The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 52 - 56

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the press, and, supplied with a few copies, cheerfully left the printers shop on the third floor of the house on the northwest corner of Main and Eagle Streets. It took several hours to run off a few hundred copies on an antiquated hand press which seemed to be a heritage of Guttenberg.

In order to justify, in a measure, its existence, the following "announcement" appeared at the head of the columns of the newspaper:

"The German population of Buffalo has increased so considerably during the past four or five years, and the commercial and political relation are of such vital importance to the Germans residing here, that the publication of a newspaper in the German language has been a long felt want. Its purpose is to inform the Germans concerning the politics of the country and the publication of the more important American and European events.

"As the instruction of its readers is one of its principle aims, it will join no party, but will independently endeavor to develop those principles which are necessary to the support of the constitution. In important political problems the views of both parties shall be published in order to enable the readers to form their own opinions. It will take a decided stand against the unjust persecution of immigrated Europeans in order to call attention to those rights of which the constitution and laws have assured them."

These views were further elucidated by a "declaration" on the second page of the paper, as follows:

"We do not wish to be understood that it is our intention to warn the Germans from taking sides with the political parties, or to encourage a non-partisan attitude. In a democratic Republic every citizen must be a member of a party; he must attach himself to one of the conflicting parties, lest his influence and significance as a citizen be lost."
But in spite of these sentiments expressed in the "announcement" that the paper would adhere to no party, it showed itself, from the beginning, to be inclined rather in favor to the Democratic party than the Whigs.

In reference to the conditions in the United States at the time in question it said:

"In spite of the excellence of its constitution, and in spite of its inexhaustible resources, there are occasional periods of business stagnation and ruin, the disturbing and depressing effects of

Caption under picture at center reads Koons Building

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which are felt all over the Union and by all classes of the people. The majority of these evils are the result of the uncertain condition of the banks and the disturbing circulation of currency connected therewith."

The description of the conditions in Germany which appeared under the heading "Review of the political conditions of the various countries," here deserves mention, as it explains the cause of the great immigration of Germans during the thirties. It reads as follows:

"Germany, which as a power had disappeared from the list of states, having been crushed and dismembered by Napoleon, is ruled by thirtyfour monarchs, oppressed by hordes of official servants, robbed of the freedom of its press and the means of giving its inhabitants that desired enlightenment, and is altogether in a deplorable political condition. The German Union (Bund) consisting of representatives of the various German Courts, exercises a despotism under the influence of Austria and Prussia, the two strongest powers. A despotism which tramples underfoot laws, oaths, and sacred vows, disturbs every elevating influence, and opposes resolutely and obstinately every manifestation of progressive spirit.

The "Local", which is treated rather scantily [1.], contains only four items:

Caption under picture at center right reads Phoenix Hotel


[1.] Page 56, paragraph 1, left column: The German text uses the term "stiefmütterlich", meaning "in a stepmotherly fashion." Return to text

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A brief report of a disasterous storm, which on the 22nd of November had visited Buffalo and vicinity, another of a meeting of patriots, held on account of the disturbances which had broken out in Canada. A third communication laments over the fact that nowhere the circulation of money is as poor as in Buffalo, since banknotes of this and the eastern United States are very scarce. The fourth report announces that the sessions of the court are to begin in the following week, and admonished those readers who have not yet declared their intention to become citizens, not to delay this duty. It closes with the words:

"Those who know that the party of citizens of American birth are striving to make the naturalization of immigrants more difficult or even to prohibit it entirely, will appreciate the importance of immediate applications."
In this connection it may be said that the efforts of the "Natives", who in 1836 and 1837 organized in the larger cities, contributed largely to unite the Germans and to cause their vigorous resistance.

Among the business advertisements, on the fourth page of the paper, we find eight business cards of lawyers. Dr. F. Dellenbach offers his services as German physician and apothecary; A.D.A. Miller advertises his grocery, on Commercial Street, opposite the middle bridge; E.G.

Caption under picture at right center reads Old Court House

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Grey, 370 Main Street, offers for sale his entire stock, "which contains a good selection of groceries and moist goods, several kinds of wine, spices and hymn-books," as he intends to retire from business in spring. Other advertisers are: J.C. Sieffert, trussmaker and cutler, corner of Main and Genesee Streets; Flagg & Schenk, dealers in hats and caps, 202 Main Street; Dorsheimer & Co., Grocery, 184 Main Street, and several American business firms. The editor himself advertises a list of books, which he offers for sale.

A considerable increase of "ads" is noticeable in the following numbers, among them especially such as Patent Medicines and requests for information regarding missing relatives.

The market report quotes the following prices: Potatoes 25 cents a bushel, ham 12 ½ cents a pound, fresh butter 16 cents, salted butter 13 cents, hickory wood $2.50 to $3.00, oak wood $2.00 to $2.50 a cord. Coal was not yet in use at that time. Down to the beginning of the seventies wood was in many households the only fuel for ranges. With the "extinction" of the woodfires the flourishing and numerous craft of the wood-cleavers (Holzhacker) became also "extinct."

Those times knew nothing of telegrams. The first telegraph lines, bringing Buffalo in electric connection with Albany, was opened on July 3rd, 1846. "News" from Europe was from four to six weeks, that from Washington eight days old.

In the ninth number of the "Weltbürger" we find the request of the editor to his subscribers out of town, to remit the money for their subscriptions prepaid, the reason for his request being the fact that

Caption under picture at upper right reads Two Old Churches

Caption under picture at lower right reads Old Market

. for a letter containing a Michigan one dollar note he had to pay 50 cents postage and 20 cents discount for the note.

After the first half year had passed, the number of subscribers had grown to more than four hundred, so Mr. Zahm with great satisfaction informs his readers. But notwithstanding the patronage which the paper found with the German, its revenue during the first years of its existence was extremely meager and modest. We find the announcement as often as winter approaches, that "one cord of wood will be accepted as payment for one years subscription for the paper."

In the first number of the third yearly volume the editor admonishes the tardy subscribers, who are unable to pay cash, to settle their accounts with him by furnishing him butter, cheese, eggs, cabbage, potatoes, turnips, peas, lentils, beans, meat, flour, poultry, or other victuals; if not their names should parade in a "black list," which he would publish. This threat was carried out shortly afterwards. The "black list" contained about twenty names of people who had left Buffalo without paying their indebtedness to the editor.

On account of a petition submitted by German citizens to the common council in March, 1839, this body passed a resolution, "that the local German paper should have the same privileges as the official newspaper and that the editor should be paid $50.00 for the publication of the official notices." That was not much, to be sure, but it was something, and certainly a recognition of the German element.

George Zahm, the proprietor of the "Weltbürger," met an instant death on the 28th of September, 1844. He was killed in the town of Cheektowaga, five miles from Buffalo, by the falling of a liberty pole which was to be erected at that place. He had reached the age of 45 years. The funeral procession following his coffin was the largest that ever had moved through the streets of Buffalo.

In the beginning of 1845 the "Weltbürger" came into the possession of Dr. F.K. Brunck and J. Domedion. The new proprietors soon issued the paper semi-weekly. Domedion was a practical printer.

Caption under picture at center right reads Great Western Hotel


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Revised September 18, 2004
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks