The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 157 - 161


to that purpose in December, 1894. In 1898, at considerable cost, a thorough renovation and improvement in the theatre and the building in general was undertaken, and it was then given the name of "National Hall", a name it had formerly borne for a number of years. It is a lamentable fact, that, not only the old books of minutes, but also the later ones have disappeared. To this circumstance is to be ascribed the fact that the important events in the life of the society can only be obtained by verbal traditions, and therefore have no foundation on historical accuracy. Through the union of both the Turn Vereins soon after the Civil War under the name of the "Buffalo Turn Verein", with its home in the building on Ellicott Street, a successful co-operation of its former divided strength was effected. The officers of the society after the re-union were as follows: Chas. Berck and Michael Eichelsdoerfer, Pres. and Vice-Pres.; C. Hasenzahl, A. Lilia and C. Gillig, Secretaries; C. Becker, Treas.; J. Miller, Treas. of the Sick Fund; George Neu, A. Bader, W. Langheim and P. Wersch, Board of Directors; Conrad Beischer, Librarian; H. Springer, Color Bearer. Instructors in the gymnasium without remuneration were K. Krauskopf and Ehrhard Siebold. The latter for a number of years instructor in gymnastics for the Fire Department, was instructor of the men's class. Carl Berck had charge of the boy's class. J. Friest was fencing master. Not until 1880 was it possible for the society to engage a salaried instructor. The present teacher, since 1894, is Richard Meller. The following among others have held the office of President of the "Buffalo Turn Verein": Louis Allgewähr, Albert Ziegele, Sr., Frank I. Pfennig, James Meier, John Haffner, Herrmann Weber, Paul Wertsch, Albert Adler, Carl Becker, Conrad Staffel, Louis A. Buehl, Ludwig Schneider, Ph. Becker, Dr. Wm. Meisburger, Paul Werner, Carl Berck, Wilhelm Würtz, August Lilia, F.X. Spitznagel, Fritz Lochmann, Emil Jackson, Max. F. Grosser, Dr. Charles Auel, Hugo Kirchner and Mathias Weyland. Often members of the local Turn Verein came back from League as well as District Turn Festivals crowned with victory. As it is impossible, however, in these pages to enumerate all the victors

Caption under picture at right center reads Ehrhard Siebold


in these olympic games, we consider it unjust to make mention of but a few. A very noticable part of the successful entertainments of the society has been taken by the Ladies Section of the Turn Verein. This society was founded on April 13th, 1885, with the following officers: Mrs. F. Lochmann, Pres.; Mrs. Paul Werner, Vice-Pres.; Mrs. William Stollmeyer, Secr.; Mrs. William Duckwitz, Treas.

The "Turner Lerchen" [Turner Larks], which name was given to a singing class of the society, were put under the direction of Johannes Gelbke on August 27th, 1894. They have often by their cheerful songs enlivened the festivities of the society, but of late have not been heard very much. The first officers of the singing section were: Matthieu Weyland, Pres.; Wm. Schneider, Secr; Robert Eichel, Treas.; Rich. Beischer, Librarian. The latest addition to the Turn Verein has been the "Buffalo Free Thinker's Society", whose members joined the Turn Verein on June 15th, 1899, and were received as life members. Their initiation was celebrated with a jolly commers. The "Free Thinker's Society", which during the first years of its existence numbered a hundred members, and did very active work, was formed on December 8th, 1872, in Sparfeld's Hall, on Genesee Street, near Oak Street, by a number of men, who took for their creed: "Faith on the foundation of positive knowledge," and co-operated to advance their ideas more forcibly and successfully than was possible for the individual.

The first president of the society was Dr. Wm. Meisburger. Several months after its origin the society made Turn Hall its home, where the scientific discourses, held every Sunday by its members, found a numerous and appreciative audience. The society was incorporated May 25th, 1875. As a consequence of the falling off of its membership, and the cessation of their Sunday assemblies, the society dropped from public notice, but the annual celebration of its anniversaries by those remaining faithful kept the society alive, until they joined the Turn Verein.

Caption under picture at upper left reads Mrs. P. Werner

Caption under picture at lower right reads Mrs. W. Duckwitz


The Buffalo Saengerbund

A very strong branch of social life of the German element in Buffalo, and which also, like the Turn Verein, took root in the "German American Workingmen's Union", was the Buffalo "Saengerbund", the father of which is C. Wm. Braun. Under the guidance of the potter apprentice, Braun, who was possessed of very fine musical talent, the "Liederkraenzchen" [The Small Glee Club] of the "Workingmen's Union" was called into life on April 29th, 1853, and by its singing gave variety to the evening entertainments. Besides Braun, the founders of the "Liederkraenzchen" were: Aug. Holzhausen, Albert Adler, Carl Tatkowsky, Gottlieb Gentzsch, August Datt, George Hirsch, Herman Doerffel, Otto Besser, Karl Stephan, and Ernst Besser. The latter several years ago, before the "Buffalo Historical Society," gave a lecture on the history of the "Buffalo Saengerbund", which serves as a foundation for our present history of the society. The young society gained grateful appreciation in widespread circles by their musical selections at the St. John's Festival of the "German Young Men's Association", held in Westphal's Garden in 1854.[1] The meetings of the "Liederkraenzchen" were held in very modest quarters, in a rear room of the grocery of Mr. Dorn, on the northeast corner of Cherry and Maple Streets. New members, however, were not pleased with this home, and the society moved to Phoenix Hall, the predecessor of the present Tifft House, which at the time was a long, two-story frame structure; here a piano was at the service of the society, whose director was G. Weitz, as Mr. Braun had left the city.

Against the wishes of the older members the name of the society was changed from 'Liederkraenzchen" to "Liederkranz" [Glee Club] by the newer element. As such the society took part February 26th, 1855, in a concert, which was arranged by a musical society, founded by its director, Ernst Suschitsky, in January of the same year. The founders of the "Liederkraenzchen", and almost all left the society, and reorganized on April 21st, 1855, in the grocery of Rich. Flach, on the southeast corner of Oak and Sycamore Streets, as the "Buffalo Saengerbund", with C.W. Braun, who had returned to Buffalo in the

Caption under picture at center reads Johannes Gelbke, director of the Turner Lerchen

[1] Translator's Note: There was an invitation to the English-speaking public in the Monday, June 26, 1854 edition of the Buffalo newspaper The Democracy. Go to to see a transcription of that local news item. Return to text


meantime, as Director and President; August Holzhausen, Vice-Pres.; Ernst Besser, Secr.; and Chas. P. Nebrich, Treas. Annual dues were fixed at $1.50, with weekly payments of 3 cents. Their songs as formerly were rehearsed to the accompaniment of Mr. Braun's violin. Harmonious co-operation advanced the prosperity of the society. Soon they moved into new quarters at H. Doerffel's in the Mensch Building on Genesee Street, near Main Street, next to the splendid new structure of the Buffalo Savings Bank. Later the society moved with Mr. Doerffel to his new home on Genesee Street, near Oak Street. Mr. Doerffel, a fine tenor and baritone singer, was one of the first pioneers to leave for the Turner settlement "Arago", from which he never returned.

In the Fall of 1855, the "Saengerbund" contemplated giving the first public concert in Gillig's Hall with an admission fee of 25 cents, to be followed by a ball at 25 cents extra. The "Hymne" by Neidhardt, quite a lengthy composition with beautiful solos and quartettes, was to be given. The society had in its possession a copy of the music of the composition for large orchestra. But as they had no orchestra, and the small society could not defray the expenses for the services of such as orchestra, it became necessary to transpose the 'Hymne", with the help of the copy of the music for the orchestra, for the piano. But who among the few musicians in Buffalo was willing to undertake the task? But one was found who undertook and performed the work to the general satisfaction of all. It was Frederick Federlein, who was engaged as instructor to teach the songs, and as director of the instrumental music and the mixed chorus, Mr. Braun being retained as director of the male chorus.

This double directorship could not exist long without friction, and in 1867 the naturally talented amateur director gave way to the capable professional musician, and Frederick Federlein was elected as

Caption under picture at center reads C.W. Braun, Honorary Director of the "Buffalo Saengerbund"


director. He retained the position until 1886 having for more than 30 years worked in the interest of the society.

Mr. Federlein was born on March 28th, 1831, in the little city of Schwabach, in Bavaria, as the son of a musician, and came to Buffalo at the end of 1854.

The "Buffalo Telegraph" wrote as follows about the second public concert of the "Saengerbund" on November 15th, 1855:
"Several of the male choruses were excellent as for example the 'Potpourri' from the 'Daughter of the Regiment', which was greeted with a stormy encore, the 'Champagne Galopp', and the 'Young Musicians'; the duett from 'Czar and Zimmermann', sung by Messrs. Braun and Doerffel, was also greatly applauded, and had to be repeated. Mr. Federlein distinguished himself as a capable orchestra director, and also gained general applause by his rendering of two solos for violin and piano."

In the Summer of 1856 the "Saengerbund", a company of sixteen, made their first trip as a society to Rochester. Soon after passive members were admitted to the society, by their admission fees greatly improving the financal condition of the society. The first passive members were: Frederick Reinecke, Albert Ziegele, John Emig, and Henry Steinecke.

On June 24th and 25th, 1858, the society arranged a large picnic in Westphal's Garden, and on this occasion a festival song, composed by the Rev. Frederick Schelle, and set to music by Director Federlein, was excellently rendered. The chief attraction on the second day was a prize archery contest, for which 15 prizes were offered. The first prize was a gold lined silver cup, which was won by Martin Roth. Both days of this festival were very successful.

Soon thereafter, in the beginning of August, the society took another trip; this time to Dunkirk on a visit to the "Germania Singing Society". On their return from a picnic, given in their honor, a crowd of roughs attacked the picknickers, but were speedily driven to flight by the "Germanians" and their guests.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Ernst Besser, Historian "Buffalo Saengerbund"

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Revised April 10, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks