The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County - Part II, pages 51 - 55

Biographies for Johann Irlbacker, Fred. F. Dorn, Friedrich Held, Andreas Carl, Christian Klinck, and Philip Becker.


Top: Mary, John, Louise.
Center: George, Johann Irlbacker, Katharine Irlbacker, Anthony.
Bottom: Jacob, Katie, Carrie, Edward.

Page 52 is blank


Johann Irlbacker

was born on December 29, 1831 in Trichenricht, near Bayreuth in the Bavarian section of Oberfranken. He arrived in Buffalo on October 18, 1844, accompanied by his parents and 6 siblings, of whom 2 sisters are still living. On October 20, 1845 he became an apprentice in a brasswares and machining shop. For the first two years he received $50 per year plus board. After these 2 years he became a foreman and his salary was raised by $10 per year. After working in the workshop of J.D. Schäper and the Plumbing and Gasfitting business of James Thomson, he became self-supporting and established a business, which grew larger with each passing year. The firm is now called Irlbacker & Sons. He and his sons manage the business. It's one of the largest establishments of its kind here in the city and it's located at 529, 531,and 533 Main Street and 504, 506, and 508 Washington Street.
During the Civil War Mr. Irlbacker was a Captain in Company F of the 65th Regiment and helped with the suppression of the rebellion in the City of New York on July 14, 1863. In 1852 Mr. Irlbacker married Miss Katharine Clear of Walthurn. The marriage produced 9 children, 4 boys and 5 girls. They are Mary, now Mrs. Louis Brunner; Louise, married to Charles Kleber; John, who died on March 24, 1874 at the age of 18 years and 5 months; George, Anthony, Katie, who is married to Frank Chretien; Carrie, wife of Peter Schirra; Jacob C., and Edward F. Irlbacker. Mr. Irlbacker lives at 766 Ellicott Street.

Fred. F. Dorn,

whose firm is one of the most popular German establishments in the city, was born in Buffalo on February 25, 1856. He received an excellent education at the public schools and then later at St. Joseph's Academy. Afterwards he learned the jeweler's trade. He worked for many years for King & Eisele and Hiram Hotchkiss in Buffalo. He was also employed in significant jewelry businesses in New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. In 1886 he opened his own business at 87 East Genesee Street, which you'll find today at the same location. Hard work and good business sense have helped the business to flourish. Mr. Dorn's first marriage was to Hattie Clelland, who gave him 2 girls, one of whom still lives. His first wife died in 1894. Since April 1898 he has been married to the Widow of the late Henry Bormuth. He lives at 72 Carlton Street.

Friedrich Held

As a 12-year-old boy Friedrich Held came with his parents to Buffalo in 1840. He was born on December 20, 1818 in Bechtoldsheim, Hessen-Darmstadt [1]. Soon after he got a job as a paperboy at the Weltbürger (The World Citizen). He learned typesetting and eventually became a partner in the paper in 1853. The Weltbürger was a weekly newspaper which was founded by Georg Zahm in 1837. Zahm was killed in an accident involving the raising of a flag pole and the business went into the hands of Dr. Brunck and Mr. Domedion in 1845. In 1848 Carl Esslinger founded the Buffalo Democrat, a German weekly newspaper, which after a year and a half was bought by Carl De Haas and Knapp. In 1850 it became a daily newspaper. The Democrat was the first daily German paper in Buffalo.

[1] Either the age of the boy, the date he was born, or the year he came to Buffalo is wrong. If he were born in 1818 and arrived in 1840, he would have been 22. Return to text


In 1853 the two newspapers merged. Mr. Held bought Knapp's shares and the Democrat was published as a daily paper by the firm of Brunck, Held & Co. while the weekly paper appeared under the title The World Citizen. In 1859 De Haas left the partnership. In 1875 Dr. Brunck left and Mr. Held became sole owner of the newspaper. Friedrich Held was a self-made man in the truest sense of the word. Through untiring effort and strictest honesty he achieved the respect and love of all people and this followed him through to his retirement. From humble newspaper carrier he worked his way up to owner of a large and powerful business. Mr. Held married Caroline L. Beyer, daughter of Philipp Beyer, in 1863. He died on March 6, 1885 leaving behind his widow, 3 sons and 1 daughter. The business went into the hands of Mrs. Held, and later to his sons, who operate it today.

Mr. Held, a model of German perseverence, belonged to several organizations and was a member of Concordia Lodge 163, F. & A.M., Hugh de Payen Commandery of the Knights of the Templar, the Buffalo Capital 61, R.A.M., the German Young Men's Assocations, the Liedertafel, the Sängerbund, the Orpheus, the Turnverein [Gymnastics Club], and many others. He also belonged to the Volunteer Fire Department.

Andreas Carl

was born on November 5, 1822 in Ladorf. He attended the parish school in his district and then learned the lathe turning and pipe making trade as well as toy making, which in the region of his birth was a predominant industry. On May 1, 1860 he emigrated to the United States and after his landing in July he headed for Buffalo. He settled on Genesee Street near Oak and worked for Hersee & Co. and later for W.H. Glenny. In 1861 he opened a specialties business together with a restaurant at 28 Broadway, which he successfully operated until his death on March 2, 1895 following a short illness. Mr. Carl, whose honest German character gleaned him the respect of all who knew him, regularly took part in the affairs of German organizations. He was a lifelong member of the Buffalo Sängerbund, and could be counted among the most prominent members of the Buffalo Aid Society, whose finances he oversaw for 20 years as treasurer. During the Civil War he was called up twice for military service but he was not taken, the first time because he wasn't a citizen, the second time because he was too old. In 1885 Mr. Carl took a trip to Germany in order to plant the American flag in the name of Germans in this country at the Kemberger Archers Guild, celebrating its 150 year jubilee. As he often explained, he considered this trip the most beautiful memory of his life. He was married on November 15, 1849 to Pauline Rupprecht. Five children came from the marriage. Four are still living.

Christian Klinck

is counted among the most intelligent and industrious businessmen ever to be within the walls of the Queen City of the Lakes. He first saw the light of the world on February 6, 1833 in Schönenburg in Bavaria. In 1849 his parents settled in Zweibrücken where the lad learned the butcher trade after finishing his schooling. In 1850 he emigrated to America with the intention of settling in Cincinnati. But his travel money ran out in Buffalo so he changed necessity into virtue and stayed here. It was a decision he never regreted. It wasn't difficult for this clever young man to find a relatively good paying job. After working for 6 months as a journeyman butcher, he became self-supporting and established a meat business. He conducted business until 1868 then decided to give up the general meat trade in order to concentrate on hog slaughtering and pickling.


He worked with great vigor to raise the business to prominence. The task was made that much more difficult by the fact that he was trying to compete against older and richer firms. Fortune was with the young businessman and through determination, diligence and hard work the business he established has become one of the foremost in the United States. The business is located at the corner of Depot and William Streets. The large slaughterhouse spans 18 acres. The magnificent building has the most up to date appliances and machinery. Over 300 workers are employed there.

Not only is Mr. Klinck a successful businessman and prominent citizen. He has served the city as a politician of incorruptible character and enormous conviction. In 1863 he was elected Alderman of the 13th Ward and after being away from the political arena for 30 years he was elected Councilman. In 1896 he was President of this body. He is a director of the Citizen's Bank and the German Orphanage and a broker for the Life Stock Exchange and the Crocker Fertilizer Company. Mr. Klinck lives at 144 Swan Street.

Philip Becker

was a man the likes of which our community has seldom seen. He was born in April 1830 in Oberotterbach on the Rhine in the Rhine Palatinate. He attended the elementary and secondary schools in his district and completed his studies at an institute in France. In 1847 he came to America and came directly to Buffalo via Albany and the Erie Canal. Here he found employment as a clerk in the specialties business of Jacob Dorst, where he had to make due with the monthly salary of $4 plus board. While in this position he developed the energy and determination which characterized his entire business life. In the following years he increased his income by becoming a clerk for Abram Twitchell at a yearly salary of $75. Two years later we find him at the warehouse and wholesale operation of Leibel & Co., then at A.P. Yaw, where he was able to draw on all his business acquaintences. After he had been in this country for approximately 7 years, he had managed to save $400. With this small sum and another $2000 loaned to him by friends, who were convinced of his excellence of character, he opened a small store on Main Street near Court. With this he laid the groundwork for the large and highly respected firm of Philip Becker & Co. Untiring hard work and frugality allowed him to expand the business year after year. The firm, which later took in his brother-in-law Georg Götz and Michael Hausauer, developed over the course of the years to the largest specialties warehouse and wholesaler in Western New York. The window glass business, which Mr. Becker established, also flourished.

The success, which acompanied Mr. Becker's business untertakings, was no accident. Ceaseless, intelligently performed work, frugality and circumspection assisted him. When he was building up his own business he used the opportunity to lend others a helping hand. He did this in such a warm and friendly manner that he acquired an incredible host of loyal friends. It's doubtful that there could have been another man known by most of the community to the degree that Mr. Becker was.

His energy, his open character, his sociability and his success brought him to the citizenry's attention. They honored him by electing him to various public offices. During the Centennial Year (1876) and the the years following he was mayor of the city. He had the honor of being the first German mayor of Buffalo. His administration was thoroughly businesslike and satisfactory to all parties. In 1886 he was reelected and 2 years later he held the office for a third term. These two terms of office were conducted in the same businesslike manner as the first. His administration of city affairs was particularly positive for Buffalo because no mayor had taken the interests of the citizenry to heart as stringently as he had. In 1888 Mr. Becker was one of the members of the electoral college.

In 1891 his friends urged him to seek the nomination for Governor. He was reluctant but finally gave in to their pressure. His name was proposed at the Republican State Convention but Platt's contingent unfortunated thwarted his nomination. In 1876 and 1892 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Mr. Becker was also one of the commissioners in charge of the management of the building of the City and County Hall. Buffalonians have reason to be proud because it is well known that seldom are public buildings constructed without a hint of scandal.

Mr. Becker performed great service with his participation in the building of the Music Hall and the organization of the Singing Festival held here in 1883. Furthermore he was one of the founders of the German Insurance Company, for which he was President from 1869 until his death on July 4, 1898. Along with this accomplishment he helped establish the Buffalo Commercial Insurance Company amid the growing concern over reputable insurance companies. He was its first President in 1896. Mr. Becker was also a member of several charitable organizations and other associations.

Mr. Becker left Philip Becker & Co. at the beginning of the last decade but the firm still carries on the old, respected name.

Mr. Becker, who lives at 533 Delaware Avenue in a splendid villa, was married to Miss Sarah Götz in 1852. He leaves behind no children.

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Revised August 20, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks