While progress has replaced many of Naperville’s earliest structures, not only does George Reuss’s business building still stand but so does his home. And both are fine monuments to his maxim that "industry and economy lead to wealth."
Trained as a tailor, Reuss left Bavaria in 1854, remaining for a time in New York until moving west to St. Charles, Illinois. Mathias and Gertrude Krapf, a family he knew from back home, also settled in St. Charles, bringing with them their daughter who was an old school friend of George’s. In 1856, Reuss married Anna Maria Krapf, moved to Naperville, and started a store with “a Mr. Dollinger.” This is possibly Franz “Frank” Dollinger as he also lived in St. Charles for a time and was a member of Euclid Lodge, the Masonic organization in Naperville. The partnership didn’t last long, however, and they split up the stock to go their separate ways.
Now in his twenties, Reuss operated a clothier’s shop which sold men’s furnishings and utilized his tailor training. His obituary states that while Reuss was “a stern man, he was eminently just and demanded much more of himself than he did of anyone else” and his business seems to have flourished. In the 1860s, Reuss hired local contractor, Levi Shafer, to erect a fine clothing shop on the corner of Washington and Jefferson. In addition to being a successful builder, Shafer is known for loaning his gun to Marcellus Jones who is said to have fired the first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg with it.
Reuss’s good reputation and sturdy building impressed the farmers and townsfolk who were his customers and they started asking him to hold their money. So the clothier became a banker, launching the Bank of Naperville in 1886. Isaac Murray, brother to the Ruth that I wrote about in my first book
, was vice president of the bank.
George installed a vault and added another room and rebuilt the entrance with elegant red granite to better reflect the change from tailor to bank. Thes