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Elizabeth Pfeiffer

Erie German Settlers & Facts

By on July 12, 2016

From early records, we have determined that the 1st German settlers in Erie County in all probability came from the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany and had been settled in America for almost a century before coming northwest.  It was their letters to the families in the fatherland that brought even more settlers.

Not all the German immigrants to Erie county settled in the fledgling city, but rather turned to the rural, forested lands surrounding the city.

In 1830, the first known German settler to arrive in Erie was Wolfgang Erhart who built his home on what is now the corner of East 10th and State Streets.  He was soon followed by his brother Stephen and W. F. Rindernecht.

By 1880, of Erie’s inhabitants were 5,800 German immigrants, 7,700 foreign born and 6,500 who were native born.

The early Germans settled originally in the area of Parade Street from East 10th and Holland Street down…. And as typically found they had a Church in its center.  St. Mary’s Church was built from wood that was cleared in St. Boniface, transported down through Marvintown, then into the City.  The original beam can still be seen in the ceiling of the Church.

Early business man Adolph Brugger had his residence and Funeral Parlor on East 9th Street just east of Parade Street.   The original Home, seen here, was closed in 2007, but the family business remains in two locations on East and West 38th Streets.


Front Row: Charles H., Wilfred, Emma T.
Back Row: Adolph , Boniface, Lillie, Linius, Emma Weber


It was originally part of a farm owned by Elisha Marvin and later sold off in smaller parcels. The heart of Marvintown is located at the junction of Wattsburg Road, Old French Road and Parade Street, east to Ash Street, north to 26th Street, west to German Street and south to 28th Street.

The present East 28th Street from Ash to Parade Streets was known as Schuldebuckel or Mortgage Hill.

The Marvin Home stood on the NW corner of 28th and Parade Streets.

St. John’s Hall is now the present home of the Pulakos Candy Store.

28th Street West from Parade was known as Hogan’s Alley. Hogan’s Brickyard was located at 28th & German Street. There was a picnic grove nearby and the more romantic souls liked to call it ‘Lovers’ Lane

Herman and Johanna Karsh with daughter Gertrude in 1894 about 1 year after arriving in Erie. (First photo below)

Karsh’s Grocery in 1905 – Store was opened in April 1898  five years after their arrival in Erie and remained in the family until 1985. (Second photo below)

Karsh Family Karsh’s Grocery


Elizabeth Pfeiffer

Taught elementary school for 52+ years

Elizabeth Pfeiffer 2 Elizabeth Pfeiffer

Early Firemen

Firemen Fireman


Gatherings in Erie

German Band before they began their trek to Waldemeer for the German Day Picnic!

German Band

Cattaragus Club a.k.a. Marvintown Athletic Club that met at the Knights of St. John Hall on 26th & Parade Street

Cattaragus Club

St. Boniface – Hammet Green Township

First Settlers
The earliest settlers in Greene Township were Peter Himebaugh and Conrad Wineman, two Pennsylvania Germans, who took up lands in 1800 along Le Boeuf Creek, and remained there the balance of their lives.

The first German emigration was in 1833, when the Hirts, Pringles, Kellers and others settled on and near the Wattsburg road. Mr. Kuhl and sons removed from Mill Creek in 1835.

St. Boniface is a German settlement on the Wattsburg Plank Road, seven miles from Erie, which derives its name from the Catholic Church there located. The congregation was organized in 1857 by Rev. J. A. Oberhofer, with a congregation of some forty families. Rev. Oberhofer remained in charge of the church until 1867, and again in 1871 became its pastor, and sustained that relation with the congregation until the summer of 1873.

Rev. Oberhofer’s Resting Place at Trinity Cemetery

Founder of St. Joseph’s and St. Boniface Churches.

Fr. Oberhofer, son of a German brewmeister, undertook the construction of a brewery which would continue to operate until it was destroyed by fire in 1887.  The brewery was located behind the Church’s Cemetery, on a small creek that ran through the property.

In defense of the parish operating a brewery, it was stated: “Beer formed a very necessary part of the social life of the people of this race, and in order to satisfy that need, so that these Germans might maintain an affable frame of mind, he had the brewery constructed and he himself saw to it that its product was manufactured properly.

He also saw it as a means of bringing industry into the area and providing a market for grain grown on nearby farms.  When it made a profit it was separated from the Church and Joseph Schlauer served as the Brewmaster.

The brewery was constructed of native stone and shaped “like a modern hangar”.

Rev. Oberhofer’s Rev. Oberhofer’s 2

Martin Warfel, Founder of Warfeltown

In 1832, he and his bride built their homestead in the center of a 130 acre farm which extended from Buffalo Street (18th) to Water Street/Arbuckle Road (28th Street) and from the present East Avenue to Elm Street.  The home still stands on East 23rd Street just east of East Ave.

St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church was built there to serve that community

A burial ground of the Eriez Indians was discovered in the gravel banks between 25th and 28th Street and east of East Ave.

Martin Warfel Warfeltown

St. Marys School

Early Erie German Churches and Schools

By on June 2, 2016

St. Mary’s R.C. Church

When the new Church was built, the graveyard had to be relocated. The remains of those early pioneers where placed in a mass grave at Trinity Cemetery marked by this monument.

St. Mary’s R.C. ChurchSt. Mary’s Main SanctuarySt. Mary’s R.C. Church2

St. Mary’s School (1897)

St. Mary’s School was originally a school for boys only!

St. Mary’s School

St. Mary’s Home

St. Mary’s Home staff St. Mary’s Home

St. John’s Lutheran Church

The first recorded visit in Erie County  by a Lutheran pastor was by the Rev. Philip Muckenhaupt who traveled from Meadville on horseback.  The official records of the congregation date back to August 8, 1808 when 20 children and an adult were baptized and communion was celebrated.

In March 1860 they began to build a new church, which was dedicated in 1862.  That original building still survives and is the section with the high steeple (which was added in 1884).

St. John’s Lutheran ChurchSt. John’s Original Pipe Organ

St. John’s Cemetery

When the Braun Family deeded the property to St. John’s Church, it was stipulated that if the cemetery were removed, then the entire property will revert back to the Braun Family Heirs!

The remains that were removed were re-interred at the Erie Cemetery and this memorial placed there.

St. John’s Cemetery3 St. John’s Cemetery

St. Joseph R.C. Church

St. Joseph Church (photo from 1894) was built in 1882 to replace the earlier wooden church in the background (built in the 1860’2 and demolished in 1906 to make way for the Rectory.

Photo two is one of the few photos that exists of the main altar in the original St. Joseph’s Church.

The magnificent altar was hand carved by Bavarian craftsmen.

St. Joseph’s Church interior St. Joseph’s Church2

St. Joseph’s School

St. Joseph’s School

St. Boniface R.C. Church

In clearing the land for the Church, the early parishioners cut and sold timber which was used in the construction of St. Mary’s Church on East 9th Street.  The early St. Boniface Church was a small wooden, one-room building.  There was also a rectory and school on this 3 acre parcel of land.

The original church was erected in 1857, which burned down in 1867, and the present elegant building was erected in 1873, at a cost of $4,000. Behind the Church is the original cemetery.  Across the road to the south is the new cemetery and additional parking.

St. Boniface R.C. Church church

St. Michael’s R.C. Church

Built on West 17th Street between Cherry and Poplar in 1883 and was destroyed by fire in 1973.

St. Michael’s R.C. Church

German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church

German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church


Kraus’s Original Store

Early Erie German Businesses

By on May 31, 2016

Valentine Heidt, Undertaker

Valentine Heidt, Undertaker

A. Schultz Company

A. Schultz Company

Edward Gredler Butcher Shop

Edward Gredler in his Butcher Shop

Karsh’s Grocery

Karsh’s Grocery

Photo taken in 1905 – Store was opened in April 1898  five years after their arrival in Erie and remained in the family until 1985.

Peter Wehan’s Grocery Store

Peter Wehan’s Grocery Store

Schloss Meat Market

Schloss Meat Market

Schuldebuckel Hill & Ohmer’s Hardware Store

Schuldebuckel Hill & Ohmer’s Hardware Store

Kraus’s Original Store

Kraus’s Original Store


Waldameer Park

Waldameer, German for “woods by the sea” – was born in 1896

Brugger Funeral Home

Brugger Funeral Home

Adolph Brugger had his residence and Funeral Parlor on East 9th Street just east of Parade Street. The original Home, was closed in 2007, but the family business remains in two locations on East and West 38th Streets.


Erie Männerchor Music Hall

Erie Männerchor Music Hall

Felgemacher Organ Company

Felgemacher Organ Company

B. Felgemaker & Co., organ factory, corner of Twenty-fifth and Ash streets, was originally established in the city of Buffalo in the year 1865, but moved to this city in the year 1871, when it was operated as a stock company up to the year 1875, under the name of “The Derrick & Felgemaker Pipe Organ Company,”

The premises consists of a handsome four-story brick structure 40 feet wide by 200 fee long, built in 1872, with a frame wing 20 feet wide by 100 feet long, erected in 1871.

Mr. Felgemaker, a practical and experienced organ builder, has his work in many of the best churches in this State


Erie’s German Mayors

By on May 31, 2016

Phillip Becker

Mayor Phillip Becker


Provided electric street lights for the city and built a new City Hall.

Michael Liebel
Mayor Michael Liebel


Michael Liebel, Jr. was perhaps one of Erie’s most popular mayors. He owned and operated the Liebel Hotel.   Originally the West End Brewery, he formed the Cascade Brewery in 1889 and sold it in 1906 to Fred Koehler and it became the Cascade Branch of Kohler Brewing. He was elected by City Council to serve the unexpired term of Saltsman and then was elected to a full term in 1907.

Robert Saltsman

Mayor Robert Saltsman


John Depinet
         Mayor John Depinet


William Stern

Mayor William Stern


Bernard Veit

Bernard Veit

Elected Mayor on November 20, 1915 but died on November 30, 1915 before assuming office.

Miles Kitts

Mayor Miles Kitts

1914 – 1922

Kitts was one of Erie’s most colorful mayors, was investigated by a grand jury in 1921 for allowing the operation of Erie’s then-plentiful speakeasies, casinos and bordellos.

The investigation, which was sparked by a reform group in the Republican Party known as the “Committee of 16,” touched virtually every level of city government. More than 100 witnesses were called, including Kitts and 47 members of the police department.

In the end, Kitts was spared an indictment, continued as mayor and was later elected an Erie County judge.

Arthur J. Gardner

Mayor Arthur J. Gardner

1955 -1962

Joseph Sinnott

Mayor Joseph Sinnott

2006 – Present