Adolph Gluck was born in 1843 in Hungary. In US Census records both Hungary and Austria are given as his origin. His son Leo's 1920 passport application gives his (deceased) father's place of birth as Hungary. By his own account given in 1908, he came to the United States from Hungary in 1859, stopped in New York and hearing of opportunities in the West traveled to St. Louis where he stayed with an uncle while earning fare to continue travel west.
It may be read that he served in the Union Army during the Civil War but records for an Adolph Gluck have not yet been found. An obituary states he offered his services to the Sixth Missouri Cavalry but was not accepted due to his age. The same obituary states he was later able to enlist with the First Arkansas Volunteers and this was accepted as fact in his lifetime as corroborated by his activity with veterans organizations.
He married Sophie Loebner 12 Nov 1865 in St. Louis. In 1870 he and Sophie are found in St Louis with his occupation listed as pawn shop keeper and son Leo is three years of age. The year of his arrival in Dodge City seems uncertain. Two obituaries state he arrived 1876 as did he yet US Census records show that in 1880 the primary residence of the family was on Fulton Street in St Louis, he lists his occupation as jeweler and Max, Monte and Rosy have joined elder brother Leo in the family. Various records indicate that Adolph traveled between Dodge City and St Louis for a number of years.
The Jovial Jeweler
The first newspaper references to Adolph Gluck are jewelry advertisements appearing in 1878. The Dodge City Globe of 10 Sep 1878 contains the following in the social column, "A. Gluck the jovial Jeweler has gone to St Louis. He left Sunday night and will return here next summer in time for the cattle trade." On 26 Aug1879 the same column in the Globe states that A. Gluck has decided to make Dodge City his permanent home and he will remain in Dodge City throughout the winter. 19 Jul 1881, the Globe states that Sophie with sons Leo and Monte suprised Adolph by their arrival in Dodge City for a visit, plan to stay for several weeks, then would go to "the mountains" before returning to St Louis. Well into 1885 Mrs Gluck and the children are still residing in St Louis. By 1888, newpapers refer to son Monte "returning home" to Dodge City from attending school in St. Louis and Mrs Gluck is actively participating in the Ladies Auxillary.
By 1882, Adolph has entered local politics and is elected to the committee from Dodge City for the state Republican convention. In 1883 he is made part of the citizens ad hoc committee to seek a resolution to the Dodge City War (also known as the Saloon Wars). At this point it would appear that Adolph has the newspapers in his back pocket with frequent colorful notices such as, "The rotund form of our dearly beloved fellow citizen Adolphus Gluck was seen at an early hour on Tuesday morning whirling along Front Street shaking hands and seeing what the boys would take."
In 1886, he was involved in the formation of and an original member of the Dodge City Board of Trade. In March 1887 he is a candidate for councilman in the second ward, "Adolphus Gluck is willing to be immolated. More plainly he is a candidate for councilman of the 2nd ward." [Note: it appears this should read 3rd ward where he was the eventual nominee.] And, he was also in the running to be nominated for the mayoral race though ultimately R.W. Tarbox was the nominee. A notice in the Journal-Democrat of 30 Apr 1887 reads, "This is a clear case of the office seeking the man as it seems Mr Gluck has never "perspired" in that direction. He should be heartily supported in case he should walk; for run, he never could." In December 1887, prominent citizens were still trying to get Adolph to run for mayor at a dinner meeting "where the wine went around quite freely." In the midst of all of this, Adolph is still running his jewelry business, presiding over his growing cattle empire, and heavily involved in bringing electric light to the city. But, he does sell his interest in the Dodge City Ice Company.
A Once and Future Mayor
In 1888 he is active with the "Tax-Payers' League," whose stated purpose was the protection of the tax payers from the spending of the city council. He was also accused of adopting the nom de plume "D.U.C." under which it was said he wrote regarding local matters, Adolph responded in a letter to the Times (21 Mar 1889) disavowing he is D.U.C. and that he seeks no public office, not even postmaster, and suggests "all chronic office-seekers get someone else to wash their dirty linen."
On 7 Apr 1891, Adolph Gluck was elected mayor of Dodge City. He quickly ran afoul of R. N. Hutchinson, "Old Hutch," by insisting his son pay occupation tax. News reports show Old Hutch, liklely in league with the city attorney, finding Adolph in an illegal drinking establishment as well as charged with allowing such to operate (on his premises) and by mid-September what appears to be a vendetta show trial has removed Adolph from office while the Dodge City Globe ran a vicious editorial against the mayor not for his being Jewish but stating he was so scandalous that he could not be a Jew and had, in fact, masqueraded as a Jew since birth. The verdict against Adolph was upheld by the State supreme court in May 1892. However, the citizens of Dodge City voted Adolph right back into office in April 1893 with the Dodge City Echo reflecting public sentiment, "he will make a splendid executive" and "thoroughly understands the needs of the tax-payers." Adolph was not nominated to run again in 1895 and was succeeded in office by LaFayette Sims. By 1896 news coverage of Adolph centers upon his business affairs and his learning to ride a bicycle, something at which he seems to have excelled.
Adding Impresario to Accomplishments
His retirement from political life was short-lived as in April 1897 he is again elected councilman with news reports claiming it was the vote of women that put him over the top. In 1898 he purchased the Kelley Opera House which was overhauled and became the Gluck Auditorium. "Auditorium" appears not to have taken as it becomes known as Gluck's Opera House. Now back in the good graces of the editor of the Globe, it writes of this, "Mr Gluck is one of our most enterprising citizens." Subsequently the press is peppered with Adolph's success as an impresario as he imports hit productions and acts from New York and elsewhere. Advance tickets to his entertainments may, of course, be purchased during a visit to his jewelry store.
In 1899 Adolph is once again nominated for mayor of Dodge City but loses the election by 58 votes and his attention returns to commerce and entertainment. In 1902 he is elected councilman from the fourth ward.
In March of 1907, Adolph was again nominated to be the Republican mayoral candidate and won the first ballot. However, before the second ballot current mayor Hoover removed himself from the running and his votes swung to Mr. Reeves who became the nominee.
Mayor Gluck, Once Again
On April 6, 1909 Adolph Gluck was again elected mayor of Dodge City on a ballot without substantive opposition and near universal endorsement by the press. The Dodge City Globe headline simply proclaimed, “GLUCK IS IT!”  Ever the showman, he participated in the "Fats & Leans" baseball circus (a society event, "good clothing required" of spectators) which included a race from home plate to first base between himself and L L Taylor with the Globe writing, "there is something thrilling about watching a fat man run to first." in June 1909, Adolph leased his opera house to the Martin Amusement Company whose first production was "The Lady and the Liar" featuring Miss Clara Belcher, prime seats 50 cents.
Firestorm (or Tempest in a Whiskey Bottle)
In late October 1910 while Adolph is in St Louis, brewers in Missouri run an advertisement which included a statement from Adolph against prohibition and its deleterious effect on property values in Dodge City. He signed the statement as Mayor of Dodge City. The front pages of Dodge City’s numerous papers exploded in anger with various assessments of properties and business interests owned by Adolph, what he paid for them, and what they were today worth under prohibition. By 3 Nov 1910, Adolph has returned to Dodge City but simply refuses to address the “allegators” suggesting he might, at some later date, make a statement.
A number of factors including the prior year’s newspaper firestorm and an intense battle over public or private ownership of the electrical service for Dodge City resulted in Adolph Gluck and George Hoover once again trading places in the mayoral chair in April 1911. By June 1911 the Gluck’s are off again to Europe, Turkey and Asia Minor until mid-October (with son Leo along for the first six weeks of the excursion). Only two weeks after the Gluck’s arrived back in the states Adolph is elected delegate to the first congressional district of Missouri.
Gluck the Construction Magnate
On 10 Mar 1912 the Gluck Opera House burned to the ground in a major fire which destroyed numerous buildings.  Adolph was again running for mayor and in early April lost to H.B. Bell by only 61 votes in a three way race. Since his prior terms, Dodge City had changed its governing structure and mayors would now be elected to three year terms. By September of 1912 a new Gluck office building construction contract had been let marking the first fireproof construction in Dodge City with beams, girders and floors all of reinforced concrete. This is twenty-seven years after the original Front Street was destroyed by Dodge City’s first major fire and only six months after the second major fire destroyed Gluck’s opera house. By November, he has had plans for a grand three story hotel to be near the Santa Fe Railroad completed but has not yet committed to construction of the hotel. Only a week later there are reports that Adolph is considering construction of a new opera house in connection with the grand hotel but states the opera house by itself would not be financially viable.
In 1913 Adolph challenged the incumbent T.A. Scates for the office of city commissioner of finance and revenue. Scates won by 38 votes yet it was reported 43 ballots for Gluck were thrown out as “defective.” By September 1913 his new fireproof office building has opened on First Avenue between Front and Chestnut streets. In 1914 Adolph ran for city commission losing by 18 votes.
50th Wedding Anniversary – And More Construction
In November 1915 almost the entire city celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of Adolph and Sophie Gluck. A special dinner had over 200 invited guests and Sophie wore the gown in which she had been married fifty years earlier while Adolph wore his silk hat first worn on that day. Only a month later Adolph announced plans for yet another new office building on Central Avenue between Front and Chestnut streets.
In 1916, Adolph ran for city commissioner of finance and lost by a small number of votes. He immediately embarked on construction of yet another building, this time at West Chestnut and Third Avenue.
In January 1917, Sophie’s brother Louis Lobner who had lived in Dodge City for thirty years passed away. Later in the year Adolph, who was diabetic, began to have serious difficulty from the advance of the disease leading to the amputation of a toe and then a leg. On 30 Sep 1917, one of Dodge City’s most illustrious and colorful citizens passed away. It was surmised that at the time of his passing he was the wealthiest man in Ford County, Kansas yet was remembered for his endless kindness, colorful personality, civic spirit, and five terms as mayor. Adolphus Gluck’s body was taken to St. Louis for burial. He was one of the driving forces behind the transformation of a frontier cattle town into a gem of the West.
Adolph was interred at the New Mt Sinai Cemetery and Mausoleums in Affton, St Louis County, Missouri. Sophie passed away in 1921.
The Dodge City Journal-Democract article of 24 Apr 1908 may contain enough information to determine his parentage. In the US he initially stayed with an uncle who is either in New York or Saint Louis (the language regarding where the uncle lived is somewhat uncertain).
This profile created, sourced and witten by T Stanton September 2019.
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