Niagara Falls and its German Community, Pages 11 - 15

Profiles for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (continued), Pastor Herman Brezing, Prof. Dr. J. Ernst Rieger, and Andreas Kaltenbach

A piece of property on Michigan Avenue at 10th Street was purchased. Afterwards the other piece was sold to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

When the old church was torn down they found a tin box imbedded in the cornerstone. Among other papers the following interesting document concerning the state of the city at the time of the building of the old church was found. We render it word-for-word to you here.
"Statistical Notes about Niagara City. The city was started in the year 1847 and had the name Belleview at the time, where the bridge was built over the Niagara River by a German named Röbling. The first stone house was built by Nikolaus Hunsinger, a German. The first brick house was built by Mr. Amstät. The Presbyterians built the first church and the Congregationalists had the first clock. The city currently has 1700 citizens. Master Walles has the first apothecary shop. Master Flackstaff was the first printer in Niagara City. Master Andrew Hegel had the first clothing store. Mr. Chas. B. Stewart built the Mount Eagle Hotel. Members of the church council are: Trustees - Christian Barthau, Christian Fink, and Jakob Bingenheimer; Elders - Jakob Bonacker, Balthaser Weiler; administrators - Jakob Graf and Louis Weiler; treasurer - Louis Elfheimer."

The new church, which currently is worth $50,000, was dedicated with a ceremony on March 7, 1897.

Caption under picture at center reads Zion Evanglical Lutheran Church

Today the congregation has 900 members and is still growing steadily thanks to the eager, gifted, and beloved shepherd of souls, Pastor Herman Brezing.

Pastor Herman Brezing

Pastor Herman Brezing was born on April 30, 1877 in Heidelberg, Ontario as the son of Pastor Jacob Brezing and his wife Elisabeth, nee Hauff. After his father had been active in the spiritual calling in Canada he took over the leadership of the very important parish of St. John's Church in Buffalo, whose congregation experienced great prosperity under his guidance.

Pastor Herman Brezing followed in the footsteps of his father and chose the spiritual calling. He received his education at Wagner College and the Synodal Educational Facility of the New York Ministry in Rochester, N.Y., which is built on a German academic high school model. In 1894 he graduated and went to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1897. Since he had not yet reached his 21st year he was not allowed to enter the Church Orders which administer the holy sacraments. He was ordained the following year. In the interim he received a call from the English Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Jamestown, N.Y. which was ready, even under these limited circumstances, to appoint him pastor in order to secure his services. On May 1, 1898 he was ordained in this church. For 3 1/2 years he worked here with great ability and apparent success.

On the first Sunday of the new century he took over the pastorship of St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio. He was a blessing to that church for 4 years and he was so greatly loved and respected by his congregation that parting from them was very difficult. In those 4 years the size of the congregation had doubled. He was so firmly imbedded in the hearts of the congregation that after his departure they called him 3 times and asked him to return.

Pastor Brezing was equally fluent in German and English. He considered it his duty to take over a congregation where he could spread the word of God in both languages. It was chiefly for this reason that he accepted the call from the Zion Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in early 1905. Nothing could dissuade him from his deeply felt conviction of what his life's work should be.

Under his capable and goal-oriented leadership the membership of Zion Church has significantly increased since Pastor Brezing's arrival. In the past 7 1/2 years of his pastorship in Niagara Falls the size of the congregation has grown to 420 members.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Pastor Herman Brezing

The most respected Germans in the city belong to his congregation. The congregation has shown interest in their Pastor's goals concerning the renovation and beautification projects costing around $6000. Due to the Pastor's advocacy Mr. A. Sigel, a treasured member of the German community and a worthy member of the congregation, donated a set of chimes in the key of C Major. The chimes are made up of 10 bells.

In order to attract the younger element, that is the children of German parents who might not be fluent in the German language, Pastor Brezing holds an evening service in the English language. The service has been a success.

In the summer of 1911 Pastor Brezing made a trip to Europe spending a lot of that time in Germany. Through people he's met and experiences he's had Pastor Brezing has come back from this trip with a love and respect for the German fatherland. It has earned for him even greater esteem in the minds of those who were born in Germany.

Pastor Brezing is not only loved and respected by the members of his congregation. His winning personality and his lovable, open nature have gained him friends in all circles in which he travels. He's a gifted preacher and a model son of the Church, who knows how to tend his flock.

Prof. Dr. J. Ernst Rieger

Professor Dr. J. Ernst Rieger, the renown music teacher and composer, first saw the light of the world on June 7, 1864 in Collingen in the beautiful Rhineland. At an early age he showed great musical ability and he took violin instruction even before he had reached school age. In his tenth year of life he began to study piano and composition and he developed such extraordinary talent and was deemed so gifted that his father decided to fulfill his heart's desire and allow him to follow the artistic path. As a 15-year-old he went to the Organ and Music School in Freiburg, whose director was the well known cathedral choir master and dean, Monsignor C. J. Schweitzer. Under him he studied organ and Gregorian church music. He studied composition, theory, harmony, and piano under the renown composer and theorist Prof. Hoffner, and he studied violin with the well known concert master and virtuoso Hartmann. In 1884 Mr. Rieger became first tenor at the State Theater in Freiburg. He was also second choir director.

In early 1885 Mr. Rieger decided to emigrate to America. He came to romantic Niagara Falls, where in September he was appointed professor of music at Oour Ladies of Angels [sic] Seminary, the teaching facility from which Niagara University originated. He loved this position and his musical contribution to the life of the growing city of the famous Falls was first rate. In 1894 he received the honorary title of Doctor of Music from the Central University of Indiana, a post-graduate institution for which he held an excellent post in the Correspondence Department.

In 1890 Prof. Rieger gave his first orchestra concert for the benefit of Memorial Hospital. It was a success in every respect. Prof. Rieger added his own special touches to this performance and composed an overture for 4 pianos and 16 hands with full orchestral accompaniment for the occasion. Dr. Rieger is mainly active as a composer and many of his compositions are well known in the widest of circles. Some of the best known are:
"The Grand and Mighty Niagara"
Fantasy for Piano Forte
"True Love"
"The Schoellkopf Gavotte"
Marches include "The Foundation March", "The Frisia March", and "The Jubilee March" for piano.

Also the following songs:
The Name on the Tree" for mezzo-soprano or tenor
"Ave Maria" for soprano or tenor
"There's a Schoolhouse Old and Gray" for solo and duet
"Niagara Days" for solo and quartet for men's choir
"The Bells De Beaux" for soprano or tenor and mixed quintet
"The Army Button" for mezzo-soprano or tenor.

Dr. Rieger is one of the best exponents of Gregorian church music in the United States and has received many offers to take over the musical direction of several large cathedrals in the larger cities of this land. He's turned them down because he feels so much at home in Niagara Falls. He also holds the position of organist at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. On February 26, 1889 he married Miss Sabina L. Locher. The happy union has produced 2 children, Ernst and Vera.

Andreas Kaltenbach

Beautifully surrounded by tall trees and only a few hundred steps from the shores of the Niagara near the churning and thundering Falls stands Hotel Kaltenbach. It's an excellent hotel and the oldest German one in the prospering city of famous Niagara Falls. And if there are larger hotels standing watch on the Niagara River, there are certainly none more excellent or hospitable than Hotel Kaltenbach.

Caption under picture at center reads Prof. Dr. J. Ernst Rieger

The owner of this hotel, Mr. Andreas Kaltenbach, is a German through and through. He was one of the 48ers to come to this city and despite his 84 years of age is still as mentally and physically active, strong, and prolific as the mighty German oak tree.

Andreas Kaltenbach first saw the light of the world on December 4, 1828 in the beautiful land of Baden. He took part in the Freedom Movement of 1848 with the following heroes, who were his friends: Brentano, Gottfried Kinkel, Franz Sigel, and Friedrich Hecker. Because of this he was forced to leave the fatherland. He came to the New World, the Land of the Free and the Brave to which the 48ers owe so much. In 1855 he moved to the farm of his friend, Friedrich Hecker, in Illinois. He worked there for one year. Then he went to Rochester, N.Y. where he married and in 1878 he came to Niagara Falls, where he settled with his family and built the hotel which is named for him.

Mr. Kaltenbach's daughter, Mrs. Gräbe stands by his side in the management of the large hotel. His granddaughter is the wife of Dr. Leo Wolf, one of the most prominent German physicians from Niagara Falls.

Daily around noontime if the weather is not too raw Mr. Andreas Kaltenbach sits on the veranda of his hotel. The rumbling sound of the Niagara is like a melody which brings back memories to him of long ago golden days.

Caption under picture at bottom center reads Hotel Kaltenbach

Caption under picture at upper right reads Andreas Kaltenbach

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised September 16, 2005