The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 267 - 271


E. Waters. Directors: Christian Klinck, W.F. Wendt, Herome I. Prentiss, Devillo W. Harrington, Wm. A. Rinehart, Nathaniel W. Norton, J.F. Zeller, Melvin Dunning, Julius Binz, Edward Sikes and Joseph Block.


The Union Bank

with a capital of $100,000 was organized on January 3rd, 1891. The rapidly increasing business made it necessary to extend their capital to $300,000. From year to year the business enlarged on account of the absolute reliability and their conservative transactions. The deposits in this bank represent very large sums, as some of our ablest business men deal there. At the head of this institution we find the following: Edward J. Hingston, President; Adam Cornelius, Vice-President; James Kerr, Cashier; Jerome P. Owen, Assistant Cashier and the following directors: Adam Cornelius, John Strootman, J.S. Bliss, E.J. Hingston, H.A. Menker, Henry C. Steul, George Reimann, L.L. Westbrook, Daniel H. Person, R.C. Hickok and H. Breitwieser.

Although not entirely owned by Germans or established as a German enterprise, the

Metropolitan Bank,

corner of East Mohawk and Main Streets, nevertheless is an institution much patronized by the German population of Buffalo and vicinity, and for this reason deserves to be mentioned here. It was organized June 6, 1891, with a capital of $200,000 and enjoys at present a surplus of nearly $70,000. The president of this financial institution is Jacob Dilcher, vice-president, Clarence M. Howard, and cashier, H.P. Clark. Directors are: Charles Groben, Joseph Kam, Henry W. Wendt, Edward H. Butler, Anthony Neupert, Henry P. Houck, Moses Shire, John A. Kessel, Philip W. Roth, Clarence M. Howard, Jacob Dilcher.

At present the whole system of the banks of Buffalo is a most satisfactory one and corresponds to the size of the city and its many business interests. The city has at present 23 business and savings banks, which are all in most prosperous condition.

The German Churches of the City

It was a natural consequence of the increase of the German population of Buffalo that the number of German churches should increase from year to year.

On another page of this book we have given the history of the establishment and development of the first German church when presenting the historical facts closely connected with the history of the Germans in Erie County. In the following we will give a brief summary of the history of the other German churches of the city.

[1] A sentence in German is missing from the English text here - "A further banking institution which has a significant German clientele is the [Union Bank] Return to text


History of the German- Evangelical-Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity

The following sketch, dealing with the origin, growth and prosperity of the Holy Trinity congregation, is in the main taken from a pamphlet, which was published at the time of the 60th anniversary celebration of the congregation by Mr. J.N. Grabau, then pastor of the church.

When Frederick William III of Prussia issued an edict, combining all the Reformed and Lutheran churches, it caused great excitement in those localities where Reformed and Lutherans dwelled neighborly together. Although the authorities tried to hinder it, small Lutheran congregations were formed, whose pastors were anything but bedded on roses, and very often the authorities proceeded by discharging them from their positions and putting them in prison. Executions, prisons and fines were often used against such members of the congregations, who allowed services to be held in their homes and took active part in the Lutheran services, who took their children out of the united schools and who did not want any pastor of the united church to serve them. One of the pastors who left the church at that time was J.A.A. Grabau, the grandfather of the present pastor of Holy Trinity Church. He lost his position, and as he nevertheless continued to preach the word of God, he was thrown into prison, where a serious illness brought him near unto death.[1] When he was finally saved from prison, Pastor Grabau and a great many of his people soon saw that their only hope to get again religious services according to the Lutheran belief, was to immigrate from Prussia, as the king would not allow any other but the evangelical church in his dominion. As the king would allow their immigration only under the condition that ministers should accompany them, about 1000 Lutherans requested

[1] The German text is somewhat stronger in its wording: "He was discharged from his posting with the congregation, and since he would not be halted from preaching, visiting the scattered Lutherans, and delivering to them the word of God, he was thrown into prison, where he nearly died of a severe illness." Return to text

Caption under picture at right center reads Rev. J.A.A. Grabau, Sr. †


Pastor Grabau to go with them across the ocean, and he accepted. Through a Hamburg shipping office the whole congregation went over on five sailing vessels. From June 30th to July 27th, 1839, all immigrants had been sent from Hamburg, via Hull to Liverpool, from where the Lutheran christians sailed for America, arriving here September 18th, 1839. On September 26th they went by steamer up the Hudson River to Albany, and from there via Erie Canal to Buffalo, their destination, arriving on October 5th. The day after their arrival they held thanksgiving services in a building, located on the southwest corner of Main and Eagle Streets.[1] A few weeks later the congregation rented a large hall in the Kremlin Block, and when this hall became too small they had a chance to rent an old Episcopal church on South Division Street. This church was destroyed by fire on February 14th, 1840, and the congregation lost a great many of its possessions, among them an old and very valuable collection of books. Two other buildings were rented successfully, but they all proved too small. About this time Pastor Grabau received $300 from Hull, sent by benevolent people who had collected it there, but as all members of the congregation declared that they had found work, and did not need the gift, it was decided to use the money as a starter for the

Caption under picture at right center reads School and Church of the Holy Trinity

[1] The German text adds that the hall was on the upper floor of the building. Return to text


building of a church. On February 27th, 1840, a part of the present lot was bought. About the latter part of March the walls of the cellar were started, and in a very short time the congregation could hold the first service in the new church.[1] The Elders of the first few years were: Chr. Rother, Johann Heuer, Gottfried Schoenfeld, Fred. Luedke, Christoph Schmelzer, Ernst Krieg, Rudolph Krause, Ernst Schorr, and J. Drews. The congregation was incorporated under the name of "Old Lutheran Church."

In 1842 and 1843 the church received quite an addition through the arrival of the congregations of Pastors Ehrenstroem and Kindermann, who came from the Uckermarck and Pommerania. Many of the newcomers later on settled in Bergholz, Wallmow and Martinsville, and founded churches there. A part of them went to Wisconsin.

The steady growth of the Holy Trinity congregation made a larger church necessary, and as the old organ, which they had brought with them from Magdeburg, did not fill the requirements any more, a new one was bought for $1000.

In 1853 a number of members who lived in the eastern part of the city founded a branch congregation there and built St. Andreas Church on Peckham Street. Pastor Wm. Grabau became the minister of this congregation.

But Holy Trinity had troubles of all kinds as well as other congregations. On January 11th, 1861, the parochial residence was set on fire, and burned to the ground. The congregation then bought the remaining land on the southwest corner of Goodell and Maple Streets, and then built in the same year the present brick parochial residence, corner Goodell and Michigan Streets.

In 1867 and 1868 a band of incendiaries were infesting the city of Buffalo, and they tried to set Holy Trinity Church afire, but the teacher and sexton, Stiemke, discovered the fire early in the morning, and the flames were checked before they had hardly done any damage.

In 1881 the inner part of the church was entirely rebuilt. The first minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Holy Trinity Congregation was Pastor Johannes Andreas August Grabau. When through the growth of the congregation work had become too much for him, Pastor L. Habel was elected Diaconus in 1857, and when he accepted a call to Kirchhayn a year later, Pastor Chr. Hochstaetter took his place.

After the death of Pastor Grabau on June 2nd, 1879, Pastor Martin Burk, who had until then been Diaconus, was elected pastor of the congregation, and when he died on September 20th, 1893, the congregation

[1]The German text states that the first service in the new church was held on Whitsuntide, or Pentacost Sunday.Return to text

. elected Johannes Nathaniel Grabau, who as a grandson of the founder of the congregation now continues the work started by his grandfather. At the time of the 60th anniversary of the congregation, which took place in 1899, the board of trustees consisted of the following members: Christian Tepe, George Leupold, Gottlieb Buntrock, Fred. Bornemann, Johann Gretzler, George Neuhaueser, Wilhelm Gerlach, Otto Menge, Wilhelm Meyer, Johann Bergmann, Franklin Gram and Carl Schroer.

The congregation has its own school, with good teachers, a Sunday school, and the following societies: Constantia Men's Society, Constantia Women's Society, and Juvenile Society, and all are in a prosperous condition.

First Evangelical Trinity Community

Being distressed in their conscience by the union against truth and hindered in practicing their Lutheran confession, in 1839 a number of

Caption under picture at right center reads Rev. J.N. Grabau

Return to Introduction

Return to Indexes

Go on to Pages 272 - 276

Revised May 8, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks