The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 222 - 226


Marilla, and from there to Alden, and touched the territory still occupied by the Indians. It had been expected that the latter would voluntarily surrender half of the land to be used for road purposes, or that it would be bought, and for that reason the town officials had surveyed only two rods wide. From that fact it got the name of "Two Rod Road", which it still bears, although it has been widened long ago. The other road ran parallel to the first one, and was called the "Four Rod Road." The territory of Marilla was, although a part of the Buffalo Creek Reservation, nominally a part of the Town Batavia in Genesee County; in 1808 it was divided between Clarence and Willink in Niagara County, and was only attached to Erie County in 1821. In 1883 the Town Marilla, which derives its name from the wife of one of its first settlers John Rogers, was formed by the Supervisors of Erie County. The borders of the new town were the same as they are to-day.

Village Marilla

The first business enterprise in the territory belonging to the present village of Marilla was a planing mill, which was built in 1829 by the brothers Ira and Justus B. Gates. A cheese factory and a harness shop soon followed. In 1858 the Marilla Flourmill was built. Until 1853 Marilla had only a very primitive hotel, which in that year the Spring Hotel was opened by Niles Carpenter. The Willis Hotel was built in 1863, was burned to the ground in 1865, and rebuilt in the year following.


is situated in the south-west corner of Marilla. In 1832 Jesse Bartow laid the foundation for the small village by building a saw-mill with which he later on connected a flour-mill. For a long time the little village did not prosper, but it became a lively place when Erasmus R. Adams bought the mills during the civil war. Soon after the war he opened a large new store, and in 1880 he built a new mill with all modern improvements. He established a blacksmith shop, shoe factory, tin-pail factory, and a harness shop.

Caption under picture at center reads Corner Summer and Oakland Place



The village of Williston received its name from Eugene, John and James Willis, who had built a saw-mill there in 1863. In 1869 Charles Willis built a large roomy house, using a part of it as a general store.

Town Elma

is situated a little north-east from the center of the county, and contains about six square miles. In August, 1826, a contract was made, by the terms of which several Indian chiefs sold a strip of land on the south side of the Buffalo Creek Reservation.[1] This is the southern part of the present Town Elma. Among the first settlers were: Wilder Hatch, Hiram Pettengill, Taber Earl, Luther Adams, etc. In 1828 Taber Earl built a hotel on the road between Aurora and Buffalo, which came into the possession of Samuel Harris soon after. In 1831 Martin Taber opened another hotel, which is still known as "North Star". On December 4th, 1857, the town of Elma in Erie County was formed. It got its name from an extraordinarily large Elm tree, which stood on C.W. Hurd's farm, near the present village of Elma, and measured nearly four feet in diameter. The first town officials were elected on March 19th, 1857.

Spring Brook

is the largest village in Elma, and has hotels, stores, several churches, a cheese factory; saw-mill, feed-mill, etc. The first house was built in 1843 by Lewis Northrup. In 1872 the first German church was built by the Methodists.

Caption under picture at right center reads Granger Homestead, Buffalo - Built 1791, Enlarged 1806, Destroyed 1860

[1]The German text reads "In August 1826 a contract was made by which several Indian chiefs turned over a strip of land on the south side of the Buffalo Creek Reservation to the Ogden Company; this is the southern portion of the current Town of Elma." Return to text


Village Elma and Elma Centre

The first white settler located there in 1845. In 1846 several neighbors came together and built a schoolhouse in one afternoon. The first tavern was located about three-fourths of a mile from the village in Elma Centre, and had been built in 1847 by C.W. Hurd, who opened a store in the same place in 1850.

East Elma

The first saw-mill was built there in 1863 by Joseph Riley and Leonard Hatch. It was leased by Zina A. Hemstreet in 1842. Around this mill the village was built, and was at first called Hemstreet's Mill. In 1856 Isaac Gale opened the first store in East Elma, and in the same year the first schoolhouse was built. The bridge over the Buffalo Creek was built in 1858, and the first postmaster was Solomon Munger.


The small village of Blosson was built by the "Ebenezer Society", and was first called "Upper Ebenezer". The store, owned by the society, was bought by Charles Reichmann in 1856, who carried the business on for several years. It was sold in succession to Caspar Bauer, Friedrich Thram and Mrs. D. Kleeberg. William Kleinfelder bought a hotel and Louis Ott a mill from the Ebenezer Society.

Caption under picture at right center reads Old Buffalo Savings Bank Building


The German Lutheran Church was organized on August 31st, 1862. The first minister was I.G. Ade.

The German Methodist congregation bought in 1861 its first church from the Ebenezer Society, the church used by them at present was finished in 1880. The first minister was Mr. E.S. Miller.

Town West Seneca

This town is situated northwest from the center of the county and is bordered on the north by Cheektowaga and the city of Buffalo, east by Elba, south by Hamburg and East Hamburg and west by the city of Buffalo and Lake Erie. It is in form very irregular and though it is eight and one-half miles long on its longest point, the whole area is only a little over twenty seven square miles. The first inhabitants of it were the Senecas, but later on other Indians settled there. They lived in very primitive blockhouses, many of them worked hard, cultivated the soil and had good harvests.[1] George Jimeson was one of the first white settlers in the town. He had a farm on Cazenovia Creek and his brother Thomas Jimeson kept a tavern on the road to Aurora, west of Buffalo Creek and inside the present city limits.

Caption under picture at center reads New Buffalo Savings Bank Building

[1]The German text reads "The homes of these resident Redskins were more or less primitive blockhouses; many of the Indians worked hard, cultivated the land, and had good harvests." Return to text


of Buffalo. In 1826 a few strips of land on the reservation were sold, but the whole territory of West Seneca stayed in possession of the Indians. Three years later a church was built on the reservation by a mission. Among the white inhabitants, who had been permitted by the Indians to live on their reservation, we find the names of Isaac Earl, George Hopper, John Wells, Joel Decker, Peter Piel and Artemas [1] Baker. After several trials they finally induced the Indians to sell them their reservation in 1842. The Odgen Company was the main buyer and they again sold most of the land to three agents, who had come from German to buy land for a religious sect, the members of which had decided to emigrate; other buyers soon followed and in 1844 we see several hundred colonists settled in the present Town of West Seneca. In the list of these settlers we find the following German names: W.T. Stambach, J. Stamp, J. Deuer, J. Hoerner, H. Friedrick, Dr. F. Jost, C. Stephan, A. Leonard, Wilhelm Schudt, J. Wirth, T. Metzger and J. Rose. All of these men lived in West Seneca. The first had come from Rhenish Prussia and Hessia in 1845. They called their settlement "Ebenezer" and this was again divided into two villages, called Lower and Middle Ebenezer respectively. Later on they built a factory and a mill on Buffalo Creek above Middle Ebenezer and called the small hamlet New Ebenezer. In 1856 the Ebenezer Society, fearing that the growth of the city of Buffalo would disturb their religious life, bought through one family several strips of land in the State of Iowa, and most of the old settlers belonging to the congregation emigrated thither.[2] The land in West Seneca, which had been divided into lots, was bought by Germans mostly. The factory in New Ebenezer was destroyed by fire. The woolen-mill was bought by H. Schoepflin & Sons. The post-office in Ebenezer kept is name, while a new one in Middle Ebenezer received the name of "Gardenville". On October 16th, 1851 the Town of West Seneca was founded; its first supervisor was Levi Ballou. The catholic church at Gardenville was founded in 1864, and soon the congregation was prosperous enough to built a stone church, which was enlarged in 1853.

The Evangelical Lutheran congregation at Gardenville was also organized in 1864 and built a fine church in 1869. The first minister of the congregation was Mr. F. Menzel.

The Evangelical Congregation of Lower Ebenezer was formed in 1860. They first worshipped in private houses, but a church was built in 1865. The first minister of the congregation was Pastor Edward Mueller. He was succeeded by Pastor John Grenzelbach.

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

[2] The German text reads "Fearing the possible influences of the outside world on their religious community and their spiritual way of life by the ever-growing proximity of the city of Buffalo and the influx of many other Germans, the congregation in 1856 purchased a larger piece of land in the state of Iowa and the larger portion of the congregation of older settlers moved there en mass." Return to text

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Revised April 24, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks