German-American History in Buffalo, NY - Table of Contents
Illustrations and Essays - German-American History in Buffalo, NY
Table of Contents:
- Illustrations from German-American History in Buffalo
- Essay: Excerpts from "Buffalo: Lake City in Niagara Land," by Richard C. Brown and Bob Watson
- Essay: Excerpts from "High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." by Mark Goldman
|August Esenwein, architect
Esenwein was one of the eight official architects for the Pan-American Exposition. (The only other Buffalonians on the Board were E. B. Green and George Cary.)
Esenwein & Johnson enjoyed the second most active architectural practice in Buffalo, New York (after Green & Wicks), at the turn of the twentieth century. The firm had offices at 775-793 Ellicott Square.
|The Temple of Music
The site of President McKinley's ill-fated meeting with assassin Leon Czolgosz in September 1901.
Architects: Esenwein & Johnson
Mayor of Buffalo 1876-1877 and 1886-1889
The first of eight German-American mayors, Becker was was also the first foreign-born Buffalo mayor.
Philip Becker, a wealthy insurance broker to the German community (who began as a grocer), became the first German-American mayor of Buffalo in 1876.
Solomon Scheu, a baker turned successful grocer, defeated Becker in his bid for a second term. Becker served again for two more terms starting in 1886.
Text source: "Second Looks: A Pictorial History of Buffalo and Erie County," by Scott Eberle and Joseph A. Grande. Donning Co., 1993
Frank X. Schwab
George J. Zimmermann
Buffalo German Insurance Co. Building
|Jacob Schoellkopf, Jr.,
The first member of the family born in the United States, won the respect and approbation that had hitherto been denied the city's German residents. He was admitted to the most exclusive clubs, and appointed director of two bastions of WASP control, the historical society and Buffalo General Hospital.
Cornell's Schoellkopf Field was completed in 1915 with funds given by Jacob F. Schoellkopf, Jr., '05, Paul A. Schoellkopf '06, Walter H. Schoellkopf '08 and William G. Schoellkopf '19.
Text source: "High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." by Mark Goldman. Pub. by State U. of New York Press, Albany, 1983
George Urban Jr.,
German American Brewing Co.
Phoenix Brewery (refrigerated section) is a massive structure made of Medina sandstone standing at the corner of Washington and Virginia streets although this brewery closed forever in 1920, it still has a quaint tavern next door (on Ellicott and Virginia streets) called Ulrich's
Text source: Was Buffalo, Saloon Capital of The World? (online 2004)
See also: Gerhard Lang Brewery
Magnus Beck Brewery
|"Elephant Joe" Josephs
Joe Josephs, sign painter, sometime artist, and Liedertafel singer, was one of Buffalo's authentic characters Like many of his fellow Protestant Germans in the post-Civil War era, he was also staunchly Republican. He was captain of the local rail splitting team for two Republican presidential candidates, Lincoln in 1860 and Garfield in 1880.
Josephs understood the publicity stunt. His shop at the foot of Exchange St. in Buffalo was decorated top to bottom with visual word puzzles and pictures of elephants. A publicity wizard, Elephant Joe could (as the saying went) make people "see an elephant" where there was none.
Text source: "Second Looks: A Pictorial History of Buffalo and Erie County," by Scott Eberle and Joseph A. Grande. Donning Co., 1993
|William Hengerer Company
store on Main Street
William Hengerer was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, in 1839.
In 1895 a joint-stock company was formed, known as The William Hengerer Company. Hengerer was 52.
|Saengerbund Singing Club
Caption: Birthplace of the Buffalo Saengerbund. Charles Dorn's house, corner of Cherry and Maple Streets, in which this famous Buffalo singing society was organized, 1853.
|Alt Nürnberg at the Pan-American Exposition
"Alt Nürnberg", or "old Nuremberg," replicated
several historic buildings in Nuremberg, as well as a large open-air restaurant and concert area on the Midway. Within the buildings were reproductions of artwork and other cultural treasures of Germany.
Text source: The German Community of Buffalo and the Pan-American Exposition
1883 Great Saengerfest Parade
|The Parade House
For the new Buffalo parks, Calvert Vaux (Olmsted's partner) designed a number of structures. Outstanding among them was the Parade (The Parade is now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Park) House, a spectacular timber building that opened in 1876.
Containing a large restaurant and smaller rooms for private parties, it became the scene in summer of public amusements that members of the large German community that lived nearby especially favored. On a special wooden floor set up outside, dancers twirled to the music of an orchestra seated overhead on a balcony while loungers on the extensive verandahs enjoyed watching the gay proceeding.
St. Louis RC Church
|Temple Beth Zion
Well-educated German Jewish immigrants settled along North, Franklin and Tupper Sts. In 1850, they organized an Orthodox congregation, Beth Zion, at Ellicott and Clinton Sts. The illustration is of the third Beth Zion temple,which was located on Delaware Avenue next door (north) to the Wilcox Mansion.
Architect: Edward Kent
Painting: Watercolor by William Wild, 1916. On display in 2002 at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
|St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of the German Society
Caption: First building of St. John's Church (Evangelical Lutheran), Hickory St. First German Protestant Society in Buffalo. Cornerstone laid 1835. Completed 1843. Replaced by new church, 1875.
|The Schoellkopf-Vom Berge Manor
121 Chapin Parkway, Buffalo, NY
Genevieve Schoellkopf: born in Buffalo 1884, a granddaughter of "King Jacob," Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf, one of the most successful German immigrants in Western New York at the turn of the century (see above).
Henry Vom Berge: Son of city engineer George Vom Berge and Marie Vom Berge who was born in Denmin, Germany. Henry, was a graduate of Canisius College and an employee of the Schoellkopf & Company tannery. Henry married Genevieve Schoellkopf in 1907
Architects: Esenwein and Johnson
|William Dorsheimer House
434 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY
Architect: H. H. Richardson
William Dorsheimer was born on February 5, 1832 in Lyons, New York. When he was 5 his parents moved to Buffalo. When he reached school age he attended the public schools. He wanted to study jurisprudence so he attended Harvard University. After he finished his studies he was admitted to the Bar.
During the Civil War he served on the staff of General J.C. Fremont.
In 1869 he was appointed Federal Prosecutor of the Northern Districts of New York by Andrew Johnson. He stayed at this post until 1871. In 1874 he was elected with Samuel J. Tilden to the office of Lieutenant Governor. He was Lieutenant Governor a second time, this time running on the ticket with Lucius Robinson in 1879.
After his second term he settled in New York and established a law partnership with David Dudley Field. In 1884 he took over the editorship of the New York Star.
Mr. Dorsheimer was one of the principle founders of the Parks System.
He died on March 26, 1888 in Savannah, Georgia.
By the 1840s German-Americans made up one-third of Buffalo's population and were the largest foreign-born group in the city.
Unlike the Irish, German immigrants to Buffalo settled inland from the waterfront in an East Side area known as the "Fruit Belt" because of its street names.
Religion: The German immigrants, though principally Roman Catholic, embraced a variety of religious faiths. German Catholics in 1832 built St. Louis Church, originally a log structure (illustration), at Main and Edward, where its cathedral-like structure stands today.
Three years later German Protestants built themselves a place of worship on Hickory Street (photo above).
Along with the other religious groups from Germany came a number of well-educated Jews. These German Jews settled along North, Franklin, and Tupper streets. In 1850 they organized an Orthodox congregation, Beth Zion, at Ellicott and Clinton Streets. Later, as most German Jews in the United States joined the Reform movement, Beth Zion (now located on Delaware Avenue) became a Reform congregation.
Politics: German-Americans organized for political purposes, as most ethnic groups have. All in all, eight German-Americans have served as mayors of Buffalo from Philip Becker (portrait above) Buffalo's first foreign-born mayor, in the 1870s, to George Zimmerman (portrait above) in the 19305s.
German names became known in other activities besides politics. Louis Fuhrmann (portrait above) -- for whom Fuhrmann Boulevard was named -- not only was elected mayor of Buffalo but was a leading meat packer, as were such other prominent German-Americans as Christian Klinck and Jacob Dold.
German immigration tapered off in the early 20th century, as Chancellor Otto von Bismarck promoted programs to keep young Germans satisfied at home, and German-American influence in Buffalo began to be diluted. Anti-German feeling during World War I also played a significant part, leading to changes in a number of street names. Though it may not have lessened the bank's influence, the directors of the German-American bank (photo above), chartered in 1882, decided to change its name to the Liberty Bank.
After the war, the national-origins quota system of the 1920s cut down on all immigration from Europe, and German-American influence was further reduced as descendants of the Old German wards in Buffalo moved elsewhere.
"High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." by Mark Goldman. Pub. by State U. of New York Press, Albany, 1983, pp. 72-73, 75, 77, 177
The growth of of the city's population in the middle of the nineteenth century was truly spectacular, more than doubling between 1845 (29,773) and 1855 (74,214). In 1855, over 60% were foreign born (mostly Catholic):
- 31,00 were German,
- 18,000 Irish, both of which live in their own separate enclaves: the Germans on the East Side, the Irish in the First Ward
The Germans came to Buffalo already skilled and most of Buffalo's skilled workers were German -- shoemakers, masons, tailors, musicians, blacksmiths, boilermakers , butchers, upholsterers, painters, tinsmiths, stonecutters, clock makers, bakers, cigar-makers -- and many of them were quite well educated.
German language: The desire to perpetuate the German language was a critical element in the cultural cohesiveness of the German community. In both Catholic and Protestant German churches, sermons were delivered and scriptures were read in the native tongue. German was also the language used in the five German Catholic schools that existed in Buffalo in 1850. Indeed, many Germans insisted that their language achieve official status, demanding that Buffalo should become officially bilingual, with all laws and ordinances printed in both languages. Other groups, such as the German Young Men's Association, a cultural nationalist group founded in Buffalo in 1841, were dedicated to the perpetuation and preservation of the German language and culture.
The community's struggle for public recognition of the German language and German culture continued throughout the next decade as German leaders made persistent and periodic requests for the appointment of German teachers in, schools in German neighborhoods. It was not until 1866, perhaps as a kind of guilt-ridden recognition of the role that Buffalo's German population had played in the war effort, that the Common Council finally relented and did appoint several German teachers to teach German in four schools on Buffalo's East Side.
Business: What is most interesting about this first generation of German businessmen -- people like Solomon Scheu (portrait above) and Albert Ziegler. both brewers; Jacob Schoellkopf (photo above), a tanner; and Stephen Recker, a wholesale grocer -- was that they had stayed in their homeland until after they had acquired an education and a trade.
- Scheu, for example, had been trained as a baker before he arrived in this country in 1840 at the age of sixteen.
- Schoellkopf, who by the end of the l850s owned one of the largest tanneries in Buffalo, had been trained as a tanner during his youth in Germany.
- Albert Ziegler, whose brewery made over forty thousand barrels of beer per year and was the biggest in Buffalo, had worked as a brewer as a teenager in Wurtenburg.
Thus, within ten or so years after their arrival in Buffalo (usually after a short stay in New York City), these men had become eminently successful businessmen, the object of envy and admiration not only within their own community but throughout the whole city.
By 1900, the Poles had replaced Germans as the dominant ethnic group on the East Side. No longer the despised race that [Millard] Fillmore and his cohorts had railed against, Buffalo's Germans, now making up more than half of the city's population, had left their East Side enclave and assumed a major role in the life of the city. The whole fiber of the city had become German.
There were five German owned banks, six German insurance companies, a German hospital, scores of German churches, several turnvereins, and the nationally known Saengerbund Singing Society. But unlike the other immigrant groups in the city -- the Poles, Irish and Italians -- the political and financial activities of the Germans were not limited to their own ethnic group. Germans owned the largest breweries and the largest department stores. German doctors and lawyers were among the most successful in the city. German politicians, like Mayor Conrad Diehl (portrait above), a former county medical examiner, determined the outcome of municipal elections, while certain German families, like the Urbans, were among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the whole community.
The Schoellkopfs: None were more influential than the Schoellkopf family. The founder of this prolific dynasty was Jacob Schoellkopf (photo above), who came to Buffalo in 1843 with the first wave of German migration to the city. Taking advantage of the city's location at the junction of the nation's most important commercial lines, Schoellkopf went into leather and grain, and by the end of the Civil War his tanning and flour mills were among the largest in the country. Schoellkopf was one of the first people to realize the potential of the waterpower generated by Niagara Falls, and during the 1870s he founded the first power company in the area.
His two sons, Jacob, Jr. and Hugo, further developed the power company while opening a chemical company that by the turn of the century was the largest manufacturer of aniline, a chemical used in the manufacture of explosives. By the end of the century, the Schoellkopfs had become one of the wealthiest and most prominent German families in the United States.
Jacob Schoellkopf, Jr. (photo above), the first member of the family born in the United States, won the respect and approbation that had hitherto been denied the city's German residents. He was admitted to the most exclusive clubs, and appointed director of two bastions of WASP control, the historical society and Buffalo General Hospital. However, Schoellkopf's success and his mobility did not isolate him from his German origins. Like his father, he sent his children to Germany for their college education, while he remained deeply concerned with the progress of the German community in Buffalo,