|Missing text supplied by the December 2, 1837 edition of Der Weltbürger:|
|welche ihnen Verfassung und Gesetze zugesichert haben."||Bewohnern die wünschenswerthe Aufklärung zu geben, in einen sehr beklagenswerthen|
Buffalo's German Newspapers
December 2, 1837 was the birth date of the first German newspaper in Buffalo. It was a weekly paper called Der Weltbürger [The World Citizen], published by Georg Zahm from Zweibrücken. Zahm had learned the printing trade but then became a school teacher. At first the paper was edited by Stephan Molitor but soon after it's inception it was edited by the publisher himself. Zahm had come to Buffalo from New York shortly before this time.
In perceiving a gap the newspaper made the following declaration in justification of its existence:
"The number of German people in Buffalo has increased significantly in the past four or five years. The commercial and political situation of this city is of such great importance to the Germans living here that people have felt the urgent need for a newspaper in the German language for a long time. Its goal is to inform the German people of this country's politics and to communicate the most important American and European events. Indeed, informing the reader is its prime motive, therefore it will join no particular political party; rather it will attempt to remain independent and non-partisan in order to sustain the fundamental principles necessary to the preservation of the Constitution. In important political issues the platforms of both political parties will be communicated in order to put the reader in the position to form his own opinion. The newspaper will provide a definitive voice against the persecution of immigrant Europeans and it will make these people aware of their rights guaranteed by constitution and law."
In a declaration on the second page, the newspaper expanded upon its purpose as follows:
"We do not want is to be understood that we see it as our mission to warn Germans about participating in political parties or encourage them to adopt a similar non-partisan position. In a democratic republic every citizen must be a party man, he must align himself with one of the leading parties if he does not wish to lose his influence and his impact as a citizen." However despite this, in announcing its intentions to align the newspaper "with neither political party," it did show greater inclination towards the Democratic Party rather than the Whig Party.
Concerning the conditions within the United States it states: "In spite of the excellence of its Constitution and its inexhaustible resources, stagnation and disorder in its commercial affairs are not uncommon. These elements exert their disruptive and oppressive influence over the entire Union and every class of the citizenry. Most of this evil originates from the fragile condition of the banks and the resultant chaos in the circulation of its currency." Deserving of mention is the description of the politico-economic climate at the time  in Germany, found under the heading "Overview of the Political Climate of the Various States," which lays down the reasons for the strong emigration of the German people during the 1830s. The article states: Since the disintegration of the German Empire by Napoleon into individual states, Germany finds itself ruled by thirty-four monarchs, weighed down by an army of civil servants, who have robbed it of its journalistic freedom and means of sustaining life, and who give the population the fanciful explanation that it is in a very lamentable political situation.
The German Federation, composed of embassies from the various German Courts, operates under the influence of Austria and Prussia, is trodden under foot by their two mighty heads of state with their military forces, laws, oaths and and sacred promises. Free enterprise is disrupted and all progress in contemporary thought is scrutinized and hastily countermanded."
The "Local News", also handled in a very stepmotherly fashion, contains only four items: a short report on the devastating storm in Buffalo and the surrounding area on November 22nd; another report on a meeting of "patriots", who were being detained after an incident of civil unrest in Canada. The third news item alleged "that the circulation of currency is nowhere worse than here in Buffalo, since banknotes from here and the eastern states are a rare occurence." The fourth report indicates that court sessions begin next week and it warns readers, who have not yet made declarations to become citizens, not to shirk their duty: "Anyone, who recognizes that the parties of native-born Americans intend to make it more difficult for immigrants to become citizens or, if possible, to suspend the process completely, will see the importance and the necessity of making their declarations without delay."
In passing let it be mentioned here that the efforts of the "natives," who organized into groups in the larger states in the years 1836 and 1837, contributed much to incite the Germans to unify and form a organized bloc of resistance.
The market report for the first issue lists that potatoes cost 25 cents per bushel, ham was 12½ per pound, fresh butter was 16 cents, salted butter 13 cents, hickory wood $2.50 to $3 per cord, oak wood $2 to $2.50 per cord. Coal was not yet used here. Until the beginning of the 1860s most houses did their heating and cooking with wood fires. Once wood fires were not longer used, the flourishing and prosperous craft of the woodcutter was extinguished.
There were no telegraphs at the time. The first electric telegraph line, placed between Buffalo and Albany, was connected on July 3, 1846. News from Europe was 4 to 6 weeks old when it got to Buffalo and reports from Washington took 8 days.
In the ninth issue of the Weltbürger the publisher requested that his subscribers prepay for the postage of the subscriptions, basing his request on the fact that for a letter containing a bill for a $1 Michigan note, he had to pay 50 cents postage and 20 cents in discount charges on the note.
In the first issue of the third volume the publisher warned subscribers, who had not paid their bills, that if they could not pay in cash they should pay up with butter, cheese, eggs, cabbage, potatoes, turnips, herbs, lentils, beans, meat, meal, poultry or something else "edible", lest they find their names on the "blacklist", which would be made public. This threat was carried out soon afterwards. The "blacklist" contains about twenty names of people, who left the city without paying what they owed for subscriptions.
Georg Zahm, the owner of the Weltbürger, was killed on September 28th  in the Town of Cheektowaga when a liberty pole, which was being raised, fell on him.
He was 45 years old. The funeral procession, which followed his coffin, was the largest to move through the streets of Buffalo up until that time.
In the middle of September, 1848 Der Freie Demokrat [The Free Democrat] first saw the light of the world. Its publisher was Karl Esslinger, a book dealer. The newspaper, which existed for the first year and a half under the ownership of Jacob Knapp and Carl de Haas, was renamed Der Buffalo Demokrat [The Buffalo Democrat] at the beginning of 1850. In November of the same year Mr. Knapp sold his share of the newspaper to Friedrich Held. Soon after the newspaper appeared daily.
On April 18, 1853 the Weltbürger merged with the Buffalo Democrat under the firm of Brunck, Held & Company. The Weltbürger became a weekly supplement of the Democrat.
Friedrich Held, born on December 20, 1818 in Bechtoldsheim, Hessen-Darmstadt, came to Buffalo as a twelve-year-old boy with his parents. Soon after he became a news carrier for the Weltbürger, then he learned typesetting and eventually became a partner in the newspaper.
In 1859 de Haas dissolved his partnership with Brunck and Held. On January 1, 1875 Dr. Brunck left the firm and Friedrich Held had full ownership of the newspaper. After his death his widow operated the Democrat until it was taken over by
Caption under picture at center reads Friedrich Held, the late publisher of the Buffalo Democrat.
the two sons of the late Frank C. B. Held, owner of the paper at that time.
Der Buffalo Telegraph was a weekly newspaper, which became a daily paper on May 3, 1853, published by the firm of Miller & Bender. Later Philip H. Bender became sole owner. With the establishment of the Republican Party the Telegraph became its ardent champion. During the Civil War the newspaper published morning and evening editions. Ownership of the Telegraph passed from Ph. H. Bender to Friedrich Geib (1) and soon afterwards in 1873 ceased its publication.
Der Lügenfeind [The Enemy of Lies], a weekly paper published by J. Marle, first appeared in 1850 as an organ of the Free Christian Fellowship. It fought for its existence for two years. A second attempt was made to publish a similar newspaper, called the Morgenröthe [Break of Dawn] in September 1853 by G. Scheibel, spokesman for the Free Fellowship. This too last only a short time. Der Lichtfreund [The Friend of Light], published by F. E. Egenter in 1855, was also an organ of the Free Fellowship but it too had no success. There were only 18 issues.
In 1853 C. Wiechmann began publication of a Catholic weekly newspaper called Aurora. After his death on December 2, 1898, his son, J. D. Wiechmann, took over the paper and it later merged with the Christlichen Woche [Christian Week].
In October 1853 Friedrich Reinecke, an experienced printer who came to Buffalo from beautiful Thuringia in 1852, issued a weekly paper called Humoristischer Volksfreund [Humourous Friend of the People], complete with woodcut engraving and dedicated exclusively to entertainment. The success of this undertaking encouraged the publisher to issue a larger, weekly paper called Die Buffalo Allgemeine Zeitung [The Buffalo General News]. The first issue appeared May 17, 1856.
In September 1860 Die Buffalo Allgemeine Zeitung became the Buffalo Freie Presse [Buffalo Free Press]. After Friedrich Reinecke's death in 1866 the newspaper was headed by his son, Ottomar Reinecke, but after a year he went into partnership with Franz H. Zesch. In 1872 the Free Press became a daily newspaper. Under the ownership of Reinecke and Zesch the paper was then, and is now, a true advocate for the principles of the Republican Party.
Amerikanischer Beobachter [American Observer] was the title of a twice-weekly newspaper, which was published by James B. Colgrove by the commission of the American Party of Erie County during the presidential campaign of 1856 in support of Millard Fillmore, its candidate. The newspaper completely failed in its mission since Germans would not allow themselves to be enticed by the nativists.
Der Buffalo Patriot [The Buffalo Patriot], a daily morning newspaper, was published by Friedrich Vogt and Joseph Young. It appeared in February 1857 and enjoyed a brief existence.
In 1863 Nauert, Hansmann & Co. issued the Buffalo Journal. A few months after its inception it was bought by Ph. H. Bender and merged with the Buffalo Telegraph.
In 1867 the Central Zeitung [Central News], a Catholic weekly newspaper, made its first appearance. It was published by Joseph Hoag. The paper was issued for four years but ceased publication a few weeks after the publisher moved to New York.
(1) Translator's Note: The book, History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, NY identifies the new owner of the Telegraph as Friedrich Gelb on page 72. Return to text
In the summer of 1868 a number of Catholic citizens decided to establish an association composed of German Catholics and to publish a daily political newspaper, which advocated the rights of all citizens in political, business and religious matters and which contained nothing in contradiction to Catholic teachings. The group became incorporated as the Buffalo German Printing Association. The first issue of its newspaper, the Buffalo Volksfreund [Buffalo People's Friend], appeared on August 1, 1868.
In February 1875 the first issue of a second Catholic newspaper, Die Christliche Woche [The Christian Week], appeared. The paper was published to benefit the German Roman-Catholic Orphanage. It was edited by Rev. P. Joseph M. Sorg until his death in 1888 and since that time it has been edited by F. X. Schifferli.
The first Sunday paper, Der Sonntag-Herold [The Sunday Herald] was called to life in September 1875 by the firm of Haas, Nauert & Klein. It ceased publication after 8 months.
A split in the platform of the German Republicans prompted Ismar S. Ellison to publish a Republican newspaper called Der Tägliche Republikaner [The Daily Republican]. Ellison was editor of the Buffalo Freie Presse until he took over the editorship of the Sonntag-Herold. The Daily Republican was first issued on October 15, 1875. On January 1, 1878 the rights of ownership for the newspaper passed to the German Republican Printing Association.
Die Evangelische Gemeindezeitung [The Evangelical Congregation Newspaper], a weekly newspaper dedicated to the issues of the Protestant Church, was published in 1877 by Berner & Messner. After a few months it appeared under the title Volksblatt für Stadt und Land [People's City and National News]. It was a politically independent daily newspaper.
At one time there were six German newspapers in Buffalo: Demokrat, Freie Presse, Volksfreund, Täglicher Republikaner, Tägliche Tribüne and Volksblatt. It may have been too much of a good thing. The Tägliche Tribüne and Der Tägliche Republikaner dropped out of the picture. The Volksblatt für Stadt und Land ceased its run as a daily newspaper at the end of January 1880.
Die Arbeiterstimme am Erie [The Workman's Voice on Erie], a Sunday paper edited and published by Paul Koberstein, a former editor of the Buffalo Tribüne, dedicated itself, as promised by its title, to the interests of the worker. The Voice was silenced after being heard from May to the end of November 1878.
In the Fall of 1885 the Buffaloer Arbeiterzeitung [Buffalo Worker's News] was founded as a weekly newspaper by an incorporated association, the "Arbeiter Zeitungsverein" [Worker's Newspaper Society]. In September 1897 it became a daily paper, starting as a morning paper and then after a few weeks becoming an evening paper. Later it again became a weekly paper and it is still published as such.
Die Sonntagspost [The Sunday Post] was published by Hermann Hoffman and was very capably edited by him. It was a humorist Sunday paper, which paid close attention to the social scene and the doings of singers, gymnasts and actors. The paper died with its publisher in January 1896 after five years in existence.
Der Buffalo Herold [The Buffalo Herald], an incorporated weekly newspaper dedicated to progress, entertainment, edification and
Text provided by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY