The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County - Part II, pages 113 - 116 & page 121 *

Biographies for Wilhelm Lautz, Sr., Wilhelm Lautz, Jr., J. Adam Lautz, Charles Lautz, Friedrich Christopher Martin Lautz, G.H.A. Schaefer, Charles Lautz, and Suzanna Lautz


Top: Martin, Charles, Fritz C.M.
Center: Wilhelm, Wilhelm Lautz, Elisabeth Lautz, J.Adam
Bottom: Elisabeth, Anna, Gretchen, Katharina

Page 114 is blank


Wilhelm Lautz, Sr.

was born in 1815 in Umstadt at the foot of Oden Forest of the Hessen-Darmstadt region. He was the son of an old family, which had been in the same region for several generations. The old family house still stands there today and carries the inscription "this structure built by Johann Martin Lautz in 1774". He attended the local school, built a soap works factory, and in 1837 married Elisabeth Hiemenz of Dieburg, part of the Dieburg area of Hessen-Darmstadt. She was the daughter of tannery owner Johann Hiemenz. (This tannery today is significantly larger and operated by Johann Hiemenz's grandchildren.) After operating the soap works for a short time, he took over the supervision and management of a number of holdings in Odenwald and Spessart, which belonged to Prince Löwenstein and Count Erlach. He remained in this post for about 8 years and then took out a mortgage on a property in Mittelfranken, Bavaria. After every possible misfortune he was forced to give up the property 5 years later. He decided that his last resort was to emigrate to America. He arrived here in 1853 with $5 and 7 children - Wilhelm, J. Adam, Karl, Elisabeth, Friedrich C.M., Anna, and Gretchen. The oldest child was about 15 and the youngest wasn't yet 2. Immediately after his arrival here he established himself by selling beds, etc so that he could get candle molds. He began making candles, which his sons sold in the stores. Through great frugality the business grew larger and larger. He soon started producing a small amount of soap with the help of his children. This business too grew in the course of the years. At the beginning the wares were carried in hand baskets and sold to the public. Then there was a hand cart. A little later they got a couple dogs to do the towing. Later still they could afford a small horse, thus paving the way for the most important soap factory of the time in Buffalo, which was located on Hanover Street. The business is there today in much expanded form. It has been sold.
In Buffalo he had 3 more children - Katharine, now Mrs; Georger, Martin, who died in 1893, and Suzanna, who died as a child. The father could no longer maintain his good health. After a short illness he departed this life in 1866. The mother lived to rejoice in the well being of her children for another 20 years until she followed her husband in 1887 because of a heart attack brought on by an arm fracture.

Wilhelm Lautz, Jr.

Mr. Wilhelm Lautz, without a doubt one of the most respected and popular Germans in Buffalo, was born on April 20, 1838 in Dieburg, Hessen-Darmstadt. He attended the local and private schools there. A love of art, artistic tastes and an artistic eye predisposed him to become a sculptor and ivory carver. He attended the art school in Frankfurt am Mainz with the best possible results. When his father was forced to leave Germany due to unfortunate circumstances, Wilhelm accompanied him to America in 1853. They came directly to Buffalo. After many difficult experiences the young man succeeded in securing his footing. At this time Mr. Lautz is the owner of a very important marble business, which due to his expertise in the field of art has developed an outstanding reputation. He married Miss Amalie Bank, who gave him 3 sons and 1 daughter. They live a peaceful life in their comfortable home at 31 Dodge Street.

J. Adam Lautz

was born in 1840 in Dieburg and came with his parents and siblings to Buffalo when he was 13. He put forth every effort to acquire a sound education and he continued this effort after reaching New York. When the Civil War broke out he enthusiastically responded to the call to arms. He became one of the founders of the 20th New York State Volunteer Regiments, otherwise known as the New York Turner Rifles. He took an active part in the war and fought in the second Battle of Bull Run, the battles at Lookout Mountain and Antitam, the Battle of Fredricksburg, the Battle at Gettyburg and many other small skirmishes. After his release from the army Mr. Lautz returned to Buffalo, where he became involved with several commercial enterprises. He was a member of the firm Lautz Bros. & Co., a partner in the Niagara Starch Works, the Niagara Stamping & Tool Works, president of Ziegele Brewing Co., and director of the Citizen's Bank. He was a member of the Merchant's Exchange, the Buffalo Club, a co-founder of the Orpheus, for which he was vice president for many years. He was president of the German Young Men's Association for many years. When St. Louis Church was built he was elected chairman of the building committee.

In 1865 Mr. Lautz married Miss Kate Bardol. The marriage produced 2 daughters and 2 sons, Carl A. and Otto J. Lautz. Mr. J. Adam Lautz died on August 17, 1894.

Charles Lautz

Among the sketches of so many of our German-Americans, the name of Mr.Charles Lautz must be placed at the top of the list as a fine German citizen and an excellent merchant. His career began with the moment that he stepped foot in America. His life serves as an excellent example of what determination and caution can accomplish. Mr. Lautz was born in Dieburg in 1842. Since the establishment of the soap business (now almost half a century ago) to the time of his death his vigilance never ceased. He lagged behind none in his branch of the family businesses. The firm of Lautz Bros. & Co. enjoys a fine reputation both near and far.
Mr. Lautz also took part in several other business ventures. He was one of the original partners in the firm The Lautz Company, which deals in imported and domestic marble throughout the country. He was a partner in the Niagara Machine & Tool Works, one of the founders of the Niagara Starch Works, now a branch of the National Starch Company, of which Mr. Lautz was a director. Additionally he was vice president of the National Soap Makers Association. He was president of the Niagara Heights Land Company and the Long View Driving Park & Land Company of Cleveland, Ohio.


He was director of the Linhurst Improvement Company of Baltimore, Maryland and a member of their commerce commission. He was one of the planners of the Buffalo and Williamsville Railroad,and a member of the National Association of Manufacturers of the United States. He was a life long member of the Catholic Institute, which had a well known public free library. Four times consecutively he was elected the institute's president. He was a member of the building committee of the association when they planned the construction at the corner of Main and Virginia Streets. Eight times consecutively he was president of the advisory board of St. Louis parish council. After the fire a new church had to be constructed. He belonged to the committee which toured churches in various cities in order to study building plans and details. In hindsight we can see that his knowledge and judgment were invaluable. Finally let it be mentioned that Mr. Lautz was a life long member of the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, one of the founders of the Orpheus, and for many years a director of the German Hospital, in which he was quite active. He was also a member of other associations.

His estate, known as Amherst Villa, is renown throughout Western New York. Amherst Villa is a farm in which Mr. Lautz united the aesthetic with the pragmatic into agriculture. It's in the Town of Amherst. In the stalls you'll find a valuable herd of full-blooded Jersey cattle.

In 1866 Mr. Lautz married Miss Susanna Bensler, whose father, Hermann Bensler, was one of the oldest settlers. He was a famous furniture maker, who enjoyed a fine reputation among his fellow citizens. Mr. Lautz lived with his wife in their comfortable house at 384 Linwood Avenue.

These are just a few words about the life of one of our most excellent and public-serving German American citizens.

Mr. Charles Lautz died after a long illness despite the tender ministrations of his wife and life partner on June 21, 1901.

Friederich Christopher Martin Lautz

is a son of Mr. Wilhelm and Mrs. Elisabeth Lautz. He was born on March 5, 1846 in Rimhorn, Hessen-Darmstadt, where he received the first part of his education. He came with his father to America when he was 7 years old. During the Civil War he served with the 81st New York Volunteer Regiment. After the war he entered his father's soap business. He remained there and became a member of the firm Lautz Brothers & Co., one of the most important establishments of its kind in the country. Furthermore Mr. Lautz is one of the founders of the Niagara Starch Works, a part of Onyx Grinding and Polishing, which is a Lautz Company, and the Niagara Stamping & Tool Company. He is a life long member of the German Young Men's Association, for which he was president from 1881 to 1884. He's a life long member of the Historical Society, the Academy of Free Arts, and the Orpheus Singing Society. He's a co-founder and member of the Buffalo Catholic Institute and a Trustee of the Homeopathic Hospital of Buffalo.
Mr. Lautz had a strong, fine gift for music during childhood. He put it to use in 1888 with the founding of the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, an organization to which he donated much time and money. He's also a co-founder of the Buffalo Musical Association. Further he's a co-establisher of the Ellicott Square Building, Vice-President of the Ellicott Square Company, and President of the Shaker Heights Land Company, which gave the city of Cleveland 279 acres of land worth $400,000 for parks. He was a zealous promoter and agent for the Pan American Exhibition, for which he was director and chairman of the music committee and president of the festival board during the 30th Singing Festival of the North American Singing Societies in 1901, held here in Buffalo. He is one of the founders and directors of the Ellicott Club and a director of the Buffalo Club.
In 1874 he married Miss Amelia K. Trageser of New York. From this marriage have come 3 daughters - Auguste J., Emma M., and Elsa C. Lautz.

G.H.A. Schaefer

was born on May 19, 1858 in a village of Lüneburger Halde, a province of Hannover (Germany). In 1879 he became a volunteer on the Holland East India Army, where he served until 1881. Due to illness he was honorably discharged and pensioned. In 1882 he came to America. After spending several years in Canada and then Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania he settled in Buffalo in 1887. Since 1896 he has been in the health care industry, busy with his patented healing apparatuses, their manufacture and their sale. His wife, nee Bauer, came from Berlin, Canada. From the marriage there are 3 children -Lillian, Estella, and Alfred Schaefer.

In the field of electro-therapy Mr. Schaefer has become famous, as evidenced by the many endorsements from healers who have used his apparatuses. These apparatuses find their way into all cultural centers of the world. We don't have the space to describe them here but let it be said that every ailing individual in the city of Buffalo has heard of the Schaefer System. The course of treatment is well known past the boundries of the country and Mr. Schaefer has received an honorary degree from the German-Italian Hygiene Institute in Padua for his invention in the field of therapeutics. He was also appointed an honorary member of the institute.


Charles Lautz

was born on April 6, 1842 in Dieburg, Germany. He died on June 21, 1901 in Buffalo, New York. Mr. Lautz was a man of the strictest integrity, of extrordinary intelligence, and of true warmth. As a businessman there were few things beyond him. Details of his life can be found in another section of this book.

Susanna Lautz,

nee Bensler, first saw the light of the world on May 9, 1845 in Buffalo, New York. She received an excellent education under the auspices of the Sisters of Notre Dame. This education allowed her to be a true support for her husband. She married Mr. Lautz in 1866. It was a marriage distinguished by the most beautiful harmony. Her mother had already emigrated to America with her parents when she was a child in 1832. Her father had emigrated in 1836. Both settled in Buffalo and lived here until their deaths.


* Translator's note: I decided to rejoin the second biography of Charles Lautz to the first. Pages 117, 119, and 120 are in the next (and the last) set of biographies to this book. Return to top

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Revised August 28, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks