The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 77 - 81

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The "Sonntagspost" [Sunday Post], issued by Hermann Hoffmann, was a humorous Sunday paper, edited skillfully and devoted to the social life of the singers, turners, and actors. It came to an end with the death of its owner in January, 1896, after an existence of five years.

The "Buffalo Herold" [Buffalo Herald], founded by stock owners on March 15, 1897, was a weekly paper devoted to German social life, to progress, amusement and instruction. It was taken charge of at the beginning of January, 1898, by Joseph Mosler & Co., and a few months later united with the "Buffaloer Arbeiter-Zeitung".

A Catholic Sunday paper, "Niagara", published and edited by W. Keilmann in the beginning of August, 1898, is the latest production of Buffalo's newspaper literature.

Whatever may be the errors and faults of the German press of Buffalo, no one can deny, that it has bravely fought for the interest of the German-American population, and has done much to improve it; and therefore it is the duty of every German to support it loyally. [1.]

The German Language in the Public Schools

As early as the year 1836 the Germans, who formed at that time a third part of the population, made the first attempt to have the German Language taught in the Public Schools, in those districts which they occupied. At a meeting of German citizens, toward the end of July of that year, the resolution was taken, to ask the aldermen to erect a German-English school. As the petition remained without result, a number of German citizens united to found a school out of their own means. To manage this affair a school-board was elected, consisting of the following members: Conrad Hellriegel, Wilhelm Rink, Michael Burg, Christian Becker, and Joseph Zimmermann.

In 1837, January the fourteenth, a German-English school for children of all confessions was opened in a house on Oak Street, between Batavia and Sycamore Streets. The dues for children, whose parents could afford to pay, were 40 cents per month. Poor children were taught gratis. Franz L. Schreck was the teacher of the school,

Caption under picture at center reads American Hotel after the Fire


[1.]The German text reads "And thus it is the unescapable duty of every German to support the German press, its own press, as if it were a beloved child, and not treat that it as though it were a merely tolerated stepchild. Return to text

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and was chiefly supported by donations of wealthy Germans. Some time later the school was removed to the east side of Ellicott Street, between Huron and Genesee Streets. In this school our present Mayor, Dr. Conrad Diehl, and his brothers, Joseph L. Haberstro, Jacob Schenkelberger, J. Dingens, Jos. Fischer and other prominent citizens received their first education.

A second attempt to introduce the German language in the Public Schools was made in the Spring of 1838. The citizens of the fourth ward, consisting mostly of Germans, - at that time the city was only divided into five wards - elected Dr. Fr. Dellenbaugh for alderman to make a special appeal in the Common Council concerning the want of German in Public Schools.

At last attention was paid to the continued demand of the German citizens, and the Common Council consented to the opening of a school in which, besides the other subjects, German was taught. This was at the beginning of the new school year, 1839-40, in the twelfth school district. The teacher of this school was J.M. Zahm, and the sessions were held in a house on Hickory Street. A few weeks after the opening of school the new district school building on Spruce Street, near Batavia Street, was completed and the removal took place. [1.] This building, having become decayed, was torn down in the Summer of 1897, and a new one, fitted with all modern improvements, has been erected in its place.

In November, 1850, the German citizens of the fourth ward presented a petition to the Common Council, favoring the appointment of German teachers in those schools which were largely attended by German children. At the meeting of the Common Council, January 11th, 1851, the School Board recommended the appointment of a gentleman and a lady teacher for instruction in German in Schools No. 11, 12, 13 and 15. With the exception of one vote the recommendation was rejected by the aldermen, who were all touched with nativistic sentiments.

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No. 13, Oak St., between Genesee and Huron Sts.


[1.]The German text reads "A few weeks after the opening of the school year the new district schoolhouse was completed on Spruce Street near Batavia and the classes were moved over there." Return to text

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Fifteen years later another attempt was made to introduce the German language in the Public Schools and this time was successful. Since 1862 the German language has been taught in the Central School, but only by an American teacher, who also taught other subjects. At the beginning they had allowed $400 for German; in 1869 the salary was increased to $600, and in 1870 to $1075. In 1872 the salary of the instructor of German in the Central School was fixed at $1200 a year. Julius Vortriede was the first German appointed as teacher in German in the Central School in the year 1870.

On the 13th of August, 1866, John S. Fosdick, Superintendent of Schools at that time, sent a recommendation to the Common Council concerning the teaching of German in four Public schools, being encouraged by Pastor Dr. Otto Burger. This recommendation was turned over to the School Board, who presented to the Common Council by Alderman Richard Flach, from the fourth ward, the following resolution"

"Resolved, that the Superintendent of Schools is authorized, according to the amendment of the School Board, to appoint two experienced and capable teachers of German, with a salary not exceeding the sum of $1000 a year: and that those teachers under these ordinances should be directed to Schools No. 12, 13, 15 and 31 as the School Superintendent and the School Board agree."

This resolution was accepted unanimously. This almost surprising agreement of the aldermen concerning this question is to be explained by the approaching election, which made it necessary to accommodate the Germans.

For Schools No. 12 and 31 Carl Aug. Goehle was appointed, and for No. 13 and 15 Ludwig Schneider was the teacher of German. Soon after this the number of schools where German was taught was increased to twelve, and two new German teachers were appointed by the name of William Schmidt and Franz Puetz. These teachers were

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No.19, West Avenue, cor. Delavan Ave.

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called "Itinerant Teachers", because everyone had several schools and was obliged to "itinerate" from one building to the other. In former times street cars were only running on Main and Niagara Streets. The work of these "Itinerant Teachers" suddenly came to an end after the conclusion of the fiscal year 1872-73, and caused great agitation among the German population.

After the estimates for the year 1873-74 had been made by the Comptroller, it was found that the salary for the German teachers had not been counted in with the rest of the city expenses. This omission was understood by the German citizens as intentional, in order to put the German language out of the schools again. It caused a hot dispute in the Common Council, which lasted so long that consent was barely obtained in time. The Mayor was obliged to call an extra meeting of the Aldermen on the evening of the 30th of April in order to have consent given before the 1st of May, which was the lawful time. Shortly before midnight the meeting was closed and the appropriation was made by a vote of 13 against 11.

On the next Sunday, May 4th, a meeting of German citizens took place at Turn Hall, where a committee of 35 members was appointed, whose duty it should be to announce another meeting, where resolutions should be taken, to show their dissatisfaction. This meeting took place on Monday, May 19th, in Kehr's Hall (now Fidelity Hall). The large hall was filled to the doors. At this meeting a great number of resolutions were adopted in which the Common Council was condemned on account of their anti-German disposition, and the committee of 35 were charged to direct efforts to the reinstatement of the German language in the Public Schools. These resolutions, together with a petition of the German Young Men's Association to the same effect, but couched in milder terms, and another signed by 88 German citizens with George Sandrock at the head, were sent in to

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No.20, Amherst St., cor. East St.

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the Common Council. The effect of these proceedings was felt in the Fall elections of 1873, the Germans proving successful in securing the defeat of every candidate, who was in any way connected with the discharge of the German teachers.

The Common Council of 1874 passed a resolution in which they appointed ten or more German teachers in those Public Schools where there were a certain number of children whose parents demanded that the German language be taught to them.

The first female German teachers were: Anna Krombein, Emma Schelle, Helena Becker, Anna Klein, Jane A. Kämmerling, Aleda H. Hackstein, Jeanette Loosen, Frances L. Schuster, Helene Rohr and Ida Tobschall.

For a short time after the new system had been introduced, the teaching of German was placed under the supervision of the German teacher of the Central School, William Schmidt. Some time later this supervision was entrusted to the Clerk of the Superintendent of Education. In 1887 a Superintendent of the German Department was appointed, who also fills the office of Secretary to the Superintendent of Educataion. The first Superintendent of the German Department was Adolf Fink; the present Superintendent is Matthew J. Chemnitz.

According to the latest offical report the number of pupils registered for German instruction was 7742, including the two High Schools; about 40 percent of this number being children of American parents. The number of male and female teachers of German in our public schools is now fifty-eight.

The Germans in the Volunteer Fire Companies

Whoever at the present time observes our splendid Fire-Department in the performance of their duties, their systematic working, and strict discipline, can have no idea of the state of affairs which prevailed at the time, when merely Volunteer Fire Companies existed. The

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No. 25, Lewis St, near Howard


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Revised March 13, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks