The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 92 - 96

.

heavy speculations preceded it. People in general were in easier circumstances and most business houses were founded on a more substantial basis. A few off-years followed, which were only lost sight of through the excitement of the civil war.

The German Young Men's Association

The German Young Men's Association has taken a most important place in the development of German citizenship, especially during the first ten years of its existence. This society was for many years the center not only of mental activity, but also of all enjoyable social entertainments, and the starting point of many general festivities of the German population. A thorough description of its career and sphere of activity is all the more justified as it is the oldest German society of the city of Buffalo.

The German Young Men's Association is in a certain sense an offspring of the "Buffalo Apprentices' Society", incorporated in 1833 by young Americans, apprentices and clerks, who made it their object to mutually advance the knowledge of its members by discussions, recitations, and the acquirement of a library. Young men who belonged to the association at the beginning of the forties were: F.A. Georger, John Hauenstein, Charles Georger, John Greiner, John G. Guenther and Jacob Schwarzenberg. One paragraph of the constitution of the "Apprentices' Society" said, that no one having passed the age of 29 [1] years could remain a member of the society; therefore F.A. Georger and John Hauenstein, having almost reached this age, resolved to leave the "Apprentices'Society" and to incorporate a similar society of young people. This was suggested by their friend, Jacob Beyer, who on account of his age could not join the Apprentices' Society.

The resolution was carried out and on May 10th, 1841 the "German-English Literature Society" was founded: F.S. Georger being president, John Hauenstein, vice-president, Carl Neidhardt, secretary, and the brothers Jacob and George Beyer, George F. Pfeiffer, Wilhelm Rudolf and Adam Schlagder members. By the way let us think of the fact that John Hauenstein and the brothers, Jacob and John Rudolf, who came together with their parents to America on the same ship, are still fresh in mind and body enjoying their life.

The purpose of the society was: Mutual education in the different branches of German and English literature, science and art, the general spreading of useful knowledge, and providing of a good library. Every German under thirty years could join as a regular or active member, and over thirty as a passive member. Meetings were held every Monday night in a very plain room in the rear of Dr. Dellenbaugh's

Caption under picture at upper left reads The Fire on the Steamship "Erie" - see page 51


[1] The German text cites "21" as the age when members had to leave the "Buffalo Apprentices' Society". This age seems more reasonable than 29, since apprenticeships were usually completed before a young man reached his majority. John Hauenstein and F.A. Georger were born in 1821; Charles [Karl] Georger in 1822. This indicates that the German text's age of 21 is correct. Return to text

.

Caption under full page picture reads Present Music Hall

.

drug store on Main, near Court Street. This meeting-room was, in accord with the modest means of the society's members at the time, furnished very plainly. Here the society met until 1843.

Although the founders of the society intended to foster the English language as well as the German, they discovered, after the first month of its existence, that they were not able to succeed in the matter. They did not drop the English entirely, but they had to neglect it. To indicate this action also externally they changed the name of the society to the "German Young Men's Association of the City of Buffalo." This took place on the 11th of September, 1841.

By donating books the members laid the foundation of a library. A voluntary collection of the sum of $20 enabled the society to buy a work containing forty volumes, "Familien Bibliothek," [a Family Library] which was very much in demand at that time.

With a ball, which was held in the Eagle Tavern on February 1st, 1843, for the benefit of the library fund, the society was introduced for the first time to the public. The success of this festivity surpassed all expectations. So every year a ball was arranged, of which the profit was always turned over to the library fund. In the annual report in May 1844 it was stated that at this time the library contained 153 German and 79 English volumes. The number of members increased [1]. On the 12th of November, 1846, when the society obtained the rights of a corporation, the library contained 750 volumes, of which 600 were written in German and 150 in English. In the very same year a book catalog was printed.

On the programme at the celebration of the foundation of the society in 1843, was a speech by F.A. Georger on the "Aims of the Society," and a debate on the question: "Whether a protective tariff

Caption under picture at center reads Members of the General Committee of the 1st Saengerfest, 1860: C.W. Braun, Carl Adam, Julius Rieffenstahl, Julius Movius, Louis Schultz, Julius Hoffmann, Hermann Doerffell


[1] The German text reads "The membership grew to 104 members." Return to text

.

would be advantageous to the United States." Hauenstein and Beyers were on the affirmative side, and Rudolf and Munschauer on the negative side of the question. The two latter were adjudged the victors in the discussion.

From their first home the society moved to the Eagle Tavern, and there, in the dining hall, the first public lectures were given. The rooms on the third floor served as library and assembly-rooms. The hotel soon proved too noisy, therefore the society moved in the winter of 1843-44 into new quarters in the "Kremlin Block", where it remained until 1854. The scientific lectures drew always a large audience, among whom were many ladies. Such lectures were mostly given by Georg Zahm (whose acquaintance the kind reader has already made as editor of the first German newspaper and as captain of the first German militia company), and Dr. F.C. Brunck and Carl Esslinger.

The society excited warm interest among outside circles by a theatrical performance with songs and instrument music at the "Eagle Street Theatre", near the corner of Washington and Eagle Streets, on the 15th of February 1844. "Joseph Heiderich" or "Die Deutsche Treue" and the first and last acts of Shakespeare's "Richard III" were played by members of the society. The performance was warmly received, the house being overcrowded. Encouraged by this good success the members decided to produce plays of more importance. On the 12th of January 1847

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No. 44, Broadway, cor. Person Street

.

they gave Schiller's "Räuber" [The Robbers]. A notice of this entertainment in the "Weltbürger" says: "It was surprising to see this play performed so well by an amateur company. There was no sign of nervous acting or stage-fright, although only a few rehearsals had been held. The house was well filled and many Americans were among the audience."

Political Events in Europe

Although the German Young Men's Association in no way as a body took a stand on the political questions of this country, it still showed great interest in the political events of Europe. On the 17th of January 1846 a public meeting was held in their hall for the benefit of Dr. George Friedr. Seidensticker.

Dr. Seidensticker had taken an active part in the political disturbances of the thirties, and on account he was condemned to lifelong imprisonment in a fortress. He had been pardoned fifteen years later and banished, and at that time was on his way to America. Resolutions were passed in order to welcome the exile on his arrival in the United States, and a sum of money was raised for him in our city and in other cities with a large German population. Dr. Seidensticker landed in New York on the 12th of March, where the Germans had prepared a public reception for him, in which the city officials and a great number of Americans took part. In April he spent several weeks in Buffalo as a guest of his brother, Jerome Seidensticker, who had a book-bindery on Genesee, near Main Street.

In celebration of the February Revolution in France, the German Young Men's Association suggested a torch-light procession and a grand mass-meeting, and this suggestion was carried out on the 3rd of April, 1848. The procession formed on Genesee Square and moved to

Caption under picture at center reads Major Noah's Memorial Stone, laid 1825 on Grand Island


Return to Introduction

Return to Indexes

Go on to Pages 97 - 101


Revised March 15, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks