The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 262 - 266

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went down to $18,743. But when, in 1878, Mr. Joseph Timmermann was made second secretary of the company, instant success was recorded, which increased from year to year; the capital increased greatly but at the same time the ill-will of certain members caused lack of harmony and disunion. Unfortunately their efforts were only too successful, so that the better elements of the company were finally forced to let the whole system of business undergo a radical change. In February, 1890, Mr. Joseph M. Kertz was made secretary of the company and through his wisdom and business ability succeeded in increasing the ready money, which under the management of his predecessor had been raised from $23,000 up to $189,000, during a period of six years to $365,600.

As however the same influence which had done harm to the company under the management of the predecessor of Mr. Kertz, continued it agitations and tried everything in order to gain control over the company or absolutely to destroy it, the board of management, in order to frustrate further intrigues and to insure the company's further existence, decided to transform the mutual insurance company into a joint stock company, as was permitted by the law of the state. This idea, although strongly opposed by the party hostile to the company, met with general approval of the members, who, in spite of the lies and calumnies spread by a small number of rebels in order to excite distrust against the proposed change, emphasized their approval by oversubscribing the necessary capital of $200,000. In spite of the great opposition, the friends of the company carried their point, namely that the transformation of the company into a joint stock company. The company received an amended charter from the state, which although opposed by a small number of adversaries - a few hundred out of a total number of members of 8499 [1] - was legitimized before the justice. Since that time business prospered so that after one year the receipts of the company amounted to over $400,000.

Presidents of the company have been:
    John P. Einsfeld from February 1874 to February 1876.
    John G. Langner from February 1876 to February 1877.
    Louis Rodenbach from February 1877 to February 1890.
    Mathias Rohr from February 1890 to February 1898.
    Joseph M. Kertz from July 1898 to February 1900.

For vice-presidents the company has had:
    John G. Langner from February 1874 to February 1876.
    Louis Rodenbach from February 1876 to February 1877.
    August Beck from February 1877 to February 1882.
    John H. Fischer from February 1882 to February 1883.
    Wm. Henrich from February 1883 to February 1889.
    John A. Miller from February 1889

[1] The German text states "The company received an amended charter from the State, although there was a small number of opposers - there were about one hundred or so among a membership of 8499 - but the courts recognized the charter as just and lawful." Return to text


Secretaries were:
    M. Leo Ritt from February 1874 to August 1878.
    Jos. Timmermann from August 1878 to February 1890.
    Joseph M. Kertz from February 1890 to July 1898.

Present officers of the company are: John Esser, President, John A. Miller, Vice-President, John C. Bertrand, Secretary, Louis E. Loewenguth, Assistant Secretary, Frank T. Hartmann, Treasurer. The board of directors consists of the following gentlemen: John Esser, John A. Miller, John S. Hertel, Anthony Neupert, Jacob Davis, John Günther, C, Hammerschmidt, Stephan Mast, Peter Mergenhagen, Ottomar Reinecke, Jacob Roskopf, Philip Bachert, Henry F.Shuttleworth, John A. Stein and Frank T. Person.

The Erie Fire Insurance Company enjoys a most excellent reputation and is doing everything to preserve and increase the same by strictly fair dealing and prompt dispatch of all obligations.

Fire Insurance "Harmonia"

The "Harmonia" is a fire insurance company organized on the principle of mutual insurance, also founded by Germans of Buffalo and made prosperous and flourishing.

It was founded July 17, 1877. The first board of directors consisted of the following gentlemen: Henry Walther, H.J. Kreinheder, H.J.D. Schmidt, Ph. Erbes, John Moest, Julius Northen, Aug. Sonnemann, Charles G. Pankow, John H. Knepper, Chas. A. Peters, L. Hauenstein, Wm. Rose, Wm. Schier, Wm. Kugler, Jac. J. Wagner, Casper Bapst, Wm. Miller, Charles Meyer and Joseph Hottinger.

Jacob Benzig [1] was the first president, Henry Moest the first vice-president, Frederick J. Nagel, the first secretary, F. Ch. Fisher, the first treasurer of the Harmonia. The present officers of the company are: Charles G. Pankow, President, Henry Moest, Vice-President, John H. Knepper, Treasurer and John G. Klein, Secretary. Directors are: Charles G. Pankow, J.G. Hoegkh, Henry Moest, John Moest, Joseph Hottinger, B. Speidel, John H. Knepper, Philip Erbes, John Hoffmann, Louis Baitz, G. Hagmann, William Schier, Michael Loebig, William Miller and B. Pfaff.

Banks of Buffalo

On November 23, 1815, it was announced in the Buffalo Gazette that Jonas Harrison [2], Ebenezer Walden, Augustus Porter, Charles Townsend, H.S. Salisbury, Jonas Williams, Samuel Tupper, Benjamin Caryl and Oliver Forward intended to apply for the incorporation of

[1] The German text gives the name as "Jacob Benzing". Return to text

[2] The German text gives the name as "Jonas Harries". Return to text


a bank in the village of Buffalo. This bank was organized in 1816 and received the name of "Bank of Niagara." This was the first Bank in Buffalo.

The capital was fixed at the sum of $500,000, which at that time might be called quite a large amount of money. The cash payment of each share of $100 however amounted only to $6.25. The board of directors selected its members from different parts of Western New York and included the following gentlemen: Augustus Porter of Niagara Falls, James Brisbane of Batavia, A.S. Clarke of Clarence, John Williams and Benjamin Caryl of Williamsville, Isaac Ribbe [1] of Hamburg, Martin Prendergast of Chautauqua County, Samuel Russell and Chauncy Loomis, whose domiile is unknown, Ebenezer F. Norton, Jonas Harrison, Ebenezer Walden and John G. Camp of Buffalo. Tuesday, the 16th of July, the directors appointed Isaac Ribbe president and Isaac G. Leake cashier of the bank.

This bank may be called the first financial enterprise of the future city of Buffalo, the foundation of larger and more important ones as the village grew and increased.

The Bank of Niagara had a charter for sixteen years and did good business until July, 1818. Then in consequence of opposition a tremendous run was made against it, which, however, it resisted successfully in spite of many sacrifices and which was followed by a time of great prosperity. In 1819 Benjamin Elliott, James Williams and William Peacock resigned from the board of directors and Charles Townsend, Oliver Forward and S. Wilkeson were appointed to take their places. The opposition, however, continued and the bank had to overcome one more crisis: it owed its success largely to Mr. van Antwerp, who bought most of the shares, took the direction of the enterprise himself, moved from Albany, where he had held the position of sheriff, to Buffalo and became president of the bank. He succeeded in managing the enterprise until the charter expired, when he yielded to enterprises of the same kind. The Bank of Niagara was situated at the corner of Washington and North Division Streets.

The German Banks

As the German population of Buffalo increased from year to year the need of a German financial institution became evident, one where the German settlers could be sure of making themselves understood in their own tongue and in which their interests were cared for in the best and surest way. Enterprising Germans acknowledged this necessity and it was not long before an enterprise of that kind was established.

[1]The German text gives the name as "Isaac Kibbe". Return to text


The German Bank,

the first institution of that kind, was organized March 6, 1871, and was ready for business June 1st of the same year.

The first officers of the new enterprise were: F. Augustus Georger, president, Philip Becker, vice-president, and S.M. Warren, cashier. Incorporators were: F. Augustus Georger, Philip Becker, Philip Houck, Jacob F. Schoellkopf, Jacob Dold, R. Hoffeld and F.C. Brunck. The institution commenced business with a capital of $100,000 in the building of the Erie County Savings Bank, on the corner of Main and Court Streets, but as soon as the new building of the German Insurance Company was erected, it moved there. Since its incorporation the German Bank has paid annual dividends and has gradually accumulated a surplus of nearly $500,000. The present officers are: President, Eugene A. Georger, vice-president, R.F. Schelling, cashier, Paul Werner. Directors: Eugene A. Georger, J.F. Schoellkopf, John Hauenstein, John P. Diehl, Jacob Dold, R.F. Schelling and Ad. Machwirth.

A second German financial institution of the same kind,

The German American Bank

was organized May 10, 1882, and started its business transactions on May 22nd of the same year with a capital stock of $100,000, paid in cash, on the corner of Main and Court Streets. The present officers of the bank are: President, George Sandrock, vice-president, Jacob W. Diehl, cashier, Henry W. Burt, assistant cashier, Edward A. Weppner. The board of directors consists of the following gentlemen: George Sandrock, Jacob W. Diehl, Hon. Loran L. Lewis, Michael Nellany, August Baetzhold, Edwin G.S. Miller, Joseph Kam, Jacob Reiman and Henry W. Burt.

We have several other banks where german capital is interested and the officers consist to a great extend [sic] of germans.

The Citizen's Bank

was organized October 1st, 1890, with a capital of $100,000. This bank made from the day of its organization the best progress, so that it has at the present time accumulated a surplus of more than $100,000. This is prove [sic] that the management is in the hands of conservative but shrewd financiers. The customers of this bank included some of our best german business men, knowing that their interests and deposits are in safe hands. The present officers of the bank are: President, Joseph Block; Vice-President, J. Fred Zeller; Cashier, Irving

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Revised May 8, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks