The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 297 - 301


Owing to failure in health, Rev. O. Burger deemed it wise to go abroad for a while and, therefore, appointed Rev. Emil Schornstein as his assistant during his leave of absence. This gentleman, however, seemed to understand to foster dissatisfaction that existed among the members, which resulted into a division by which a number of families seceded from the church and founded the St. Marcus Evangelical Church with Rev. Schornstein as their pastor.[1]

Rev. Burger after returning from abroad died on the 13th of March 1874. Shortly before his death he recommended Rev. C.L. Schild, whom the congregation had chosen as his successor. In the course of time a desire for a new church edifice in a more favorable location was felt and, at last, the congregation was fortunate enough in purchasing at a comparatively reasonable figure the lot on Ellicott Street, between Tupper and Goodell Street. On the 12th of October 1881 ground was broken for the foundation of the new and beautiful church, and in a comparatively short period of time the church was completed which is an ornament to our city.

Under the pastorate of Rev. Schild the congregation flourished and prospered exceedingly and through his efforts, especially his generosity, it succeeded in erecting a splendid new parsonage next to the church on Ellicott Street. Rev. Schild served the congregation as its pastor until the Spring of 1895, when he resigned to devote his entire time and ability to the erection of a German Deaconess Home. He is still held in the highest esteem by many members of the congregation.

Rev. F. Baltzer was his successor. In the year 1899 Rev. C. Mueller of Dayton, O., was chosen to succeed him and is the present pastor of the congregation.

In former years the congregation maintained a parochial school, but for various reasons the school had to be abandoned. A very flourishing Sunday school, however, exists in the church. In the course of time many different societies had been organized by members of the congregation, and most of them, however, were dissolved again. The Ladies' Aid Society of the church deserves special mention. This society was organized on the 16th of November 1879. Different from most societies of its kind it not only mutually assists its members, but especially the poor and sick and needy of the church as well as such who are not connected with the church.

With due regard the Young People's Society of the congregation may be mentioned. This society exists a number of years and has been very active in the promotion of church work.

[1]The German text states: "Due to illness Pastor Burger thought he should go back to Germany for an extended period of time, so he appointed Pastor Emil Schornstein as his replacement during his absence. This man perceived the long-standing discontent among members of the congregation and he nourished it to the point where there was an open schism, which led to the exiting of a number of families from the congregation and consequently the founding of the St. Marcus' Church and the installation of Pastor Schornstein as spiritual leader." Return to text


St. Stephen's German United Evangelical Church

St. Stephen's is one of the oldest and largest German Protestant churches of our city, being a daughter of the St. Paul's Evangelical and a grand-daughter of the St. John's Lutheran Church. The church was organized by the Rev. Carl F. Soldan in the year 1851. For several years the congregation held its church-services in the little "French" church, cor. of Ellicotts and Tupper Streets. In the year 1854 Rev. Soldan resigned his position as pastor of the church and Rev. Fr. Schelle, who had recently been ordained, became his immediate successor. This was Rev. Schell's first and only congregation; for nearly 45 years he was able to serve it as its pastor. The rapid growth of the congregation made it necessary to erect its own house of worship at the corner of Peckham and Adam Streets, this was done in the year 1858. The rapid increase in membership, however, made it necessary to enlarge the church. On St. Stephen's day, the 26th of December 1874 the dedication of the enlarged church, which was entirely rebuilt took place. Upon this day the congregation permitted to dedicate a new tower 164 feet high, a gallery [1], a new tower clock from the factory of Howard & Co. of this city, a beautiful chime of three bells from the foundry of Kimberly & Meneelee, Troy, N.Y. to the service of the Triune God. The dimensions of the church are 60 x 117 feet and it has a seating capacity of 1600 persons. The cost of the enlarged church with all these improvements amounted to $11,000. In the year 1874 the congregation erected its first school next to the church. In the year 1885, however, this school was replaced by a larger one fitted out in every respect with all modern inprovements. In the basement of the school the steam heating plant which supplies heat for the church and school is found. The rooms of the weekday and Sunday schools are located on the first floor of the building, while the second floor has been arranged for the societies of the church. This building complete, built of stone and brick, cost $18,000.

In the year 1893 the choir of the church made it its aim to purchase a new pipe-organ for the church. The Ladies Society offered its

Caption under picture at center reads Pastor F. Schelle

[1] The German text states it was a "three stage gallery." Return to text


assistance, so that in the year 1896 they were enabled to purchase a splendid new pipe-organ, built by Mr. Felgemaker of Erie, Pa. The organ with all necessary alterations involved the sum of $5,000.

Rev. Mr. Schell who had grown old with the congregation felt the need of rest, he therefore resigned his position as pastor in the beginning of 1899 to retire from all pastoral duties. Rev. G. Rueckert, pastor of the St. John's Lutheran Church of Dunkirk, N.Y. was chosen to succeed him. Under his pastorate the congregation has thus far experienced constant progress. In the summer of 1898 a thorough reparation of the exterior of the church was undertaken and new lights for the interior procured. And in 1900 the congregation erected a new brick parsonage with all modern improvements upon the lot next to the school which was purchased from Mr. George Baldus, with an expenditure of $8,450.

In connection with the congregation there are three large and flourishing societies, viz: The Ladies, the Young People's and the Young Men's Soceity. Special mention, however, might be made of the St. Stephen's church choir which consists of 36 male and female voices. The church is indebted to this choir which in connection with the Young People's Society fitted out the St. Stephen's Hall with all modern improvements. This hall has all necessary equipments for evening entertainments, socials, etc. The organization of a new society, the St. Stephen's Ladies Aid Society was recently perfected.

Caption under picture at center reads St. Stephen's Church


It was the constant aim of the St. Stephen's church to maintain the German language and to foster the same - In the church services, schools and societies it carried out this principle with success. It prides itself in being a German congregation in every particular. Under the spiritual guidance of the former pastor, Dr. Fr. Schelle as well as under the present pastor, Rev. G. Rueckert, the effort to maintain this principle has constantly been made. - The congregation experienced the fact: in unity there is strength.

The present board of Trustees consist of the following: G. Rueckert, Pastor; J. Kuhn, president; Phil Machemer, Secretary; Louis Fritz, Treasurer; H. Behling, F. Euller, G. Mueller, Chr. Loos, Elders. Ch. Lagemann, L. Pankow, C. Prange, A. Bernhardt, wardens, all of which are well known among the German population of Buffalo.

With appropriate services the congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary in the year 1901.

Caption under picture at left center reads Pastor G. Rueckert

Caption under picture at lower right reads School and Parsonage of St. Stephen's Congregation


Evangelical Church Home

Intimately connected with the St. Stephen's Evang. Church is the Evangelical Church Home. It is an institution for old, feeble and homeless people of the St. Stephen's as well as other evangelical congregations. The institution is a large three story building with all modern improvements. In connection thereto there are Dwelling for the servants, Orchards, Promenade Garden, Stables and 25 acres of land.

Located outside of the city limits free from the smoke of factories and the noise of the city it is a desireable retreat for aged people to spend the closing years of their lives. In 1900 three persons at the age of 94, 92, and 90 years respectively have died. This record indeed, bears testimony of the healthy location of the institution.

The institution as seen by cut was established by Dr. Fr. Schelle on the 16th of June 1876. Some of his earnest fellow-workers in this work of charity have died since, viz: H. Linsel, H. Schaefer, J.H. Peters and Phil. Debus, who had been Treasurer of the institution from its beginning unto his death. Owing to business circumstances, Mr. Charles Fritzsche, felt compelled to resign as secretary of the institution in 1898. The present Board of Directors consist of the following: Rev. G. Rueckert, President; C. Louis Fritz, Secretary; Geo. Suhr, Treasurer; J.N. Schmidt, Fr. Merkle, Adam Boeckel and Peter Pfeil.

Caption under picture at center reads Evangelical Church Home

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Revised May 10, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks