Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 101 - 105

Biographies for Henry C. Steul, William G. Daniels, Walter Felix Semon, John Reimann, and Louis Viedt


Henry C. Steul

Henry C. Steul is counted among the best known and most respected manufacturers from Buffalo. He was born here on January 25, 1859 as the son of Mr. Carl Steul, a master butcher, and his wife. He attended the public schools and learned German from the ground up at a private school. After graduation he went into apprenticeship with a furniture maker. After 6 years he obtained a responsible position with the well-known furniture manufacturer, Hersee & Co. He was also a foreman at Boardsley & Co. in New York for 2 years.

In 1884 Henry C. Steul and his brother, Conrad Steul, bought the small mirror frame and table making works of M. Scherer for $325. After 6 months the workplace was too small so the brothers relocated to Johnson St. near Genesee and built a two story, 22 x 50 foot factory. Mr. Conrad Steul died in 1888 and in the years that followed Mr. Henry Steul associated himself with Frank Thumann under the firm name of Steul & Thumann. In 1890 the firm stopped making tables and began the production of wooden mantlepieces. That was the beginning of the path the firm takes to this day under the guiding spirit of Henry C. Steul. In 1905 the firm was incorporated with Henry C. Steul as president and treasurer, Frank X. Thumann as vice-president, and Henry C. Steul, Jr. as secretary. Today the firm's concern is counted among the largest of its kind in America. Its products are sold all over the United States and Canada. The works extend 150 feet on Johnson Street, 90 feet on Grey Street, and 25 feet on Carlton Street. When the factory began operation, it produced 4 models of mantelpieces. It now produces 180 models.

In 1882 Henry C. Steul married Miss Helene Koerbel. The marriage was blessed with the following children: Henry C. Jr., 29 years old; William M., 24; and Miss Helene, 22. Mr. Steul plays an important role in politics. From 1894 to 1903 he was a Councilman and today he is one of the trustees of City Hall. Besides this he is a trustee of St. Peter's Evangelical Church. He is a member of the Buffalo Orpheus and the Teutonia Liederkranz.

Caption under picture at lower right reads Henry C. Steul


He is the president of the Buffalo Skat Club and he has attained the highest office within the Order of the Free Masons. For a short time now he is the president of a new business, the Electrolytic Product Company, which is in the first stages of its development.

Mr. Steul enjoys not only a fine reputation as a businessman but also enjoys one as a prominent entrepreneur.

Wm. H. Daniels

Denton, Cottier & Daniels is one of the largest and most prominent piano and music firms in this part of the country. The firm has Mr. William H. Daniels to thank for its fine reputation and prominent position within the business community. It is his leadership which has kept the firm at the top for the past several years.

William H. Daniels was born on April 6, 1859 in Buffalo. He was the son of the German master carpenter Henry Daniels and his wife. He attended the community school. At the age of 12 he became an errand boy at the piano dealership of Cottier & Denton on Main Street near Swan. Mr. Daniel raised himself up from this humble post through his hard work, impeccable dedication to duty, and excellent character. It was sharp business sense which prevailed when he became the first manager of this large firm. He is a self-made man in the finest sense of the words. The firm today owns one of the largest buildings in the city at the corner of Court and Pearl Streets. It employs an army of salemen and clerks.

Mr. Daniels is a strident Republican and has for years regularly taken part in politics. As proof of the trust he summons throughout the city and county, in 1901 he was elected County Treasurer. He performed this office capably and conscientiously until 1903 but turned down the offer for renomination. He was a member of the Republican State Committee for the 36th District for 2 years and chairman of the Republican County Committee. While in this capacity he led the election campaign for his party in the Fall of 1911. His competent leadership is in no small way to thank for the splendid victory the Republican Party experienced on November 7, 1911.

Mr. Daniels is a member of the Order of Free Masons, in which he has attained the highest degree. He is a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Sängerbund, the Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Club, the Park Club, the Philharmonic Society, and many other associations. Since January 4, 1900 he has lived in wedded bliss with his wife, nee Grace E. Ness. They live in an elegant home at 344 Linwood Avenue. Mr. Daniels enjoys overall respect and great admiration as a citizen, a businessman, a public official, and a club member.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Wm. H. Daniels


Walter Felix Semon

German intellect, German practicality, and the enterprising German spirit prevail in all areas of industry throughout the world. Thousands of large establishments in the United States are managed by Germans. Indeed in many cases their names stand at the top of the list.

Amid the roster of large industrialists in Buffalo the name of Mr. Walter Felix Semon must rise to the top of the list. He is president and operations manager of the Frontier Iron Works and president of the Buffalo Aluminium & Bronze Co. Mr. Semon was born on August 10, 1877. He was the son of estate owner Felix Semon of Castle Kartzow, East Havelland in the Province of Brandenburg. He attended the Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise Gymnasium (High School) in Berlin. He finished his studies at the universities of Munich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. He became an engineer. After completing his military service as a Lieutenant in the Reserves of the Hussar Regiment of Count Goetz, he came to the "Land of Unlimited Possibilities" in September 1900. Already by October 1 of the same year, 14 days after his arrival in New York, he became a foundry engineer for the New York Car Wheel Works in Buffalo. He remained in this position for a year and a half, then took a position with the Griffin Wheel Co. in Chicago. In October 1902 he returned to Buffalo, taking advantage of the favorable industrial climate of the city and establishing with F.B. Cooley the corporation Frontier Iron Works, which first operated a small foundry at the foot of Auburn Avenue on the Erie Canal.

Today the firm operates a large iron foundry and machine factory on Grant and Letchworth Streets under the goal oriented management of Mr. Semon, making it one of the largest concerns of its kind. Mr. Semon is also still involved in many other large financial enterprises. He is director of the Third National Bank of Buffalo. He also has interests in many large commercial undertakings in the old fatherland. As eldest grandson of Leopold Sonnemann, founder of the newspaper the Frankfurt News, he has life-long interest as a co-owner of this world renown newspaper of Frankfurt on the Mainz.

Mr. Semon, who enjoys a wide circle of friends and acquaintences due to his lovable nature and excellent social skills, is a member of many clubs, organizations, and lodges including the Schlaraffia, the Buffalo Orpheus, the Buffalo Club, the Aero Club, the Buffalo Consistory 32, Hugh de Paynes Commandery, and the Automobile Club in Berlin.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Walter Felix Semon


On January 19, 1907 Mr. Semon wed Miss Josephine Barber. He lives with her and his small daughter, Mary B. born on October 23, 1909, in a cozy home at 498 Delaware Avenue.

John Reimann

Among the best known citizens of the city, former building contractor John Reimann was born on February 7, 1860 . He was the son of a German man, master mason Joseph Reimann, and his wife. His brave parents were not overly blessed with material wealth. After he attended the community school his parents could not afford to send him on to a higher education. Instead they sent him to apprentice with a building carpenter. He had the right stuff in him - the capacity for hard work and diligence. He augmented his knowledge during his free time through self education and found his path to success. After his apprenticeship ended he acquired further education in his field in Chicago at the large contracting firm of Cook & Co. He soon became foreman. After 2 years however he returned to Buffalo and took the position of supervisor with contractor Jos. Metz. In 1887 he went to the John C. Jewett Manufacturing Co., where he was a guiding spirit for 9 years. Then he became a partner in the firm of Christian Flierl and managed many large building projects in Buffalo and the neighboring cities.

Mr. Reimann is a staunch Republican. He held the office of Superintendent of City Building Projects for years with exceptional competence. For years he has been the treasurer for the Republican General Committee. In November of 1911 he was elected City Treasurer by a large majority of votes. He is a member of the Order of the Elks, the Eagles, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of St. John, the K.of E.P., as well as a member of the Buffalo Orpheus, the Old German Association, the Humboldt Club, and many other associations. He and his family are members of the Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Mr. Reimann has been married twice and is the father of 6 grown children: Andrew J., 27 years old; John A., 25; Mrs. Henriette Weig, 23; Celia, 21; Agnes, 19; Eugen, 17. Mr. Reimann has retired from active contracting in order to devote his time to many other business interests.

Louis Viedt

Here we find a German through and through in the person of the tough Mecklenburger Louis Viedt. He was one of the well known soldiers who took to the battle field from 1870 to 1871. He was born on January 30, 1851 in Schwerin, Mecklenburg.

Caption under picture at lower left reads John Reimann


He was the son of wagon maker H. Viedt, who died in 1883 at the age of 68. His mother reached the age of 81 and died in 1902. Louis Viedt attended the business high school to the 6th level of his father city. On October 1, 1868 he enlisted as a volunteer for one year in the 14th Hunters Batallion, 4th Company. He proudly and joyfully completed his military service and was honorably discharged. In July 1870 the fatherland called on its sons to fight the hereditary foe. He took up the call to honor and joined the ranks of the warriors. He sustained enemy fire in Dreux in November and took part in the squirmishes and battles of the 17th Division. He was involved in the siege of Metz, Toul, and Paris. He experienced extreme hardship in December at Orleans, Lougny-Poupry, Beaugnecy, Vendôme, and Meung-sur-Loire.

After returning from the campaign and receiving his release from the reserves, he no longer wished to serve the fatherland. He wanted to see more of the world. He came to America in 1871 originally with the intention of staying here for 5 years in order to get to know the land and the people. However after planting his feet in the soil he decided to make this his new homeland. Louis Viedt found his first employment in Buffalo with the well known German pioneer J.F. Schöllkopf on Main Street. In November of 1872 he went to Milwaukee and became a travelling representative for the firm of Trostel & Gallun, a large tannery business. He bought hides and sold leather. In 1878 he relocated to Lockport, N.Y. where he began his own successful hide business. He was soon after a respected citizen of Lockport. He became Health Commissioner and later president of the Water Authority.

In 1892 he associated himself with Mr. Andrew Newlands of Galt, Ontario, who ran a factory there. He established with his new partner a branch operation here for the manufacture of Persian lamb, flannel, work gloves and leather aprons. In January 1911 he left the business, in order to enjoy his well-deserved retirement and to make an overseas journey. He had crossed the ocean 16 times before. Mr. Viedt has been involved in societal life. He is vice president of the German Young Men's Association, Marshall of the Schlaraffia Bisonia, member of the Orpheus, the Acacia Club, the Old Masters Association, the Old Masters of Lockport, Lodge No. 73 F.& A.M., a member of the Ames Chapter No. 30, the Genesee Commandery No. 10. He was secretary of the Niagara County Agricultural Society and treasurer of the Protection Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 of Lockport.


From page 106 of the German text found on Webpage 6

On March 28, 1883 Mr. Viedt married Miss Elizabeth Jane Hildreth, with whom he leads a happy life. Wherever he appears Mr. Viedt is greeted with esteem due to his excellent character, education, and success as well as because he is a lovable member of society and no wet blanket.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Louis Viedt


Go to Next set of Biographies
Go to Index


Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised July 9, 2005