Fifth Ward Councilman: 1887, 1888; Fifth Ward Alderman: 1900, 1907, 1908, 1909
A son of John Michael and Ann Eliza (_____) Beutell, Huss was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey in 1849. 15-year-old Huss enlisted in the 10th Regiment of New York Infantry (popularly called the “National Zouaves”) in August 1864 and served until his discharge in June 1865. The 1870 U.S. federal census found Huss, a carpenter, living in the household of a stair builder in Poughkeepsie, New York. He married Mary Peterkin about 1874 and the young couple moved to Atlanta in 1876 where Huss worked for the Western & Atlantic Railroad.
By 1882 Huss had established his own firm on Spring Street and employed a dozen men. The Constitution called Huss “Atlanta’s Stair Builder,” noting that “[s]ince coming to Atlanta he has convinced everybody that he is an adept in working and finishing hard wood and in building stairways, and the rapidity with which his field of labor is extending over the south is marvelous.” Examples of his work at that time included the staircase at Emory College’s Seney Hall.
Huss moved his family into their permanent home at 101 West Harris Street (now here at the eastern entrance to Centennial Olympic Park) by 1886. His wife died there in February that year and their young son died there only four months later. He ran for councilman in the fall of 1886 and represented the Fifth Ward in 1887 and 1888 but spent much of his first term plagued by ill health. Huss married Clara Eola Reneau, a daughter of Councilman Olmius Reneau, in the spring of 1888. He ran for reelection that fall, but the Constitution wrote that Huss, a “republican,” would not “get many white votes.” He lost the race and quit politics for several years. He founded the Beutell Manufacturing Company in 1889 which sold “Interior Hardwood Finish, Mantels, Church Work, Artistic Bank and Office Fixtures, Bar and Store Fixtures, [and] Hardwood Lumber.”
He served as president of the Beutell Manufacturing Company until 1899 when he left and organized another firm called “H. M. Beutell.” It was located at the intersection of Bellwood Avenue (now Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway) and the Southern Railroad (here on a 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map; now here near the Bankhead Avenue Bridge).
The 1900 U.S. federal census found Huss living with his wife and five sons. He ran unopposed for city alderman in the fall of 1899 and served in 1900 when he “was welcomed as an old-timer.”
Huss played a small part in the battle between Henry Atkinson and Joel Hurt for electric and streetcar dominance: In the summer of 1900, Hurt—then head of the Atlanta Railway & Power Company—”made statements almost to the charge that [Huss was] controlled by an opposition company,” Atkinson’s Georgia Electric Light Company. The Constitution sided with Hurt, running editorials and cartoons against Huss, and he lost reelection that fall.
He reentered the political arena as the Alderman for the Fifth Ward in 1907, 1908, and 1909. He actively opposed prohibition, asserting that it would “depress the growth of the city,” and was “most heartily in favor of making war on mosquitoes” with funding to the city’s health department.
The 1910 U.S. federal census located Huss at the same address on West Harris Street with his wife, children, cousin, and cook. He retired from business and spent his final years at his “country house” in Norcross, Georgia. He was a member of the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard in May 1913 when that organization was received by President Woodrow Wilson at the White House. Huss might have been the only former Union soldier among the members.
He died at an Atlanta hospital in February 1919 “after a lingering illness.”
Huss and both of his wives are buried at Westview Cemetery. He and Mary (Peterkin) Beutell were the parents of three sons: John P. “Jack” Beutell (1878–1961), a carpenter who lived in Phoenix, Arizona; Huss Melanchthon Beutell, Jr. (1883–1956), a well-known architect in Texas; and Roscoe Matthew Beutell (1885–1886), an infant who died shortly after his mother’s death. Huss, Sr. and his second wife, Clara Eola (Reneau) Beutell, were also the parents of four sons: an unnamed son who died in 1889 and lies at Westview with his parents; Russell Lee Beutell (1891–1943), a prominent Atlanta architect and member of the firm Daniell & Beutell; Joseph Marion Beutell (1894–1962), a World War II veteran and general building contractor; and Clarence Reneau Beutell (1896–1975), a World War I veteran and real estate and investments broker.
Atlanta Constitution. “H. M. Beutell.” September 23, 1882.
———. “Funeral Notice.” February 25, 1886.
———. “Death of A Young Child.” June 17, 1886.
———. “Three More Days.” December 3, 1888.
———. “The Beutell Manufacturing Co.” August 7, 1892.
———. “H. M. Beutell.” October 6, 1899.
———. “Alderman Beutell Goes In.” December 13, 1899.
———. “Aldermen Day and Beutell Are Criticized By Joel Hurt.” June 22, 1900.
———. “Prohibition Measure Attacked in Council As Injurious to City.” July 2, 1907.
———. “Wants to Kill the Mosquitoes.” May 11. 1908.
———. “H. M. Beutell Dies After Long Illness.” February 6, 1919.
Cooper, Walter G. Official History of Fulton County. Atlanta, GA: Walter W. Brown Pub. Co., 1934.
Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s–1930s. Vol. 2 of Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1969.
New South Associates. Historic Streetcar Systems in Georgia. Stone Mountain, GA: 2012.
Riehm, Edith Holbook et al. Images of America: Norcross. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2011.
Washington (DC) Evening Star. “Atlanta Guards on Tour of Cities.” May 20, 1913.