Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 80 - 85

Biographies for Philip Becker, Conrad Diehl, Charles F. Bishop, and Charles Boller

Philip Becker

Philip Becker! The bearer of this name may be covered by cool earth for some 14 years now but he won't be forgotten in this city for a long time. Philip Becker was mayor of Buffalo for 3 terms of office. These terms were free of scandal and serve as a lasting memorial in the hearts of the citizenry of this city. The German-Americans of this city think of him with particular tenderness. He was the first mayor of Buffalo who was of German blood.
Prepared with a basic elementary school education received in the old fatherland, he came as a 16-year-old to America. Here he encountered the hard school of life. With great effort he worked his way to the top and established his own business, which grew rapidly and made him a rich man. His sparkling success as a businessman gleaned the attention of his fellow citizens. Buffalonians truly had nothing to regret by entrusting this hearty German man with the leadership of the city three times. Respectability, conscientiousness to duty, energy, and circumspection distinguished not only Philip Becker's business life but his political life in the perpetuation of his office. During his lifetime he was a good German, who regularly took part in all German endeavors. When it came to the public good, he always extended an open hand. His sense of charity was well-known throughout the whole city. As a businessman Mr. Becker was never considered narrowminded or petty. He never withheld his assistance if he felt it was appropriate. His good heartedness and decency have secured for him a lasting remembrance in our city.

Philip Becker was born in April, 1830 in Oberotterbach on the Rhine, in Bavaria. In 1847 he came to America and settled immediately in Buffalo, where he worked as a clerk at various businesses for 7 years. With $2400 in capital, $400 of which was borrowed with the other $2000 lent to him by friends, he opened a small specialties shop on Main Street near Court. The business grew rapidly and soon became the firm of Philip Becker & Co., to which Becker's brother-in-law, Georg Goetz, and Michael Haufauer belonged. The firm still exists today and it has become one of the largest warehouses and dealers in speciality wares in Western New York. The window glass company established by Mr. Becker has also grown. At the beginning of the 1890s Mr. Becker left the firm in order to live his golden years in retirement.

Philip Becker played an important role in public life as well as in the business world. The Republican Party, to which he belonged, entrusted him with many important offices and missions. Twice, in 1876 and 1892, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1888 Mr. Becker was one of the members of the Electoral College. As the Republican candidate he was elected mayor 3 times, serving from 1876 to 1877, 1886 to 1887, and 1888 to 1889. During his first term in office in 1876, the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, he was called the Centennial Mayor. He was one of the commissioners under whose direction the new council building was erected. His conduct in this post was especially meritorious. This grand structure was completed without a hint of scandal. It was Mr. Becker's privilege as mayor to open the first session of the city council in the new council building on March 13, 1876. Mayor Becker's tenure in office was distinguished by its businesslike demeanor. All were content with his administration. For him the interests of the city were above all. At the urging of his friends in 1891 he sought the Republican nomination for governor but did not suceed because Senator Platt and his supporters were against him.

When the opportunity presented itself to further the interests of the community, Philip Becker was there. To that end he rendered great service with the construction of the Music Hall. He vigorously worked for the cause of the great song festival of 1883. Mr. Becker belonged to several associations and charitable organizations. He was the founder and first president of the German Insurance Company, which came to life in 1869. He also established the Buffalo Commercial Insurance Co. in 1896.

In 1853 Mr. Becker married Miss Sarah Götz, with whom he lived in blissful union until his death on July 4, 1898.

Among German women, who have rendered outstanding service to our city, there is Mrs. Sarah Becker, the widow of the first German mayor of Buffalo. Like her late husband she possesses a strong sense of charity and it has always been her greatest pleasure to be able to help others. Public welfare institutions, such as the German Deaconess House, are eternally in her debt. Mrs. Philip Becker belongs to the large number of benefactresses of this city.

Sarah Becker, nee Götz, first saw the light of the world on May 14, 1833 in Brumath in Alsatia. In 1849 she came with her parents to America, where the family first settled in Attica. Following the death of her father in 1849 the family resettled in Buffalo.

Caption under picture at center reads Philip Becker.

Miss Sarah B Götz married Philip Becker in 1853. She was a true life partner to her husband until his death. She was also an untiring co-worker in his business. Mrs. Becker still lives in her comfortable family home at 534 Delaware Avenue.

Dr. Conrad Diehl

Former mayor Dr. Conrad Diehl enjoys overall respect and high regard. His tenure in office stands in fond memory of all Buffalonians. Dr. Diehl distinguished himself in office through his energy, his circumspection, and his complete understanding of the duties of his office. This excellent man, a model for the Germans of our city, leaves behind a splendid political legacy. He brought what the Germans call honor to all offices that he held. He also enjoyed far and wide an outstanding reputation as a physician. Dr. Diehl comes from one of the oldest and best families in Buffalo, which has given this city several excellent citizens.

Conrad Diehl was born on July 17, 1843 in Buffalo and received his first education at private and public schools. Then he went to the University of Buffalo in order to study medicine. After passing his qualifying exams he went to Europe to further his education with leading professors in his field of study and to gather practical experience in hospital settings. After returning to Buffalo, he settled to become a practicing physician.

Caption under picture at center reads Dr. Conrad Diehl.

His excellent knowledge and great dedication to duty helped his practice to flourish. In February 1874 he was appointed one of the assisting physicians at the General Hospital. He later became chief physician of the facility. For 25 years he was the secretary for the doctors' staff at General Hospital. From 1870 to 1878 he was regimental doctor for the 65th Regiment, and in 1871 he became a physician for the Erie County Poor House. He was also president of the medical staff of Deaconess Hospital. To this day Dr. Diehl is one of the most sought out doctors in our city. He enjoys great popularity among his patients.

Dr. Diehl has frequently been in the political arena. He was elected coroner in 1867 by a great majority. He carried out this office for 3 years but declined reelection because his private practice had grown sharply. For many years he was an active member of the school board. He was its president in 1896. In 1897 he was chosen by the Democratic Party as candidate for mayor. He was elected by a significant majority. The Germans of both parties backed him, attesting to the great popularity Dr. Diehl had in German circles.

Dr. Diehl also played a significant role in social circles. He is a member of the Orpheus, the Sängerbund, and many other associations and clubs of the city. His first marriage was to Miss Caroline Trautmann of Weissenburg, Alsatia on May 5, 1869 upon his return home. His second marriage was to Miss Loi M. Martin of Somerset, Massachusetts on May 20, 1892.

Charles F. Bishop

When naming the best men that the Germans of Buffalo have produced, certainly among the top names on the list would be former mayor Charles F. Bishop. What distinguishes this man is his true German nature with its unwavering devotion to duty. This made him one of the best officers of the city. Chas. F. Bishop's 2 tenures of office as mayor were high points in the history of Buffalo's German community. What the German-American must appreciate in his wonderful blood brother was that although he was born in America, he not only spoke fluent German but he also preferred it.

Charles F. Bishop was born on October 14, 1844 in Williamsville, Erie County. He came at an early age with his parents to Buffalo where the family took a home on Grey Street. After attending the public school he entered at the age of 13 into the specialties wares business. In 1869 he opened his own business in a house at 80 Main Street in which he established a coffee warehouse and spice dealership.

Caption under picture in lower left reads Charles F. Bishop.

The business, which relocated to 93 Seneca Street in 1884, is today one of the most significant of its kind in the city. Mr. Bishop's energy and good sense served him well.

Charles F. Bishop also played an important role in Buffalo's political life. The Democratic Party, of which he was a member, was quite impressed with him and chose him as its candidate for mayor in 1889. After a hard-fought campaign he was elected. His term in office was distinguished by stringent conscientiousness and impartiality just as one would have if conducting a business. His reelection in the Fall of 1891 was by a large majority of votes. Mr. Bishop was the same in his political life as he was in his business life - an honest and just man of unblemished character, who never deviated from that path. He was mayor of our city from January 1, 1890 until December 31, 1894.

In German social circles Mr. Bishop was a enormously popular person. His proper German manner made him many friends. He was president of the Orpheus for 3 years. He had been a member of the Orpheus for many years. Of course he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He also belonged to the Concordia Lodge of the Order of the Free Masons. He was Assistant Grand Master of the 25th district in New York and in that capacity he laid the cornerstone for the Free Mason's temple.

Charles Boller

Mr. Charles Boller of 652 Oak Street is one of the most interesting personalities in Buffalo's German community. Mr. Boller, who today (November 1911) is in his 85th year, lived through the Storm and Stress period in Germany, which accompanied the rebirth of the German Empire. He may be the only 48er, whom our city still protects within its walls. Mr. Boller was one of those seekers of freedom who left his homeland as the counterrevolution took place in Germany. He came to America in 1849. When he came to Buffalo, the friendless and destitute young man wandered the streets in confusion. He wrestled with his fate. Then an idea came to him, like a guiding star. It came from the corner of Spruce and Sycamore Streets at the Church of the Evangelical congregation. The stranger took a step towards it. There he found a warm welcome, friendship, and assistance. To this day he is a loyal member of the Evangelical congregation. In a soon to be published, highly interesting, and spiritually uplifting book, Lebensbeschreibung und Erfahrungen eines Laien (A Description of the Life and Experiences of a Layman) by Chas. Boller. Printed by the publishing house of the Evangelical Congregation, C. Hauser, Agent, Cleveland, Ohio), the spritely and mentally acute old gentleman shares several different episodes from his active life and the changing point in his earthly journey in an absorbing and intelligent manner.

Karl Boller was born on March 9, 1827 in Ober-Högern near Butzbach in the Wetterau, Hessen-Darmstadt region. He was the son of a carpenter and builder, named Kaspar Boller, and his wife. He attended the district schools and then for 3 years he attended the drafting school at Lich near Giessen, in order to prepare to become a builder. He was a journeyman for 5 years. Coming to Buffalo in 1849, he was employed by an American as a foreman for a period of 5 years. The knowledge acquired in drafting school in Germany guaranteed him a more than comfortable existence here in the states. Father Jesse Ketchum, in his day a well known figure in Buffalo, encouraged him to start his own business. In 1861 he established his contracting and builder's business. It grew rapidly. Among the houses he built is the one in which President McKinley died.
Later he established with 2 other partners a saw mill under the firm name of Boller, Recktenwalt & Schreiner. After Schreiner left and Recktenwalt died, Mr. Boller carried on the business for another 7 years with Recktenwalt's widow, although he was under no obligation to do so. He was good-heartedly fulfilling a promise made to his dead partner. Today the firm is called Chas. Boller & Sons Co. and it is incorporated. The fine-looking factory, built in 1873, is located at the corner of Chicago and Carroll Streets.

On April 2, 1851 Mr. Chas. Boller married Miss Carolina Hofheins of Buffalo. On April 2, 1901 the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in their beautiful and comfortable home at 652 Oak Street. In 1907 Mr. Boller was bereft of his loyal life partner. Eleven children came from the happy union, 7 daughters and 4 sons. Two sons have died. The 2 other sons, Henry C. and Albert, take part in their father's business and are considered capable businessmen. The younger son is a fine architect. The daughters have received excellent home schooling. Among Mr. Boller's sons-in-law you'll find the Honorable William Werner, Judge of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and the well-known and widely respected businessman J.J. Siegrist, a former member of the upper house of the city council. As patriarch, Mr. Boller lives in the circle of his kin. Twenty-one grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren continue his legacy. May this excellent man, who has so much in common with Buffalo's German community, have many long and blessed autumn years.

Translation of biography for Louis Fuhrmann will start on the next webpage.

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised July 3, 2005