Joseph Mueller was an early Council Bluffs pioneer who had no money and spoke little English. According to H.H. Field (The History of Pottawattamie County), while working at the home of William Folsom, the father of Amelia (afterwards Mrs. Brigham Young), he heard her and her friends playing a piano piece incorrectly. He asked, 'Shall I show you?' and proceeded to play the piece, as well as others. He soon was teaching piano and voice, directing choruses and giving concerts. In 1859 he founded the Mueller Piano Company, the first music store in Council Bluffs, located at 104 S. Main Street. In 1883 he hired a German immigrant boy, William Schmoller, as a clerk. Mueller died in 1904, and Schmoller became President. The Schmoller & Mueller Co. had stores in Omaha and Council Bluffs.
Schmoller & Mueller was one of the first 'mail order' houses, where pianos were sold directly to the public via sales catalogs, advertisements, and word of mouth. Schmoller & Mueller offered their 'Factory to Home' service, cutting out the middle man and eliminating the need for retail showrooms. Their pianos were of good quality, and they were very affordable due to Schmoller & Mueller's aggressive financing plans, etc. Like countless others, Schmoller & Mueller went out of business due to the Great Depression in the early 1930s.
NOTE: In the 1960's, there was a limited number of spinet and console pianos built under the Schmoller & Mueller brand name. These pianos were probably built by Aeolian for retail stores in Nebraska, but we have been unable to confirm who built these later spinet and console pianos. We do know that the modern spinet and console Schmoller & Mueller pianos were not built by the original firm that went out of business circa 1930.
*Special thanks to Ms. Mary Lou McGinn of The Council Bluffs Historic Preservation Alliance for providing us with much of this historical information.
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