribute to Mother of Field Expert
One of the first acts of the newly formed Texas Weights and Measures Association was the sending of a floral tribute to Mrs. Ellen Reichmann, 309 East 11th Street, Thursday.
Accompanying the flowers was a note signed by W. S. Bussey, president of the association, which read in part, “In memory of your son, Dr. Fritz Reichmann, to whom the people of the United States owe a debt of gratitude for his work in metrology and the establishment of practical weights and measures administrative control in this country.”
Dr. Reichmann died 11 years ago in Pittsburgh, Pa., at the age of 50. He was a graduate of Austin High School and received his civil engineering and electrical engineering degrees at the university in 1896, taking his master of science degree in 1897. Later he obtained his PhD degree at the University of Chicago, majoring in physics. He made Phi Beta Kappa honors and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta.
After teaching two years at Western Reserve University, Dr. Reichmann entered the field as an expert in weights and measures and was connected in that capacity with several manufacturing firms in the East.
From 1906 to 1913 he was superintendent of weights and measures of New York. Afterward he again filled positions as scale expert but remained identified with the general cause of weights and measures throughout the eastern states.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Carol Griffin, grandniece of Fritz Reichmann for photos and family information Also, his grandnephew, Phil Sterzing, has provided many family details and stories which add much to this history. I appreciate their generous help. Lois Mallory kindly provided transcriptions and typing.
Fritz Reichmann Photo and Document Album
(Many thanks to Carol Griffin for photos below. Carol is a grandneice of Fritz Reichmann)