The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y.- Part I, pages 112 - 116


floor toward Main and Edward Streets. On the 7th of December the opening of the building was celebrated with a grand banquet, and the profits of $170 were devoted to the library fund. From the 11th to the 18th of February 1884 the society arranged for a fair, known as "the Carneval of Nations", to raise funds to pay the debt caused by the unexpected building expenses. At this fair a clear profit of $5,000 was made. A similar fair, the "Carneval of Authors", was arranged for the same purpose from the 5th to the 14th of February 1885, and brought $2,750. The building began to pay. The two halls of the house had several times during the winter been rented. At this time the hopes of the society were suddenly ruined with one blow.

The "Music Hall" as it had been named, became a prey to the flames on the evening of 25th of March 1885. The library of the German Young Men's Association containing 7451 volumes, was, with the exception of 384 volumes loaned out to members, destroyed by the flames. Among them were many precious works which could not be duplicated.

The New Music Hall

Out of the ashes of the old building a new one should be erected rivalling the old one in its magnificence! This decision was reached

Caption under picture at right center reads Von Wiedrich's Battery: Christopher Schmidt, Lieutenant; Philip Bacher, Sergeant; Michael Wiedrig, Colonel


at an extra meeting of the Association two days after the fire. A subscription committee of twenty-five members was appointed at once and the motion made, to call upon the citizens of Buffalo for energetic help. At this very meeting the amount of $20,000 was subscribed, chiefly through the efforts of Frank Georger, one of the oldest and most faithful members of the German Young Men's Association, and by Heinrich Schmidt, who principally had to be thanked for his active work at the "Carneval of Nations". Through the executive ability of the last named the success could not fail to come. By subscription the firm of Philip Becker & Co. and Mr. Jacob F. Schoellkopf gave each $5,000, worthy examples to be imitated. The Firm of Barnes, Hengerer & Co. subscribed $1,000. Grover Cleveland, at that time President of the United States, also sent his share for the building fund.

In May 1885 the German Young Men's Association again moved into the old home, at the northwest corner of Main and Mohawk Streets, which the owner, Dr. Hauenstein, magnanimously had placed at their disposal free of charge. Two years later, when they were compelled to move, Fuchs Bros. offered in a most willing manner a shelter in their building at the northeast corner of Main and Mohawk Streets until the Association was able to move into their own home.[1] By donations and purchasing the number of volumes in the library had already in October 1887 reached 4,000, hardly two years and one-half after the fire. The corner stone of the new "Music Hall" was laid on the 31st of May 1886. The

Caption under picture at center reads Ruins of old Fort Porter

[1]The German text mentions that the Fuchs Bros. offered the building rent-free (on page 116). Return to text


superintendent of the construction was Architect Richard A. Waite, whose plans had been considered by the building committee as the best of the eleven submitted.

On the 7th of November 1887 the finished building was passed over to the German Young Men's Association by the building committee, and the opening was celebrated by a grand promenade concert, songs of the Orpheus, Liedertafel and Saengerbund, a ball and banquet. The total cost of the building and its interior decorations amounted to $246,600, about $90,000 more than its estimates had called for. Notwithstanding the purchase of a part of the estate on Franklin Street and the lease of the lot on Edward Street, the property of the Association was heavily oppressed with three mortgages, and besides these a pending debt of $30,000 had to be paid. At this crisis Judge Jacob Stern, who had served the county as surrogate officer [ a Probate Court Judge] for one term, appeared as a deliverer from this distress. Thanks to his energy, the Association found a way to pay the pending debt. On the 2nd of May 1888 Mr. F.C.M. Lautz proposed to appoint him a committee of one to plan a feast, the profit of which should give relief. Assisted by Henry Altman, Philo D. Beard, Harlow C. Palmer and Thomas D. Ramsdell as executive committee, they planned a grand "Prize Fair". The latter took place in April 1889 and the success exceeded the most daring expectations. The clear profit of the enterprise was $43,539. Not only the pending debt could be paid but also the mortgages were lessened. To honor Mr. Jacob Stern and his active assistants the Association gave a banquet, where a skillfully worked diploma with a precious frame was presented to him, the principal furtherer of the enterprise, who worked with all his might.

In 1891, when the 50th anniversary of the German Young Men's Association took place, F.A. Georger and Dr. John Hauenstein held the same places of honor as President and Vice-President, which they had occupied half a century before. This was indeed an unusual event in the biography of a society. The 50th anniversary was celebrated in the Music hall with a feast of two days on the 11th and 12th of May. The celebration of the first night consisted of speeches and orchestra music; the second in a splendid ball and grand banquet. Grover Cleveland, who had served the United States as President for one term already, spoke in English, and Dr. Senner in German. The latter was at that time one of the editors of the "New Yorker Staatzeitung" [New York State Newspaper] of New York. The speech of Mr. Cleveland was one of the best ever made by him. What he said about German character, German literature and art, about the importance of the German element for the development of culture and prosperity in the United States, and especially

Caption under picture at center reads Buffalo Crematorium


what Germans had done for Buffalo, were words of a man who, like few Americans, know the German manner and German life and who highly esteems them.

In the last general meeting of the German Young Men's Association the report was brought in that the society contains 726 members, among them six honorary members and six hundred life members. At this time the library holds 7041 volumes.

The Presidents of the society were:
F.A. Georger, 1841; Jacob Beyer, 1843; Peter Pfanner, 1845; Dr. John Hauenstein, 1847; Jacob Reichers, 1848; Dr. F.C. Brunck, 1849; Dr. Hauenstein, 1850-52; F.A. Georger, 1852; Wilhelm Rudolf, 1853; Dr. C. De Haas, 1854-55; F.A. Georger, 1857; Dr. Eduard Storck, 1858; Friedrich Held, 1859; H.F. Juengling, 1860; Carl Trieschmann, 1861-62; H.F. Juengling, 1863; Carl Trieschmann, 1864; Augustus Paul, 1865; F.A. Georger, 1866; John B. Schlund, 1867-68; Dr. F.A. Haupt, 1869; Jacob Beyer, 1870; Fr. Behn, 1871; Frank Georger, 1872; A. Rose, 1873-74; George Gethoefler, 1875-76; George Vom Berge, 1877; Dr. L. Schade, 1878; Wilhelm Lautz, 1879; Herman Behn, 1880; F.C.M. Lautz, 1881-84; John Greiner, 1885-90; F.A. Georger, 1891; Heinrich Schmidt, 1892; Jacob F. Schoellkopf, jr. 1893; Chas. A. Wenborne, 1894-95; Dr. Eduard


Storck, 1896-97, who died before the expiration of his term. The present President is Alex. Hoegl.

The librarians of the society were: Carl Trieschmann; Friedrich Frankenstein, 1857-64; Heinrich Behling till 1867; Dr. F.A. Haupt till 1883. The present Librarian is Fr. Frankenstein.

The Oldest German Singing Society

If the canting hypocrites or knownothings of our country especially in the larger cities, have steadily lost their foothold, and on the contrary, the German-Americans have risen in the esteem and regard of their fellow citizens, the credit, in great measure, is due to the cultivating influence of the German Societies, and above all others to the Singing Societies. In the beginning of June of the year 1854, a journal, issued in Buffalo, called "Democracy" wrote in regard to the festivities of a German Society, about as follows:
"Has it ever occured to our American Citizens at large, that we have among us a German population of more than 25,000, whose daily customs and habits are as unknown to us all as those of the Tartars. Their newspapers, three in number, we believe, are of course sealed books to us Americans, and as the Germans in general live in distinct portions of the city, and have their own churches, their own places of amusements, societies and organizations, the intercourse between the two nationalities must of necessity be slight. We would be glad, if it were different. The peculiarities of the German people offer the observing descendants of the Puritans endless sources of study; and we from personal experience, however slight, know that not only are their usages and customs agreeable but that there are found among their number cultivated, intellectual minds, scientific and philosophical geniuses, a closer acquaintance with whom would richly award the one fortunate enough to break through the barriers which surround them. There are reasons, therefore, which we will not seek to argue, but we would be pleased if they were removed, and more cordial relations established between the different elements of the population, especially between the Germans and the Americans, the former of whom are now, as a general thing, as far as social intercourse is concerned, completely isolated."[1]
If the wish of the author of the preceeding line has in the course of time been fulfilled, the credit belongs chiefly to the musical efficiency of the Germans, and therefore especially to the German Singing Societies. The power of German music caused the Americans to draw nearer to their German fellow citizens, and gradually it dawned upon them, that these "Foreigners" were really quite sociable people.

Although it cannot be exactly state who or what gave the first impulse to the founding of the first singing society in Buffalo, it

[1] Translator's note: This article from the June 7, 1854 edition of "Democracy" made quite an impression on the German community. The article was translated into German and published in the June 8, 1854 edition of the Buffalo Demokrat und Weltbürger. The article was again issued in the German newspaper The Buffalo Volksfreund Tuesday, June 25, 1901 within an article titled "The Power of Song".
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Revised March 27, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks