The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 97 - 101


the liberty pole at the Terrace, where waved the American and the French flags. The German flag - black and red, decorated with gold - was carried at the head of the procession and set up at the tribune. Speeches, that were made in the three languages, preceded the passage of suitable resolutions in German, English and French. During the intermissions patriotic songs were sung by a chorus consisting mostly of Germans.

One paragraph of the resolutions read: "Resolved, that with ardent desire we long for the time when French and Germans combined as brethren, as sons of freedom advance in war against the 'Northern Collos'[Colossus], to help free the enslaved Poles, - And now freedom-loving Frenchmen are the compatriots of the 'Northern Coloss'."

On the 11th of July, 1848, Dr. Gabor Napheggi, a Hungarian, who remained here a few days on his journey home, gave a lecture on the insurrection of the Hungarians against Austria, at a public meeting, which was called by the German Young Men's Association. In the address made at this meeting, the hope was expressed that it would be alloted to Hungary to break the chains of tyranny and free the masses. On this occasion a German Revolutionary Society was founded. A yearly report of the executive committee of the German Young Men's Association was published in full for the first time in January 1851. This report showed a membership of 120 and a library consisting of 1090 volumes, 890 in the German

Caption under picture at center reads Public School No. 50, Eagle, near Madison Street


and 200 in the English language. In reference to the place of meeting the report says: "The hall has been put in a suitable condition by the purchase and alteration of seats, the procurement of a chandelier and besides two large lamps and other necessary improvements."

The First Picnic

The year 1851 was very eventful for the German Young Men's Association. Several of the political exiles of 1848, who hoped to find new homes in Buffalo, soon after their arrival had joined the Association. Among them was August Theime. He had been a member of the Frankfurter Parliament, and in his native city Leipzig, had made friends with Robert Blum, who had to pay with his life for the active part he had taken in the events at Vienna in October 1848. Among the most prominent of those who came over were Dr. K. Weiss, Dr. H. Baethig, the artist Carl Gruener, the

Caption in illustration at center reads Delaware School No. 16, Buffalo, N.Y. Frederick Mohr, Architect


musical director Carl Adam, and the druggist Julius Rieffenstahl. In his reminiscences of the "forty-eighters", Jacob Mueller says of Thieme:
"August Thieme and his ideas were in entire accord with the movement of the revolutionary young Germans. In him was embodied all the best, that formed the intellectual contents and right direction of the movement. Equipped with a classical education, with a warm heart for the joys and sorrows of his fellow beings, and highly sensitive to all that was beautiful and good, he ever strove with words and deeds towards the highest aims, and exercised an instructive and noble influence in all directions. In the circle of his friends and acquaintances and in social circles he was always considerate, animated and amiable; in his public appearance moderate, dignified and convincing. In Buffalo Thieme made a scanty living as a private teacher, and for several

Caption under picture at center reads Central High School, Franklin, Genesee and Court Streets


months he taught in a school, which he had founded with Dr. H. Baethig. At the beginning of August 1852 he went to Cleveland to become editor of a paper issued at that time, the "Wächter an Erie". He later became the owner of this paper, which he edited until his death [1].

During the winter season of 1850-51, August Thieme gave a series of lectures on German literature. These lectures were always attended by a numerous and attentive audience, and were also of importance to the Association, as through them it gained many new members.

But as his lectures could only be appreciated by a select circle, Thieme deserves yet more an honorable mention as the arranger of the first picnic, which gathered great numbers of Germans here in the open air, according to their custom in their native country. He gave the first impulse for later festivities of the same kind, which even to this day are remembered by the participants as "red letter days" of gay sociability. Thieme suggested having a large German picnic on St. John's Day, the 24th of June; the German Young Men's Association favored his suggestion, and Thieme was the "soul of the festivities". He had a strong supporter in Dr. Hauenstein, the president of the society. Westphal's garden was chosen as the picnic ground. This garden was in fact a park and had been arranged by its owner, the florist Johann Westphal, prettily and cosily, and had been opened in the previous year as the "Citizen's Garden". The extensive grounds were situated east of Delaware Avenue and south of Forest Lawn. Later it became the property of the brewer Albert Ziegele, who

Caption under picture at center reads Masten Park High School, North, Masten and Best Streets

[1] The German text reads "Later he became owner of this newspaper, which he edited for twenty-seven years uninterruptedly until the time of his death." Return to text


changed it into the "Felsenkeller" and considerably enlarged the pleasure grounds [1].

The picnic programme had been published several times before hand and had caused real excitement among the German population on account of its abundance. On the day of the feast most of the German stores were closed at noon. The "Weltbürger" postponed its issue for one day on account of the great event. Old and young, master and servant, went out of town. A little "migration of the nations" in carriages and on foot moved towards "Westphal's Garden", with many Americans among them. Busses took the people for six cents each to the grounds. The admission was 50 cents for one gentleman, with the privilege of introducing two ladies. Children, accompanying their parents, were free. Indeed, it was a regular German public feast. August Thieme delivered an address that agreed with the occasion, to which the audience listened attentively. The children who took part at the games - such as Cock-throwing, Pole-climbing, Sackracing, and others - received prizes [2]. Many of the older people gathered under the shady trees of the lovely park and played games also. The sound of jolly music mingled with the cheerful crowd, and here and there songs of the"Liedertafel" were heard. Toward evening the play, "Der Eckensteher Nante im Verhör", was performed on a stage that had been erected for the purpose. After this the dancing began. After darkness a sky-rocket gave the signal for the beginning of the living pictures. The feast concluded with fire-works.

The "Weltbürger" says about the picnic as follows:
"The picnic last Tuesday was an exceedingly grand affair and passed off very cheerfully. The attendance was so large, that the badges, which were presented to every visitor, were all given away at 5 o'clock in the evening. Including ladies and children at least 3000 people were present. We never before in our life have seen so many cheerful faces together. Everybody seemed to rival each other in joy and cordiality. The fear that a gang of American rowdies would disturb the feast proved groundless. The executive committee ought to be highly praised for their excellent management. Without the intention to hurt the feelings of any member of the committee, we have to mention especially the names of Dr. Hauenstein, president of the German Young Men's Association, Mr. August Thieme, the public speaker and chairman of the game committee, and Mr. Rodeck, the arranger of the performance and the living pictures. And lastly we have to mention the two very jovial hosts, Mr. Jacob and Mr. Westphal, whose lager beer was a great attraction and tasted well to everyone, as the consumers showed practically." [3]

[1]The German text reads "It [the park] later became the property of Brewer Albert Ziegele, who had rock caverns installed and enlarged the garden areas." Return to text

[2] The German text mentions 4 games "Stechvogel, Hahnenschlagen, Stangenklettern, Sachlaufen", meaning bird toss, cock fighting, pole climbing and sack races. Return to text

[3] The German text reads "Finally let us not forget Mr. Schanzlin's lager beer served by two friendly barkeeps, which proved to be a great attraction and received unreserved praise, as measured by its degree of consumption, and praise to Mr. Jacob and Mr. Westphal as well." Return to text

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Revised March 27, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks