Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 177 - 180

Biographies for Robert Eichel, Prof. John Wagner, Pastor John Erb, and Dr. J.O. Frankenstein

Robert Eichel

German text for first part of translation of biography for Robert Eichel can be found on Webpage 19

Mr. Robert Eichel is one of the best known Germans in Buffalo. He came from the beautiful Saxon countryside and first saw the light of the world on August 26, 1858 in Leipzig. He was the son of bassoonist Caspar Eichel, who was well known in musical circles and was a cousin of Richard Wagner.

In 1880 Mr. Robert Eichel emigrated to the New World and came directly to Buffalo. In 1883 he entered the postal service as an assistant. His rapidly-growing knowledge of the system along with his service ethic, his diligence, and his dedication to duty allowed him to advance quickly. After 7 years he became Assistant to the Superintendent in 1890. In 1899 he became Superintendent of Mail. In this capacity he oversaw the technical aspects of Buffalo's large postal system. He held this responsible post under the following Post Masters: John M. Bedford, John B. Sackett, Gottlob Gensch, Howard H. Baker, Dr. Samuel G. Dorr, and he serves today under Post Master Fred Greiner.

Mr. Eichel regularly takes part in German activities. He is a true German gymnast, singer, and musician. He is a member of the Buffalo Gymnastics Association, the Orpheus, and other organizations. He is an accomplished oboeist and bassoonist and he spends a great deal of his spare time practicing his music. Furthermore he is a prominent Free Mason.


He is an Old Master of the Free Mason Concordia Lodge and a member of the German chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, the Knights Templar, and the Shriners. He is a prominent member of society, always a welcome guest due to his excellent character.

Prof. John Wagner

Prof. John Wagner is one of the best known and most respected opticians in the city. His business is located at 91 East Genesee Street. He lives at 309 Oak Street. For 20 years he's been practicing his profession without interruption. He has given his colleagues in the field many technical devices with which to practice the latest advances in optometry. He's designed new tools of the trade which have been developed over the almost quarter of a century's experience in his profession. He designed 4 special charts for comprehensive optical examination along with devices for measuring the pupil and the entire face.

These technical devices are currently being merchandised and may be considered quite marketable. Comprehensive research and experimentation over the years have led to the completion of a regimen for treating the eye which is pathologically or organically abnormal. This method of eye treatment is accomplished without drugs by properly calculating the path of light ray reflection.

A powerful piece about Wagner's therapy is currently being published in an article titled "Optometrics and Therapy without Drugs". This article, which was written for the widely read Optical Journal and Review, appears in the September 23, 1911 issue. The article holds the honor of being on the first page of this issue. Anyone acquainted with the use of atropins and similar drugs in the optical profession and those who know that this regimen is widely accepted by eye doctors and optometrists will acknowledge that Prof. Wagner's counterstatement concerning the dangers of atropin therapy is revolutionary.

Wagner's article on therapy and optometry has the honor of representing the opinions of the editorial staff, which agrees with his opposition to drug induced refraction. It may become a favorite theme for discussion and further investigation. Since he has established workable and harmless countermeasures to poisonous drugs in refraction therapy, Prof. Wagner has delivered a weapon to those in the eye care profession to strengthen the contention that atropin is dangerous.

Caption under picture in upper right reads Robert Eichel


Personal observations concerning the deliterious effects of atropin use and the conviction of many patients, who have suffered from it, give credence to the momentum of this crusade.

Eye therapy without drugs, introduced by Prof. Wagner, has at its source earlier studies he did in hydrotherapy in its many forms together with study of hygiene and physiotherapy. From his early years he had the impression that nature was God's appointed physician to man and that he had been led to establish treatments for eye disease based on nature's own remedies. He calls his recipe for eye therapy without drugs "An Assistant to Beneficial Nature." Since the pathology of the body affects the pathology of eyesight, Prof. Wagner considers the physical condition of the entire body as a strong factor directly related to the method of treatment for improving the eye.

The entire man must be brought into alignment for the correction of light refraction to take place in the eye. In other words, the eye which is pathologically or organically abnormal must be treated without drugs for correction of light refraction. The therapy should take the entire body into account and then proceed to the eye in particular.

Furthermore the optometrist, not the druggist turned eye doctor, should conduct the therapy without drugs. The supporters and adherents to Wagner's teachings have their critics and opponents but the theory and its practical applications are receiving greater attention and finding greater degrees of approval.

A lecture about "The Medical Treatment of Wharf Dogs", which he attended as a youth, served as the impetus for "An Assistant to Beneficial Nature." It is a discovery which has brought relief to hundreds who have suffered for a long time from eye disease.

A long list of testimonials attest to the effectiveness and beneficial nature of Wagner's treatment.

Prof. Wagner comes from the old fatherland. He was born in 1849 in Limbrecht, part of the Rhine Palatinate. His parents, who accompanied him to America in 1851, were the fabric maker Peter Wagner and his wife Eva Magdalena, nee Backens. The family settled in Utica, N.Y., where the boy received a Catholic School education.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Prof. John Wagner


When he first started working, Mr. Wagner was a salesman. Later he became an optician. In 1901 he came to Buffalo during the Pan-American Exposition. Since his youth Mr. Wagner had occupied himself with inventing. By his 16th year he already owned a list of patents including one for a spring feather bed and another for eyeglasses.

Prof. Wagner is a member of St. Michael's Church. In 1876 he married Miss Mary Strauss of Utica. The happy marriage has produced 4 children: Joseph H., Mary, Isador F., and Frances. The first 2 are married. Mary lives in Portland, Oregon; Joseph H. in Johnstown, Pa.; Isador is a watchmaker and lives in Buffalo. Frances Wagner lives in Utica, N.Y.

Prof. Wagner is a founding member of the Buffalo Optical Society.

Pastor John Erb

Robbed of his mother at the tender age of 6 months and his father at the age of 15, John Erb first saw the light of the world on June 24, 1875 in Wolhynia, Russia. He was the son of German parents, merchant Johann Heinrich Erb and his wife Henriette, nee Pritzkopf. As a child abandoned to the great and harsh world, he managed by his limited means to earn a living.

He did not lose courage. He worked in the industries of the time and began his journeymanship in various places. Fate brought him to New York on March 23, 1894. His first job was as a waiter. Despite many bitter experiences and misfortunes the young man was led to seek the deeper means of life fulfillment. His spirit would give him no rest until he became convinced to embrace religion. Thus he became a preacher at the New Apostolic Church.

He was called upon to become pastor of the New Apostolic Church here in Buffalo. He arrived January 14, 1906. Here he has led as a man of enthusiasm and deep faith. He gives his all for the congregation, which appointed him their spiritual intermediary.

On June 3, 1906 he married Anna Mahnken of Brooklyn. He is the father of 2 children: Lydead A., born April 19, 1908, and Martha J. born October 30, 1910. His profession and his family are his greatest spiritual treasures. His heart of dedicated entirely to them.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Pastor John Erb


Dr. J.O. Frankenstein

Dr. J.O. Frankenstein was born on December 19, 1879 in the old family home at 1484 Main Street here in Buffalo. His father, Adolf G. Frankenstein, who was one of the most respected German citizens of Buffalo, died on October 29, 1910. He was mourned by a wide circle of people. He was born on 1854 in Cologne on the Rhine and came at the age of 9 months with his parents to America. Here in Buffalo he received a public school education. He attended Central High School. After graduation he became employed for many years at the Buffalo Savings Bank. Later he became a branch manager of the well known billiard firm of Brunswick, Balke, Colender Co. Mr. Adolph Frankenstein had great interest in politics and public life. He had a position in the Water Department of the Public Works. For years he held the post of Deputy Collector of the Inland Taxation Bureau. He was also a member of the Orpheus and the Royal Arcanum. In 1871 he married Miss Maria Einsfeld here in Buffalo. Six children have come from the happy union: Oscar, Philip, Herbert, Alma, Helen, and Dorothea.

The eldest son, Dr. J.O. Frankenstein, received his education in this city in the public elementary and high schools. He graduated at the age of 17 then went to the University of Buffalo, from which he graduated at the age of 21. He then became a dentist and conducted his practice at 1484 Main Street for 9 years. Currently his offices are at 28 Barber Street.

Dr. J.O. Frankenstein is an excellent singer who is well known in the city. At the age of 6 he joined the choir at Ascension Church, singing as a soprano until his 14th year. At the age of 16 he again joined the choir and remained a valued voice there until 1901. In this year he became a soloist at Trinity Church, a position which he still holds today. He is also a member of the Guido Choir.

*Dr. Frankenstein is engaged as a soloist at almost all important musical performances in the city.

He lives in the happy bonds of matrimony with Jane S. Mann, whom he led to the altar in 1903. One small daughter, Jeannette aged 6, has come from the union.

* German text for this translation can be found on page 181 at Webpage 21

Picture in upper left is that of Dr. J.O. Frankenstein

Caption under picture at lower right reads Adolph G. Frankenstein


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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised August 8, 2005