The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 257 - 261


The present population numbers about 400. There is a planing mill, a manufactory of pumps and some other establishments. The school is called "Collins Centre Union Free School."


is situated on both sides of the Cattaraugus Creek; as mentioned before, Turner Aldrich, who settled there in 1810, was the first settler; in 1818 he built a forage mill, after a few years a saw mill was established. In 1830 or somewhat later a woolen weaving manufactory was built, which however existed for only a few years; in 1866 a brewery was established by Frank & Brennerschall.

Insurance Interests of Buffalo

Insurance of property against the dangers of the elements forms one of the principal interests of the country, and from the time of the first settlement of Buffalo after the conflagration of 1813-'14 up to the present time these immense interests have been represented most copiously as well in the city as lately also in all Erie County.

Caption under picture at right center reads Main Street, Retail Quarter of the City


In 1819 the Legislature of the state of New York granted a charter to the "Western Insurance Company" of the village of Buffalo, that had been organized for insurance against damage by fire. In consequence of the great lack of money and the depression of business no insurance was made under this charter until 1825; at that time Jacob Barker from New York City acquired the charter of the company mentioned before and opened the first insurance office in Buffalo. The first secretary of the company was Isaac S. Smith, and its first president was Captain William P. Miller. In 1827 Mr. Smith resigned and Lewis F. Allen from New York took his place. In 1828 President Miller also withdrew in order to give his position to Charles Townsend. The capital of the company amounted then to $100,000 and the company did very well in proportion to Buffalo's size at the time. The charter of this company expired in 1830. In the legislative session of the winter of 1829 - 1830 a new charter devised by Lewis F. Allen was granted to the "Buffalo Fire and Marine Insurance Company." The same was incorporated April 1, 1830 and owned a capital of $100,000. Charles Townsend became president. The stock capital had been taken mostly by inhabitants of Buffalo. The first insurance made by the Buffalo Fire and Marine Insurance Company was the insurance of the furniture of William Buxton [1] amounting to $500. The annual premium was $4.25. This company flourished for quite a while until the continually increasing competition compelled it in 1849 to suspend business.

In the foregoing we have made a short description of the history of the first insurance company of Buffalo, in the following we restrict ourselves to sketching shortly the German insurance companies of the city of Buffalo.

The Buffalo German Insurance Company

The "Buffalo German Insurance Company" which is prosperous and known throughout the whole country. On February 15, 1869, it was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. The first officers of this company were: E.G. Grey, president, Philip Becker, vice-president, Alexander Martin, secretary. The first board of directors consisted of the following gentlemen: Philip Becker, E.G. Grey, F.C. Brunck, Jacob Dold, Julius Fuchs, Solomon Scheu, Andrew Grass, F.A. Georger, John Hauenstein, Wm. Hellriegel, Stephen Bettinger, O.J. Eggert, H. Schanzlin, Paul Goembel, John Hiemenz, Philip Houck, Nicolas Ottenot, Henry C. Persch, J.F. Schoellkopf and Albert Ziegele.

The success of the Buffalo German Insurance Company in a comparatively short time is shown most clearly by the fact that before the end of the tenth year of its existence it was enabled to erect one of the most beautiful and at that time most expensive buildings on

[1] The German text gives the name as "William Ruxton". Return to text


Main Street at the corner of Lafayette Street. The present officers of the company are: Oliver J. Eggert, President; Jacob Dold, 1st Vice-President; John G. Wickser, 2nd Vice-President; Chas. A. Georger, Secretary; F.C. Haupt, Assistant Secretary. Directors: O.J. Eggert, Wm. Hellriegel, John P. Diehl, George Goetz, Albert Ziegele, Jr., George Urban, Jr., Eugene A. Georger, Jacob Dold, H.C. Persch, L.P. Adolph, A. Cornelius, M. Hausauer, J.G. Wickser, J. Hauenstein, C. Boller, H. Breitwieser, E.B. Eggert, H.P. Houck, C. Groben, E.G.S. Miller.

The Buffalo Commercial Insurance Company

is in the building of the German Fire Insurance Company and was organized in the year 1896. The undertaking was well patronized and had the satisfaction of having on January 1st, 1900 a surplus of $41,000. The first President was Philip Becker, the present one is John G. Wickser; 1st Vice-President, John P. Diehl; 2nd Vice-President, O.J. Eggert and Secretary, George H. Hofheins. Directors: John G. Wickser, Charles Groben, Henry E. Boller, William J. Beyer, John P. Diehl, William Hellriegel, George W. Schmidt, George Urban, Jr., O.J. Eggert, Albert Ziegele, Sr., William G. Houck, George M. Hausauer, Adam Cornelius, Edward L. Koons, John Benstead, Alex. Hofheins, Jacob Dold, George W. Goetz, Eugene A. Georger and Frank A. Kraft.

The Union Fire Insurance Company

The office is at present on the second floor of the Mooney & Brisbane Building. It was organized in the year 1874, has a very good patronage, thereby enabled to increase its assets from year to year. The first President of the Company was Joseph Churchyard, the present one is George Sandrock. Vice President Frederick Persch and Secretary Alexander Martin. The Directors are: Jacob Dilcher, Charles F. Doll, Jacob P. Fischer, Joseph L. Haberstro, Alexander Martin, Dr. E. Edward Martin, Frederick Persch, George Sandrock, H.C.F. Schultz, Peter Schirra, Edward R. Spaulding, Otto B. Scheu, Henry M Watson, Arnold Weppner and Matthew Wagner.

The Erie Fire Insurance Company

On account of the great conflagration in Chicago in 1871 the rates of insurance had been puffed up so tremendously that the German population of East Buffalo felt themselves forced to organize a mutual insurance company in order to get lower rates of insurance. Many Germans in town had no confidence whatever in this experiment entirely new in Buffalo, and a whole year passed before a sufficient number of people were found who were ready to insure their property according to the plan of mutual insurance. Many proclamations printed through the newspapers and numberless meetings had to be


held in the most different places before the new enterprise could be started and the Erie County Mutual Insurance Company succeed in getting the charter from the state.

Especially to Mr. Leon Ritt the honor is due of having started the work after much effort. To see the insurance company prosperous was the ambition of his life, and no sacrifice to this end was too great for him.

Besides Mr. Ritt the following gentlemen were interested in the new enterprise: Ph. Bommer, Anton Stettenbenz, Leopold Müllenhof, Geo. Kempke, John Sturm, Casper J. Drescher, John P. Einsfeld, S. John Stellwagen, John H. Fischer, Theo. Schorr, Louis Knell, John Bräunlich, John M. Schlehr, Richard Flach, Ludgar W. Koelkenbeck, George Ritt, Jacob Fink, Felix Bieger, Wm. Henrich, Jos. Bork, Jos.L. Haberstro, John G. Langner, Chris Kurtzmann, Seb. Schwable, F.A. Kuhn, Dr. Wm. Meisburger, John Welker, Amb. Hertkorn, August Beck, Louis Rodenbach, Aug. Hager, Ferd. Kehr and Henry Schäfer.

The company received its charter from the state in March, 1874; the capital stock amounted to $100,000, 20 per cent of this sum or $20,000 being deposited in cash.

The first officers of the new company were: President, John P. Einsfeld, Vice-President, John G. Langner, Secretary M. Leon Ritt. The following gentlemen formed the first board of management: August Beck, Philip Bommer, Casper J. Drescher, John P. Einsfeld, August Hager, Geo. Kempke, John G. Langner, Dr. Wm. Meisburger, M. Leo Ritt, Louis Rodenbach, Heinrich Schaefer, Theodor Schorr, Anton Stettenbenz, John Sturm and John Welker. The difficult preliminary work was principally done by Messrs. Nicolaus Scherer and Joseph M. Kertz. The latter, until lately president and manager of the company, has been employed by the company continually since its formation. He was assisted by Mr. Caspar L. Drescher, the capable secretary and treasurer of the company hitherto, who has worked for it nearly the same time. To the zeal and sustained activity of the Messrs. Kertz and Drescher the increase and prosperity of the Erie Fire Insurance Company are principally due. They were closely connected with the company and most familiar with its business.

In the beginning the new enterprise was violently opposed by many interests, especially by the local insurance company which until then had been the only one in existence and which had of course to suffer many losses from competition.

At the end of the first business year the ready money amounted to $23,000, but in 1876, two years after the foundation of the company

Directors of the Erie Fire Insurance Company 1899
Ottomar Reinecke,
George Baldus,
John S. Hertel
Peter Mergenhagen,
John A. Miller, Vice President,
John C. Bertrand, Secretary,
Stephan Mast
Jacob Roskopf,
Jos. M. Kertz, Pres. and Mgr.,
Philip Bachert
John Esser,
C.L. Drescher, Treasurer,
Louis E. Loewenguth, Gen'l Agent,
Jacob Davis
A. Neupert,
C. Hammerschmidt,
John Guenther


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Revised May 1, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks