The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County - Part II, pages 93 - 101

Biographies for Matthew J. Chemnitz, Martin Lauser, Jr., Jacob Beier, Katherine Beier, and Frank H. Zesch.


Mrs. Matthew Chemnitz, Matthew Chemnitz

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Matthew J. Chemnitz

He comes from one of the oldest and most important Lower Saxon families in the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. His is a family, which has given Germany many noble and famous men. Martinus Chemnitz, the reformer of Prussia and Braunschweig and of Lutheran theology in the 16th Century, is an ancestor in direct line as is Phillippus Bogislaus von Chemnitz, Chancellor to Queen Christine of Sweden and right hand of the great Oxenstierna, one of the most clever politicians and capable historians of the 17th Century. His father was a well known attorney and editor and was the publisher of the fiery national anthem "Schleswig-Holstein by the Sea Surrounded", which encouraged the steadyfast Saxons of the neighboring land and supported the rebellion against the oppression of the barbarous Danes. It was only after many bloody battles that all conflict was brought to resolution by overwhelming forces facilitated by the betrayal of the hypocritical English. The leader of the movement and the officers of the revolutionary regime were forced to flee. Thus Mr. Chemnitz's father sought and found refuge in Würzburg. He married a Frankish lady there and after the banishing of the Danes to Holstein in 1864 he was a judge until his death.

Matthew J. Chemnitz attended various schools in Würzburg and in Holstein at Uetersen, Altona. Lastly he attended the Royal Trade Secondary School in Rensburg, from which he graduated. From 1874 to 1880 he studied chemistry and related sciences at the Royal Technical University in Hannover. His teachers included Kraut for Analytical Chemistry, in Technical Chemistry Heeren, in Mineralogy and Geology Ulrich and in Physics Quintus-Icilius. His studies were interrupted from 1878 to 1879 for a year in the Holstein Field Artillery Regiment No. 24, based in Mölle, Lauenberg, where he completed exercises for the qualifications for the officer's exams. Shortly before his leaving he was promoted and relocated from the Holstein Foot Artillery Battallion No. 9 to Bremenhaver, where after an 11 week exercise he quit the military.
In the Fall of 1880 he came to New York and was employed as an apothecary. Early the next year, which saw him in Buffalo, he spent a brief period of time partly as an apothecary and partly as a bookkeeper in a brewery. In the Fall of 1881 he was employed as a chemist for the American Glucose Co. at their Scott Street factory. He held this position without break for 11 years, the last 3 years employed as Assistant Superintendent of the refinery. From 1882 until 1883 he was Superintendent of the glucose factory of the same company in Peoria, Illinois. Due to his linguistic abilities and the nominations of prominent Germans, he was appointed the city's School Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1892. He was further appointed Superintendent of the German Department and Secretary of the Schools Department, a position which he held until January 1, 1893. Thorough yet methodical, lacking the popular tendency towards showmanship, he tried to keep German instruction viable and ever more attainable. Through certain arrangements he tried to make German indispensible to Germans and non-Germans alike. In the last 6 years he enlarged the German Department by 13 instructors and 2000 students. In another 9 schools where German is taught he created, through the establishment of a final Regents Exam, a firm basis for continuing the study of German in the high schools. It created a modest degree of comfort for students wishing to acquire their high school diploma. As Secretary of the Department of Schools he has led the effort for the significant improvement of bookkeeping and inventory, although this work was increased to an incredible extent by the introduction of free textbooks.
In 1881 he married Miss Emilie Eggers of Liebenburg on the Harz in Hannover. He has one son and one daughter. Since his arrival in Buffalo he has been a member of many German and English associations and clubs, in which he has often held a official position. He belongs to the Free Mason's Washington Lodge No. 240, the Free Mason Kapitel Germania No. 267, the Free Mason Acacia Club. He was the secretary or director of the German Young Men's Association, the Sängerbund, and the field division of the Natural Science Society. He belongs to the Soldiers Union, the Natural Science Society, and the Turnverein. At one point in time he was an officer of the German Evangelical Church of St. Luke on Richmond Avenue. He was an incorporator and the first Secretary of the German Hospital. The first 12 years of his residency in Buffalo were spent in the 8th Ward on Spring Street. Since then he's been in the 23rd Ward on 15th Street.


Martin Lauser, Jr.,

considered among the most well known young German-Americans in the city, was born on July 7, 1855 in Buffalo. He received an good education through St. Ann's School but at an early age he had to think of a way to provide for himself. In 1867 he went to work for the factory of the Buffalo Scale Co., where he remained until 1871. Until 1877 he was employed at the Frank & Co. Machine Factory and in the following year he opened a coal and wood dealership at 420 Emslie Street, which he ran until 1884. He then became a grocer at 137 Peckham Street. His business became very popular because of his hard work, frugality and rarely attained degree of honesty. All who know him in business and social circles respect him as a fine businessman. Mr. Lauser has regularly taken part in politics. In 1894 he was appointed a Federal Toll Inspector, a position which he maintained to the satisfaction of all. Mr. Lauser is married to Josephine Huber. Six children have come from the marriage, 3 boys and 3 girls. Five of the children are still living. The family residence is at the same house as his business, 137 Peckham.

Jacob Beier

is considered to be among the most respected and important contractors in the city. He was born on January 8, 1817 in Theisbergstegen in the Rhine Palatinate. He attended the public school and learned the mason's trade. In 1842 he emigrated to America and cast his lot in with Buffalo. What he had learned about his trade in the old fatherland he demonstrated when he came to America. The first buildings, which he built, made a name for him. It wasn't long before he was one of the most sought-out and respected contractors in the city. Many of Buffalo's most important buildings come from him. The first house he built was at 550 Genesee Street. It was built in 1846 for Mr. Wilhelm Hellriegel, who still lives there. Other building constructed by Mr. Beier include the Old American House, the Courier Building, St. Peter's Church, the Board of Trade Building, the old association building of the Y.M.C.A., and a large number of schoolhouses. In his later years Mr. Beier was in business with his son under the firm name of Beier & Son. On June 16, 1844 he married Miss Katherine Jung. Six children came of the marriage, of whom 2 died at a tender age. The 2 sons, Jacob and Wilhelm are no longer living. Jacob died in 1896 and Wilhelm died in 1897. The 2 daughters, Mrs. Leo Scheu and Mrs. Katherine van Tine, still live at the old family home at the southwest corner of Carlton and Ellicott Street, from which Mr. Beier departed on October 31, 1891.

Katherine Beier,

nee Jung, who came to America at an early age, was born in St. Julian, Rhine-Bavaria on December 1, 1815. On June 16, 1844 she was married to Jacob Beier by Pastor Günther with William Rink and Christian Rheinwald as witnesses. She gave her husband 6 children, of whom 2 daughters are still living. Mrs. Beier died on March 29, 1881.


Jacob Beier, Mrs. Jacob Beier

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Top:Ida, Edward, Clara
Center: Frank, Jr., Frank H. Zesch, Mrs. F.H. Zesch, Emma
Bottom: Cecilie, Arthur, Bertha

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Frank H. Zesch

Mr. Frank H. Zesch, co-owner of the Buffalo Free Press, first saw the light of the world on April 16, 1840 in Stargard, Mecklenburg-Strelitz. After attending school in Germany until his 14th year, he emigrated with his parents to America in 1854. Many people had chosen to settle in Buffalo, Mr. Zesch among them. With the exception of one year in which he lived in Rochester, Mr. Zesch lived here throughout his life after his emigration. The first job he took after arriving in Buffalo was as a newspaper carrier for the Buffalo Democrat. He worked in this capacity for 2 years in order to became a typesetter's apprentice for the same newspaper. His father had intended for his son to take a job in one of the most important ironwares business in the city. When the owner of the Buffalo Democrat found out about this plan, he did not want to part with the young man. He had certain things in mind for him. He decided to keep the boy in his old position. In consideration for his talent and ability he was spared a significant portion of his apprenticeship and he was paid the same wage as a professional typesetter. Later, as we said, Mr. Zesch went to Rochester but after a year he went back to work for the Democrat. He stayed there for 2 years and then took a job at the Courier in the ancillary press department in order to perfect his knowledge in this field of book printing. Mr. Zesch stayed at the Courier for 3 full years, that is until 1867, and then became a partner in the Free Press, a business in which he is still occupied today. He is the chief of the ancillary press department . The business owes much of its continued annual growth to his perspicacity, his ability, and his energy. Besides various printing assignments in many different fields, carried on in German, English, and other languages, this department of the Free Press prints various monthly and biweekly church bulletins and publications of various organizations and societies under his auspices.

In 1855 Mr. Zesch joined the Turnverein, from which he has a diploma of lifetime membership. Likewise he also belongs to the Buffalo Young Men's Association. Since 1862 he's been a member of the Buffalo Sängerbund. For many years he's been a member of the Natural Sciences Society. He's counted as a founder of the Vesta Lodge No. 137, A.O.U.W. and he belongs to other clubs and social organizations. In 1898 he was appointed by Mayor Diehl to the post of Civil Service Commissioner, an honorary office, which he currently holds.

In 1863 Mr. Zesch married Miss Mathilde Hermin Milow, a lady born in Strassburg in the province of Ukermark. The marriage produced 9 children, of whom 8 are still living. They are Clara, now Mrs. John S. Kellner, Ida, at this time Mrs. Wm. Feuchter, Edward Zesch, Emma, now Mrs. George Ward, Frank, Arthur, Cecilie, and Bertha Zesch.

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Revised August 25, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks