Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 156 - 160

Biographies for Gottfried Offermann, Theophil Speyser, Frank A. Beyer, Louis Bret Hart, and Dr. Francis E. Fronczak

Gottfried Offermann

German text for this translation begins on page 155 on Webpage 15

Anyone who's looking for a genuine German bistro where you'll find lots of prominent German citizens must go to Offermann's. If you're looking for true delicatessen items of fine quality, go to Offermann's. Incidentally, Mr. Gottfried Offermann is the head of a double business counted among the best in Buffalo.
Mr. Offerman, a German through and through, first saw the light of the world on April 12, 1846 in the splendid city of Cologne on the Rhine. He was the son of master butcher Mathias Offermann and his wife Katharina, nee Frenger. He attended the elementary and public schools in his district. He apprenticed with his father and learned the trade from the ground up. When his apprenticeship ended and he was 16 years old, the enterprising young man decided to seek his fortune in America.


He landed in New York in the Summer of 1862. He did not arrive in a peaceful land. The Civil War had broken out and the business climate was depressed. Gottfried Offernamn, who was unusually strong and powerful for his age, didn't think about it long before he decided to fight on the side of the Union for the ideal of true freedom and humanity. He volunteered for service. He was at the battles of Chanclersville [sic], Gettysburg, and Lookout Mountain. He was also involved in smaller squirmishes. He distinguished himself with his bravery. When the war ended in 1865 and he was honorably discharged he came to Buffalo. He's been in this city ever since.

Mr. Offermann first found work with Richard Bullymore. He became self-employed in 1870 with a small butcher shop at the corner of Ash and Sycamore Streets. He had success with this business until 1878. After that for a time he was employed as a cattle dealer. He was foreman in Christian Klinck's slaughterhouse. He was there until 1891 when he took over the position of manager in the slaughterhouse of Danahy Co. He stayed there until 1899.

Mr. Offermann bought the delicatessen next to the inn belonging to the Fuchs brothers at 504 Main Street. The business has prospered and grown.
Mr. Offermann is a prominent Elk, a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Teutonia Liederkranz, the Harugari Frohsinn, and other associations like the Butchers Association No. 1. He is not only a respected citizen and businessman. He has played an important role in local politics. He was Deputy Streets Commissioner under Mayor Diehl for 4 years.

On October 23, 1865 Mr. Offermann married Miss Genofeva Barth. The happy marriage was blessed with 7 children, of whom 4 have died. The ones still living are Mr. Frank Offermann, Mrs. Lina Schunk, and Mrs. Anna Morbusch.

Theophil Speyser

Among the list of German manufacturers here in Buffalo who started from humble beginnings and who raised themselves up to esteemed status in the business world, Mr. Theophol Speyser, President of the Buffalo Trunk Manufacturing Company, must be listed. He's the type of man rarely seen in the world - a man of exceptional determination but also a man known to work in his own quiet way for the betterment of the city. He's always been open-handed when it comes to charitable causes and crusades for the common good.

Theophil Speyser was born on October 1, 1845 in Reicherweier, Upper Alsatia. He was the son of teacher Georg Bernhard Speyser and his wife Katharina, nee Bippert.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Gottfried Offermann


He attended the local schools and learned the cabinet making trade. In 1870 he emigrated to the United States and settled in Buffalo. From 1873 to 1875 he was in Attica, N.Y. employed in furniture manufacturing. From 1875 to 1879 he was in Caneseraga, N.Y. He then returned to Buffalo where he opened a coffin and furniture making business. In 1896 he bought the coffin factory of L. Henry Kuncie, which had been in operation since 1838. He enlarged and expanded the business. By the end of 1906 the business, which had experienced tremendous growth, was incorporated under the firm name of the Buffalo Trunk Manufacturing Company with Mr. Speyser as president of operations. The imposing factory with offices is located at 127 - 139 Cherry Street. The showroom for the warehouse is at 390 Genesee Street. The detail shop is at 364 Main Street across from the Iroquois Hotel.

Mr. Speyser is a respected member of St. Peter's Evangelical Church and the Genesee Street branch of the Y.M.C.A., which owes him a debt of gratitude.
On May 16, 1872 Mr. Speyser married Miss Ernestina Lacroix of Friedrichsthal, Baden. Three children have come from the happy union: Louis T., born May 13, 1873 and employed in his father's business; Clara E., employed as a teacher at Public School 17 and much loved by all; and Mathilde. The Speyser family residence is at 782 Ellicott Street.

Frank A. Beyer

Mr. Frank A. Beyer, Treasurer of Erie County, is one of the best known citizens and businessmen in the city. He was born on September 1, 1864 in Alden, Erie County. His father, Mr. Christian Beyer, first saw the light of the world on June 9, 1833 in Alsatia. His mother, Lucy Traynor, was of English/Scottish ancestry and was born in Pleasant Valley, Nova Scotia on October 23, 1845. When he was 5 years old Mr. Beyer's parents moved to a farm in West Seneca. Frank A. Beyer lived through his childhood there. After finishing school he was a clerk in the grocery warehouse of Adam Böckel in Buffalo. While earning his living he attended Bryant & Stratton Business College. After completing his studies he went into the drygoods business of L.F.W. Arend on Main Street. Six months later he went to work for Barnes, Bancroft & Co., which later became the large firm of the Wm. Hengerer Co. Mr. Beyer stayed at the firm and advanced because of his ability to the position of manager of the credit bureau. He was employed there for 11 years.

In 1894 Mr. Bayer decided to build his own business. He established the so-called "General Store" in the Red House in Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Theodore Speyser


He also went into the lumber business. He had so much success that he sold the store and after moving to Salamanca he dedicated all his time to the lumber trade. He became one of the most prominent leaders in the industry in the state. In 1904 he returned to Buffalo in order to take up residence. He is president of the Pascola Lumber Co., vice-president of the Beyer-Knox Co., president of the Hardwood Lumber Exchange of Buffalo and a director of the National Hardwood Lumber Association. He is a prominent member of the Order of Free Masons and the Hoo-Hoos as well as president of the Otowega Club. For many years he was president of the Manufacturers Club. He is an esteemed member of the Chamber of Commerce.
He is a staunch Republican and although he never sought public office, in 1909 he succumbed to the urging of his friends to accept the nomination for the office of Erie County Treasurer.

Caption under picture at center reads Frank A. Beyer


He was elected by a respectable majority. He has proven himself a capable and dedicated office holder.

On August 20, 1890 Mr. Beyer married Miss Elisabeth Georgiana Rolls of Hamilton, Ontario. Four children have come from the happy union: Florence Amy, Marguerite A., Lillian B., and Frank A. Beyer, Jr.

Louis Bret Hart

Few members of the judges' chambers of Erie County enjoy as much popularity and love as the Honorable Louis Bret Hart, Judge of the Probate Court. At the same time he is an outspoken advocate for the German community and its culture. He is a member of many German associations and societies. He's much loved in German social circles.

Judge Hart was born on March 30, 1869 in Medina, N.Y. He attended the public schools in Lockport. At the age of 15 he studied stenography, making such rapid progress that he was hired as secretary to Senator Daniel H. McMillan. He went with the senator to Albany.

Caption under picture at center reads Louis B. Hart


After returning to Buffalo he was appointed Stenographer for the Grand Jury by the late George Quinby. He was employed in this post for 4 years. He executed the post capably and with dedication to duty. Then he became first clerk in the District Attorney's Office, a post he held also after the death of George Quinby under his successor, Dan. J. Kenefick. During this time he studied at the Buffalo Law School. He was admitted to the Bar in 1892. In 1896 he was appointed clerk by Probate Judge Louis W. Marcus. He remained at this post for 10 years. When Judge Marcus was promoted to Judge of the Supreme Court in 1905 Hart was appointed his successor. He was reelected by a large majority at the end of his first term. He has carried out his office with exceptional ability.

Dr. Francis E. Fronczak

Buffalo is one of the healthiest cities in the United States. The mortality rate here is one of the lowest. This isn't just due to the climate. It's due to the significant measures taken in the field of excellent sanitation administration. Dr. Francis E. Fronczak stands at the forefront as head of the Health Department. It should be recognized that it is his untiring drive to find the best methods to promote health that has made Buffalo one of the healthiest cities in the country.

Dr. Fronczak first saw the light of the world on September 20, 1874 in Buffalo. He was educated here. Until the age of 13 he attended a parish school and then he went to Canisius College. He studied medicine at the University of Buffalo and graduated in 1897. He established himself as a practicing physician. In 1898 he was appointed by Mayor Diehl to be a member of the Civil Service Commission. Becoming versed in the law with regard to his field, Dr. Fronczak became Assistant Health Commissioner in 1905. Following the death of Health Commissioner Dr. Wende in 1910, Dr. Fronczak was appointed as successor to the post by Mayor Fuhrmann. From the very beginning Dr. Fronczak proved himself a capable and diligent leader the Health Department. He initiated reforms which were truly in the interest of the citizenry. Dr. Fronczak is a member of the American Medical Association, the New York State Medical Association, the Erie County Medical Association, the Academy of Medicine, and the New York and New England Railway Surgeons. Further he is a member of the prominent Polish Physicians Association of Europe and the United States. He is a chief examining physician of the Polish Union of America and many other Polish associations as well as the History and Natural Science Association of Buffalo.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Dr. Francis E. Fronczak


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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised August 6, 2005