The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County - Part II, Pages 41 - 46

Biographies for Henry Diehl, Dr. Conrad Diehl, John P. Diehl, Jacob W. Diehl, Philip Gerst, Eduard J. Eisele, Margarethe Eisele, Wilhelm Hellriegel, Stephan Bettinger, Dr. Ernst Wende, and Friedrich Persch


Henry Diehl, Conrad Diehl, John P. Diehl, Jacob W. Diehl

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Henry Diehl

belongs to one of the most respected German families in the city. He was born on January 14,1835 in Buffalo over the building which housed the Free Press on Ellicott Street. He is a son of Conrad Diehl, originally of Wittgenbron in the Hessen-Kassel region who died in 1884. Henry Diehl was educated at the Schreck Private German School and the public schools of the city and later went into the tobacco and cigar business. He finally opened a tobacco and cigar business of his own in the old American Hotel Block but over the course of the years he conducted business out of his brother's apothecary shop. He is there today. He is married to Salome Kabel from Buffalo Plains and lives at 391 Oak Street. Four sons from the marriage are still living.

John P. Diehl,

brother of Henry, was born on February 4, 1837 in Buffalo. He attended a German private school and then the public schools.He went into apprenticeship with a pharmacist and later opened an apothcary shop, which he operates today with his brother, Jacob W. Diehl. The business is at the corner of Main and West Genesee Streets. Besides his various successful business activities, Mr. Diehl is currently a Director of the Buffalo Savings Bank, the Commercial Insurance Co., and the German Bank. He belongs to the Queen City Lodge No.358 of the Order of Free Masons and is a member of the Hugh de Payens Commander Knights of the Templar. His marriage to Louisa A. Smith has produced 2 children. He lives with his family in a cozy home at 388 Pearl Street.

Jacob W. Diehl,

son of the late Conrad Diehl, was born on December 13, 1838 in Buffalo. He attended the public schools and then acquired an education to become a practicing apothecary. He maintains the business today with his brother, John P. Diehl. Mr. Diehl is well respected by fellow members of his profession and he is a member of the New York State Pharmaceutical Association and the Erie County Pharmaceutical Association. He is one of the Vice-Presidents of the German-American Bank, one of the best financial institutions in the country. He is married to Louisa D. Dickman, who gave him 2 children. He lives at 361 Pearl Street.

Dr. Conrad Diehl,

currently the mayor of our city, was born on July 17, 1843 in Buffalo. He received his early education in the local private and public schools. After graduation he went to the University of Buffalo to study medicine. As a graduate student he went to Europe in order to broaden his knowledge base by studying under the best teachers there and enrich his skills through work at their hospitals. After returning home he established a medical practice in 1867. Through his skill and dedication he became a beloved physician with a practice which couldn't fail. In 1867 he was elected coroner by a large majority and he held that office for 3 years. He declined the nomination for another term in order to tend to his ever growing private practice. In February of 1874 he was appointed as an assisting physician of the General Hospital after the death of Dr. Rochester but he filled the position of head physician. Dr. Diehl was Secretary of the Medical Staff of the General Hospital for 25 years. During the years 1870 - 1878 he was the Regimental Physician of the 65th Regiment and in 1871 he became a physician at the Erie County Poor House. He was President of the Medical Staff of the German Deaconess facility. For many years he was a member of the School Board. He was their President in 1896. He declined reelection. In 1897 he was placed on the Democratic Ticket as a mayoral candidate. He was elected with a significant majority. There were Germans from both political parties who placed Mr. Diehl in office thus proving the high esteem and respect they had for their compatriot. Mr. Diehl's first marriage was to Caroline Trautman of Weissenburg, Alsatia on May 5, 1869. His second marriage was to Lol M. Martin of Somerset Massachusetts on May 20, 1892. He is a member of the Orpheus, the Sängerbund, and the Liedertafel as well as other clubs in the city.

Philip Gerst

was born on September 17, 1863 in Buffalo. Although he is still quite young, he's one of the most respected businessmen in the city and an influential politician. His parents, Jacob and Eva Gerst, nee Dormire, were born in Germany and emigrated to America. The young Philip attended the public schools and after graduating from Bryant and Stratton, where he studied merchandising, he entered the Law Offices of J. Roberts, who is now the State Comptroller. He changed careers when he secured a position as clerk in the freight department of the Erie Railroad. After 8 years of service he had been promoted to head clerk of the department in Black Rock, where he also went into partnership with the late Marshall Doll in a paper and writing supplies business at the corner of Amherst and Dearborn Streets. He successfully conducted business there for 3 years then in 1890 he went into the insurance business. Mr. Gerst is one of the foremost political leaders of the Republican Party. His lovable nature and willingness to oblige have made him very popular. In 1894 he was elected to the State Legislature and became Chairman of the Canal Committee. In 1895 the Buffalonians elected him City Treasurer. Mr. Gerst is a member of the Occidental Lodge, F. & A.M., the Buffalo Lodge No. 517, I.O.O.F., and the Lodge of the same order established in Black Rock. He lives at 1823 Niagara Street.


Eduard J. Eisele

was born on Febraury 13, 1831 in Degenfeld, in the Gmünd region of Württemberg. He attended the local school. He apprenticed himself in Vienna to a goldsmith where he had to go through a 6 year training program before becoming an assistant in the business. After working for a year in Vienna and proving himself an accomplished goldsmith, he emigrated to the United States in 1854 and first settled in Brooklyn. He stayed there until 1857 then came to Buffalo in the Spring of that year. After working at various businesses, he established his own gold and silverware factory in partnership with Wm. F. King. To this day its branches in Buffalo are counted among the most important. His partner died in 1895 but the factory remains to this day under the old name. The business enjoys a find reputation for its sound business practices and artistic creations. The local facility is located at the corner of North Division and Washington Streets. Mr. Eisele is married to Margaretha Hilfinger. One son and 4 daughters have come from the marriage. All are still living. The family lives at 114 North Pearl Street.

Margarethe Eisele,

nee Hilfinger, came into the world on February 16, 1839 in Schwenningen, Württemberg. She is married to the well known goldwares manufacturer Eduard J. Eisele, to whom she gave 4 children.


Wilhelm Hellriegel

was born on March 13, 1819 in Wellstein in the Hessen-Darmstadt region. He had his first schooling at the local congregation school and learned the bakery trade. In 1834 he emigrated to America, arriving on May 28th. Next he travelled from New York to Lyons in Wayne County, New York. He plied his trade here until 1836 then he moved to Buffalo in order to work in his father's bakery. When the business was handed over to his 2 brothers he stayed and later bought into the partnership. The business was a flourishing concern. In 1870 he retired. Mr. Hellriegel had much to do with the development and prosperity of Buffalo through his business and through his fine service as an Alderman of the old 7th Ward from 1856 - 1858. He's a German through and through, having never refused to give his assistance and willing to further the cause through German ingenuity and effort. He is one of the founders of the German Fire Insurance Company. Currently he serves as a Director. On September 19, 1842 he married Miss Louise Rinck, with whom he has lived in wedded bliss. He lives at 601 Ellicott Street, at the corner of Goodell.

Stephan Bettinger

is a name which the oldest German citizens of the city will carry in fondest memory. In his day Mr. Bettinger was one of the most prominent businessmen in the city. He was born on November 11, 1821 in Gross-Redringen, Lotharingia, which at the time was a French province. He came to the United States in 1830 with his parents, who settled in Eden, Erie County. Two years later he settled in Buffalo and after graduating from school became an apprentice in the dry goods trade *. Through hard work and integrity he raise himself up the ranks and later established his own dry good business on the East Side of Main Street in the block between Genesee and Mohawk. He remained there for a long time and was counted among the most prominent in the profession. Mr. Bettinger united basic business sense with astonishing energy and keen insight, which was often the envy and the wonder of his contemporaries. He took an active part in politics. In 1856 he was Supervisor and in 1858-1859 he was Alderman of the old 4th Ward. He conducted himself in commendable fashion. His marriage to Margarethe Yager was blessed with 10 children - Stephen P. Bettinger, Albert A. Bettinger, and Mrs. Charles H. Ribbel still live. He died on March 21, 1886.

*"Schnittwaaren" means dry goods and cut lumber goods. Return to text


Dr. Ernst Wende

Mr. Wende may be counted among the most capable and popular physicians in this city. He was born on July 23, 1853 in Mill Grove, New York. He attended the Buffalo High School and graduated in 1874. Deciding to pursue medicine as a career, he attended the local university until 1878, then the University of Pennsylvania and later the Department of Medicine at Columbia College. To further his education he travelled to Berlin and Vienna and enriched his knowledge base by studying with experts in science. When he returned to the States he settled in Buffalo and succeeded in establishing a good practice. Dr. Wende has been Commissioner of Health for the city since 1892. He is well known throughout the country for his unbounded energy and foresight as well as for his introduction of numerous inventions and improvements in the field of sanitation administration in the city. His first appointment as Chief of the Sanitation Department occurred under Mayor Bishop; his second under Mayor Jewett. Mr. Wende is an instructor on the subject of skin diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Buffalo and an instructor of botany and microscopy at the College of Pharmacy. He is a member of the Erie County Medical Society, the State Medical Association, and other scientific organizations. Dr. Wende was married to Miss Francis [sic] Harriet Cutier of Omaha, Nebraska on August 25, 1881. He lives with his family at 471 Delaware Avenue.

Friedrich Persch,

who was born on February 29, 1829 [sic] in Böchingen by Landau in the Rhine Palatinate, attended the local school and after graduation learned the furniture carpentry trade. In 1845 the young man succumbed to his irresistable desire to wander, packed up his tools, booked passage on a ship, and sailed to the Promised Land of America. He arrived at the gates on Christmas Day. He stayed in New York until the following March and then came to Buffalo and worked as a clerk until 1849. In this year he opened a specialties and provisions business at the corner of Cedar and Eagle Streets, which he relocated in 1851 to the corner of Cedar and Pine Street. He conducted business there until 1873 and then took a well-deserved retirement. Mr. Persch has been a Trustee of the Buffalo Loan, Trust & Safe Deposit Co. since its founding. He is also the Vice-President of the Union Fire Insurance Co. Mr. Persch's name is closely associated with the Order of the Odd Fellows, to which he has been a member for many years. Much of the order's prosperity in Buffalo can be attributed to him. In acknowledgement of his invaluable service, a branch of the Odd Fellows was named for him in September of 1887 - the Persch Lodge of the Militant Patriarchs. Since September 27, 1849 Mr. Persch has been married to Carolina Streich of Cöppingen, Württemberg. Mr. Persch lives today at 83 Pine Street.

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Revised August 16, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks