Buffalo and its German Community - Pages 25 - 31

Chapter 5

Buffalo's Schools and Educational Facilities, Churches and Cemeteries

Scarcely in this world will one find more excellent schools than here in the United States of North America. Nowhere else is education so highly valued as here, thus expansion and improvement of educational facilities costs the state and the city huge sums each year. Millions of dollars pour in every year from benefactors to higher education in order to increase the size of buildings, to purchase new desks or to set up an interest-producing account for stipend funding to assist gifted but poor students. Each boy and girl is given the opportunity to become educated so that in later years he or she will become a useful member of society and lead an honorable life.

Since the establishment of the public education system in the State of New York in 1813, with its governing head at the State Capitol, Buffalo has kept pace with the latest innovations in general education. One can rightfully maintain that more than any other cities in the state, we prevail when it comes to educational reform. We are proud of the results we have achieved.

The first building constructed for educational purposes was the Little Red Schoolhouse, built in 1808 and located on the southwest corner of Pearl and Swan Streets. Samuel Whiting, a Presbyterian minister, was its first teacher. The school was destroyed with the rest of the buildings of the area in 1813.

Caption under picture reads Central High School

When Buffalo became a city in 1832 there were 6 schools in the area which provided partially free instruction. The schools were open only one month a year and the teacher delivered a very modest curriculum. Less than half the children of Buffalo attended school. In 1837 the schools were reorganized. The Office of the Superintendent of Schools was created and a superintendent was appointed by the City Council. A Board of Education provided advice. The reorganization proved effective because by 1837-52 Buffalo had the best students in the State. Buffalo was also the first city in the land to create an Office of the Superintendent of Schools. The tuition-based system of education was abolished and schools became tuition free.

In 1911 Buffalo had 62 schools with 62,227 children in attendance. 31,994 are boys and 30,223 are girls. Buffalo has 3 academic high schools, with 3850 students, and a technical high school, with 515 students. The city also has night schools, schools for the handicapped, and vocational schools.

The 1911 fiscal budget for the city's schools is $1,504,444. Mr. Henry P. Emerson, the School Superintendent, serves for a term of 4 years. The School Superintendent is elected by the people of the community.

Besides her public schools Buffalo has a large number of church-run schools of various denominations. Enrollment is hefty. There is no lack of private education in the area. All in all, Buffalo provides well for the intellectual development of her youth. They are prepared to play a dominant role in human society according to the mandates of a useful existence.

Under the category of higher learning there are several prominent colleges in the area including the University of Buffalo and the Jesuit-run Canisius College.

Caption under picture reads Lafayette High School

The establishment of the University of Buffalo occurred in 1846 chiefly through the hard work of Representative Nathan H. Hall and Senator Carlos Emmons, given a legislative carte blanche. The following members belonged to the new educational institution's advisory board: Millard Fillmore, Chancellor; Joseph G. Masten, Thomas M. Foote, Isaac Sherman, Gaius B. Rich, Ira A. Blosson, William A. Bird, George W. Clinton, George R. Babcock, Theodotus Burwell, James D. Putnam, Herman A. Tucker, John D. Shepard, Elbridge G. Spaulding, Orson Phelps, and Orsamus H. Marshall.

Millard Fillmore held the post of chancellor for 28 years, including the time when he was president of the United States. His successors have also managed to have their names inscribed in the history books of this city and this state: Orsamus H. Marshall, 1874-84; E. Carleton Sprague, 1885-95; James D. Putnam, former US Ambassador to Belgium, 1895-1902; Wilson S. Bissell, former Postmaster General, 1902-03; George Gorham, 1903-05.

Caption under picture in upper left corner reads Charles P. Norton, Chancellor

Caption under picture at bottom reads Department of Dentistry at the University of Buffalo

The present Chancellor is Charles P. Norton, an eminent teacher and educational figure.

The various departments of the University are as follows: Medicine, established 1846; Pharmacy, 1886; Jurisprudence, 1891; Dentistry, 1892. These 4 professional schools, of which the University consists, have been successful since their inception. The total current enrollment is 500 students. There are over 3000 alumni.

The University is composed of the building on High Street, which contains the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacy; the building on Goodrich Street, which contains the Department of Dentistry. There is a piece of land on Main Street for which there are plans to build a Department of Arts and Sciences.

After the establishment of the Department of Medicine in 1846, accommodations were made at a building on the northeast corner of Washington and Seneca Streets. The first three-year courses were given here. Then a college building was erected at the corner of Main and Virginia Streets, which served for the Department of Medicine from 1849-1893. The Department of Pharmacy operated within that facility from 1886 - 1893. When the two departments also had to accommodate the Department of Dentistry, a new, larger building was constructed by the University on High Street. In 1896 a specialized building was erected for the Department of Dentistry on Goodrich Street. The Department remains there to this day.

The University's Library has close to 10,000 volumes, amplified by access to private collections and secured by endowments. The Museum has also been enlarged by significant endowments, which have secured for the Department of Dentistry a dental anatomy collection from Dr. C.F.W. Boedecker of New York.

In 1898 the Department of Medicine of Niagara University merged with the University of Buffalo. This has been fortunate for the institution.

The story of the University's beginnings is chiefly about the Department of Medicine. The first instructors layed the groundwork for the establishment of a nationally recognized profession. Dr. Austin Flint and Dr. Hamilton distinguished themselves in their specialized fields. Dr. Jas. P. White and John C. Dalton, Jr. introduced nationally ground-breaking teaching methods in their classes. Dr. Charles Cary was associated with the University the longest, being a faculty member of the Department of Medicine for 33 years. The other 3 departments, Pharmacy, Law and Dentistry, have experienced significant improvements since their establishment and may be counted among the best and most progressive departments in the land. The deans of the four departments are currently Matthew D. Mann, A.M., M.D.; Willis G. Gregory, M.D., Ph.G; Carlos C. Alden, LL.M., J.D.; George B. Snow, D.D.S.

Although the university has taken the first step with its four departments, it is still not complete without a Department of Arts and Sciences. It is worthy to note that a city as large as Buffalo, with its large population of high school students hoping to continue their education, can not consider its university complete without a Department of Arts and Sciences.

We hope that it will not be too long until the citizens of this city use the words "Buffalo means Business" with reference towards the expansion of the University. This is a desirable and a necessary undertaking.

It is interesting to examine the percentage of people in Buffalo who were born in Germany. In 1882 the breakdown of student enrollment by heritage was as follows:
American Parents - 5,460
German Parents - 10,800
Irish Parents - 2,633
Parents of other Nationalities - 2,293
Even in 1884 the number of German families with children enrolled in public schools was greater than the number of all other nationalities combined. Today the percentage is of course different. The American born descendents of German parentage are added in with other Americans. This percentage only applies to public school students. In the parish schools a large percentage of the parents are German-born. When that percentage is added into the public school total, the percentage once again weighs in favor of the Germans.

In 1874 German instruction was conducted in all Buffalo schools, which had a significant German enrollment and where parents wished their children to receive their lessons in German. The number of children today who receive instruction in German is about 10,000 according to the Superintendent of Schools.

The public library in Buffalo was established by the Young Men's Association in the Winter of 1835/36. In 1886 the name was changed to Buffalo Library and for the first time in 1897 it was a facility open to all. At that time the library owned 287,418 volumes, some of which were quite rare and valuable. The German Young Men's Association gave its entire collection to the Buffalo Library. This fact is respectfully acknowledged on a plaque in the library vestibule.

Caption under picture reads Medical College

The Grosvenor Library was established by a bequest from Seth Grosvenor. The library is supported by income from the bequest,from the State of New York, and from the City of Buffalo. The Grosvenor Library is a reference library of over 75,000 volumes, located in a beautiful building on Edward and Franklin Streets.

Buffalo has about 23 denominations and more than 230 churches which conduct day school and Sunday school. Many of these houses of God also serve practical functions as proof of the willingness to sacrifice and serve the welfare of the congregation. Of the many imposing churches there are the Catholic St. Joseph's Cathedral, built in 1851; St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral on Main St; the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church; St. Louis Catholic Church on Main Street; and the Jewish Temple Beth Zion. A new Catholic cathedral made of marble will soon be built in the city.

The various denominations attempt through a noble kind of rivalry to outdo each other when constructing a new house of God. Most try to put their buildings on the nicest streets in order to afford the spectator a pleasant view. The various religious groups are represented as follows: Catholics, 56 churches; Baptists, 27; Methodist-Episcopalian, 26; Protestant-Episcopalian, 23; Presbyterian, 22; Evangelical Lutheran, 21; German Evangelical, 18; German Evangelical Reform, 7; Evangelical Fellowship, 5; the Disciples, the Congregationalists, and the United Presbyterians, 4 churches each; the Free Baptists, 3; the Church of Christ and the Unitarians, 2 each; the Reform Church, the United Brothers in Christ, the Universalists, the Apostalics, the Church of New Jerusalem, the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Greek Orthodox each have one house of God. The Israelites have 9 synagogues.

The Young Men's Christian Association, which we've mentioned before, is an organization significantly influenced by the area churches. It has assigned itself the task of providing ethical upliftment and moral education to youth. The YMCA was established in 1852. Between 1880 and 1909 eight branches were opened.

Caption under picture reads Masten Park High School on March 27, 1912 destroyed by fire

The main building is located at Mohawk, Genesee and Franklin Streets. It's a ten floor facility with 4 story annexes on each side. The Association has 7 other buildings making a total cost of $750,000 - $450,000 of which goes to the main building.

Buffalo has many beautiful cemeteries. Forest Lawn is at an ideal location. It's known for its beauty. Forest Lawn was created in the 1860s. It's surrounded by Delaware Avenue, Delavan Avenue, Main Street and Delaware Park. The entrance gates, with its arches of fine granite, make quite an impression. They're located on Main Street and Delaware Avenue. Within the cemetery there are many magnificent monuments. Of these we list the memorial to the famous Seneca Indian chief Red Jacket, the Blocher Monument, the Bliss Obelisk (171 feet high), the Soldier's Monument and the Monument to the Volunteer Fire Department. All of these monuments are impressively poignant.

Besides this cemetery there are the various congregational cemeteries at beautiful Pine Hill. Included are the United German and French Catholics, the German Black Rock Cemetery, the Buffalo Evangelical Cemetery, the Sanctuary of Holy Peace Cemetery, Mt. Hope, Ridge Lawn, St. John Zionist, and the Jewish Cemetery. Farther down Walden Avenue is the Concordia Cemetery. There are Elm Lawn in Kenmore, Holy Cross and the Howard Cemetery in Limestone Hill, Lake Side Cemetery near Athol Springs, and Mount Olivet on Delaware Avenue.

Across from Forest Lawn Cemetery is the Crematorium.

Caption under picture reads Red Jacket Memorial

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised June 15, 2005