El Paso Pioneer: Samuel Schutz

The Pioneer Association of El Paso was formed in 1904 by men who had come to the city before 1900. Among its ranks were builders, merchants, traders, lawyers, farmers, miners and others who came west to make a new life or find their fortune.

Some of the records of the Pioneer Association are housed at the El Paso County Historical Society. One of the items in the collection is a large, leather bound book containing first hand accounts of the lives of those pioneers.

This is the story of Samuel Schutz

Born at Wunnenberg, Westphalia on the 4th day of January 1828
Came to El Paso County, Texas, 1854
Died in El Paso on the 2nd day of March 1906
Pioneer Association Biographical Book, page 47

Samuel Shutz

Samuel Schutz was born Jan. 4, 1828 at Wunnenberg, Westphalia. After reaching and passing his majority, he came to the United States as a young man, penniless, but determined to win a fortune in the New World. After spending a year or so in the metropolis, Mr. Schutz turned his face to the South, with no objective point in view, but with an eye out for any place that seemed to offer good opportunities for a young man with no capital but health, and a willingness to work. Earning his sustenance as he went he continued to press southward & westward, until at the expiration of two years traveling & working, he found himself in San Antonio in the year 1852. He spent two years in that city, where he save some money, and then decided to press farther westward.

In the year that he landed in El Paso, then a small adobe village of only a few hundred people & designated on the Map as Franklin, Texas. He opened up a mercantile business on San Francisco St. on the very spot where, at the time of his death he had a handsome residence, in which he breathed his last. Possessed of business ability he began to prosper and from that time on, with the exception of three years spent in New York, until about ten years ago, when he retired from active mercantile pursuits, he was the leading businessman of El Paso.

He had great faith in the future of San Francisco St. and added to his holdings on his thoroughfare until he became possessed of a block of the best property on the street. After the railroads came to El Paso, his faith in San Francisco St. increased and he steadfastly maintained that this street would, some day, become one of the city’s principal business thoroughfares. As a striking example of the irony of fate he died just as his dreams were about to be realized, for since the building of the Union Depot, San Francisco St. property has become among the most valuable in the city.

Mr. Schutz was also the founder of the first street railway system that El Paso had, the old mule line which traversed two or three streets & continued across the river. He was among those who helped to bring the electric line to the city. Samuel Schutz was a public spirited man. He was a supporter of every cause that had for its advancement the progress of El Paso. Mr. Schutz was a Mason & also one of the first members of the Pioneer organization. He left a widow & nine children.

The funeral service took place on Sunday Mar. 4 Rabbi Martin Zielonka officiating. The Pioneers also conducting a portion of the ceremonies.
Mr. Schutz was the second oldest pioneer in virtue of residence.

(A news clipping from the El Paso Times, December 4, 1931)


The eyes of Mrs. Berthold Spitz, daughter of Samuel Schutz, one of El Paso’s pioneers, grew moist yesterday when she talked of her pioneer father who arrived in El Paso 30 years before the railroads. Ms. Spitz, wife of the postmaster at Albuquerque, is vising in El Paso.
Her pioneer father was one year in making the journey from New York to El Paso. He had to work some of the time en route in order to get money to continue. When he could get a horse, Mr. Schutz rode. When he couldn’t, he walked. Those were the days when travelers had to have a military escort.


El Paso was Franklin when Mr. Schutz arrived in 1852. The townsite wasn’t much to look at then. There were 19 American men here, including Mr. Schutz.
“From the first day,” Mrs. Spitz said, “father had great faith in El Paso. He said it was the real gateway to Mexico and one day it would be a wonderful city.”
“Father was the originator of the union depot plan. He wanted to see an electric street car running to the station. The night the line was completed and formally opened, he died. He did not get to see the street car make the run.”

Mr. Schutz first was in the wholesale grocery business. His home and store were at North Santa Fe and San Francisco streets. The store was on the ground floor and the family home on the second. Mr. Schutz installed El Paso’s first theater by using the rear part of the two-story building. A stairway on the outside of the building led up to the theater. Later, Mr. Schutz transformed the theater part in to apartments. Mrs. Spitz said these were the first apartments in El Paso.

The first home, store and theater combination burned; Mr. Schutz erected a two-story home. Mrs. Spitz said her mother, who is also dead, told her this was the first brick house to be put up in El Paso.

Mr. Schutz was in the furniture business on the site of the former Hoyt furniture company, North El Paso and San Francisco streets. He sold this business to George L. Hoyt, pioneer El Paso furniture dealer.

Mr. Schutz accumulated valuable property here, much of which still belongs to his estate. Dr. J.D. McGregor purchased the Schutz homesite property, known now as the Central storage garage location. The old adobe city jail was at the rear of the property.

Mrs. Spitz was born in El Paso. The exercises of the class with which she graduated were held in the old Myar’s Opera house on South El Paso street. This theater was razed by fire.

Mrs. Spitz is stopping at Hilton Hotel.

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.