The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 47 - 51


distance, by a large, white building. It stood on the elevated ground north of High street, opposite the head of Washington Street, on a plot bordered by Main, High, Ellicott and North Streets, was built in the Colonial style with tall columns at its front elevation, and was the residence of Guy H. Goodrich. As early as 1823 the construction of the house had been begun by Joseph Ellicott after he had given up his original intention of building a residence on Main Street, between North and South Division Streets. Not by him, however, but by the following owner, the house was finished in 1831. It was the only building one passed to Virginia Street, and the property with its beautiful trees is of special interest to the Germans of Buffalo because it awakens the remembrance of many happy hours spent there.

In the later sixties and the early seventies it was known first as "Koester's Park," then as "Washington Park," and was a favorite place for recreation specially patronized on concert days.

After the University of Buffalo had bought the rest of the property with the old residence - a large portion of the land had previously been laid out in lots and divided - John Glenny, in order to prevent its destruction, had the old building removed in 1892 to his property on Amherst Street, north of Delaware Park, where it stands to-day occupied by the family of the owner. On the East side, somewhat distant from Main Street, near what is now known as Carlton Street, stood the tannery of Jesse Ketchum. He was the founder of the gold and silver medals named after him which are yearly awarded to the best pupils of the public schools of Buffalo.

A Military High School surrounded by a large parade ground occupied the entire piece of land between Virginia Street and the property of St. Louis Church. Afterwards, up to the later seventies, the hospital of the Sisters of Charity stood here. Opposite St. Louis Church a row of small frame houses was ranged which served its German occupants not only as homes, but also as place of business or work shop (Spaulding's).

By the end of the thirties many of the Germans, although having emigrated only a few years before, had already established their

Caption under picture at left reads Gothic Hall

Caption under picture at center right reads Main Street


own business, which generally had been founded upon very modest means, and even those limited means had to be obtained by hard work and the strictest economy, for beginners were given no credit and they had to take their time to become rich.

At that period handicraft had not yet been supplanted and crushed by machine work and capital had not yet exerted its despotic power upon the smaller enterprises. Therefore the beginner, who combined industry with intelligence and who knew his business, found an open way to success. Other circumstances contributed to encourage the foundation of a new business, among them the exceedingly low prices of provisions, cheap rent and the very simple mode of life of the people. No expensive inducements were necesssary to attract customers, and manufacturers and dealers were satisfied with the smallest profits. Wages were about half of what they are to-day, and although they were only half paid in cash and the other half in orders (store pay), the complaints about hard times and general condition of calamity prevailing during the past years were unknown at that period. But the German pioneers, although their untiring industry was rewarded very scantily, always showed their feeling heart and their open hand.

They contributed generously to the collections which were made for the benefit of the survivors of the unfortunate steamer "Erie." This boat, with nearly four hundred passengers, the majority of whom were German immigrants, having left Buffalo on the afternoon of the 9th of August, 1841, bound for Chicago, caught fire when about 33 miles off Buffalo and was completely consumed by the flames to the waterline. 270 persons lost their lives at this terrible catastrophe. Among those saved were three Germans from Buffalo: John Winchel, Adam Minker and Christoph Hageman. Hageman's wife and son found their death in the waves.

But let us now, after this short digression, return to Main Street. South of Edward Streets, between Main and Franklin, was situated the property of Judge Ebenezer Walden. The stately residence stood in the centre of the lot, the part of which toward Franklin Street showed an abundance of fruit trees. After the erection of the first Music Hall in 1883 this orchard was for some time used as a park.

Louis Georger and Philip Beyer carried on a grocery at the corner of Main and Chippewa Streets, August Weppner's meat market was on Chippewa near Ellicott Street and George Urban's flour business at the northeasterly corner of Genesee and Oak Streets. Upon the block, bounded by Main, Huron, Genesee and Pearl Streets stood at that time only the old "Genesee House." The upper part of the block upon which we now find a gigantic business palace, was vacant and


served as a stopping place for farmers, who brought their cattle and produce to the market.

The pretty house, surrounded by trees, which stood on Washington Street between Huron and Genesee, had been built by A. Andrews, the second Mayor of Buffalo, who, with his family, fell victims of the cholera of 1834. The house, from which an unobstructed view of Main Street was obtainable, afterwards, formed a part of "Gruener's" now the "Ontario Hotel."

Carl Gruener, for many years owner of the hotel, was an artist. He had left his fatherland in order to escape the persecution which he suffered as a participant in the political movements of '48. One of his paintings, "The Ruin of Fort Porter," adorns the picture gallery of the Buffalo Historical Society. Gruener had furnished a studio opposite his hotel on Huron Street where he devoted himself to his art.

Kuntz (Koons) & Handel's grocery store was located in a double frame house on the east side of Main Street a few paces below Genesee.

On the northeast corner of Main and Mohawk Streets Kaspar Volmer kept a hardware store.

The groceries of John Frick, Ernst G. Grey, Jacob Bergtold and Philip Trautman stood in close proximity on the west side of Main Street, below Mohawk; a little closer to Court Street were the grocery of John Dingens and the drug store of Dr. F. Dellenbach.

The "Phoenix Hotel", with its roomy yard, covered the spot now occupied by the "Tifft House." A lumber yard was situated between the "Phoenix Hotel" and the "Court House (now Lafayette) Park."

Caption under picture at center reads Goodrich Homestead


Tall, farspreading trees adorned this park, which formed an incline of about ten feet toward Washington Street. The leveling of the grounds and the removal of the old trees was executed in 1876 and 1877. One half of the block below Court Street on the west side of Main was covered by the historic "Eagle Tavern" with its stables and extensive yards.

The first hand fire engine was kept in a low, barnlike frame structure between the two churches, one of which is now displaced by the Erie County Bank, on what is now Church Street. Here were the headquarters of the Volunteer Firemen, for a regular city fire department did not then exist. In front of the building, engine tests were held annually, and very often the competitive spirit of the several companies developed into quarrels and hand to hand conflicts. Great numbers of spectators were always attracted by these tests.[1.]

The "Farmer's Hotel," of which Phillip Dorschheimer had taken possession toward the end of the thirties, was located on the east side of Main Street, between Swan and Seneca.

Dorschheimer, the son of a wealthy miller, was born in 1797 at Woellstein, Hessia, and came to America in 1816. He found work in Pennsylvania, undertook the management of a mill at Lyons, Wayne County, and came here during the middle thirties. At first he had a grocery store opposite the "Farmer's Hotel." In Pennsylvania and the interior of New York his intercourse had been limited to Americans exclusively, and he learned the English language thoroughly. He had also diligently studied political writings and made himself familiar wih the history of his new Fatherland

Caption under picture at center reads Spaulding Residence

[1.] Page 53, paragraph 3, left column: The German text reads "The first hand-operated fire hose company, the "Cataract", was located in a humble, elongated, barnlike wooden structure between the two churches - one of which made way for the Erie County Savings Bank - on what is now Church Street. Here the Volunteer Fire Department had its headquarters - at the time there was no regular city fire department. Each year at this facility there was a contest between the individual fire company units to see who could shoot a stream of water highest into the air. Often quarrels and fisticuffs ensued. This water spraying contest attracted a large number of avid spectators." Return to text


especially during his later official capacities. His knowledge of mankind enabled him to surround himself with excellent help. He knew how to convince the most respected Americans that he was the most prominent and influential German, not only of Buffalo, but of the entire United States. To this gift and to his knowledge of human nature, as well as his acquaintance with many noted men, his success in political life was due. He died in 1868, aged 71 years.

Between Seneca and Exchange Streets, on the east side of Main, Joseph Haberstro, the gunsmith, was established, while Jacob Siebold had a grocery store opposite.

On the Terrace, near Main Street, stood the market building, a two-story structure built in the shape of a cross. On the ground floor were the booths of the fish, vegetable and fruit sellers; on the first floor those of the butchers. The second floor was occupied by the offices of the city officials and the hall in which the city council held its sessions. Previous to the erection of the market building the city fathers had held their meetings in a room over Rathbun's cutlery story, on the west side of Main Street, north of Swan.

The First German Newspaper

The 2nd of December, 1837, was the birthday of the first German newspaper in Buffalo - a weekly entitled "Der Weltbürger." It was published by George Zahm, a printer from Zweibrücken, afterwards a school teacher, and was at first edited by Stephan Molitor, but shortly after by Zahm, who had recently arrived from New York. George Zahm, the editor of the "Weltbürger", is not identical with George Zahm, a member of the first board of managers of St. Louis Church.

Dr. John Hauenstein, one of our most respected citizens, and who is still in the best of health, is probably the only survivor of those who favored the undertaking and witnessed the birth of the new "Weltbürger." He was present when the first printed sheet came from

Caption under picture at center reads Tippecanoe Log Cabin

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Revised September 18, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks