Buffalo and its German Community, Part IIIB: Pages 6 - 10

Profiles for C. Person's Sons, C. Kurtzmann & Co., and the Cordova Shops

C. Person's Sons

The firm of C. Person's Sons is well known not just within the limits of the City of Buffalo but well beyond the New York State line. The firm is famous as a distillery and warehouse for wines and liquors because of the firm's integrity, the excellence of its wares, and the courteous handling of its customers.

The firm was established in 1850 and grew up with the city. The founder was Charles Person, who was born in Alsatia and learned the distillery business as a youth. At the age of 14 the young man came to America and settled in Buffalo. After being employed at a large liquor firm for some time he established his own business in 1850. His hard work, his energy, and his strictly honorable practices led to his success. He played an important role in politics. For one term he served as alderman for the 4th Ward.

Caption under picture at left center reads Charles Person

Caption under picture at right center reads Frank P. Person

When he died in 1886 he left behind a prospering business to his 3 sons - Daniel H., William, and Frank P. Person.

Mr. William Person was appointed Fire Commissioner in June 1898 under Mayor Diehl. He was reappointed by succeeding mayors because of his ability and dedication to duty.

The management of the business is chiefly in the hands of Daniel, William, and Frank P. Person, whose energy and ability have succeeded in making the firm of C. Person's Sons one of the largest amd most repected in the State. In 1850 the business measured 20 by 30 feet. Today the home of the firm is a 5 story building at 390 - 392 Elm Street with dimensions of 60 by 150 feet. There is an elegant office and a distillation, packing, and storing area which employs an army of workers.

The firm of C. Person's Sons carries the choicest wines and liquors. Wines are imported from German, Spain, France, Italy, and Hungary. The firm is the local agent for Cook's Imperial Champagne, Pellich Gin, Sheboygan Mineral Water, and Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Beer. The firm carries the best California and domestic wines and the famous Buffalo Club and Riverside Whiskeys. They carry Meadville Rye Whiskey, Jas. F. Pepper Whiskey, Bass Ale, and Guinness Stout. They are the distributors for Corthell's Orange Bitters, Allasch Kümmel, Knickerbocker Malt Gin, Suffolk Tom Gin, Cinzan's Vermouth, Klomp Gin and many other brands.

Since November 20, 1911 following the death of Mr. Daniel H. Person, Mr. Frank P. Person has been chief manager of the large business. He is respected in the widest of circles and he is very popular due to his excellent character. Mr. Frank P. Person is a prominent member of the most important German organizations and clubs. His 5 sons, each a chip off the old block, assist him in the management of this prospering business. Their names are William C., Edward C., Frank W., Eugen F., and Karl O. Person. With such a work force the firm of C. Person's Sons will continue to succeed and mirror the progress of Buffalo's growth.

C. Kurtzmann & Co.

There are many large industrial establishments in Buffalo in which the citizens may take pride. Without a doubt the firm of C. Kurtzmann & Co. stands at the top of the list. This firm is the only piano manufacturer in Buffalo. The products of this factory have a well-established reputation throughout the country. The German community can be especially proud of this piano manufacturer. It was founded by a German and its current managers are German.

Over 65 years ago the first piano factory was established by piano builder Christian Kurtzmann on Broadway.

Caption under picture at upper right reads William Person

It was a modest workshop. The first instruments produced here were of such excellent workmanship and produced such beautiful sound that the good reputation of Kurtzmann pianos was quickly established. Today the firm is comprised of 2 large factories. Factory A is at Pennsylvania and Niagara Streets. Factory B is at 7th and Hudson. The warehouse and showrooms are at the corner of Main and Goodell. Over 500 men are employed in this large establishment and a tour through the facility is very interesting. You'll find the newest and most modern machinery and equipment. In the storage areas the best materials are kept. It's the firm's ambition to deliver only the best in materials as well as solid workmanship and artistic execution. Most of the employees have been in service to the firm for many years. They take as great an interest in the production of the best instruments as does the owner.

The period of the firm's prosperity began after the reorganization of the business and today the corporate officers are: Mrs. F. Cordes, president; Irving E. Devereaux, vice-president; Jacob Hackenheimer, secretary; George H. Moessinger, treasurer. Mr. Hackenheimer, who started with the factory as a boy, was appointed secretary and operations manager in 1901.

Caption at center of picture reads Kurtzmann Factories, Buffalo, N.Y. Factory A is pictured at top center; Factory B is pictured at lower center

Under his capable and knowledgeable management lost ground was recaptured and new terrain was won. In 1892 the firm succeeded in finding an experienced and able treasurer in Mr. Moessinger. His administration of the finances has enabled the firm to expand its volume of production. In 1896 the firm succeeded in finding Mr. Devereaux, a representative whose energy and extraordinary skill were responsible for finding new markets in all parts of the United States for the products of the C. Kurtzmann Co. And thus the full sun of prosperity shined over the firm. Orders accumulated so quickly that space was no longer sufficient to accommodate them. A new, large, 4-story factory had to be built. It's estimated that in Buffalo alone there are over 10,000 Kurtzmann pianos in use and every owner boasts about it. Everyone knows that there is no finer piano for the price in the entire world.

The Cordova Shops

It's still a young business but it's a growing one - the manufacture of artistically crafted leather. Then again one wouldn't say that it's a new artform either. As far back as the Middle Ages such work was carried on within Spain and Cordova was the center of this form of artistry. But it wasn't until recently that one found artistic leather wares mass produced. In our time we have factories equipped with modern technology and artistry can develop into a branch of industry, allowing for the rebirth of an old art form with a broader reach. In our time we can boast of this lofty goal. The most significant facilities for such artistry that we have in the United States are the Cordova Shops of Buffalo.

The Cordova Shops were founded in November 1908. They've gone through an astonishing metamorphosis. The number of workers at these facilities has increased from 2 to 50. In terms of growth the Cordova Shops have surpassed all other businesses of this kind in the United States. Today they march at the head of the representatives of the industry. Their sales markets extend to all parts of the United States, and to Argentina, Australia, Manila and even Europe. The products of these excellent artistic facilities take no back seat to products produced in Europe. Rather on many points they exceed the European standard for technique and originality of execution. The natural result is that the Cordova Shops in the last 4 years have far surpassed their beginnings and their sales market has substantially expanded.

The Cordova Shops' offices and workshops are located in the Bowen Building at 36 West Huron Street on the corner of Pearl.

Caption under picture at lower left reads Otto Hilt

The Cordova Shops produce everything which can be made of leather and everything from the facilities is hand crafted. The material used is the best available from domestic and foreign markets. Space here does not permit us to show the full extent of the artistry performed. We can only briefly mention the sequence of events in the process of manufacture. After a design is completed it is transferred to the leather. The leather is then cut and formed. The work goes to the dye works where the tinting process is completed. The products of the Cordova Shops received special dying and tinting treatments in order to give them a unique character. After this process work goes to various studios where thoroughly trained and experienced artisans of all the various disciplines work the leather into wall decorations, fire screens, table covers, desk blotters, purses for ladies, correspondence baskets, cushions, picture frames, photo albums, weapons, monograms, etc. Besides the usual wares specialty items are produced. Useful items in leather are produced for large banks. Since the industry is a young one in this country the Cordova Shops must teach and train its work force.

The technical director of this wonderful enterprise is a born German, Mr. Otto Hilt of Stuttgart. He received his education in artistic leather work in Germany and and he acquired his many years of experience in the first businesses in this field. In 1904 he came to the United States, where he first worked for 3 years in Philadelphia for Rumpp & Sons, the oldest and most renown leatherwares business in America.
* Then for 2 years he was with the Roycrofters in East Aurora where in this country he had his first opportunity to manufacture artistic leather goods. He was one of the founders of the Cordova Shops in Buffalo, where he is a partner and the technical director. In the summer of 1912 he toured Europe and studied the accomplishments of the artistic leather industry of the old homeland. As an excellent practitioner of his craft he understood well how to bring this young business to prosperity in a short amount of time. Under his capable guidance the firm is assured of standing solid and continuing to develop. Anyone interested in the works of this artistic operation is invited to the showroom of the Cordova Shops anytime.

*German text for this part of the translation is on page 11 found at Webpage 3.2C

Caption under picture at center reads Showroom of the Cordova Shops

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised September 14, 2005