The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y. - Part I, pages 227 - 231

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The German Reformed Congregation of Ebenezer was organized on October 1st, 1863, and a church was built in 1872. The first minister was Pastor L. Grossbusch.

The German Evangelical St. Peter's Congregation was organized in 1855 by the minister of the Evangelical St. Paul's Church in Buffalo; its first minister was Pastor Paul. A church was built by them in 1862.

The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was organized on January 28th, 1850. The first trustees were: Gottfried Grotke, Adam Koch and Michael Eschrich; the first minister Pastor Ernst Moritz Burger.

Town Hamburg

The Town of Hamburg is situated in the western part of Erie County, and borders on the north on West Seneca, east on East Hamburg, south on Eden, southwest on Evans and west on Lake Erie.

It is not recorded who was the first settler in the Town of Hamburg, but there exists proof that there were houses of white people as far back as 1803 in the western part of the town. At that time the present Town Hamburg belonged to the Town Batavia in Genesee County, but it was attached to Erie County in 1804. In the year following the population of the Town of Hamburg grew a good deal. It was formed in March 10th, 1812, by an act of the legislature. In

Caption under picture at center reads Birdseye View of Buffalo 1897

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1840 the Germans began to arrive in great numbers, and they still form the main population of the town.

The Village of Hamburg

This village was started by the building of a feed-mill in 1808, followed by a tannery, which was owned by Root & Bliss. At that time the place was called "Smith's Mills", a name, which it retained until 1820. It grew but little until 1858 when improvement began. This was given an impetus later by the opening of the Buffalo & Southwestern Railroad, so that to-day the village is one of the most prosperous of its size in Erie County. The village was incorporated on May 9th, 1874, with the following officials: C.M. Pierce, H.S. Spencer, G.A. Schmidt, J. Ritten, T.L. Bunting, And. Stein and A.C. Calkins, trustees. C.M. Pierce was president, T.L. Bunting, treasurer, And. Stein, collector, and A.C. Calkins, clerk. The first school was opened in 1820. Every person who sent children there had to deliver one quarter of a cord of wood to heat the schoolrooms, and whoever failed to do so, had to pay two shillings per cord, or six cents for each quarter not delivered. But very little is recorded about the early history of the Methodist Church in Hamburg, but is seems that the congregation was organized in 1816.

The Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Cary. Its place of worship was on the same lot on which stands the Catholic Church of to-day. The Catholic SS. Peter and Paul Church was organized with the assistance of Rev. N. Merz, a Belgian by birth. The congregation bought the old Baptist Church in 1845, and the priest of the St. Louis Church of Buffalo dedicated it on December 19th of the same year. The present fine church and schoolhouse were built in 1876,

The Protestant St. Jacob's Congregation was organized in 1854. Its first minister was Pastor O. Sceppler.

Water Valley

This small village is located on the Eighteen-mile Creek, about a mile southwest of Hamburg, and was founded in 1811, when there was already a saw-mill in operation.

Abbotts Corners

formerly called Wright's Corners after Jacob Wright, who settled there in 1806 or 1807. After the war with England it received its present name, when Seth Abbott opened a tavern there.

Other Villagesin the Town Hamburg are:

LAKE VIEW, formerly "Hamburg on the Lake", and located on the Lake Shore Railroad.

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ATHOL SPRINGS, on Lake Erie.
BIG TREE CORNERS, on the Buffalo & Southwestern Railroad.
BAY VIEW, on the Lake Shore Railroad.

East Hamburg

East Hamburg contains an area of about forty square miles. The first settler was Didymus C. Kinney, who bought land there on

Caption under picture at center reads Birdseye View of Buffalo with Harbor

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October 3rd, 1803, and built the first house. In September, 1804, a small band of new settlers came from Vermont. Many of the first inhabitants of East Hamburg were Quakers. They formed a congregation, built a larger blockhouse, which they used as a place of worship, and a school supposed to have been the first south of the Buffalo Creek Reservation. On March 10th, 1812, the Town of Hamburg, which took in the whole of the present Town of East Hamburg, was formed. The first supervisor was David Eddy, who was an inhabitant of the territory which later on became East Hamburg.

It seems that the postal station "Hamburg" near "Green's Tavern" was abandoned after 1820, and another one opened nears Potter's Corners, called East Hamburg. In 1822 this post-office together with two others in the western part of Town Hamburg were abandoned, and one established near Abbott's Corners, centrally located and which it was presumed would answer the needs of the whole town; but before 1830 the "East Hamburg" post-office had been re-established. From that time on the blockhouses began to disappear, and it was also at that time when the reputation of the celebrated "Hamburg cheese" was established. A man by the name of H. Arnold, surely a German, can be thanked for it. He kept a few cows, made cheese, and sold it to merchants in Buffalo. The success he had was a spur to him to do better, he increased his stock, and made the effort to make only the best cheese. At an agricultural exposition held in Erie County in 1843, H. Arnold & Son of Hamburg received the first prize. At the State Exposition at Buffalo the Hamburg cheese captured the first prize in spite of strong competition from the Herkimer product. This established the reputation of the Hamburg cheese, but it was also the beginning of the destruction, as soon all cheese factories in the State called their products "Hamburg cheese", and sold inferior qualities, which was very hurtful to the Hamburg people. Later on the cheese industry was taken in hand by large manufacturers.[1]

On October 15th, 1850, a resolution was passed by the supervisors of Erie County by the terms of which the Town Ellicott was formed of the territory of Hamburg, and in 1851 Town Seneca [2] was formed out of the small triangular strip of land, situated in the northwest corner of Ellicott, was attached to Hamburg, and the present territory of East Hamburg was formed. The town got its name from the well-known agent of the Holland Land Company, Joseph Ellicott, but the inhabitants of the place did not like that name very well, and therefore petitioned the Legislature to change the name from "Ellicott" to "East Hamburg", which was done on February 20th, 1852. Among the inhabitants of the town, who died on the battlefield during the civil


[1] The German text reads "But this time marked the beginning of the end since certain co-op groups of farmers from the State started calling their cheeses "Hamburg cheese", which of course were quite inferior and thus detrimental to the original Hamburg product. As a result cheese production went into the hands of large factories and today there are no longer private dairy farms making cheese for the commercial market." Return to text

[2] The German text adds "today known as West Seneca," Return to text

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war, we find the following German names: Charles Limibitz, Philip Limibitz, Christian Schneider, William Clapp, Charles Deuel and Henry Schammel.

Town Aurora

This town is situated just about in the center of Erie County, and the Cazenovia Creek passes nearly through its whole length. The first white man who settled in the territory of the present Town Aurora was Taber Earl. That was in 1804. In the summer of the same year Joel Adams built the second house, and he was the first white man who stayed in that locality during the winter, as Taber Earl removed to Buffalo with his family during that period. The first settlers in the territory of Aurora found many relics of former inhabitants. Especially interesting were two forts, which had been very artfully prepared for defense. Both forts were built circular, and each contained about three or four acres of land. The walls were nearly four feet in thickness, and in the trenches trees of all kinds grew, many being three feet in diameter. Numerous stone arrow-points, from two to three inches in length, and stone as well as iron axes were found.

In the time of the first settlers in the town Aurora, in 1804, it was a part of Town Batavia in Genesee County, and only in 1805 a part of it became Town Willink in the same county. In 1807 William Warren opened the first tavern, the first one in the southwestern part of Erie County, and in the summer of the same year school was

Caption under picture at center reads Bridge at Foot of Michigan Street


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Revised April 25, 2005
Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks