18 August 1913: In 1913 Smith Street formed the western boundary of the downtown district and Prairie ended there rather than continuing on across Buffalo Bayou and into 6th Ward as it would eventually do. Remote from from the usual centers of commercial activity, it was an ideal location for a laundry enterprise such as Model Laundry which utilized flammable solvents for the dry-cleaning processes. The fleet of horse-drawn delivery vehicles which fanned out across all parts of the city to deliver cleaned and dyed dry goods were another reason to situate off the beaten pathways. The neighborhood then consisted of rooming houses, the one visible to the left was run by Houston T. Scott, a person of color who probably rented only to African-Americans.
19 June 2013: The garage building filling the northern face of the block here is the Alley Theatre Center built in 1984 by Gerald Hines Interests as a daytime 1000 car parking garage for the 56 story Republic Bank Center seen here to the far right, as well as theater parking at night. The top three floors house rehearsal rooms and office space for the Alley Theatre, seen here behind the garage occupying the south half of the block. The Gus S. Wortham Theater Center, built in 1987 across Smith Street to the right of the garage, overarches Prairie Street which penetrates through the building and on across Buffalo Bayou to form the eastern stretches of Memorial Drive. This breezeway offers a fast getaway for patrons of the arts in a rush to return home. For others Biraporetti’s restaurant further left on Prairie Street is a frequent theater-goer’s post-performance stopping point.
Postmarked: 18 August 1913; Houston, Texas
To: Mr. Glad Kirk,
Message: Dear Friend:-
Recd. your card. We lost in the League contest, so we gave the “Reds” a party on the lawn of the church last night. We thought we were going to win as we were ahead, but they went to work & beat us. Are you still in the P. C. Ex. I have dropped out. Your friend
Gus Dreyling was the owner-operator of Model Laundry when this postcard was mailed in 1913. The facility had recently moved from its 1907 location at 1009-1011 Prairie between Main and Fannin, where Gus operated the business in partnership with L. Albert Hamburger. The new location further west at 602-606 Prairie allowed larger quarters somewhat removed from heavily travelled commercial neighborhoods. Model Laundry employed a fleet of horse-drawn delivery vehicles and utilized flammable solvents in its dry cleaning operations, so it was important to be situated as far from downtown office spaces as was practical. The fleet of horse-drawn delivery vehicles which fanned out across all parts of the city to deliver cleaned and dyed dry goods were another reason to situate off the beaten pathways.
Gus Dreyling was a first generation American on his father’s side, and second on his mother’s, with an ancestry firmly German. In about 1899 he married Blanche Brown Settegast, another first generation American, daughter of William Joseph Settegast and Annie Elizabeth Scholibo, both immigrants from Germany. Blanche’s brother was Julius Joseph Settegast, who himself married Melanie Binz from yet another family of German ancestry, the family of Jacob Binz. With this marriage Gus allied his family with some of the most successful businessmen of Houston.
The Settegast family was founded by Settegast brothers, William and Julius, sons of Dr. Maria Nicolas Stettegast, an early agent for the official German interests who settled Fredericksburg in the mid-19th Century. The boys were orphaned at an early age, and grew up in Houston and apprenticed first as butchers. By the early 20th Century, they were in the livery business, and William Joseph Settegast’s sons took advantage of Houston’s active economy and soon were very successful businessmen. Binz & Settegast, was a real estate company quartered in the Binz Building. Cattle-raising was the enterprise of C. S. Settegast & Co., and much of Houston’s embalming and burial was done by Settegast & Kopf. Charles Stewart Settegast was president of C. S. Settegast & Co. His brother Charles Edward Settegast was secretary-treasurer of Settegast & Kopf and secretary of the German Society Cemetery. The most successful of the brothers was Jules J. Settegast Jr. who was involved in his brothers’ companies as well as Waterman Car Wheel & Foundry Co. and Houston Engineering and Machine Co.
In 1900 Gus Dreyling, Jr., and his wife lived in a sprawling house at Baby 2218 with Edward and Charles Settegast and their sisters and families totaling 14 family members. At that time Gus Dreyling’s laundry was at 1009-1011 Prairie between Main and Fannin, and Settegast-Kopf, the embalming enterprise run by the Settegasts and John L. Knopf, was in the same block. Not far from those two businesses was the Binz Building at Texas and Main, the headquarters of Binz & Settegast, real estate agents, presided over by Arthur J. Binz and Julius Joseph Settegast. Arthur was also a principal in Jennie Oil Co. and the secretary-treasurer of Julius Settegast’s Waterman Car Wheel and Foundry Co. Arthur’s father, Jacob Binz, a German immigrant who had built his fortune in Chicago, built the first skyscraper in Houston in 1898 and named it after himself. It was a handsome 6 story building, the epitome of modern business architecture when it was constructed.
The Dreyling family came to Texas with the immigration of Gustave Dreyling, Sr., born in Werxhausen, Hannover in the Rhineland Palatinate. He left Bremen in May 1856 and arrived in Galveston on 10 June 1856. He was a barber by training, an occupation h offered some flexibility in where he chose to work. He soon moved about 100 miles southwest to Matagorda where the Colorado River empties into The Gulf of Mexico. In 1859 he married Theresa Gracy Freeman, daughter of Joseph and Rowena Freeman, themselves also German immigrants. Gustave and Theresa had a daughter Emma Theresa in 1861, but her mother died when she was an infant. In the Civil War Gustave served as a private in Brown’s Cavalry in the defense of Fort Esperanza at the confluence of Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There Pass Cavalo was the shipping access to Indianola, at the time rival to Galveston in number of citizens and importance of commerce on the Gulf Coast.
Gustave married again, his second wife was Annie Maax, daughter of John and Louisa Maax, German immigrants as well, then living at Indianola. In the 1870’s coastal communities were frequently battered by hurricanes, and in 1875 Indianola was hit by a strong hurricane which killed 400 citizens and caused great destruction. This storm was followed in 1886 by an even worse storm which basically obliterated the town. Of course, the worst storm of all was the 1900 Galveston hurricane which caused the death of more than 6,000 residents, still the worst disaster to affect an American city.
Gustave was most likely primarily German-speaking, but no doubt was learning English fast with the help of his customers in the barber’s chair. He moved to Galveston before 1870, and he and Annie had children: Louis G. (1868), Susie (1870), Max Strauss (1871), Gus, Jr. (1875), and Leo (1878). By 1880 the family was in Houston where the children grew up. Emma Theresa married Theodore Dreyling, himself also from Germany, but from a different area and family than Gustave. The Dreyling, Settegast, and Binz families were Catholic, most of them attending Annunciation Catholic Church on Texas Avenue.
The Dreyling family members followed diverse career paths. Gustave Dreyling, Jr. owned Model Laundry, while his brother Louis followed his father’s occupation as barber. Max operated a billiard parlor at 1711 Caroline until he took a job for the railroad. Theodore and Emma ran a grocery store on Pease Street. Glenwood Cemetery is the final resting place for Gustave’s descendants, except for Theodore’s family which is in the adjacent German Cemetery (now Washington Cemetery): Emma (1861-1943), Theodore (1856-1940). The Dreyling family plot in Glenwood holds Gustave, Sr. (1834-1902), Annie (1849-1885) and their children: Louis (1868-1921), Max (1871-1935); Gus, Jr. (1875-1925) and Blanche (1878-1957) are in the Binz-Settegast family plot.