German-American History - Table of Contents

Illustrations - German-American History in Buffalo, NY

Click on illustrations for larger size and source information

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.

Esenwein & Johnson

Conrad Diehl
Mayor of Buffalo 1898-1901

Conrad Diehl, the son of a German immigrant from Wittgenbron, Hessen Kassel, was born in Buffalo in 1843. He was a physician who graduated from
UB's Medical School. He was a member, then President, of the Buffalo School Board before he was elected Mayor in 1897, as a Democrat. He was also a member the Sangerbund (Singers' Association). As Mayor, Dr. Diehl played an important role in bringing the Pan-American Exposition to Buffalo.

Philip Becker
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

Solomon Scheu
Mayor of Buffalo 1878-1879

Mayor Scheu was born in Bavaria in 1822. he emigrated to new York City in 1839. In 1844, he moved to Buffalo, and two years later he opened his own bakery. In 1852 he opened a saloon, eating house and billiards room at the corner of Main & Mohawk. There he met politicians, etc.

Louis Fuhrmann
Mayor of Buffalo 1910-1917

Fuhrmann Blvd. as named after this successful meat packer.

Mayor Fuhrmann was born in Buffalo in 1868. In 1966 he moved to Kansas City to take charge of the wholesale dressed beef business for the Buffalo-based Jacob Dold Meat packing Co. In 1892, he started his own meat packing business at 1010 Vinton St. In 1905, he was elected a member of the Board of Aldermen for the fifth ward.

Frank X. Schwab
Mayor of Buffalo 1922-1929

Born on Smith Street in Buffalo in 1874. Opened a liquor store at Broadway and Jefferson 1912.

He claimed he ran for mayor as a lark after a newspaper reporter suggested it in the newspaper. He unexpectedly won.

George J. Zimmermann
Mayor of Buffalo 1934-1937

Zimmerman became a partner in his father's lumber business. Before he was elected mayor, he served on the Buffalo Board of Education for seven years, spending much time directing the school construction program.

He was the last German-American to be elected mayor.

German-American Bank
Main and Court St. Replaced by the present Liberty Bank Building in 1925.

Chartered in 1882, one of five banks capitalized with German investment. The trustees changed its name to the Liberty bank after World War I in 1918.

Buffalo German Insurance Co. Building
Main and
Lafayette Square, northeast corner

Six-story, cast-iron 

Richard A. Waite

In 1869 Philip Becker founded and was first president (1869-1898) of the German Insurance Company

Replaced by the Tishman building

Jacob Schoellkopf, industrialist

Jacob Schoellkopf epitomized a true industrialist, with interests in tanneries, banking, paper milling, hotels, flour milling, and perhaps most lasting, harnessing power from Niagara Falls and producing hydroelectricity. The Schoellkopf Generating Station eventually became part of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation.

Text source: Julie Robinson Hazzan,
The Schoellkopf -Vom Berge Manor

Jacob Schoellkopf, Jr., industrialist

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.

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., industrialist

The George Urban Milling Company produced several well-known brands of flour which were used in every part of the country. The immense new mill of the company, at Urban and Kehr streets, adjacent to the tracks of the New York Central Belt Line, was completed in 1903. This mill was the first mill in Buffalo in which the motive power was exclusively electricity, brought here from Niagara Falls.

German American Brewing Co.
Main and High Sts. (now apartments)

By the turn of the century, brewing had become a major industry in Buffalo. There was tough competition among the 25 breweries that operated in the city at that time. The little "mom and pop" organizations of the early to mid-eighteen hundreds could not compete with the much larger "corporations" and cooperatives that had evolved and thereby ending the first wave of micro-breweries.

Text source:
Was Buffalo, Saloon Capital of The World?    (online 2004)

Phoenix Brewery

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
467 North Division St.

In 1896, Buffalo's 19 breweries produced an output of 652,340 barrels.

"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 N黵nberg at the Pan-American Exposition

"Alt N黵nberg", 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

Photographer: George Barker

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

Illustration is of the second St. Louis Church

St. Louis Church, Buffalo's first Roman Catholic parish (founded 1829), was also the area's largest in the decades before the Civil War. Originally multiethnic, the Church became more and more German as the Irish departed, complaining of harassment. When Bishop Timon became the first bishop of the Buffalo diocese, he fought with the German trustees over control of the 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.

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

H. H. Richardson

Built: 1869-1871

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.

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