The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 37 - 41

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streets, where now stands the building known as the "Le Couteulx Block". From time to time an itinerant priest had come to Buffalo, receiving hospitable entertainment from Mr. Le Couteulx, whose house then served as a chapel. When Father Badin, in 1828, visited Western New York, he became convinced of the necessity of a church for the large number of Catholics of Buffalo and vicinity that had immigrated from Alsace, France, and Ireland. At his suggestion Louis Stephan Le Couteulx donated, on the 5th of January, 1829, to Bishop Dubois of New York - as a New Year's present to the Catholics of Buffalo - a lot on the north side of Edward Street, extending from Main Street to Delaware Avenue, "to be used as a site for a church and burying ground".
When early in 1829, Bishop Dubois himself came to Buffalo, he was surprised to find here more Catholics than he had expected, especially those from Alsace, who did not understand French. These had emigrated from Lower Alsace, where the German language had been preserved pure [1.], the French Government having neglected to establish schools in that part of the country, which would have promoted the adoption of the French language.

In the same year, 1829, Father Johann Nicolas Mertz arrived here and became the priest of the young congregation. He first held services in a small building on Pearl Street, between Court and Eagle streets, until, in 1832, the little church, dedicated to the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), built on the site donated by Mr. Couteulx, was finished.

Caption under picture at center reads St. Louis Church in 1832


[1.] Page 38, paragraph 1, left column: The German text reads "They came from the region of Lower Alsatia, where the German language had remained pure since the middle of the 50s [the 1750s]." Return to text

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It was a very modest little house of God, surrounded by meadows and thicket. George Schneider was its builder.

The first board of trustees of the congregation, in 1832, had the following members: Michael Werle, Peter Kramer, Peter Esslinger, George Zahm, George Burgasser, John Dingens, and Peter Zins.

In the parish register are entered, by Father Mertz, during the first three years of his pastoral administration, the following names of the German heads of families, as members of the congregation:
Jacob Wolfer, Lorenz Waechter, George Heitler, Aloysius End, George and Peter Kiefer, Jacob Kramer, Philip Zent, George Schaefer, Johann Hirsch, Andreas Kehl, Joseph Marke, Peter Wieder, Anton Meyer, Joseph Haberstro, Jacob Schill, Joseph Decker, Ludwig Schwarz, Jacob, Heinrich and Joseph Erman, Michael Meyer, Johann Phillips, Sebastian and Joseph Rusch, Lorenz Beiz, Nicholas Eisenmann, Joseph Beyer, Joseph Stang, Joseph Friesz, Franz Borsche, Andreas Holrat, Anton Herman, Valentin Herman, Heinrich Zoeller, Michael Heim, Johann and Peter Miller, Nikolas Goetz, Gabriel and Joseph Bronner, George Freimuth, Sebastian and Anton Vingert, Ludwig Kraft, Jacob Hittler, Balthasar Vogel, Kaspar Kreiner, Ludwig Ramon, Michael Schreiber, Lorenz Gebhard, Ignatz Ernewein, Johann Seckler, Philipp Schreiner, Johann Peter Kramer, Michael Doepp, Michael Haberkorn, Andreas Ochs, Joseph Weibel, Joseph Leichmann, Joh. Balth. Schmidt, Simon and George Martin Roos, Anton and Cyprian Speth, Joseph Bartell, Martin and Johann Knauber, Martin Nab, Johann Halm, Anton Fohl, Mathias Friedman, Joseph Weiller, Theobold Walter, Hubert Schoenacker, Peter Schnur, Ludwig Plan, Anton Zimmermann, Paul Rohrer, Lorenz Jung, Joseph Ambrose, Joseph and Anton Deigler, Johann and Jacob Hunzinger, Jacob Waechter, and John Weiss.

Soon the little frame church became too small for the growing

Caption under picture at center reads St. Louis Church, 1835

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number of worshipers as many Catholics settled in the vicinity of the new church after its erection and dedication.

The Irish members were the first to sever their connection with the congregation, forming a parish for themselves. They built a little church at the southeast corner of Ellicott and Batavia streets (now Broadway). The French Catholics separated in the forties from the mother congregation, and erected their own house of God, St. Peter's Church, at the corner of Washington and Clinton streets. Through these secessions the St. Louis congregation became an exclusively German parish.

During the administration of the second priest of the congregation, the Reverend Alexander Pax, a stately church, built of brick, was erected in place of the little frame building, which had become more and more insufficient for the rapidly-growing number of worshipers. The new large church was finished in 1835 [1.]. Its builder was Peter Kramer, and Joseph Armbruster brought the first wagonload of brick to the building ground.

In 1843 Father Franz Guth followed in the pastorate of the parish. He was succeeded, in 1851, by Father Raffeiner. A conflict had arisen about the management of the church property, and in order to settle the dispute, the bishop of the diocese intended to place the parish in the hands of the Society of Jesus. Against this intention, the congregation protested so passionately, that in 1851, the great excommunication was pronounced over the trustees, and the church was interdicted. On Whitsuntide of 1855 Father F. Weninger succeeded in reconciling the refractory congregation with its bishop, and through his intervention Father Deiters was appointed priest of the parish. In 1861 he was succeeded by Father A. Moschall, whose successors were the Reverends Fr. A. Gerber, Serge de Schulepnikoff, and from 1867 to 1888 the Reverend Father M. Sorg.

Caption under picture at center reads St. Peter's Church, Corner of Washington and Clinton Streets


[1.]Page 40, paragraph 1, left column: The German text adds the sentence "It was a tremendous undertaking for the time!" Return to text

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On the 25th of March, 1885, the church - then nearly fifty years old - was laid in ashes by the fire that had started with its southerly neighbor, the first Music Hall, both buildings being destroyed.

Through the enthusiasm and the munificence of some members of the parish soon arose from the ruins a magnificent house of worship, of the splendid design of early gothic architecture, a most beautiful ornament to the city. Father Sorg did not live to see the day of the dedication of the new church. On the 8th of September, 1888, death closed his active life. Twenty-five years ago, on the 8th of September, 1863, he had been ordained a priest. The highly-respected and revered Father, Dr. Paul Hoelscher, became his successor. The magnificent new ediface was consecrated on the day of St. Louis, in the year 1889.

The St. John's Congregation

The first German-Protestant divine service in Buffalo was held, in 1828, in a room over Kuntz (Koons) & Handel's Grocery, on the east side of Main Street, about fifty feet south of Genesee Street. The little flock of worshipers counted among its members before the beginning of the thirties:
Johann Heinrich Koch, Peter Schmidt, Jacob and Johann Nickolas Miller, Peter Reinhard, Georg Stoll, Christian Knoll, Christian Loewengut, and Christian Schappert. They organized on the 10th day of February, 1832, the first German Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, with the following board of trustees: Jacob Siebold, Rudolph Baer, Ernst G. Grey, Christian Bronner, Christian Lapp, and Friedrich Dellenbach. The vestry consisted of Ludwig Bronner, Sr., Samuel Kriegelstein, Michael Ruch, and Michael Goetz.

The congregation was incorporated December 14, 1833. Its members at the time were:
George Heidelbach, Henry Schanz, Jacob Knoblauch, Jacob Hauenstein, Michael Scheer, George Gass, Jacob Dieffenbach, George Denni, George Kopf, Joshua Hausmann, Christian Kautz, Adam Knopf, Johann Schaub, George Gangloff, Johann Bauer, Henry Urban, Jacob Laufer, Friedrich Bauer, Valentin Loegler, Jacob Brunner, Christian Schuttler, Wilhelm Rinck, Jacob Stauch, Jacob Weber, Philip Koenig, Gottfried Graehling, Johann Schuettler, Christian Weiss, Jacob Schweitzer, Michael Mather, Daniel Becker, George Volz, George Schneider, Jacob H. Kuntz, Samuel Kriegelstein, Philip Beyer, Friedrich Zittel, John Kuecherer, Daniel Devening, Michael Freytag, Nikolas Mueller, Adam Schmidt, Christian Shappert, George Hess, Johann Wiegant, Jacob Rudolph, Mathias Heist, Christian Keller, Jacob Bauer, Balthasar Bom, Friedrich Wuest, George Pfeiffer, George Brunner, Jacob Bergtold,

. Daniel Poersch, Jacob Mangold, Nikolas Koenig, George M. Ruch, Jacob Jost, Christian Hoffman, Samuel Burch, and John Burg.

In 1833 the following were confirmed:
Jacob Buk, George Beyer, Godfried Graehling, Michael Eschrich, George Freitag, George Kopf, Christian Weiss, Mathias Glasser, Salomea Durch, Magdalena Mueller, Katharina Ruch, Anna Maria Schanz, Salomea Mangold, Christine Graehling, and Anna Maria Glasser. On the 9th of September, 1835, the corner stone of their church on Hickory Street, between William Street and Broadway, was laid; but not before eight years later, on Ascension Day, 1843, was the new church, christened "Saint John's Church," in honor of the apostle, completed for dedication. Two years previously an organ had been provided, to elevate the singing of the chants during service. In 1846 several members separated from the parish and assisted in organizing the "United St. Paul's Congregation," which built a church on the east side of Washington Street, between Genesee and Chippewa streets. From this congregation sprang several others.

In the course of time, St. John's Church became too small for the parish, which had rapidly increased its membership from the growing immigration, and the erection of a new church was begun, the corner stone of which was laid September 20th, 1874. One year later, on the third day of October, 1875, the new church, built in the gothic style, was dedicated. The congregation numbered at that time about 1400 members. The structure cost $42,000. A parochial school and two societies are connected with the church, the first of the latter being a charitable organization founded in 1850, the other one a Young Men's Association, organized in 1867. To this parish also belongs a Lutheran Orphan Asylum, dedicated in May, 1865. A home for orphan boys was built at Sulphur Springs, in the town of West Seneca, and dedicated in October, 1868. This institution was destroyed by fire in February, 1876, but was immediately rebuilt, so that it was completed for dedication in August, 1877. The congregation owns a cemetery for its exclusive use on Pine Hill.

The first minister of the parish until 1857 was Pastor F.H. Guenther, who was succeeded by Rev. Christian Volz, Rev. H.A. Kuever and Rev. J. Brezing. The present pastor of the congregation is the Rev. J.S.W. Kirsch.

Buffalo as a City

In 1830 - according to a census taken in that year - Buffalo had 8653 inhabitants. On the 20th of April, 1832, the Legislature of the


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Revised September 18, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks