The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 132 - 136


Bishop Timon consecrated the new house of worship. In September 1851, the first schoolhouse was built on Broadway, and in 1869 the second one was erected on Pine Street; in 1874 the former was torn down to make room for the present structure, which was built at a cost of $40,000. In 1852 the congregation built an Orphan Asylum and supported it until 1874. From it originated the present "German Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum".

St. Boniface Church

Those who have immigrated within the past 25 years can scarcely form a conception of what a small, insignificant city Buffalo was at the end of the forties, and until far into the sixties. At the time of its erection the present St. Boniface Church stood in the midst of the woods, and its members were plain lumbermen, who had built their log cabins there. In May, 1849, forty poor families laid the foundations of a modest little wooden church, which was given the name St. John on May 15th of the same year.

The first pastor, Zachariah Kunse, was at the head of the congregation until 1853. Despite the smallness of the congregation, and the poverty of its members, it built a schoolhouse during the first year, and engaged both a salaried teacher and organist, and besides built a rectory.

In 1851 the church was enlarged, a tower was added, and a bell and an organ were purchased. In November, 1853, Bishop Timon called the Right Reverend Follenius to the pastorate of the congregation. He came from Fulda, Germany, and brought with him to the new world a great veneration for Boniface, the "Apostle of Germany". As the congregation increased rapidly, he built a new church of brick, the dimensions being 55 by 120 feet, and had it dedicated under the name of Saint Boniface.

On May 14th, 1859, Rudolphus Follenius died, mourned as a father by his grateful congregation. He was succeeded by his assistant priest H. Feldmann until January, 1863. After the latter came in rapid succession the Right Reverends Zawidowski [1], J. Soemer and Nicholas Sorg.

Caption under picture at center reads St. Francis Xavier Church

[1]The German text spells the name "Zawitowski". Return to text


The latter from 1863-73 built the nave of the church, two vestries, a tower with a clock, and bought four bells.

During the second pastorate of H. Feldmann, the debt was decreased, a new convent and rectory were built, and the schoolhouse erected in 1864 was enlarged, but death ended his useful career only too early, on November 30th, 1880.

Under his successor, there arose much dissatisfaction, because of the election of vestrymen according to the incorporation of the year 1856. As no agreement could be reached the church was closed and interdicted from January 27th until June 4th, 1884. Since then the Right Reverend J. Kolb leads the congregation with great devotion and rare success.

The first Holy Mass on the Niagara Frontier and the St. Franciscus Xaverius Church

In 1869 [1], in the neighborhood of the present city line, in Black Rock, below the spot where the water-works now stand, the first holy mass was read before the astonished Iroquois by three Franciscan Monks, followers of the bold explorer "Sieur de la Salle", who lay anchor for some weeks at the mouth of Cayuga Creek with his brigantine "Griffon", which he had built before he sailed over Lake Erie to the far West.

One of the Franciscans was Father Hennepin, who furnished in his publication "The new discovery of a very large tract of land in America, between New Mexico and the Arctic Ocean", which appeared in Utrecht in 1698, the first description of Niagara Falls and its surroundings, as well as the construction and trip of the "Griffon", the crew of which had daily intercourse with the Indians.

The first Catholic Church was erected not far from the spot where the pious Franciscan monks had read the first holy mass, by Father Fritch, a Jesuit priest, on October 15th, 1849, and several Godfearing settlers, who had early made Black Rock their home. At first only a modest little wooden church was built. A year later Franz Guth, at that time pastor of St. Louis Church, accepted the pastorate of the small congregation.

In 1852 the pastor J.N. Sester built a brick church, which was enlarged twice. He was succeeded by the Right Reverends Geymer, Saeger, Hafala, Zawidowski, Moshall, Joertch, Marteus, and for a period of more than 20 years, J.P. Kofler [2], who in turn was succeeded by Chas. Schaus.

A large three-story schoolhouse with eight classrooms and a large assemblyroom was finished in 1894. The new, spacious rectory was completed on June 18th, 1898.

[1] The German text lists the date as 1669. Return to text

[2]The German text lists the name as "I.P. Kofler". Return to text


St. Michael's Church and Canisius college

Very early we meet with the followers of Loyola in the missions of Western New York, where 200 years before the founding of the Republic these undaunted fellow monks had suffered martrydom from the tomahawks of the blood-thirsty Iroquois.

Bishop Timon invited the Fathers from Montreal to his diocese to found a college, and also to take the pastorate of St. Louis Church, after he had been convinced of the impossibility of elevating the church to a cathedral. The Fathers performed the duties of several parishes, with Williamsville as their headquarters, until on Easter Sunday, 1851, L. Caveng presented himself as pastor to the astonished people of St. Louis Church. His fellow associate was Father Fritch. As early as May 4th, 1851, however, the Fathers deserted their ungrateful field of labor, and with 19 families formed the new congregation, which temporarily held its services at the corner of Washington and Clinton Streets, in the basement of St. Peter's Church. On August 20th, 1851, Bishop Timon laid the corner-stone of St. Michael's Church, and put St. Louis Church under a bann and interdict.

On New Year's Day, 1852, followed the formal dedication, and somewhat later the parochial school was in active operation; in the same year St. Michael's Society was organized. L. Caveng led the young congregation until his death, which occurred on Jan. 27, 1862. He was succeeded by the Fathers Blettner and Vetter, and from Aug. 15th, 1863, until July 25th, 1870, by Father Joseph Durthaler, who is rightly named the father of St. Michael's Church. On July 30th, 1864, the latter laid the corner-stone of the new St. Michael's

Caption under picture at center reads St. Michael's Church


Church, the cost of this splendid structure amounted to $100,000. Bishop Timon did not live to see the day of its dedication; dying on April 16th, 1867. His associate, Bishop Lynch of Toronto, consecrated the new church on July 16th, 1867.

Until the year 1868 St. Michael's Church was subject to the 'Laity" of the Canadian Provincial Order. On September 16th of that year the first Fathers came from the German Provincial Order: Fathers Spiecher, Kreusch and Nueber. For a time, until July 6th, 1870, those mentioned labored under Father Durthaler. On this day Father Reiter became his successor. Under his guidance St. Michael's Church was transferred with all its burdens and duties to the German Provincial Order.

At this time Canisius College was founded. At earlier periods the Fathers had made attempts to establish Latin schools, but without success. Father Reiter and Father Becker, the latter since March, 1871, succeeding Father Reiter as Superior, were the first to attain palpable success. On September 5th, 1870, a classical course was opened in a house on Ellicott Street. In 1872 the new college in Washington Street was built and in 1874 the parochial school. Father Becker officiated until February 5th, 1875. The pastors of St. Michael's Church who succeeded him were the Fathers Kreusch, Kamp, Groenings and Faber.

The college of 1872 has long since proved too small, and has experienced so many enlargements and alterations, that its original proportions cannot now be recognized. The cultivation within its walls has kept pace with its outer growth. Every year new pedagogues were procured from Germany, and lent their energy with such devotion for the education of

Caption under picture at center reads St. Anna's Church


the youth that Canisius College is today considered one of the best classical educational institutions in the country.

St. Anna's Church

St. Anna's Church was founded by the order of Bishop Timon on March 15th, 1858, by Father Lucas Caveng, the then Superior of St. Michael's Church. The ceremony of laying the corner-stone took place on the 15th of the same month. On June 20th the consecration of the church was consummated by the Vicar-General Krautbauer. It was a simple, spacious brick structure. After the new church had been built, it served for many years as a school-house, until four years later, it gave place to the new four-story school building. The erection of the new, imposing church was begun in December 1877, and the ceremony of laying the corner-stone took place on August 25th, 1878, and on the third Sunday in May, 1886, the Right Reverend Bishop Ryan, performed the rites of consecration.

The first school was opened almost simultaneously with the old church, and during the first years showed on its rolls the names of 200 children.

The first resident pastor of St. Anna's Church was Father Joseph Vetter, from June, 1858, until August 1860. Succeeding him were the following Fathers: B. Fritsch, J. Blettner, J. Bellwalder, P. Spicher, J. Bellwalder, U. Roether, U. Kurtherole, U. Roether, J. Kreusch and Wm. Becker. Father Roether served the church for the longest period, From February, 1875, until September, 1890, with but a short interruption. He began, completed and paid for the new structure.

St. Vincent's Congregation

This little church sprang into existence in 1863, out at "Cold Spring" on Main Street. J.M. Sorg had

Caption under picture at center reads The Churches of the Seven Dolors

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Revised April 3, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks