Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 91 - 95

Biographies for Dr. William Gärtner, Henry W. Brendel, Jacob J.Siegrist,
and Pastor J.A.W. Kirsch


German text for Dr. William Gärtner begins on Page 90 of Webpage 2

Dr. William Gärtner

When we name the men who are considered leaders of Buffalo's German community, Dr. William Gärtner should be placed at the top of the list. As one of the principle founders of the Buffalo branch of the German-American National Assembly, he has crusaded ceaselessly and energetically for the interests of the German population. Personal freedom is the ultimate ideal for which he stands. He takes opponents and begrudgers to task through the use of reasoned advocacy to purport his ideals. He fearlessly and unhesitatingly continues along the path he considers the right one. Other Germans also recognize it as such, thus they respect and support him.

Dr. William Gärtner was born on January 26, 1860 in Wiesbaden. He was the son of the principal of the secondary business school, Philipp C. Gärtner, and his wife Elise, nee Werner. He graduated from the preparatory school and the Royal Business High School in his fatherland.


After a year of study at the Royal Atheneum in Arlon, Belgium he went to the University of Marburg and studied modern languages, mathematics, philosophy, and pedagogy. He graduated after a year at the University of Hall with a degree in philosophy. He then took the qualifying exams and became a teacher at the Royal Business High School in Wiesbaden. During the interim he completed his one year of compulsory military service with the Hessian Fusilier Regiment No. 80. He became a reserve officer for this regiment.

In Wiesbaden Dr. Gärtner met his wife, Emilie, nee Fuchs of Buffalo. He decided after the engagement to emigrate to her homeland. He came to Buffalo in 1887. Here he found a position at the Central High School, studied medicine at the same time at the University of Buffalo, and established himself after his graduation in early 1894 as a physician.

From the time of his arrival here Dr. Gärtner actively took part in German endeavors. He was secretary, director, and president of the German Young Men's Association; he was a member of the Orpheus, being elected its vice-president and president one term after the other. In 1904 he established the German Association, which later merged with the German-American City Association. He had also founded this association. Dr. Gärtner was its president for 2 years. He is now an honorary president. He arranged lectures from German poets, writers and visiting professions for the association. Furthermore he was the first vice-president of the German American State Association and chairman of the legislative committee. In this capacity he represented the interests of the state association before the comittees of the State Legislature, calling for the repeal of outdated laws unnecessarily limiting the personal freedom of the citizenry. He takes part regularly in public affairs and expresses his opinion freely in the German and English newspapers. In acknowledgement of his public activity he was appointed one of the trustees of the Grosvenor Public Library in 1907. He still holds that position today. He is also a lifelong member of the Buffalo Public Library. Dr. Gärtner is a member of the Erie County Medical Association, the New York Physicians Mutual Aid Association, a practicing physician at the German Hospital. He has a lucrative practice primarily among the German community of this city. His advocacy for fresh air and forest schools is well known as is his work to introduce gymnastics according to the German model in the public schools. He regularly takes part in all undertakings of the German community. He is also a member of the Schlaraffia, a society established a year ago for the promotion of arts, friendship, and humor. Dr. Gärtner holds the important office of chancellor.

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Dr. Gärtner has singularly and fearlessly taken a position on issues in the public forum and lets his opinions be known at small and large gatherings as well as expressing those opinions before the press. In politics he is a loyal member of the Democratic Party but he is no political party flunkie. He reserves the right to deal freely with all party issues.

The happy marriage of Dr. Gärtner and his wife has produced 2 children: Edward Karl, age 17, and William Alfred Frederick, age 9. The elder son joined the Naval Academy in Annapolis in the summer of 1911 as a midshipman.

Henry W. Brendel

Although his cradle would not have been found in Germany, Mr. Henry Brendel is indeed one of the most respected and popular Germans in the city. He is a German through and through, who not only sympathizes with all German endeavor but who is always ready in word and deed to preserve and advance the ideals of the German community.

Mr. Brendel is a self-made man in the finest sense of the word. His parents lived under very modest circumstances when he first saw the light of the world on December 10, 1857 here in Buffalo. He attended the public school. After he finished his schooling he was forced by circumstances to find a trade. He became a cigar maker. He strove towards higher things however and dedicated his leisure hours to self-education. He taught himself jurisprudence with such success that at the age of 18 he was taken in by the law firm of Hawkins & Fischer. He completed his studies under the guidance of Delavan F. Clark and was admitted to the Bar in 1879. Towards the end of this time he formed a partnership with General James C. Strong. This firm enjoyed an excellent reputation and was considered one of the premier law firms of the city. In 1891 this form was dissolved by mutual agreement. He practiced law alone until 1897. Since 1897 Mr. Brendel has practiced law in partnership with Mr. Frank W. Standart, joined in 1906 by Mr. Francis E. Bagot. Since that time the firm has been known as Brendel, Bagot & Standart. It's one of the most prominent firms in the city. Its offices are located in the Mutual Life Building. Mr. Brendel is involved in several large industrial endeavors; for example, he is a member of the Lake View Brewing Co. and the East Buffalo Brewing Co.

Despite the fact that Mr. Brendel is a very busy man with his various business ties, he's always found time to serve in the militia. For 28 years he has been a member of the 65th Regiment of the National Guard of New York State.

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When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Mr. Brendel was one of the first to heed the call to follow the flag.

Mr. Brendel is a member of many German associations. He's not just a member by name but an active member, who regularly takes part in the activities of these fine associations. He is a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Teutonia Men's Choir, the Harugari Frohsinn, the Old Germans Association as president, and the German-American State Assembly, for which he's currently treasurer. From November 1879 to March 1901 Mr. Brendel held the office of Collector of Tolls from Buffalo.

Jacob J. Siegrist

Mr. Jacob John Siegrist, head of the well known large warehousing firm of Siegrist & Fraley, first saw the light of the world on March 30, 1858 in Eden, Erie County. He was the son of Evangelical minister Jacob Siegrist and his wife. His parents moved to Batavia, Lyons, Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica. The son attended the schools in these cities. He then apprenticed in the notions business in Syracuse and Utica. His father died in Albany, N.Y. in 1876 and a year later he came with his mother and siblings to Buffalo. He got a job at the firm of Barnes, Bancroft & Co. He was employed here for 14 years and advanced to the position of manager and buyer of the Wholesale department due to his ability, hard work, and dedication to service.

In 1891 Mr. Siegrist became associated with Geo. K. Fraley, who was in business with one of the largest retail houses on New York's 6th Avenue. On August 6th of the same year the firm of Siegrist and Fraley opened a small, 50x125 foot shop in the building at 514-518 William Street. The firm has enjoyed great success since its opening due to its management and its excellent service policy. In 1896 the owners took over the entire block at the corner of William and Emslie Streets and built a large, modern warehouse. The large department store and warehouse take up 3 floors of the huge building. There are 250 clerks employed there. In 1895 the firm opened a second large warehouse on Broadway across the street from the market between Peck and Mills Streets. One hundred and fifty clerks are employed there. With these 2 businesses the firm of Siegrist and Fraley may be counted among the largest retail houses in Buffalo. Its known throughout the outlying areas and villages as well as in Buffalo. It has a large customer base within a 50-mile radius.

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The guiding principle of the firm of Siegrist and Fraley is to deliver quality goods to their customers, to make sure that their clerks are friendly to the customers, and to see that the prices of goods are what they should be.

The great trust and high degree of respect, which Mr. Siegrist has among his fellow ciizens, were demonstrated in 1908 through his nomination by the Republican Party for the office of councilman. He was elected by a larger majority than any other candidate. He was further honored by his trusting fellow citizens in 1910 with a nomination for mayor. His opponent won the election but only by a slim majority of votes. Mr. Siegrist has advocated for competent, honest city government and he is a zealous orator for city administration according to the Commission's Plans.
He is a member of the Buffalo Club, vice president of the Citizens Bank, a member of the Royal Arcanum, and a member of other associations. He belongs to the governing council of the Richmond Avenue M.E. Church. He has lived in marital bliss with his wife, nee Caroline Boller, since July 12, 1881. The union has been blessed with 1 daughter, Mrs. Florence Jauch.

Pastor J.A.W. Kirsch

Among the pulpit orators of note in our city, Pastor Kirsch is the spiritual caregiver for the German Evangelical Lutheran congregation of St. John's Church. His winning personality, his good-heartedness, his awareness of duty, and the excellence of his character have earned him the love and respect of his congregational members and of the wider circle of Buffalo's German community. A thoroughly German man, from an bordering land whose Germans have had to fight for centuries to maintain their cultural identity and their language, Pastor Kirsch has always held high the German ideals in the new homeland. He has always supported German-American endeavors.

Johannes Albert Wilhelm Kirsch was born on August 5, 1865 in Kappeln in Schleswig-Holstein. He was the son of master tailor Andreas Kirsch and his wife Charlotte Agnes Johanna, nee Wittgrese. After attending schools in his fatherland, the gifted youth studied theology at various private schools. He ended his studies at the Theological Seminary at Kropp, Schleswig-Holstein in order to prepare for church service in America. On June 3, 1877 he came to America and on June 18 he was ordained by the Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the State of New York in Rochester. His first assignment was in Brooklyn, New York as vicar to Pastor Dr. J.W. Loch of Schermerhorn Street. Then he was in Saugerties, New York as vicar to Pastor F.J.A. Leddin. Later he was appointed pastor in Webster, N.Y., Flatbush (in Brooklyn), and Canajoharie, N.Y. On July 3, 1896 he followed the honorable calling of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John in Buffalo. Departing from the pastorship of Canajoharie after being there for 5 years was not an easy choice to make. The congregation there held him in high regard and did not wish to part with him. The Buffalo congregation had to ask twice before he decided to relocate to such a large arena for his ministration. The St. John's congregation in Buffalo has every reason to consider itself lucky with his decision. After more than 15 years of activity in Buffalo's oldest German Lutheran church congregation, which was established in 1833 when there were 9000 residents in our city, Pastor Kirsch has proven to everyone's satisfaction that he is the right man in the right place.


The St. John's congregation has had 2 remarkable celebrations since Pastor Kirsch has taken over. In June 1903 it celebrated its 70th jubilee of founding and in 1909 it celebrated its 75th jubilee. At the 70th jubilee celebration an interesting, richly illustrated memorial pamphlet, telling the history of the parish, was published. Both celebrations aroused great interest in the widest circles of Buffalo's German community since the members of the St. John's congregation are either among the oldest and most respected German families in the city or related to them. Since Pastor Kirsch's arrival significant beautification programs have take place on Hickory Street near the church. The roomy, massive parish house, built in 1900, is at 280 Hickory Street. Since his ordination Pastor Kirsch has been a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Council of Ministers of the State of New York and other states of our land. For many years he has been a delegate to the N.Y. Council of Ministers to the Honorable Synod of Canada and the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of North America. He is president of the governing committee of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Orphanage, president of the German Lutheran Buffalo Pastors Conference. He is a member of the governing committee of the Wagner Memorial Lutheran College in Rochester, N.Y.

On April 24, 1888 Pastor Kirsch married Miss Martha Louise Charlotte Leddin of Saugerties, N.Y. This union was dissolved with the wife's death on February 9th. On November 8, 1893 Pastor Kirsch married a second time, this time to Miss Wilhelmine Gertrude Hammersmith of Canajoharie, N.Y. From the first marriage there are 2 children: Pastor Paul A. Kirsch, age 22 and Alvin O.J. Kirsch, age 20. From the second marriage there are Friedrich W. (16), Charlotte W. (14), Julia L. (12), Ruth K.K. (10), Johanna (8), Johannes A.W. (6), Gustav Adolf (3), and Margarethe A. Kirsch (1).

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Translation for biography of G.S. Miller will begin on Webpage 4

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised July 4, 2005