Buffalo and its German Community, Part IIIB: pages 1 - 5

Industries, Commerce, Prominent Firms, etc.
Introduction and Profiles for Schoellkopf & Company and George Urban Milling Co.

To say that Buffalo is a center of trade and industry is to understate the situation. Whoever has lived here for a long time, indeed anyone who has grown up here can scarcely take in the colossal growth of the city. Visitors gape in amazement at the transportation options and natural resources of the area.

The natural resources found in Buffalo and the surrounding area are particularly conducive to industry and the huge growth of secondary operations, as represented by the thousands of establishments found here. If a city is a good place for commerce, that is, if it has requisite transport capabilities, then is can become a place for manufacturing. Conversely when a place makes itself a center of manufacturing, it becomes a good place for the establishment of transport facilities.

A comprehensive introduction to all the factories and large businesses in this book is impossible since new enterprises come into existence daily. It will have to suffice here to give an extract on industries in Buffalo from the 13th United States Census, which was published May 4, 1912.

The Industrial Report for the Year 1909 is as follows:
1753 firms - 61,246 people employed - 1489 managers - 8345 office workers - 51,412 laborers - 121,701 in horsepower - $193,041,000 in business capital - $38,074,000 in wages and salaries - $136,538,000 in material costs - $218,804,000 in manufactured goods.

In the course of 5 years from 1905 to 1910 the city gained 215 new establishments. The number of those employed increased by about 10,856. In 1904 factory investment capital amounted to $137,023,000; by 1910 it increased by $55,018,000. The value of fabricated goods increased by about $71,426,000.

Foundries employed more people than other classes of factories while printers and publishing establishments came in second. Foundries and machine shops comsumed the most horsepower with grain mills in second place. Foundries and machine shops laid out the most capital while slaughterhouses and canneries produced the most in dollar amounts.

Foundries and machine shops comprised 149 firms and employed 10,018 employees. Business capital of $20,316,000; $20,775,000 worth of goods manufactured.

Printers and publishers - 164 firms with 3640 employees. $6,649,000 in business capital and $7,679,000 worth of goods produced.

Slaughterhouses and canneries - 39 firms employing 1929 people. $7,257,000 in business capital; $25,416,000 worth in goods produced.

Soap - 8 firms employing 1592 people. $7,257,000 in business capital and $8,653,000 worth of goods produced

The automobile industry - 23 firms employing 3640 people. $9,300,000 in business capital and $9,598,000 worth in goods produced.

Wood - 32 firms employing 2202 people. $5,051,000 in business capital and $5,580,000 worth in goods production

Bakeries - 189 firms employing 1794 people. $4,369,000 in business capital and $5,544,000 worth in goods produced.

Furniture businesses - 33 firms employing 2347. $4,083,000 in business capital and $4,185,000 worth in goods produced.

Jewelry - 14 firms employing 401. $15,472,000 in business capital and $7,095,000 worth in good produced.

Distilleries - 16 firms employing 828 people. $12,784,000 in business capital and $6,497,000 worth in goods produced.

Mill production - 10 firms employing 793 people. $5,313,000 in business capital and $19,942,000 worth in goods produced.

Brass and bronze production - 18 firms employing 414 people. $1,047,000 in business capital and $1,791,000 worth in fabricated goods.

The preceeding list of Buffalo's commerce and industry is in itself no cause for praise. Rather it serves to illustrate the industrial spirit inherent in the soul of our city and with it's continuation it ever bears beautiful fruit. Industry is the best fruit of the culture. It promotes comfort and a sense of harmony in the rich and the poor. It stimulates the drive towards ownership, encourages hard work, and heightens the joy of existence. It gives millions the means to support themselves and opens the way for ambitious and gifted workers to find self-employment and contentment. This laurel wreath is not stained by blood; its proliferation increases the wealth of the country. It unlocks the treasures of the earth and gives value to its products. Its goal is invention and its final destination is the growth of the intellect.

In every large city there are firms achieving something great in one field or another and their successes spur others on to expend more effort. Over the course of time a noble contest has evolved - though current trends might not lead one to think so - in order for the various branches of industry and commerce to produce the most refined and reliable goods and bring them to market. When this energy is paired with integrity success can not be lacking.

Caption under picture at upper left reads Chamber of Commerce

Caption under picture at lower right reads Buffalo Savings Bank

Thus hundreds of businesses came into being, established upon a multitude of criteria and today they have respectable status in commercial circles as the distribution of their wares geographically expands to broader areas. Within its walls Buffalo has a respectable number of these firms and the German spirit of enterprise has triumphed. Let's look at a few of these enterprises. A prime example of the above is

Schoellkopf & Company

Buffalo enjoys the distinction of having the largest tannery in the world in which sheep hides are turned into leather. This tannery is the firm of Schoellkopf & Company, the gigantic establishment at the corner of Perry and Mississippi Streets.

The factory was originally established by Lymburner & Torrey in 1862. In 1877 it was purchased by Mr. Jacob T.F. Schoellkopf, the prominent manufacturer and founder of the largest industrial establishment on the Niagara Frontier. The factory was reorganized under the name of Schoellkopf & Co. At that time 2000 skins were processed each day. The growth of the firm was phenomenal. By 1904 12,000 skins per day were being tanned. The factory produced all sorts of sheep leather for gloves, shoes, etc in all styles and colors.

Caption under picture at center reads Schoellkopf & Company

Over the past few years a large quantity of material has been produced for bookbinding, cap making, measured goods and toys as well as purses, belts and all sorts of leather goods. The factory's area measures 588,432 square feet.

The manager of this large factory is Mr. Hanns Schmidt, a excellent German citizen of our city, whose knowledge of the field, whose ability, and whose goal-minded leadership have led to the enormous success of this large establishment. His late partner, Fritz Vom Berghe who died about a year ago, was also known as an excellent businessman.

George Urban Milling Co.

A history of German-established large industries in Buffalo would be incomplete without listing the George Urban Milling Co. The head of this firm is Mr. George Urban, Jr., one of the best known citizens of the city and one of the most important factors in the business life of Buffalo and Western New York. He first saw the light of the world on July 12, 1850 and he has so to speak grown up with the city. His father emigrated from Alsatia in 1835 and was a true German. He began a meal dealership and warehouse and since he was a good businessman he was successful. The young Urban attended the city schools and at the age of 16 entered his father's business. Four years later in 1870 he incorporated and the firm carried the name of Urban & Co.

The original establishment at the corner of Genesee and Oak Streets was enlarged in 1881 with the installation of the first roller mill in Buffalo. Four years later the elder Urban retired and Geo. Urban. Jr. became head of the firm, after which he partnered with Mr. E.G.S. Miller and Mr. W.C. Urban, his brother.

The firm today goes by the name of George Urban Milling Co. and it is known far and wide.

Caption under picture at left center reads George Urban, Jr.

Caption under picture at right center reads George P. Urban

The company officers are George Urban, Jr. - president; Wm. L. Seligmann, vice president; George P. Urban, secretary and treasurer.

In 1903 the new large flour mill was completed on Urban and Kehr Streets. Many of the best flour brands are manufactured there and distributed to all parts of the county. The mills are considered among the best equipped and most elegant in the world and they are the first in Buffalo to be powered exclusively by electricity produced in Niagara Falls.

Mr. George Urban, Jr. is also involved in several other industrial and commercial institutions. He is first vice-president of the Buffalo General Electric Co., first vice-president of the Cataract Power & Conduit Co., president of the Buffalo & Niagara Falls Electric Light & Power Co., president of the Buffalo Loan, Trust & Safe Deposit Co. Furthermore he is a director of the Buffalo German Insurance Co., the Buffalo Elevating Co., the Buffalo Commercial Insurance Co., the Ellicott Square Co., the Market Bank, the Bank of Buffalo, and the German American Bank.

* Mr. Urban owns a large estate on Pine Ridge Road with magnificent grounds and gardens. He has his own greenhouses and for a hobby he raises poultry, many of which have garnered him first prizes. In 1875 he married Miss Ada C. Winspear, daughter of Mr. Pennock Winspear of Cheektowaga. The happy union has been blessed with 4 children, one son, George Urban, and 3 daughters.

Mr. William Seligmann, the vice-president, was also born in Buffalo and has been with the firm for over a quarter of a century. In no small way the firm's success due to his ability and energy.

Mr. Geo. P. Urban, the young secretary and treasurer, attended the public schools and the high school here and then furthered his education in the engineering school of Yale University. After passing his exams with distinction in 1901 he went into his father's business, carrying on the tradition by which Buffalo can be proud of the George Urban Milling Co.

* German text for remainder of biography can be found at Webpage 3.2B

Caption under picture at center reads George Urban Milling Co.

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised September 14, 2005