H.N. Reubelt Helped Turn J-Town Into a Progressive City
Writer / Beth Wilder, Director
Jeffersontown Historical Museum
The early 1900s were a time of growth for Jeffersontown, led by a handful of extremely civic-minded personalities – Henry Nicholas Reubelt was one of those responsible for helping shape our town into a more progressive city. As was the case with most of Jeffersontown’s leading citizens at the time, Reubelt was a well-rounded individual, making his mark in many endeavors related to the advancement of the place he called home.
Reubelt was a well-educated man, having attended the State University of Indiana and Princeton University, where he took a course in theology, receiving a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. He did not publicize those achievements, however, “preferring to be known simply as a good citizen.”
He was married to Julia Geiger Bryan, daughter of William Frederick Bryan and Frances Jane Oldham, descendants of some of the area’s oldest families. Julia herself was well-known and loved by the people of Jeffersontown. The Hunsinger family even named one of their children after her. Henry and Julia lived in the large brick house at the corner of Galene Drive and College Street, which is now occupied by Vest Media, Planning & Buying.
Henry Reubelt was greatly admired by the local residents, who knew him quite well through his involvement in so many aspects of the town. He was a founder of the Jefferson County Bank, which was organized in 1904 and housed in the building with the corner entrance, which currently stands next to Jeffersontown City Hall on Watterson Trail. The bank was considered a “splendid institution,” and one of the best in Jefferson County. Reubelt, as president of the bank, was “thoroughly acquainted with every detail of the work” and “courteous to all alike” attracting patronage from “all classes of people.”
Reubelt was a well-known orator, often preaching at the Jeffersontown Christian Church. He was asked to give lectures and speeches on behalf
of everything from banking associations to such happenings as the 1909 dedication of the Carnegie Library in Lawrenceburg, where he was principal speaker.
Reubelt loved books, and was even known to converse about the writings of various authors with Henry Watterson. Upon Watterson’s death, Reubelt recalled “friendly bickerings” with him over their favorite authors. The December 23, 1921 Courier-Journal quoted Reubelt as saying that Watterson would “stick his head into my door, and if everything was clear we would sneak off for a long talk.”
He hated narrow-mindedness and believed that books taught men to form opinions of their own and to respect the opinions of others. It is little wonder that his wife was instrumental in the 1906 organization of the Current Events Club, which is the oldest continuously running club in Jefferson County. The club was formed for “the mental improvement of its members in literature, art, science and the vital interests of the day” and was responsible for the establishment of the first library in Jeffersontown in 1911.
H.N. Reubelt, according to those who knew him, was “universally beloved, respected and esteemed.” He was an outstanding figure in Jeffersontown, and the residents of Jeffersontown were proud to have him living in their midst and representing them on so many occasions.