Buffalo and its German Community: Pages 67 - 72

Part II, Chapter 5

The German Teaching and Charitable Institutions

It was 1860 when the Jesuit fathers fulfilled their wish to leave Germany and to join in their brothers' work in the United States and Buffalo. They took over the leadership of the congregation of St. Michael's on Washington Street. Soon they built a larger church on the property near the already existent house of God, which would become a schoolhouse. One of the priests would give selected students instruction in Latin. Many of these students became the spiritual leaders of Buffalo.

Already in 1858 a piece of land had been purchased, which was outside the city limits. The purpose was to build a college but the plan was altered so that the parish of St. Ann's could be established.

However the necessity of an institute for higher Catholic education was so deeply rooted that the old plan was not forgotten. Despite the difficulties faced by the priests, in September 1870 two faculties were established; one for classical studies and the other for business disciplines. To this end a small two-story building was purchased on Ellicott Street, which stood on the site where St. Michael's School now stands.

On September 2, 1870 the school was opened with 15 students under the direction of Father Knappmeyer. The number of students rose to 34 by the end of the year, including 5 resident students from Boston Massachusetts. In the following year, 1871-72, 60 boys were in attendance with 18 resident students.

The priests recognized the necessity of procuring more classroom space and better accommodations for the boarders but there were absolutely no funds available. They were forced to appeal to the generosity of the Catholic population. The effort was not in vain. By April 27, 1871 Archbishop Stephen B. Ryan was there for the laying of the cornerstone on Washington Street. The building was finished the following November. Today it is the middle portion of the college with 102 by 50 feet of space.

Caption under picture reads Canisius College

Additions were built and more property was acquired until 1880 when the institute could be built to its current size.

The presidents of the college were:
Father Henry Behrens from 1872 to 1877 - because of his blessed diligence during the War between France and German, the Kaiser bestowed upon him the Iron Cross and inducted him into the Order of Kaiser Wilhelm I where he was inscribed into the annul of heros. Soon afterward he went into exile as an offering to the culture war on the homefront.
Father Martin Port followed Father Behrens from 1877 to 1883. Then came:
Father Theodor Van Bossum from 1883 to 1889
Father U. Heinzle from 1889 to 1891
Father John J. Zahm, one of the first students of Canisius College
Father James A. Rockliff, who after two years was appointed to a higher position
Father John B. Theis from 1898 to 1901
Father Aloysius J. Pfeil from 1901 to 1905
Father August A. Miller, the current president.

The founders and professors of Canisius College were born in Germany and received their training there in excellent institutions. It's no wonder that they paved the way here in the establishment of the basic, all encompassing German system of education which has led to its great success and institutional distinction. In no small measure it is due to this impressive German system of education.

In the early part of 1911 the Villa on Main Street, where the holy fathers of the Society of Jesus live, the groundwork has been laid for a large new university which will stand under the direction of the Jesuits. The spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by Buffalo's Catholics will be rewarded. In six weeks they raised one hundred thousand dollar to build the university.

The German population has taken a backseat to no one in this land when it comes to private and public activism. So it is with regard to public charity. A number of institutions have been established to bring care and healing to the sick, shelter and support to the aged, assistance to poor and orphaned children to replace the support of a father whom they have lost. Within the walls of Buffalo German effort and German spirit of sacrifice have established the following:

Caption under picture at top right reads W.F.Kasting, President of the German Hospital

Caption under picture at bottom right reads Chas. Duchmann, Superintendent of the German Hospital

The German Hospital, one of the charitable institutions of Buffalo, came into being after a meeting was held in Schwabl's Hall on June 12, 1895 and after the raising of substantial funds on September 2 of the same year at a public assembly in Teutonia Park. It was incorporated under the name the German Hospital on November 22, 1895 according to the laws of the State of New York. Theater presentations, picnics and similar activities raised more money so that a multi-purpose clinic could be opened at 621 Genesee Street on September 14, 1896. It was attended by skilled German doctors and soon had a steady stream of patients. After overcoming many difficulties the building we have today was completed on Jefferson Avenue. A particular boon to the establishment of the hospital was the bequeath of the late Gerhard Lang. A piece of property was given in his will which had a $5000 lien against it. Later the lien was absolved without the exchange of payment. On March 11, 1901 the building was opened with much ceremony since this was a victory for the suffering populace of Buffalo. Mr. W. F. Kasting is the president of the board of directors and Mr. Chas Duchmann is Superintendent of the institution. The hospital is non-denominational and of course treats the sick of all nationalities, not just Germans.

The German Deaconess House was located on Kingsley Street. A year before a privately rented house at 27 Goodrich Street was used to care for the sick.

Caption under picture reads the German Hospital

The Deaconess Society, established in 1895, dedicated a hospital in Buffalo on July 12, 1896. It has become a much visited facility in our city due to its excellent management and care of patients. In September 1911 the cornerstone was laid for a significant addition to the Deaconess House. A home for the aged is attached to it and forms a right wing to the building. It's a very efficient arrangement.

The administrative board includes Pastor Haas, President; Pastor Munzert, Secretary; Miss Christine Peseler, Financial Secretary; P.D. Stein, Treasurer. The Directors are Pastor Friedrich, Pastor P.C. Braunschweig, Pastor Rettig, E.J. Eisele, J.J. Siegrist and others. The excellent leader of the great institution is Superintendent Henry E.W. Simon, who in the last fund-raising campaign performed exemplary service. (His biography in the other section) The administrator of the nursing school is Miss C.L. Sieck. The famous surgeons Dr. W.H. Mansperger and Dr. Edward J. Meyer are on the medical staff of the hospital. The resident physicians are Dr. C.L. Ostwald and Dr. Geo. Slotkin with Dr. Robert Hebestreit attending at the home for the aged. The honor roll for benefactors to the hospital lists Mrs. Philip Becker at the top. Also listed in the roster of Good Samaritans are Theophil Spenser, Johann Ansteth, Wm. Hengerer, Karl Boller and many other financial donors.

When, as anticipated, the imposing new building of this magnificent charitable institution is finished in August 1912, the Deaconess House will become the second largest hospital in the city. The generosity of the German community is solely responsible for its establishment and prosperity. The construction of the new building lays in the capable hands of the Metz Brothers. The total construction cost of $125,000 is well on the way to being raised.

Caption under picture reads the German Deaconess House

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage is a beautiful monument to the German-American spirit of charity. It's located in Sulphur Springs in West Seneca, New York. The German congregation of St. John's Church is to be thanked for its establishment. On April 14, 1865 the institution, then located in Buffalo, was incorporated. In 1874 the spa at Sulphur Springs was purchased and the boys' home was moved. The girls' home remained in the Buffalo facility. When the boys' home was destroyed by fire in 1876, good Christians shortly managed to raise funds for a new building. Since its completion in 1898 new additions have been completed at a cost of $40,000. Now all the fledglings of the orphanage, both boys and girls, live there.

On the Board of Administrators, originally consisting of the Pastor and members of the St. John's congregation, there are now six other Lutheran congregations taking part in this act of love. These congregations sprouted from St. John's Church. A women's auxillary has been established which actively supports the operation of the institution. In the 46 years since the establishment of the home 661 orphans have been provided for. Currently there are 86 children in the facility - 51 boys and 35 girls.

Only the best is given for the spiritual and physical well being of the children. Mr. and Mrs. Ehlers, who work as housefather and housemother at the institution, distinguish themselves through heartfelt love exhibited in their care of the institution and the children entrusted to it. The administration is exemplary, as anyone who has visited the institution can attest.

The Administrative Board of the Orphanage includes Pastor J.A.W. Kirsch, President; Geo. A. Herner, Secretary; E.J. Lieverrut, Financial Secretary; Louis P. Reimann, Treasurer; William Heiser, Aug. C. Kuhrt, Jacob Schell, August Beck, John Weil, Fred Wendling, Wm. Buechi, Conrad J. Meyer, C. Kaiser, F.F. Borth, J. Mayer.

The Evangelical Church Home, a home for the aged and infirmed displaced people of the evangelical faith, was established June 16, 1876 by Pastor F. Schelle. It's a three story building used as a rest home and support facility for a large number of old, sick and homeless people.

The German Roman Catholic Orphanage was established by a union of all the German Catholic churches in Buffalo in order to support all German Catholic orphans in the Diocese of Buffalo. On November 1, 1874 the cornerstone to the building was laid. In 1887 the building was enlarged with the addition of two wings and a chapel. The institution enjoys a distinguished reputation because of its excellent accomplishments.

Caption under picture reads St. John's Evanglical Lutheran Orphanage

St. Francis' Home for the Aged owes its origin to Sister Margarita, who came from Philadelphia in 1861 with a Mother of the Franciscan order and three nuns from a third order. They had 75 cents between them. On October 10, 1862 a wooden structure was erected on Pine Street which was to serve as a home for old people. In 1864, 1866 and 1870 the building as we know it today was erected through the energetic effort of the pious sisters. Many hundred old people find shelter and support there today.

Caption under picture reads The Catholic Institute

Go to Index
Go on to Part II, Chapter 6

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised June 26,2005