Robert Klotz

Robert Klotz (1819-1895)

Governor Reeder's "Businessman"

[Jack Sterling,]

Robert Klotz, was born in Northampton, Pennsylvania in 1819 and received only a sketchy education in country schools. He settled in Mauch Chunk, now called Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. He was an ambitious young man and was elected the first Register and Recorder of the newly formed Carbon County at age 24. In 1846 he enlisted for the Mexican war as lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and rose to adjutant of the regiment under Colonel John W. Geary, later Governor of Kansas Territory. The regiment was active in a number of engagements and Klotz was honorably mentioned at the second battle of Cerro Gordo. On his return home he was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature. [ Mathews & Hungerford, Counties, 708]

Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder was a neighbor from Easton, Pennsylvania and in October 1854 Klotz joined Reeder and his home state friends on Reeder's first trip to the Territory. Klotz was robbed of all his money, about $700, on the steamboat while waiting to depart St. Louis. Returning from dinner, Klotz saw two men in the hallway moving rapidly away from his room. He ran ashore to the nearby police station and a dozen policemen soon ran "out in every direction" but "the birds had flown." His fellow passengers passed the hat to make up the amount Klotz had lost. [Hutter, Scenes 312ff.]

Klotz and other Reeder friends went on to found the new town of Pawnee, near Ft. Riley, in 1855. Klotz was elected president of the building association and began building the capitol building and his hotel for the many visitors expected. [Adams, Capitals, 331ff.] When the capital was relocated, Pawnee fell into ruins and most of the buildings were reassembled four miles away at Ogden. The logs from Klotz' two-story hotel were hooked and drug down to the new town. Klotz visited Ogden in the winter of 1856 and was remembered as "Reeder's businessman" and as a "jolly gentleman" who "had notions of legislation," organizing a mock legislature for the entertainment of the town. [Shindler, First Capital, 331]

The First Roller Coaster:Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway 1872-1929

Built to bring coal from the mines to Klotz's home town, the line soon attracted 35,000 thrill-seeking passengers each year.

[Adam Sandy,]

Klotz was elected to the Topeka Constitutional Convention. W. A. Phillips remembered Klotz as a man with "reddish hair and whiskers" which circled "his good-humored face like a flame of fire." He had "a happy faculty for laughing at himself" which "spread like a contagion when he rose to speak." Klotz did not make long speeches, but occasionally rose "with a sharp or sarcastic question," speaking whenever he "fancied anything wrong was about to occur." [Phillips, Conquest, 133] Nominated for United States Senator in the 1856 Topeka Legislature, Klotz only received two votes losing to Reeder. [Goodin, Topeka Movement, 206] Governor Robinson appointed Klotz as Secretary of State in March 1856 replacing the absent Phillip C. Schuyler. . [Goodin, Topeka Movement, 172] He was a member of the "Committee of Safety" and appointed Brigadier General of the Free-State Militia.

He went back east in 1857, and in 1859 was elected treasurer of Carbon County. During the Civil War, he was made colonel of the 19th Pennsylvania Regiment. He saw action at the Battle of Chambersburg in 1864. He was later a trustee of Lehigh University, on the board of Laflin & Rand Powder Company and an officer of the National Association of Mexican Volunteers. A life-long Democrat, Klotz was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1879 by a close margin over Republican and Greenback candidates but was more easily reelected in 1881. He served on the Mines and Mining Committee and on the District of Columbia Committee, where he gained a reputation as a practical and hard-working member. He offered a number of bills benefiting veterans of the Mexican and Civil Wars. He died in Mauch Chunk in 1895. [ Mathews & Hungerford, Counties, 709]

Charles Clark