Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 96 - 100

Biographies for Edwin G.S. Miller, William F. Kasting, Henry May, Simon Seibert, and Edward Gottfried Becker


German text for biography of Edwin G.S. Miller starts on page 95 of Webpage 3

Edwin G.S. Miller

Among the lists of prominent German-American citizens of Buffalo and of foremost businessmen, the name of Mr. Edwin G.S. Miller must be placed close to the top. Few citizens growing up under similar circumstances have had as spectacular a career as Mr. Miller.

He first saw the light of the world here in Buffalo on March 9, 1854. He is the son of respected ironwares dealer and pioneer John Miller, who came from Bavaria in 1834 and died here in 1878. Edwin, second eldest of 4 sons, attended the public school and at the age of 16 went to work as a bookkeeper in the business of S.D. Colie & Son. Two years after that he took a similar situation at the firm of Geo. Urban & Son, the well known mill owners. His ability and dedication to duty allowed him to advance quickly, and in 1874 he became a partner in the firm.


When Mr. Gerhard Lang, owner of the large brewery, was looking for a capable and competent manager in 1884, he chose Mr. Miller. It proved a good choice, judging by the phenomenal growth the brewery undertook while guided by Mr. Miller's goal-oriented leadership. Since Mr. Lang's death in 1892, Mr. Miller has been president. When Mr. Miller took over the management of the brewery, it produced 10,000 barrels per year. Within 10 years the production more than tripled.

Mr. Miller plays an important role in financial circles. For years he has been president of the German-American Bank and director of several other financial institutions. He was also one of the most zealous orators for better trolley facilities. When an association was established for this purpose, he was elected its first president.

Mr. Miller was a loyal member of the Democratic Party. He never ran for political office and shied away from opportunity to run as a candidate, however he was honored in 1892 when he was named to the electoral college by the Democratic Party. Mr. Miller enjoys the highest esteem in the broadest circles due to his excellent character as a man, a citizen, and a businessman.

William F. Kasting

In the best sense of the words, Mr. William F. Kasting is a self-made man, combining the best of German and American characteristics. Mr. Kasting is among the best known and most respected citizens of the city. He first saw the light of the world on July 27, 1870 in Germany in Sachsenhausen, Waldeck. He was the son of master builder Johann Kasting and wife Maria, nee Grass, who came from Freienhagen, Waldeck. When he was 5 years old his father died. He attended the local school in Sachsenhausen. He left when he reached his 14th year. The alert and enterprising lad decided to seek his fortune in the broader world so he crossed the ocean. His goal was Buffalo, where one of his sisters had settled. He arrived here safely. When it came to becoming self sufficient, the beginning of his career was not an easy affair but he proved that he was made of the same wood from which successful businessmen are hewn. Only through hard work, circumspection, and patience did he reach his goal. His first task was to learn the language. He went to night school for 2 years. During the day he earned his living. He managed to save enough so that later he could take courses at Bryant & Stratton Business College.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Edwin G.S. Miller


Then he took a position with Mr. George H. Lewis, working in the hothouses of Mr. Lewis' private residence and the Hotel Niagara, which Mr. Lewis also owned. After 2 years he was overcome by wanderlust and left Buffalo. He spent time in many cities in the midwest such as Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Erie, and Steubenville. He worked in hothouses.

In 1892 Mr. Kasting returned to Buffalo. He went into the employ of Mr. D.V. Long, manager of a large cut flower and wholesale warehouse. He summoned together his capacity for hard word and his quick aptitude with the knowledge he had of the florist industry, acquired from the ground up, in order to augment his business sense. He became a successful flower dealer, first in retail and then in the wholesale end of the flower business. In 1896 he was in a position to purchase the business at 495 Washington St. from Mr. Long. Five years later he relocated the business to larger quarters in the building at 383 - 387 Ellicott Street, where Mr. Kasting has one of the largest cut-flower wholesale businesses in this part of the country. This business is built on solid business principles with the ability to compete with the competition and maintain a well-founded reputation. In addition to his business Mr. Kasting has hothouses and facilities in Erie, Pa., where he grows a portion of the flowers for the wholesale business.

Mr. Kasting, who takes part in many other industrial and financial enterprises, is not just a prominent businessman. He plays a significant role in social, political, and other circles. He's a staunch Democrat, who has contributed in word and deed in a useful and selfless way to the Buffalo and Erie County Party. For years he has been a member of the County Democratic Committee. In 1896 he was a delegate to the National Convention to choose a presidential candidate. In 1900 he was appointed a member of the Parks Committee by Mayor Conrad Diehl. Currently he is president of that committee. Furthrmore he is president of the Buffalo Orpheus, president of the German Hospital Association, president of the State Federation of Floral Clubs, president of the Order of Saturn, and treasurer of the National Society of American Florists, for which he was president in 1906. He's a prominent member of the Order of the Free Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Elks, the Maccabees, the Red Men, and the Heptasophs. He is a beloved and esteemed member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, the Buffalo Historical Society, and many other clubs and associations.

Caption under picture at lower right reads William F. Kasting


In May 1901 Mr. Kasting married Miss Laura LaTour, daughter of a prominent, now deceased florist. There are 3 children from the marriage: Laura Louise, William Lafay, and John Roland Kasting. Unfortunately the children lost their mother and Mr. Kasting lost his loyal and loving wife on May 4, 1912.

Henry May

Undoubtedly the automobile industry must be counted among the largest industrial enterprises here in Buffalo. The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company is not only the largest in Buffalo but it's counted among the largest in the United States and the entire world. The factories in this industry are undoubtedly the finest and most modern on either side of the ocean.

The guiding spirit behind this massive industry, the man to whom the Pierce-Arrow Car Co. owes thanks for its rapid progress and success, is a German, Mr. Heinrich May. He's the vice-president and chief operations manager of the business. Mr. May, who has served well since his hiring, is a self-made man in the finest sense of the word.

Heinrich May was born on March 19, 1861 in the idyllic city of Teterow in Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He was the son of master mason Johann May and his wife, both honorable and simple people. In 1873 he came with his mother and sister to the United States and moved directly to Buffalo. He completed his schooling here at the parish school of St. Stephen's German Evangelical Church at Peckham and Adams Streets. Then he took courses at Bryant & Stratton Business College. But he had to earn a living in the between time so he took a job as courier and apprentice at the firm of Heintz, Pierre & Munschauer, a small factory producing ice boxes, bird cages, and other like items on Mechanic Street. Later the firm of Geo. R. Pierce & Co., which built tricycles and bicycles, was changed. Mr. May, with his talent, hard work, and dedication to duty, advanced quickly and in 1887 became a partner in the firm Geo. R. Pierce & Co. This firm was the first to anticipate the future when the first horseless carriages made their debut. The result was that in 1897 the George R. Pierce Co. was reorganized with Henry May as vice-president and chief operations manager for the manufacture of automobiles. After many experiments with steam and gasoline powered engines, the first automobile could be produced in 1901. It was a two-seater with a 2 3/4 horsepower engine and one cylinder. From this humble beginning the business has become a gigantic industry in which 3500 men are employed. The factory is comprised of 12 buildings covering 15 acres. Thousands of the best, sturdiest, and most elegant automobiles available are produced here and shipped to all parts of the world.

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This phenomenal success in due primarily to the management of Mr. May, who worked untiringly at his post to bring about improvements, perfect the means of production, and build a strong, loyal customer base.

Despite the fact that Mr. May is a very busy man, he still takes time to take part in German community activities. He is a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Sängerbund, and the Gymnastics Club. He is also a member of the Order of Elks. He enjoys the greatest respect in all circles because of his excellent character. On November 24, 1883 he entered the bonds of marriage with Miss Emma Schmidt. The happy marriage has produced 5 children: Edward, Henry, Ralph, Lilly, and Esther. The family lives in a beautiful home at 290 Depew Avenue.

Simon Seibert

The name Simon Seibert has a good ring here in Buffalo. The bearer of that name is a self-made man in the finest sense of the word. Mr. Seibert was born in this city on September 12, 1857. He is the son of Christian and Mary Seibert. After graduating from the public schools he attended Bryant & Stratton Business College in order to learn what was needed to become a successful businessman. His hard work, common sense, and dedication to duty paid off. He worked his way up to manager of the renown Magnus Becker Brewery. This position requires as much energy as ability and circumspection. The great regard, in which he is held in all circles, is evident in his election as Assemblyman and his appointment to the Fire Commissioner's Office. In this last office, which he still holds today, he has, to the best of his ability, represented the interests of the citizenry. He has been a capable official.

Mr. Seibert belongs to the St. Stephan's congregation. He is a member of the Concordia Lodge No. 143, F.& A. M. He has achieved the highest degree (32nd) in the Free Masonnry. He's a member of the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. He's also played a significant roll in German societal life. He's a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Teutonia Liederkranz (Glee Club), and other associations and clubs. When it has been in his power to support German endeavors, Mr. Seibert has never held back. He is one of the most respected personalities in societal life. Since August 1899 he has lived in wedded bliss with Miss Katherine Mathias. The happy couple live in their beautiful home at 291 Jefferson Avenue.

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Edward Gottfried Becker

Edward G. Becker, Secretary of the Buffalo Savings Bank and leading industrialist in our city, is a child of Buffalo. He first saw the light of the world here on October 22, 1852. He is the son of German parents. His father, Henry Becker, came from Bechtelsheim of the beautiful Rhine-Hessen district. His mother, Susanne Nauert, came from Winden in the Rhine Palatinate. His parents provided their son with an excellent education. He attended the public schools, including the Central High School, from which he graduated in 1869. On September 1, 1874 he entered the employ of the German Bank at the time of its founding. In the course of the years he managed to secure himself a position of responsibility. Due to his loyal and conscientious dedication to duty he was promoted to the position of bank cashier on January 1, 1878. He remained at this post until January 1, 1881, in which year he became employed at the Buffalo Savings Bank, a banking institution which certainly was to become one of the largest in the State of New York. In 1893 Mr. Becker was appointed assistant secretary to the bank. He held this postion until 1902. In later years he was elected secretary by the directors. He began that posting on October 22, 1902, on his 50th birthday. He executes this important and responsible position to this day. On October 1903 he was appointed a trustee of the bank.

Mr. Becker is furthermore the president of the Buffalo Cooperative Brewing Company, one of the largest breweries in the eastern states. Mr. Becker's influence can be found all over his father city. During the Diehl administration he was a member of the Civil Service Commission and in 1906 he was a member of the Union Station Commission. Mr. Becker has an excellent standing in commercial and business associations. He is a member of the Buffalo Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Automobile Club, the American Automobile Association, the Orpheus, and the Buffalo Sängerbund. He is a prominent member of the F.&.A.M., Erie Lodge No. 161, He is a 32nd degree Mason. Further he is member of the following social groups: Zuleika Grotto No.10, A.D.U.W., Omega Lodge No. 27, J.D.O.F., Buffalo Lodge No. 23 of the Elks. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Erie County Republican Committee.

With regard to religious affiliation Mr. Becker is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was chairman of the Building Commission during the construction of the magnificent new church for the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran parish on Main Street near North Avenue. He was the first secretary of the parish. The construction of the church took place under his personal management.

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Translator's Note: Remainer of German text for biography for Edward Gottfried Becker found on page 101 available at Webpage 5

On November 20, 1875 Mr. Becker married Miss Bertha Hettrich of Buffalo. Two sons, Arthur Eugene and Ralph Edward, and one daughter, Clara Bertha, have been produced by the union.

Mr. Becker, one of our most prominent citizens of German descent, enjoys great esteem in our city. He lives with his family in a comfortable home at 666 Oak Street.


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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised July 4, 2005