The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County - Part II, pages 10a - 13

Biographies for John Kam, Henry Kam, Joseph Kam, John Kam, Jr., Heinrich Ernst Beyer, Felix Ritter, Heinrich Schirmer, Sr., Nikolaus Bald, and Philip Houck.


Henry, John Kam (center top), John, Jr. (center bottom), Joseph

.John Kam

On October 31, 1833 Mr. John Kam first saw the light of the world in the extraordinarily romantic little city of Pleistein in the Oberpfalz. He attended the congregational school in his home district. After he left school he studied the malt and beer brewing trade. He spent 3 years away from home and worked in the brewery of Count Max of Bavaria, then he worked in Kübach and finally in Ingolstadt in Bavaria. In 1855 he emigrated to America and found employment in our city at the brewery of Jacob Scheu. He was at this establishment for five years, acting as brewmaster for the last two years. He was an active and capable staff member. His desire to be self-employed led him to leave his employment and establish a bakery at the corner of Genesee and Spring Streets. He conducted business there with exceptional success from 1860 to 1869. In 1869 he established a malt house next to the bakery. He then sold the bakery for a good profit. His malt business flourished more after Mr. Kam was able to contribute all his time to it. Business was so good that he had to enlarge it. He relocated the business to the corner of Pratt and Genesee Streets. You'll find the business there today. It's considered a significant establishment among its competitors. Since 1889 the business has been incorporated with 3 family members in control. The President and Treasurer of the company is Mr. John Kam, Sr. Mr. John Kam, Jr. serves as Secretary. The "John Kam Malting Company" is today one of the largest privately-owned commercial enterprises in Buffalo. The building, relatively smaller in dimension at the beginning, had to be enlarged year after year. Now it measures 125 X 160 feet. Its corporate capital averages $200,000.

On August 17, 1856 Mr. John Kam married Miss Magdalena Beck of Pleistein. She gave him 5 children, all still living. She died in 1892. In 1893 he reentered the bonds of matrimony with Miss Anna Zintl, also of Pleistein. The marriage is childless. The private resident of Mr. Kam is at 379 Genesee Street.

Henry Kam

is the oldest son of Mr. John Kam. He was born in Buffalo, New York on October 27, 1862. He first attended St. Boniface School. In order to broaden his education he further studied at St. Mary's College. Mr. Kam is a young, ambitious, and talented man, who is employed as a practitioner in the malt business. He's also a company officer in the "John Kam Malting Co.", an executive position of much responsibility. On September 24, 1884 he married Miss Rosa Scharf. The couple is blessed with 4 children, only 2 of whom have survived. The family residence of the young couple is at 418 Pratt Street.

Joseph Kam

is the second son of Mr. John Kam. He was born in Buffalo on October 13, 1864. After attending St. Boniface School and graduating from Canisius College he learned the malt trade and became the Secretary of the "John Kam Malting Company". He's also a partner in the company. Mr. Joseph Kam is a man with an exceptional talent for business. This has brought him financial reward and recognition through his posting on the Board of Directors of the German-American Bank and secured him ownership of the Exchange Elevator Company. On September 25, 1889 the young man married Miss Ottille Regina Hager of Buffalo, who has given him 4 children, 3 of whom still live. Mr. Joseph Kam's private residence is at 704 Ellicott Street.

John Kam, Jr.

The youngest son of Mr. John Kam saw the light of day for the first time on April 15, 1871 in Buffalo. He was named after his father. Like his brothers, he followed the same courses of study, which started with the basics of the sciences at St. Mary's School, continued with studies at Canisius College and ended with apprenticeship in the malt business. Today Mr. John Kam, Jr. is the office manager and head of the company. He's also part owner of the "John Kam Malting Company". On June 24, 1896 he married Miss Louise Victoria Simon, who presented him with a strong, healthy baby boy on June 15, 1897. Mr. John Kam, Jr., lives with his family in a house at 379 Genesee Street.

Heinrich Ernst Beyer

was born on November 23, 1813 in Naila, part of Oberfranken, Bavaria. He attended the Lutheran Church school of his district. After receiving a solid education he learned the bakery trade and after his apprenticeship he took up his journeymanship. Thus he worked from 1827 to 1843 as a baker in Warsaw, in the Russia controlled portion of Poland. In 1846 he emigrated to America, arriving in New York in August and proceeding immediately to Buffalo via the Erie Canal. In December 1846 he opened a bakery on Cherry Street between Hickory and Spring Streets. In 1848 he relocated to Genesee near Hickory and stayed there until 1871. He was a very successful businessman and was highly esteemed in the widest of circles. On September 36, 1842 he married Catharine Kuntgunde Trägve, who was born in Neudorf near Naila. The happy marriage has produced 7 children, 3 of whom still live. Mr. Beyer lives at 694 Ellicott Street.

.Felix Ritter

was born in 1823 in Erfurt in the Kingdom of Prussia. He attended the local school in his home city and then studied carpentry. During his 3 year apprenticeship he attended the Erfurt Drafting School and took private instruction in architectural design. After graduating from his apprenticeship he gained further education through his journeymanship and remained for 5 years away from home. In 1847 he decided to emigrate to America with Buffalo his final destination. He found some work as a construction and furniture carpenter. In November 1849 he went to St. Louis and returned in October 1850. Soon after he procured gainful employment at the "Buffalo Steam Engine Works", which at first was managed by Wm. Williams and later by Mr. Tifft. Mr. Ritter was first employed as a model builder and later became foreman of the model department. His comprehensive and thorough education, his knowledge with regard to calculation and construction, the ability to correctly execute plans, along with his practical sense and energy made him indispensible to the company to such an extent that all work at the building site was personally supervised and measured by him. With only a brief interruption, he was continually employed for 42 years, 8 months until September 1, 1893.

Mr. Ritter married Miss Alwine Kühl of Stettin on May 11, 1851. Eight children were born, of which 4 still live. They are Pauline, married to Herman Stechholz, a pastor in Paterson, N.J.; Eduard, collector for the "Lake View Brewing Co."; Martha, married to Gottfried Burk, a professor in New Ulm; and Emma, the wife of John Schiebel, an engineer at the Electrical Power House. Mr. Ritter lives at 133 High Street.

Heinrich Schirmer, Sr.

first saw the light of the world on June 6, 1824 in Monsheim near Worms in the Hessen-Darmstadt area. He received a basic education at the protestant general school in his home district. He then entered apprenticeship with an excellent teacher and learned to be a furniture joiner and an organ builder. After the Storm and Stress days of 1848 he could no longer justify his support of the old fatherland and consequently emigrated to America, the land of free thought. He landed here on September 17, 1849. After a short stay in New York he came on October 24 of the same year to Buffalo, which at the time was not considered a significant area. Here he settled for the duration. He was very successful in his undertakings until his retirement a year ago. Like so many other Germans, during the Civil War he traded in the tools of his trade for a weapon and served in 1863 many long months in the ranks of the 65th Regiment of the New York State Militia. Mr. Schirmer had in earlier years taken an active part in politics and from 1870 to 1872 he represented the old 7th Ward as a supervising councilman. Mr. Schirmer is one of the oldest members of the Order of the Harugari. He's belonged to that group since 1851. On October 26, 1869 he was one of the founders of the Buffalo Lodge. He was first married to Christine Amend, whom he wed while still in Germany back in 1848. Six children were born of that union. Two sons have survived. His first wife died in 1858. He then married Margarethe Herman of Buffalo, who died January 5, 1897, leaving him with 2 children.


Nikolaus Bald

was born on December 28, 1827 in Brumath, Alsatia. He attended the German and French school and learned the butcher trade. In 1851 he emigrated to America and settled in Buffalo in early 1852. He married Miss Katharine Reinheimer on September 2, 1854. He lived on Pine Street near Broadway. In 1855-1856 he worked in a butcher business on William and Bennett Streets and from April 1857 to 1868 he was head man in the business belonging to Mr. Alberger. His diligence, hard work, and frugality allowed him to open his own business in 1870 at 1057 Main Street and then he relocated in 1874 to 1081 Main at the corner of St. Paul. Here he successfully conducted business until his death on September 25, 1894. Mr. Bald was a skilled businessman, who achieved a comfortable existence through his untiring perseverence and strong sense of responsibility. He had a truly Germanic, jovial nature full of earthy humor. He was much loved. Seldom does a man acquire so many friendships and acquaintances that he is sorely missed the way Mr. Bald is today. At his death he left behind a widow and 8 children - 6 boys and 2 girls. They all live together at 1081 Main Street.

Philip Houck

belongs among the ranks of the best-known pioneers of the German community. He is counted among the most respected and best esteemed businessmen in the city. This memorial serves as a lasting tribute. Mr. Houck was born on November 30, 1825 in Gensingen of the Hessen-Darmstadt region. He attended the local school and acquired for himself an excellent realm of knowledge. In Fall 1840 he emigrated to America with his parents, who were in agriculture. He lived on a farm near Hamburg in Erie County for 2 years. In 1842 he settled in Buffalo where he was employed in the meal and grain business from 1830 until his death on January 6, 1896.

In business circles he achieved high status and among the members of the German community. He was loved for his amiable and sincere character, his easy demeanor and his pleasing personality. Whenever a proposal was made for the good of the German community, he was its biggest supporter. At the beginning of the 1860s the war broke out. He wasn't content to stay at home. He joined the 65th Military Regiments, the N.G.S.N.Y. As a captain in the artillary company, he went to Harrisburg, Pa. with his regiment.

He was married 3 times. His first wife died 3 months after the wedding. He died on January 6, 1896, leaving behind his widow, Eva, nee Ernst, and 11 children. Three of the children were the result of his marriage to Marie, nee Rodenbach, who died in November 1863. On February 29, 1868 he entered the bonds of matrimony again with his still living widow, Eva, nee Ernst. Mrs. Houck lives at 97 High Street.

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Revised July 25, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks