Buffalo and its German Community, Pages 111 to 115

Biographies for Prof. Dr. A.P. Sy, Prof. Julius Lange, John Russ, Prof. Wilhelm Kaffenberger, and Pastor Christian Georg Haas


Prof. Dr. A.P. Sy

Beginning of German text for this biography starts on Page 110 found on Webpage 6

German-American families, in which the third generation still speaks German, are not very common in our land. We therefore take great pleasure when such is the case and we find a man who is the grandson of a German immigrant, someone who takes pride in his heritage, and someone who still uses the German language and enjoys German verse. Dr. A.P. Sy, professor of chemistry at the University of Buffalo, belongs to the group of erudite German-Americans who help bring those who have a German name a new respect and admiration. A scientist by profession situated among the American intellectuals, he has a lively interest in all German endeavors as exemplified by his participation in the German Literary Society. Buffalo's German community is indeed honored to have such a man in its midst.

Albert Philip Sy was born on August 7, 1872 in Altament, Illinois. He was the son of Philip Sy and his wife Wilhelmine, nee Milleville. The families of both parents came from Stettin. In 1844 his paternal grandparents came to America. A few months later his maternal grandparents followed, accompanied by his German-born mother. His America-born father died in 1908.


Prof. Sy received his first education in the parish schools. He attended high school and then later commenced his study of chemistry. After 4 years he graduated from the University of Illinois in 1894 with his Bachelor of Science degree. In 1895 he came to Buffalo and was employed as an instructor of chemistry at the University until 1898. He worked in the same capacity at the University of Illinois until 1899, at the same time completing his post graduate work and receiving his Masters degree. He was employed for a short time as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Buffalo, followed by a call to Philadelphia to work from 1899 to 1904 in the service of the Ordinance Department of the Army. During this time he was chief chemist at the arsenal outside Frankford with the targeting range in Sandy Hook, N.J. He then returned to Buffalo and became a professor of chemistry at the University from 1904 to 1908. From 1895 to 1898 he had worked on his dissertation titled "History, Manufacture and Analysis of Maphe Products". In early 1898 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Buffalo. His dissertation is in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. For many years he was a co-editor of the Zeitschrift für das gesammte Schiess-und-Sprengstoffwesen (Journal for Munitions and Explosives) published in Munich for the United States. He also contributed original articles and reviews. Professor Sy has written a series of scientific articles for various American periodicals. Of particular note is an article on the new stability test for smokeless nitrocellulose powder. This method is still in official use by the Ordinance Department of the Army. The apparatuses used are of German manufacture. In 1908 Professor Sy became head of the Chemistry Department and director of the laboratories at the University of Buffalo. Prof. Dr. Sy is an analysing, consulting, researching, and forensics chemist.

On September 5, 1901 Prof. Sy married Mrs. L.M. Hersee, nee Litz, of Buffalo. The happy union has produced one child, Edwin Albert, born on October 5, 1902. The family residence is at 219 Crescent Avenue. The learned man is a member of the Lutheran Church and belongs to the following associations: the American Chemical Society, the University Club of Buffalo, the German Literary Society, and the Buffalo Lawn Bowling Club.

Prof. Julius Lange

Whosoever is following the path of triumph left by German song throughout this land will not have come in vain to Buffalo's door. The individual will find pure songs with bell-like tones and great songs of inspiration.

Caption under picture at upper right reads Prof. Dr. A.P. Sy


The individual will find the Orpheus, one of the strongest and best German men's choirs in America. To attain this reputation, to maintain it, and indeed to raise the standard is its high cultural mission. It is an august task to assume this duty. For the German it is a holy calling. Not everyone is capable of it. Only one person could take up the post of director of the Orpheus Singing Society of Buffalo. He is a man of culture, spirituality, and dedication.

It can rightfully be said: Julius Lange unites all these personal traits.

Coming from the song-filled land of the Rhine, he was born on November 8, 1866 in Düsseldorf. He was the son of royal music director Julius Lange. He received a carefully thought-out education. He graduated from the academic high school in his beautiful district, fulfilled his military obligation with the 16th Infantry Regiment in Cologne on the Rhine, and commenced his study of music. He was serious and gifted. At a relatively early age he became musical director in Lahr in the province of Baden. Later he went to Zurich, Switzerland to be music director and then he became choir master in Montreux, Switzerland. He stayed here until 1907, at which time he answered the call to become conductor of the Buffalo Orpheus. He came to Buffalo on November 14, 1907.

Mr. Julius Lange leads the life of an artist and family man in the new world. He has been married to Emma Siebel of Gummersbach (Rhine Prussia) since October 1888. The marriage has produced 2 children - Hanna and Irmgard.

John Russ

Mr. John Russ is the owner and manager of the large sole factory at 50-54 Hudson St. under the firm name of J.F. Schoellkopf's Sons. He was born on October 25, 1855 in Donnstetten, Oberamt Urach, in the beautiful land of Swabia. He was the son of farmer, baker, and hotel owner Johann Russ and his wife Johanna, daughter of district administrator Dürr of Kirchheim on the Teck. After attending elementary school in the district of his birth he went to the academic high school in Kirchheim. After reaching his 17th year he went into the manufactured wares business, where he stayed for 5 years and gained a well-grounded knowledge of merchandising.

In 1877 Mr. John Russ emigrated to the United States and came directly to Buffalo. Here his uncle, Jacob F. Schöllkopf, had established a tannery, one of the largest industries in Buffalo if not the entire United States. Mr. Russ became a bookkeeper for the office of J.F. Schoellkopf's Sons. Hard work, dedication to duty, and skill opened the way to advancement. In 1880 he became head bookkeeper and office manager.

Caption under picture at upper left reads Prof. Julius Lange


He soon after became a partner in the firm J.F. Schoellkopf's Sons, which operated a tannery until 1894, at which time the operation changed over to the fabrication of soles exclusively. In 1899 Mr. Russ took over the business when his partner, Mr. Louis Schöllkopf, retired. He became sole owner of the firm, which maintained its original name. Under such capable management the business has evolved and the products of the factory on Hudson St. are shipped throughout the United States.

Mr. John Russ is an active member of St. Luke's German Evangelical Parish. He has been a member of the executive committee and treasurer for many years. He is also a member of the Buffalo Sängerbund. He is a good German who has remained a lovable and decent man throughout his life of success. He enjoys great popularity in all circles and is treasured for his excellent character.

On October 25, 1883 Mr. Russ married Miss Augusta Mischka. The marriage has been blessed with 7 children: Helene, Albert W., Walter L., Eugen P., and Charles F.
John died as a small child and Augusta died when she was 7. Mr. Russ lives with his family in a pleasant home at 720 7th Street.

Prof. Wilhelm Kaffenberger

Prof. Wilhelm Kaffenberger enjoys an excellent reputation well past the city limits as a church and concert organist. For 35 years he has held the post of organist at the North Presbyterian Church at Delaware and West Utica Streets. Mr. Kaffenberger is an accomplished musician who preforms a full range from classical to modern organ styles. As an organist he has had a profound influence on the entire county. Although his professional life has taken place exclusively among Americans, he has remained a good German, powerfully advancing German interests and performing an active role in the prosperity of the old homeland. Buffalo's German community can consider itself honored to have such a man in its midst.

Wilhelm Georg Kaffenberger was born in 1848 in Mittelgründau, Hessen-Darmstadt. He was the son of teacher, organist, and later physician Bernhard Kaffenberger and his wife Margaretha Lehn, the daughter of a chief forester. In 1854 he came with his parents to America. The family settled in Buffalo. He attended the public schools and became a musician after spending a short time in various positions such as being pharmacist in the store of Rieffenstahl on Main St. near Genesee.

Caption under picture in lower left reads John Russ


From an early age Kaffenberger had displayed an interest in music. By the time he was 5 he received musical instruction. By 8 he had received a thorough education in theory and application and he could play the melodion for services at the small evangelical church in West Seneca. When he was 9 he played a real organ without assistance for church services. He got his first paying job when he was 15 at St. Paul's Church on Washington Street.
Later he was employed at various English churches until taking over the post of organist at North Presbyterian Church in 1876. He owes his fine musical education to his father. Later he took instruction from Chas. Degenhard and completed his studies in theory in 1873 in Leipzig under Prof. Richter's direction. His sterling career as a concert organist began when he was 18 when he gave his first solo organ concert for pay. Many other concerts have followed since in Buffalo and other places.

He did significant work with the first singing societies in the country. His musical direction has been sought for expositions and music teacher conventions. His prominence as an organist can best be illustrated with the World Exposition in St. Louis. He received acclaim for his performance on the magnificently large organ with 144 registers. Very few could successfully master its complexity yet he performed from memory. His technique and execution earned him enthusiastic applause. Although composition is not his chief area of expertise, Mr. Kaffenberger has made a name for himself. He has composed many pieces of church music, which are treasured throughout the land. Besides several small Quartets he has composed many larger pieces. Among these are a Te Deum in F major, a Gloria in Excelis, and a Fugue in D minor. In 1888 Mr. Kaffenberger married Miss Mary E. Phelps of Sacketts Harbor in New York. The happy union has produced one son, Karl Gustav Kaffenberger, currently a student at Cornell University.

The family residence is at 46 Park Street. Mr. Kaffenberger is also successfully employed as a music instructor. He is a member of North Presbyterian Church, the German Young Men's Association, and the Orpheus.

Pastor Christian Georg Haas

Pastor Christian Georg Haas was born on November 27, 1862 in New Haven, Missouri. He was the son of Pastor Christian Haas and his wife Henricke Haas.

Caption under picture at upper left reads Prof. Wilhelm Kaffenberger


After graduating from high school in Jefferson City, Mo. he began the study of theology. He entered the seminary of the Evangelical Synod in Elmhurst, Illinois and later in the Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. After passing his exams with distinction he was ordained a pastor.

His first assignment was in St. Louis, Mo. where he established St. Jacobs Evangelical parish in 1886. Through him the congregation grew. To this day the congregation is respectfully indebted to its founder.

In September 1903 he resigned and came to Buffalo in order to answer the call of the St. Paul's United Evangelical congregation. Since 1900 he has has been a member of the English literary committee of the Evangelical Synod, and since 1909 he has been chairman of this committee. Furthermore he is president of the administrative committee of the German Deaconess Hospital and the Old Folks Home in our city. He is secretary to the New York district of the Evangelical Synod. For 4 years he was chief editor of the Messenger of Peace, an English journal of the Evangelical Synod. He has made a name for himself as compiler of the Evangelical Hymnal.

Such important contributions could only be made by a man of Pastor Haas' excellent character and spirituality.

On September 7, 1887 Pastor Haas wed Miss Rosa Nolte of St. Louis, Mo. Seven children have come from the union. Olga, Evelyn, Helene and Rossina are still living. Three other children - Doris, Christian, and Oliver - have died.

Caption under picture at lower right reads Pastor Christian Georg Haas

Translation for biography of Dr. Max Breuer will begin on Webpage 8


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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised July 23, 2005