RUETENIK, HERMAN J. (20 Sept. 1826-22 Feb. 1914), leader in the local German Reformed church, was born in Demerthin, Brandenburg, Germany to Karl A. and Charlotte Woldman Ruetenik. He graduated from Joachimsthal Gymnasium, Berlin; and studied divinity at the University of Halle (1846-48). After the 1848 revolution failed, he came to the U.S. as a political refugee. In 1852, Ruetenik entered the ministry, was ordained in 1853, and later that year came to Ohio. After serving in Toledo and as a professor at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ruetenik came to Cleveland in 1859 as pastor of the independent Congregation of Brethren, which eventually became the First Reformed Church. He later established the Second and Third Reformed Churches, and the German Sunday School Mission (1886), which became the Eighth Reformed Church in 1889. He also helped establish the deaconess's home on Scranton Rd., and in 1913 organized an Italian mission in the HAYMARKET district.
Soon after his arrival in Cleveland, Ruetenik began publishing religious periodicals; this evolved into Central Publishing Co. of the Reformed Church. He also founded Calvin College in 1866 with $600 raised in Germany. The school was to give instruction in German and teach Greek and Latin, but Ruetenik's plans apparently received little support from church officials, and the college's goals were revised to more closely follow American educational practices.
Ruetenik authored 7 published works, including German Grammar (1900) and Pioneers of the Reformed Church in America (1902). Ruetenik married Amelia Clara Martin in 1853 and had 5 sons and 4 daughters: Martin, Gustave, Otto, Calvin, Fred, John, Ruth, Clara, Natalie, and Charlotte. Ruetenik was buried in RIVERSIDE CEMETERY.