1949 Centennial History Lancaster NY

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Centennial of Incorporation


Village of Lancaster, N. Y.

JULY 17 - 23. 1949

Published By




On an evening in the early part of March, 1849, a group of earnest citizens gathered in the home of William Curtis to discuss a community topic of outstanding interest. The men debated long and excitedly for they sensed the tremendous significance of the subject under discussion; and the decision they made at that momentous meeting was recorded for posterity several days later when William W. Bruce wrote the following notice on the index page of what was to become the first Village of Lancaster minute book:

“ELECTION NOTICE — Notice is hereby given that in pursuance of an order made by the court of sessions for Erie County on the tenth day of March, 1849, and filed with the clerk of said county, an election by the electors residing in the following described territory — situate in the Town of Lancaster, County of Erie and State of New York and described as follows to wit:

“Commencing on the last line of lot No. 8 in the tenth section on the north bounds of the Attica and Buffalo Railroad thence east on said road 503 feet and south 102 chains to the east line of lot No. 9 in the seventh section — thence south two degrees west 48 chains—thence west parallel with the first mentioned boundary 102 chains — thence north two degrees east 48 chains to the place of beginning—

“Will be held at the house of William Curtis in said territory on the fourth day of April, 1849, for the purpose of determining whether said territory shall be incorporated as a village by the name of ‘The Village of Lancaster’,

“The poll of which election will be opened at 10 o'clock A. M. and closed at 4 o’clock P.M.


“Inspectors of the Election.

“Dated this thirteenth day of March, 1849."

The home of William Curtis was. again the scene of feverish activity on April 4, During the specified hours, 89 upstanding residents made their appearance and solemnly went through the laborious procedure of voting. When the official tally was taken that evening, it was learned that Lancaster had voted in favor of incorporation by a count of 61 to 28.

It was further noted in the first minutes that since there was no newspaper published in the Township of Lancaster, Mr. Bruce complied with the law of “publishing the articles of incorporation” by writing them out on vellum and posting them in front of every hostelry, inn, tavern, store and smithy in the village limits.

Of interest is the first village ordinance or “resolution,” as it was called. This resolve of the village fathers, taking precedence over all other important community business, was as follows:

“It shall not be lawful for cattle, horses, sheep, swine or geese to run at large within the bounds of the village of Lancaster, under the penalty of 50 cents for each animal so found wandering around in said village,”

The first general election was held in an atmosphere truly characteristic of a by-gone era. Torch-light parades were held nightly for the various candidates and feeling ran high, Ira Slaper polled the highest number of votes—47—while John Parker, John McLean and David Osgood received 45 each.

Charles Kurtz, who got 44 votes, was the fifth successful candidate in the initial election. John M. Safford became the first village tax collector, and Henry L. Bingham the first official village clerk, William H. Grimes became treasurer, and Truman Luce the first village police chief or “round master” as that official was then called.

The first village “scandal” cropped up in 1856. At the meeting of July 28, the trustees resolved to start action against Aaron Hitchcock, a former collector, “for money remaining in his hands and belonging to said village.”

No less than six different sets of by-laws were recorded in the first minute book and none of them revealed any material additions to the set originally adopted at the 1848 session.

Thus was the general picture a century ago, and thus did our hardy and venerable fore-fathers lay the solid groundwork for the Lancaster Centennial. The Township

The story of the township began 46 years earlier—in 1803—when James and Asa Woodward hewed the nucleus of a tiny community out of the lush woodland territory at what is now Bowmansville. Soon after them came William Blackmon, Alanson Eggleston, David Hamlin, Joel Parmelee, Warren Hull, Peter Pratt, Benjamin Clark, Edward Kearney, Elisha Cox, Zophar Beach, Elias Bissell and Pardon Peckham.

In 1808, the main road—a narrow lane—was laid between Buffalo and Lancaster. The same year, the first saw-mill in the town was built by Daniel Robinson. In 1810, he sold it to Benjamin Bowman and the transition in nomenclature from “Bowman’s Mill” to “Bowmansville”, as applied to the mill area, becomes apparent from that point.

The first school house was built in 1810. Made of logs, it was erected on the north side of the road on what was later the Leonard Blackmon’ farm. Miss Freelove Johnson, later Mrs. Amos Robinson, was the first teacher. At about this time, the population of the little community was increased by the coming of the Johnsons, the Carpenters, the Fields, the Paines, the Hibbards and others who contributed richly to the Lancaster tradition.

The Rev. John Spencer, a clergyman sent out by the Connecticut Missionary Society in 1811, was among the first gospel ministers to appear in the new settlement, and he held services in private homes and in the school building. Finally, on February 7, 1813, the Rev. J. A. Mills, a young pastor from Niagara Falls, organized the first Christian parish under the name of Cayuga Creek Presbyterian Church. Its original congregation numbered 13. Construction work on the church building began in 1827, and the congregation grew and flourished until Waith Hall was added at the rear, in memory of Dr. William Waith, who held the pastorate from 1851 until 1911. The addition was built in 1922 as a Sunday school building and study. Today, the old Presbyterian Church still serves the community actively and is one of its proudest landmarks.

History attributes the great number of beautiful old shade trees, which constitute such a marked feature of our present lovely village,to the painstaking care and artistic nature of one Joseph Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter earned his livelihood as owner and operator of the first local tavern, which he erected in 1811 at a spot not far from the present site of the Municipal Building. He is described as “a noble-hearted man who did more than any other to build up and improve the place”. Tree planting was a major objective on his schedule for beautifying the village, and he labored long and diligently on his self-appointed chore. But his was a labor of love; and today the beautiful sentinels of nature continue to stand as memorials to the man who married them to the earth of his beloved village, even though that village has long since forgotten his name.

Many young men of the settlement answered the call to arms in the War of 1812, among them being listed the names of Field, Potter, Bird, Sheldon, Ackley, Derrick, Hull, Harmon, Brown, Hibbard, Johnson, Blackmon, Peckham, Standard and Thayer. One, Moses Tanner, made the supreme sacrifice. When Buffalo was taken and burned he was found, tomahawked, on Seneca Street.

When the locale of the war shifted, taking with it all its attendant privation and terror, the elements moved in to contribute a cruel bit to the already innumerable hardships of the settlers. Local records tell us that the year 1816 was the coldest ever known here. “There was frost every month of the twelve, foliage did not appear on the trees until after the first of June. The next year wheat was worth $2 per bushel, and corn $1.50 and so, great distress was experienced."

The settlement had been known as “Cayuga Creek” and in 1823 a post office, under that name, was established near the present site of DeVille’s Lumber Yard. Cayuga Creek was one of the number of townships into which the old Township of Clarence had been divided. However, in March, 1833, the community shed that identity and was formally recognized as the Township of Lancaster, which name was taken from an English duchy, as was the name of the parent community, Clarence.

An influx of foreigners began to swell the population. The Germans came first, and in the greatest numbers, to plant their sturdy and valuable roots in the rich terrain of the settlement. Such families as the Adolfs Leiningers, Kurtzes, Nuwers, Walters and Youngs were among the first to arrive. Finally, in 1849, the year also made memorable by village incorporation, the Hollanders began to move in, lending a notable impetus to the growih and development of the community. The incoming Dutch were a wealthy and enterprising group, most of whom were from Friesland, Holland, and they bought up considerable land on which they immediately prepared to build their homes and settle permanently. The stimulation lent by these property purchases is made apparent by the fact that the price went up at once from $30 to $50 an acre. Among the pioneering Dutch in Lancaster were the Dykstras, Zuidemas, Idsardis, Beukmans, Van Peymas and Koopmans.

By 1850, the town was about equally divided between Americans and foreign-born citizens, with the Germans predominating. With the community now increasing its population in leaps and bounds, and with marked civic and individual progress becoming apparent at every turn, it was only natural that consideration be given to laying the foundation for Lancaster's financial and economic structure. That was taken care of in 1851 by Geo. Bruce, who organized the Merchants Bank, which was the community's first. It was a bank of issue as well as of discount and deposit, and its office for a dozen years was in a building where the real estate office of John L. Staeber now stands.

In 1851, there were 14 brick buildings in Lancaster; not a pound of coal was being burned for domestic purposes; the only piano in town belonged to Judge Theodotus Burwell; members of the Roman Catholic Church which had the largest congregation of any of the local churches, saw their church tower nearing completion; the New York Central was the only railroad that ran through Lancaster and came through on the line of the present Erie tracks; practically the only other major artery of travel to Buffalo was over the Cayuga Creek Plank Road, better known as Broadway; the Lancaster Glass Works, the chief manufacturing interest by which the town has been distinguished for years, was in its second successful year of operation; and the Rev. William Waith that summer assumed the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church, an office he was destined to hold for the next 60 years.

The Grapes of Wrath

On April 12, 1861, a cannon at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, boomed the shot that was heard around the world* In quiet, far-away Lancaster, New York, it was heard almost immediately; and, with characteristic promptness, the patriotic young men of the community rolled up their sleeves and headed for the fray, Nearly all of the soldiers of the Civil War were volunteers, but some cities and towns that did not furnish a sufficient quota had to resort to the draft or the bounty, the lattef system by which substantial sums were offered to induce men to enlist.

About 125 Lancaster men went to Civil War battlefields. According to a list compiled in 1928 by Jacob Gottschalk, himself a veteran of the Union Army, they were as follows:

Nickolas Sahm, James Winspear, George Knorr, Nickolas Stahl, John Fedder, John DeViHe, John Brauer, Andrew Rupprecht, James S, Little, Michael Bund, Adam Grill, Joseph Drudge, John Kientz, James Atwood, Adam Goetp, William H. Kientz, Jacob Bergtold, Gregory Frey, Ambrose Frey, Peter Hartman, Henry Haushalter, William Hutchinson, Christian Liebfritz, John Marzolf, Andrew D. Neff, John V, Richardson, George Snyder, John Vol, John Condy, Ira D. Rowley, Sullivan F. McArthur, Oscar P. Gray, John A. Greene, Levi J. Seamans, Jacob F. Greene, Celon Lewis, Horace C. Bowman, John A. Mills, Byron Cunningham, Almond Cunningham, Joseph Swing, Nickolas F. Niederlander, Oren E. Tanner, Conrad E. Kiefer, George W. Greene, John Rickert, Cornelius T. Eggleston, Jacob Zurbrick, Joseph Hoenig, Fred Heineman, John Diebolt, John Wicker, James Smith, Charles Weber, Andrew Wendel, Joseph Hastrich, Henry Schiefer, Bradley Smith, Christopher G. Funke, Fred Person, John Jasper, Fred Duttweiler, John Bishop, Martin Bishop, Mathias Hour, Linus R. Wood, Adam Gerringer, Jacob Staub, Jr., Meinrad Schwartz, Louis Halter, Henry Loesch, George Winspear Michael Weil, George Sauer, John H. Ziegler, Michael Ansteth, Philip Bcllier, Henry Johnson, Frederick Schneller, Jean G. Engler, Fred Cook, Charles Cook, John Walter, Fred Walter, Frank Zine, Jacob Scheifle, John Pete, Christisn Jacobson, David Goebel, John Landers, John Floyd Bingham, A. W. Adams, Joseph Miller, F. W. Clapp, James Roach, Jacob Matter, Jacob Erb, J. Bundschne, John Osterly, Joseph Armbrust, Alexander Hattler, Christian Rheinhardt, John Binkel, Fred Schueller, John Ittel, Andred Hager, John N. Waite, John Harrison Mills.

As everywhere in the Union, the outbreak of the war precipitated furious discussion in Lancaster. Feeling was intense, tempers short, and prejudices strong. Southern sympathizers and their opponents, the Anti-slavery faction, divided sharply and formed their own discussion camps. Locally, the Southern partisans were headed by George Bruce, the banker, who with his son held forth at the Merchants Bank building; while the opposition group of equally rabid Republicans was led by Thurston Carpenter, crippled merchant, who presided from his wheel chair at his store. No serious trouble developed between the two hostile camps, but bitter verbal battles were frequent and a dynamite-keg atmosphere prevailed. It was impossible to be neutral, and the men of the community rallied either to one side or the other just as deliberately as though a barbed-wire fence had been erected down the center of the street, forcing them to choose a definite course.

Town Line, more violently partisan, actually voted to secede from the Union. Technically, the little hamlet remained out of the Union until 1946, when, in a widely publicized. serio-comic election, it voted to come back in the fold.

The draft continued after Lee's surrender and Lancaster's first regimented call to aims did not come until April 11, 1865, It was conducted at the home of General Seroggs, district provost marshal, on Washington Street, Buffalo, A committee from Lancaster, headed by Henry Atwood, was present to supervise the drawing. The quota was 30, and 60 names were drawn to provide for exemptions, with the names then being announced from a window by Atwood. The announcements were received good-naturedly, for the drafted men had little to worry about at this late date. The Union Army had ended the borrows of Andersonville and similar Southern prison camps synonymous with disease and starvation, and Lee's capitulation had practically eliminated even the possibility of any more shooting.

Actually, practically the entire nation eight days before Lancaster’s first draft had heralded the fall of Richmond as the literal end of the war. The reaction here was recorded as follows:

"On the third of April, 1865, Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy fell, and word was conveyed to this village by telegraph. In our village the little cannon roared, the flag was raised; the bells were rung, and in the evening, a long procession of boys paraded the streets with a torch, a banner, and a variety of jingling things. Houses were illuminated and there was a perfect intoxication of joy.”

It was over. The Union was preserved.

The Uncertain Years

'While the South underwent the nightmare of “Reconstruction”, the North went through its period of readjustment from war to peace in a much milder form. In Lancaster, 1,000 miles removed from the concentrated fighting area, the transition was, physically and temperamentally, passive and unemotional. The Civil War battlefronts returned our lighting men who headed for their pre-military chores as though nothing had interrupted their customarily-calm routine. Aside from an occasional spirited declaration of party principle, or a fiery harangue on the North-South situation in general, no outstanding post-war incident occurred to ruffle the overfall community serenity; and the Great Rebellion slipped into the years to add another chapter in our nation's history.

The 1866 census placed the population of village at 1518 and the town at 4112. That year,the Episcopal Church began to conduct regular services in the old Academy Building; and, in about the same year, the manufacture of church organs wa& begun in Lancaster. The business eventually failed and the building which housed the enterprise, situated near the Erie Station, was converted into a malt house. The village board, at a meeting in March, 1867, voted in favor of street lamps, which were duly installed, They were oil-burning lights, subsequenty replaced by the gas-burning type, which in turn, served until 1897 when the first electric carbon street lamps made their appearance.

In 1868, the Lancaster Rural Cemetery, as such, came into existence with a charter and a full set of rules. For years, it had been the burial place of the community's historic dead, but had fallen into deplorable condition. With an interested, far-seeing group spoilsoring its rehabilitation it became—and remains—the interment site of some of Lancaster's most notable citizens, with their permanent resting places clearly marked for posterity.

The spot where the School Street School now stands was the subject of much interest on June 2, 1873. On that date, a group of civic minded men and women assembled to watch the ground-breaking for the new public school house, on a lot donated to the community for that purpose by Ebenezer Briggs. That the area was ample in size for the needs of the settlement is apparent from the following description: “It contained a half mile track, baseball diamond and was used generally for outdoor recreation of every description* Here circuses of the day pitched their tents and it is related the elephants were watered in Plumbottom Creek"

In 1874, Lancaster’s first fire department, the Rescue Hook and Ladder Company, was born. It is related that this company, which received very little support from the village itself, held its organization meeting In the office of Squire John G, Dykstra in the Leifer Building on West Main Street. The date was July 20, and the original officers were: Jacob Gottschalk, president; George Huber, vice president; John Leininger, treasurer; Charles Bishop, secretary; J. Losson, foreman; Gottleib Scheifflee, assistant foreman.

The company's first fire-fighting apparatus consisted of a wagon equipped with wooden ladders and pails, with reserve pails being stored under the sidewalk in front of Mr. Jacob Jerge's place of business where the Sugar Bowl, on West Main Street, now stands, The alarm in those days was spread by yelling “Fire!", upon which village residents took up the cry and shouted it up and down the streets. This system prevailed until Judge Grimes loaned the struggling fire company $100 to purchase a bell which was installed on the lire house. This structure was a shed situated next to the residence of Charles Below on West Main Street, later the site of the Balthasar Block.

A resume of the Lancaster business structure in 1377, published in Smith's History of Buffalo and Erie County, presented the following picture: “There are now in the Village of Lancaster two flouring mills, one carriage factory, the Lancaster glass works, one iron furnace, three breweries, two planing mills, one tannery, one malt house, one bedstead shop, two cabinet shops, three tin shops, two meat markets, one drug store, four general stores, three grocery stores, two tailor shops, one harness shop, three hotels, four blacksmith shops, one basket shop and numerous saloons/* Commenting on the latter type of business enterprise, a local historian of that era wrote sardonically that there were “more places for the sale of beer than seem absolutely necessary for the corporation”. History does not record that anyone gave him an argument on the subject.

Actually, as far as community progress went during that decade and the one preceding it, Lancaster was in the doldrums. For some inexplicable reason, the little settlement which had begun so nobly and determinedly, and which had seemed destined to take its place with top-ranking communities of the area, had become a civic step-child, delinquent and unprogressive. Its obvious lassitude precluded any possibility of development of its existing assets, let alone the manifestation of vigorous initiative in the launching of new enterprises.

Business was moribund. Old, established houses struggled listlessly along; while new ones sprang up only, for the most part, to go into a steady decline and ultimately perish. Roads were in abominable condition; most local buildings were antiquated and unsightly, and rarely was a new one of any consequence begun. Only one iron bridge—the one over Cayuga Creek on Aurora Street-had replaced the flimsy, insecure wooden spans which were menaced by any remote semblance of a flood. Civic pride was at an all-time low.

Moving Forward

As unaccountably as Lancaster had slipped into its lethargy a decade or two previously, sometime during the ’80’s the community did an about-face and once more began to reflect some of its early promise with various indications of advancement.

The tempo of mill operations seemed to increase, and business in general picked up. Roads were improved and construction work on new buildings got under way. Another artery of transportation, with its attendant economic stimulation, was opened to the village when the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad tracks were cut through. The first train arrived in Lancaster on May 14, 1883.

Among other signs of the industrial uplift was the conversion of the large stone building of Koopman’s old tannery on Central Avenue, which had long stood vacant, to the soap factory of Hoffeld and Company, It immediately proved to be an active and flourishing enterprise, and the building was soon enlarged and improved. The abandoned buildings of the Bush and Howard tannery were also converted to use. Unfortunately, this thriving industry was almost totally destroyed by fire on the night of September 3, 1887 and never resumed operations; but, in its brief existence, it contributed materially to the progress of the community by setting the local industrial pace.

A combination bell tower and jail was erected by the village in 1887, The bell occupied the upper portion of the wooden structure, and the detention room a corner of the lower portion.

The village system of jurisprudence was, until 1896, entirely in the hands of the justices of the peace. Among some of the prominent Lancaster men who served conscientiously and efficiently as magistrates were McNeal, Grimes, Kurtz, Dykstra, James Smith, Huber and Gottschalk.

Snow , Fire and Water

Storms, floods and fires bedevilled Lancaster in the last few decades of the century, and were sufficiently noteworthy to merit recording by local historians.

In 1882, the year after President Garfield died at the hands of an assassin, one of the worst droughts in history withered the area. The extremely hot weather lasted without a break throughout August and September, and during the latter month Cayuga Creek, in the village proper, dried up completely, leaving the cracked, parched creek bed exposed to the relentless rays of the sun.

On Christmas Day, 1878, a snowstorm of epic proportions descended. The drifts In the main streets reached upper-story windows, and no mail was received for three or four days. It necessitated six engines to pull the first Erie train from Buffalo into Lancaster; while at the New York Central, a train, with 175 passengers, was stalled in the drifts for nearly three days.

Another snowstorm, piling up mountainous drifts fell on Sunday, October 17, 1880. Barns were crushed, as were storage sheds at the glass works, and six trains were marooned near the Erie Station.

In 1884, it was a flood that plagued the community. The Cayuga, swelled by heavy rains, overran its banks and inundated the surrounding area.

It might be noted at this point that the community experienced unusually freakish weather some years earlier. On New Year’s Day, 1878, It was so warm that doors and windows had to be kept open. This unseasonable heat wave lasted for nearly a week, and dust clouds were visible in the streets. On the other extreme, sometime during the ’50's, in the month of April, there was such a heavy snowfall that it is recorded that Dr. Samuel Potter was completely stranded in a big drift on the village’s main road.

Flames made the headlines in the '90’s. On April 4, 1894, fire broke out in the barn of Mrs. E. Mosack, at the rear of her butcher shop on Central Avenue, With a high gale fanning the flames, the fire quickly spread to the butcher shop, a large frame building, which was completely enveloped before the fire department could begin to combat it. In less than 10 minutes, after the fire started, it spread to the Raynor Exchange, a large brick building across the driveway from Mrs. Mosack’s. It was quickly consumed by the now uncontrollable flames, and next to go was a shoe store, a two-story frame building owned by Frank Schaefer. A two-story brick building owned by Mrs. Gertrude Scheffler, and occupied by Louis Brass for use as a grocery store, was next demolished, together with a barn in the rear of the building. The flames were eventually halted at the heavy brick wail of Jacob Stephan's store on West Main Street.

But the conflagration was not over. South on Central Avenue, the fire had spread to the large, three-story brick building owned by Matthias Schwartz, consuming the structure within a short time. Martin Uebelhoer's one-story building, used as a blacksmith shop, and Jacob Kaiser’s saloon, housed in a two-story brick building, were next demolished. The capricious wind shifted and the flames leaped to the east side of Central Avenue, consuming three buildings—owned by Judge Grimes, J. P. Sommers and Anton Bussman in short order. Dr. Samuel Potter's house and barn were the last to go up in the blaze, for it was at this point that the Lancaster firemen, assisted by members of the Buffalo department who had been called upon for help, finally stopped Lancaster's most disastrous fire. The estimate on the aggregate damage to buildings and personal property exceeded $100,000,

A portion of the Central Avenue business district was again destroyed by fire on Wednesday, October 21 , 1896. The fire broke out in the building formerly occupied by Hoffeld and Company as a soap factory (mentioned earlier), completely destroying it, J. N. Maute’s building, used as a hardware store, Henry Balthasar's hotel, a barn at the rear and the Cushing block all burned to the ground. Damage was widespread, and the total estimate was placed at $45,000.

Some months after, it was discovered that the fire had been of an incendiary origin, when a man named William Foster admitted in a sworn statement before Judge Huber, and in the presence of George Vandenberg, Joseph Merkl and William Besch, that he had deliberately set the fire in the soap factory. Foster, a 29-year-old laborer who had lived in Lancaster for about eight years, stated that he “had it in” for John O. Garretsee, who had previously discharged Foster as an employee and gave that as his reason for his crime. Foster was held for the grand jury and no record as to his fate is available.

Other fires that made history locally during the T 90's were the ones that destroyed Soemamn's Brewery, corner of East Main and Court Street, on September 16, 1894, and F. S. Cushing’s large frame ice house on Lake Avenue, near Cayuga Creek, on August 17, 1898. The Lancaster Machine Knife Works Court Street plant, with a loss estimated at $15,000, burned to the ground on March 12, 1899.

Turn of the Century

When President McKinley's Congress declared war on Spain as the century drew to a close, Lancaster's spirited and patriotic male citizens were, as usual, quick to jump in the scrap. The war was of brief duration, beginning in April, 1898, and ending on August 12 of the same year, with actual hostilities lasting less than four months. In that time, however, a number of local men were in it, among them being Peter J. Bernfeld, Edward Byron, John T. Hastrich, Eugene Lapp, -John Grau, Jr., William Swanson, Herman Neitzka, Theodore Getman, Gustave Kanehl, Phil Mehl, Henry Mitchell, George Koester, Peter Naab, William F. Harter, Dr. E. W. Ewell, M. W. Albert, Ed Grassell and Charles Ashbaugh.

The first automobile, a buggy with high wheels, steel tires and a one-cylinder engine, made its appearance in Lancaster in 1898. It was the invention of Dr. H. H. Hauser, who had his own patterns cast in Buffalo and machined here by Brest and Lutz. A Stanley Steamer, purchased by George Stanley of the Electric Light Company, next came on to the local scene in 1901, after which Senator Davis bought a Wayne—and the automobile age had begun in Lancaster.

Original street names throughout Lancaster underwent changes during the latter part of the Nineteenth Century and the early part of the Twentieth, gradually acquiring their present identities. Some of the old names, and their current ones, are as follows: Briggs Street now Kurtz Avenue. Green Street now Como Park Boulevard; Buffalo Street now Broadway; Water Street now Aurora; Dutch Street now West Main; Railroad Street now Central Avenue; Factory Street now Lake Avenue; Sports Street now School Street; Poplar Avenue now Lombardy Street; Buck Street now Erie; Tannery Place now Legion Parkway; Medium Street now Garfield; Raynor Street now St. John’s; and Blinkey Street was the original name for the section of Lake Avenue below Franklin Street. North Church Street became Foundry Street and was later renamed Holland Avenue. Aurora Street was the continuation of Water Street which ran from West Main to Buffalo Street.

Fires again raged in the community during the early years of the new century. The main building and two greenhouses belonging to S. B. Smiley were destroyed, at a loss of $5,000, on February 3, 1902; while on November 20 of the same year the plant of the Depew Knitting Mills was completely razed, with damage estimated at $60,000. A fire which blazed fiercely in the big American Malleables plant on Central Avenue on December 10, 1909, caused enormous damage which was estimated at the staggering figure of $200,000. A fire destroyed the store house of the New York Central shops on April 25, 1910, with the loss placed at $100,000. In 1903, fire caused $10,000 of damage at the Lancaster Malleables plant, while on December 5, 1906, a $25,000 blaze flared in the American Car and Foundry plant in Depew.

Lancaster was no exception to the national economic panic which gripped the nation in 1908. A soup kitchen was established in the town hall, in the rooms formerly occupied by the post office. Committees of women from the various churches of the community served an average of approximately 85 persons a day from March 4, the date of opening, until the establishment was happily closed on April 15.

The gayest and most colorful celebration in the history of the village up to that time was held from July 27 to August 2, 1913, when Lancaster conducted its Old Home Week in conjunction with the Western New York Firemen’s Convention. A holiday atmosphere prevailed throughout the entire period, and the streets echoed with the constant music, laughter and noise of the celebrations which supplemented the joyous event.

Over There

1914. The Bunny Hug, the Cake Walk; Take Me Out To The Ball Game; George M. Cohan; Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle; Jack London; Anna Held; President Wilson; the Federal Reserve Act; Pancho Villa, Lancaster and the rest of a casual nation read the items that made the headlines In that uneventful year, yawned contentedly, and went about its chores as, day by pleasant day, business and economic conditions appeared to be passing through a promising and progressive period.

When the Austrian Crown Prince and his consort were assassinated by a radical Serbian student in the obscure Balkan town of Sarajevo on June 28 of that year, the story rated only insignificant space in American newspapers, and passed almost unnoticed before the scrutiny of the nation's vast reading public. Yet, those little- publicized double murders were destined to precipitate a chain of events that set the world aflame and change a the history and geography of modern civilization. Less than three years later — on Good Friday, April 6, 1917 — these events were culminated by the entry of the United States into one of the bloodiest wars in world history.

The selective service machinery, as proposed by President Wilson, began to grind out material for the draft; fuel and food were conserved under a well-organized plan; Liberty Bond and Victory Loan issues were all over-subscribed; American troop ships began to probe their perilous way across submarine infested waters; an inspired George M, Cohan, with his lilting, patriotic songs, gave an imaginative America the words and music it desired—and the young men of the nation sailed away to fight the enemy across the sea to the determined theme, “We won't come back 'til it's over, over there!"

True to precedent, Lancaster immediately got ready to start punching for its country, and a number of its male citizens didn't wait for the draft. John Goldbach, Maurice Fitzgerald, Arthur Seibert, Adolf Litehkofske, Dan Reilly, Joseph Feuerstein, Stanley Bangier and Frank Molinowski went to Philadelphia, enlisted, were examined, and accepted in the Ninth Regiment, U. S. Engineering Corps, By August, this group was overseas, thus gaining the distinction of being among the first American soldiers to arrive in France in World War L Several of them assigned to the Rouen sector, were the only Americans there.

The first draft list, sent out from Washington on July 20, called for a quota of 350 from Lancaster and the surrounding communities. The first individual number drawn from Lancaster was 2522, that of Alfred Bolt. Senator George A, Davis, chairman of the local draft board, met with his fellow board members for the first time on August 9, at which time 700 men were scheduled to appear for examination, A note of general rejoicing was struck on November 11, 1918, when a group of 53 men reported at the Town Hall at 4 P, M. for entrainment at 6. The news of the Armistice had been received in the meantime, and the entrainment order was cancelled. The first of Lancaster’s war heroes to return was Frank Hurley, wounded in action, who arrived home on Christmas Day, 1918.

A big homecoming celebration was arranged lor June 28, 1919, which Village President George A, Davis declared a civic holiday. A gala parade, with 31 organizations participating, marched through the streets of the community, and an address of welcome was given by Attorney B. D. Jackson, Dinner and supper were served in Protective Park.

In all, 428 men represented Lancaster, Depew, Bowmansville and Town Line in various branches of the armed forces in World War I, Twenty-six made the supreme sacrifice, and their names, which will be inscribed on the VFW war memorial, for dedication on Wednesday, July 20, of Centennial Week, are as follows:

Orlo J. Adolf, Elmer W, Bass, Alfred Beels, A. Riley Brown, Frank J. Kaezmarek, John Cziak, Fred Finck, Anthony Fiore, Stephan Garus, Florence Gorecki, Walter A. Hake, Carl W. Helman, Henry Hodge, Charles W. Howell, Michael Janecko, James W. Kirkpatrick, Stanislaus Kozak, William Lowery, John Morobito, Harry G. Robinson, Samuel Santa Maria, Oscar W. Schieffa, William J. Staebell, Raymond Strite, Edward Szyperski, Frank J. Wieikiewicz.

The Road to '41

After the war, Lancaster’s rehabilitation was gentle and uneventful; and, through the “Roaring ’20’s”, this typically-American community seemed content, as did the rest of the war-weary nation, to allow progress to pursue a mild and natural tendency, unhurried and unforced. Forward strides, although not epochal, were made; but private individuals were more interested, for the most part, in pursuing personal enjoyment, as a natural reaction to their release from the fear and horror of total war. The modern evolution of the automobile, the radio and the movies opened new worlds of recreation and amusement to everyone. This was the “Golden Age’’ of sports: it was the era of Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Red Grange, the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, the New York Yankees’ Murderers’ Row, Paavo Nurmi, Buffalo’s Jimmy Slattery, and the Million-Dollar Gate. It was the era of fast roadsters, dance marathons, the hip flask, mah jongg, Cash-and-Carry Pyle, Jimmy Walker, and Flo Ziegfeld. It was the era of fun and escapism—and Lancaster maintained pace with the rest of America.

When the national economic depression gripped the nation in the early ’30’s, following in the wake of the New York Stock Exchange crash in October, 1929, the fling was over—and Lancaster was again no exception to the average American community in suffering through the hangover. Depression lays were anxious and stinted here as everywhere, and privations throughout the township were manifold and widespread. If the '20’s combined to form the era of fun, the '30's represented the era of “No Help Wanted”, WFA, relief, bank failures, real estate depreciation, nickel hamburgers, and king-size beer glasses.

Ironically enough, during these lean years, Lancaster was able to note several new civic assets to the community scene. One was the addition of the “cut-off”, a strip of road which made Route 20 a through way by linking Aurora Street to Central Avenue, and eliminated the necessity of routing traffic through Crowded West Main Street. Another was the erection of a beautiful, new $80,000 post office building on Broadway; while still another was the construction, also on Broadway of the modern Village Municipal Building, housing the police departments of town and village, the fire department, a jail, several official offices, an auditorium, a council chamber, several smaller meeting rooms, a first aid room, shower room and lavatories.

One of the community's greatest catastrophes occurred during this decade when, early on the evening of June 21, 1937, the worst flood in the history of the village wreaked indescribable havoc in and around the Cayuga Creek area. The “Report on Affects of Floods and Erosion Along Cayuga, Gazenovia and Buffalo Creeks”, published by the Niagara Frontier Planning Board, reports it, in part, as follows:

“One life was lost and property damage estimated at $750,000 was caused when the creek, after several days of rain, suddenly went on a rampage, reaching the depth of from 18 to 20 feet over the low water mark, damaging or destroying everything on its banks. Water reached a depth of five feet in streets in the Park Boulevard, Colonial and Cayuga Avenue area, and flowed in a muddy torrent five to six feet deep along St, John Street, In addition to the above named streets, much damage was done to pavement, sidewalks and real property along Broadway, Aurora Street, St. Mary's Street, Walter Street, Legion Parkway, Park Boulevard, Oakwood Avenue, Lake Avenue, and Pershing Avenue.

“Damage exceeding $1Q,00O was done to the Legion Memorial Building in Legion Parkway; houses were washed from their foundations in Lake Avenue, St. John Street and Broadway; sanitary sewer lines and water mains were washed out on Pershing Avenue and water mains crossing under the bridges on Lake Avenue and Aurora Street were damaged."

(The Cayuga Creek Flood Control Project, completed by the U. S. Government in 1948 at a cost of nearly $1,000,000 of federal, state and village funds, has since harnessed the waters of Cayuga completely, precluding any future possioility of floods from that source.)

By 1939, the depression was a thing of the past, and Lancaster was again on the upgrade, growing in leaps and bounds. The population that year was 7,500 in the village proper, and was estimated at about 60,000 within a five-mile radius of Lancaster. The total five-year average of assessed valuation of real property in the village, based on 65 per cent of actual value, was placed at $7,- 445,053 with $948,325 of additional exempt property.

The Years of Darkness

Unlike the indifference to the accumulation of foreign events that brought us to World War I in 1917, the happenings in Europe in 1939 were observed uneasily in every detail by a wary America. When a series of acts of German aggression were climaxed by the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 to launch World War II, the United States government made no pretense as to its apprehension. A “defense” program, including the nation's first peace time draft, was drawn up almost immediately and laid before the nation. Despite the fact that the U. S. government persistently declared a policy of neutrality, the American people, although overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Allies, realized gloomily that our armament program, regardless of whatever other name it might be called by, was designed to ready the nation for an all out shooting war,

Curtiss-Wright and Bell were working 24-hours a day to fulfill contracts to England, France and Russia—contracts that provided P40’s and P39’s to fight for the Allies in European battleskies in order to stave off the German invader. By early 1941, the barriers were down and these plants were working to fill U. S. government contracts under the national defense program; and workers from all over Western New York dropped their regular pursuits to offer their services and contribute their efforts in a frantic attempt at preparedness.

The worst fears of an apprehensive nation were confirmed in every respect when, on the crisp-cold afternoon of December 7, 1941, it was announced that Japanese war planes had bombed Pearl Harbor. In Lancaster, the bad news was received quietly. There were no demonstrations, as the village somberly heard the tidings and realized that, once more, the flower of its youth must he sent across the sea to fight a monstrous threat to world harmony. The full dread import of the message that the Mikado’s bombers had intoned from the skies over Hawaii was recognized immediately—and a lasting chill settled in the heart of every American, a chill that was to endure through nearly four years of darkness and bloodshed.

The details of World War II are still too vividly-remembered to bear narrating here. Lancaster went through its period of “blood, sweat and tears", as the youth of the community fought and died on the battlefronts in every far-flung corner of the globe.

When it was over, on August 14, 1945, joy knew no bounds. The news was received at about 7:00 P. M. and after a good percentage of local residents had given thanks at the church of their preference, the festivities really began. In many respects, there was never a celebration like it. Never was there such a spontaneous happiness, such sincere conviviality, sush heartfelt thanksgiving. Never did the community rejoice with a more fervent spirit—and the happy sounds of its great rejoicing lasted through the night. In private homes, in clubs, in meeting places, in taverns, and in the streets, Lancaster laughed through its tears with the rest of an overjoyed nation to herald the beginning of a new era, and the end of the worst blood bath the world had ever known.

The great celebration was tempered, however, with a certain restraint; for Lancaster, despite its hour of greatest joy, could not forget that there were 61 boys who would not come home again — 61 boys who went away to fight, and laid down their lives that this hour would be made possible. Those boys, whose names will be inscribed on the VFW war memorial together with their World War I predecessors, were:

Edward J, Bastian, Joseph H. Bauer, Bernard Beck, Arnold J. Bertelkamp, Romain O. Blandy, John Bodo, Frederick H. Brown, Morris H. Brown, Donald E. Cardinal, James A. Creed, Russell F. Crego, Gordon L. Dickinson, Herman L, Draszkiewicz, Vincent G. Ezzo, Wayne K. Gall, Michael Gawron, John R. Gick, Earl Gilbert, Harry F. Giorgini, William H. Huff, Edward S. Janco, Harry C. Janco, Henry Jerozal, Joseph P. Koska, Henry W. Lawniczak, Edward A. Lenda, Joseph J. Lyons, Adolph Majchrzak, Francis L. Malay, John R. Malay, George W. Manhardt, Thomas W. Mox, Jr., Francis A. Murphy, George Nash, Eugene A. Nuwer, Francis X. Nuwer, Jr., Edward Ostrach, Herman F. Page Is, Romain P, Pautler, Eugene A. Pfohl, Mathew I. Puccio, Arthur Ruber io, Jr., Henry Rudz. Severino L. Salvagni, Phillip J. Santini, Walter O. Schatzel, Walter W. Schroeder, Leonard A, Shuman, Wade E. Sharp, William Stetz, John A. Stipo, Louis O, Swanson, Emil V. Szymanski, Leonard A. Szmanski, Frederick L. Tharau, Donald L. Vesper, Albert E. Waldmiller, Robert G. Willis, Louis J. Winiecki, W. Edwin Winter.

(Wade Elmer Sharp was killed aboard the USS Truxton in Placentia Bay on February 18, 1942. He was the first Erie County man to die in World War II),


And so, in the year 1949, Lancaster observes the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the village. It is an occasion for looking backward and remembering the people of another day and the deeds they wrought to make our being here possible. Lancaster does not propose to live in the past; but it has an inherent, deep-rooted pride in the prowess of its predecessors, and an understandable, abiding interest in those who hacked the rude beginnings of our community out of an untenable wilderness.

It is also an occasion for looking confidentiy forward, and for summing up its assets and possibilities after a century of existence. The confidence is justified and the assets are manifold. Lancaster contains the intangible, motivating quality that enables one community to thrive, flourish and advance, while others of similar size—or even larger—grope uncertainly, halt and gradually decline, Lancaster has the spark, the initiative, the pride, the spirit, and the leaders to set its course, without hesitation, full speed ahead.

During the great celebration of the Centennial, the heart of Lancaster will be in the past; but its goal, as ever, will be in the future, it is truly the community where the “old of the past meet the new of today, "New modern structures are interspersed among buildings a century or more old; it has a definitely rural atmosphere while simultaneously providing every city advantage for its residents; situated only seven miles from teeming Buffalo, it is pleasantly remote, sufficiently isolated, and remains magnificently suburban. Its combination of the old and the new make it quaint, picturesque and altogether charming—a gem among the suburban communities of Western New York.

If Lancaster was growing rapidly in the years before World War II, it has positively mushroomed since. The present population of the village is approximately 3,500, and about 18,000 in the township. The current assessed valuation of land and improvements is $7,780,830 in the village, and building permits issued in 1948 reached the all-time high figure of $1,290,600 for 268 new structures and improvements. In 1949, the building permit figure totaled $270,000 to July 1,

Lancaster is served by four major railroads; water transportation through the Port of Buffalo and the Great Lakes is easily accessible; Buffalo Airport is a ten-minute drive, placing the airlines at Lancaster's back door; and a commanding position in regard to motor vehicle routes is apparent due to the fact that the community Is situated on U + S. Route 20, the main connecting artery between major cities. It contains churches of every denomination; public and parochial schools; every modern convenience made available by vast public utilities. It has the famed Lancaster Country Club, with its championship golf course and its gracious atmosphere; it has beautiful Como Park, one of the scenic standouts of the state; it has modern, flourishing places of business, and major, aggressive industry; it is the hub of state fraternal activity. In short, Lancaster has everything.

Up and down the community’s beautiful, restful tree lined streets is an aura of perrmanence and solidarity, the materialization of the hopes of a group of men when they incorporated our village 100 years ago, and dreamed their dreams of a great community in the dim, distant future. Lancaster has come a long way since that time, and readily finds its place in the fast-moving, progressive civic world of the present, Lancaster's desirability as a residential community is strongly reflected in the attitude of its residents, former and present. Its attraction is magnetic, unique, and almost uncanny. Those who live here don't want to leave; and those who have left want to come back. The majority of Lancaster's civic-minded citizens are willing to stack their community, street by precious street, against any other in the state-—and will bet substantial coin of the realm that it will show favorably in the comparison.

So, in one respect, the community is no different than it was when a little group of pioneers began the Lancaster story in 1803, At that time, It looked like a mighty good place to live. Today, it hasn’t changed a bit: it STILL looks like a mighty good place to live.


Grateful acknowledgment for assistance in the compilation of the foregoing narrative is hereby given to Mrs. S. P. Adolf, for use of her voluminous and priceless records such as scrap books, clipping books, souvenirs, pictures, and other material; to Elmer A. Adolf; to Supt. of Public Works Harold Huber and to George Miller for their generous co-operation in making available the use of village records; to Com. Leo Huber of VFW post 7275 for use of “History of Buffalo and Erie County in the World War”; and to Mrs. Margaret Anderson, Mrs. Anna J. Braun, and everyone else who so graciously submitted material, pictures and suggestions.

The now-legendary Depew Industrials, one of the greatest baseball teams ever produced locally. In the above photo, taken in 1910, are: Front, left to right—G. Durham, 2b; Dykstra, rf; Neher, p; J, Durham, ss, Center-Bob Sc hang, c; Jack English; Billy Gettings; Bill Dougherty, manager; Pierce English; Wally Sehang, 3b and c, Rear — Siebert, p; McHugh, lb; Scully, If; Eckstein, cf; Bradley, 3b; Mohr, p.
The tar fire on the roof of the Braun Block on West Main Street, January 13, 1898. The roof was badly damaged but the building was saved. Shown in the foreground is Matt Wintermantel
The Braun Block on West Main Street in 1898.
Mrs. Simon Adolf shown standing outside of the covered bridge at the rear of her home, 45 West Main Street. The structure, built originally for a chicken coop in 1910, was later used as a private bridge over Plumbottom Creek.

Religious History


In 1829, the Catholics of Lancaster, numbering about 15 families, were visited, periodically by the Rev. Nicholas Mertz, a missionary, who was the founder of St* Louis Church, the first Catholic church in Buffalo. On these visits, Father Mertz carried with him his Mass kit and celebrated the Holy Sacrifice in the log huts of the villagers. These visits, however, were all too infrequent, since the arduous routine of the saintly missionary necessitated his covering William&ville, Aiden, Attica and other communities in addition to “Cayuga Creek".

Finally, on January 6, 1834, the Catholics of the settlement, calling themselves the “Catholic Church Society of Lancaster”, purchased a piece of land, situated to one end of the village and on a hill, upon which they could build a church and school at a future date. That tract of land was to become the site of St, Mary’s-On-The-Hill.

When Father Mertz died in 1844, he was succeeded by Father Far, who in turn was succeeded by the lovable and holy Father John Neumann who was instrumental in bringing about the erection of the first church upon the hill. a rough, board building wherein, once a month, he said Mass. To him also goes the credit for the establishment of St* Mary's first school, a frame structure of old timbers at the crossroads of Transit and Broadway, The original registration numbered 30 pupils.

Father Noethen, who succeeded Father Neumann, became Lancaster's first resident priest. He said Mass daily and resided with families of the parish. The earliest records in the rectory date from about this time. The first recorded baptism is that of Sebastian Ott, who was born on December 20, 1847, and baptised on December 26. He was the son of George Ott and Barbara Weisbeck. His sponsors were Sebastian Block and Margaret Mary Ott, and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. Xavier Tschenhens.

The first recorded marriage is that of Peter Meyer and Gertrude Sehichter on December 20, 1847, Joseph Jerge and Michael Schmitt were witnesses, and Father Tschenhens performed the ceremony. The first death is that of Micheline Ott, daughter of John Ott and Magdalene Mader, who was buried on May 7, 1848. The first confirmation recorded was administered by Rt. Rev. Bishop Timon on December 14, 1850.

On July 28,1850, Bishop Timon sent Lancaster a new resident pastor, the Rev. Sergius de Stchoulepnkoff, better known as Father Serg — and from that time, St. Mary's has never been without a pastor. The same year Father Serg, a Russian of noble birth, started the first brick church on the hill, on the site where the present church now stands. In 1851 the new church was dedicated under the corporate title, “St. Mary's Church of the Assumption of Lancaster. N. Y."

At the suggestion of Bishop Timon, Father Urich, who replaced Father Serg on December 27, 1851, built an. orphan asylum for boys. The orphanage on the hill was a long, red-frame building on the present site of the convent. Known as St* John's Protectory For Orphan and Wayward Boys, it sheltered about 60 boys in the charge of three lay sisters, and was continued for many years. Finally, somewhere around 1874, the protectory was moved to Limestone Hill and became one of the famous institutions popularly known as Father Baker's.

The need for a parish house was urgent, and during the '60's Father Henry Feldman began a small structure later enlarged by Father Sester. The house served as a rectory until 1908, when it was occupied by our present organist, Mr. Leo Roy, who still resides there. It was during the incumbency of Father Sester as pastor that attention began to be given to landscaping the grounds around St. Mary's and beautifying the area. Father Sester also built a new brick school in 1874; and in 1889 began plans for enlarging the church. The new church, as it stands today, was dedicated in 1890.

November 30, 1900 is a date well-remembered in St. Mary's history, for it was on that day that the Rev. John V. Schaus of North Java came to Lancaster to take charge of St. Mary's rapidly-growing church and school.

On Tuesday, November 15, 1904, classes were opened for a regular high school course, and to St. Mary's went the distinction of having begun the first parochial high school in the United States. In 1912 the high school was officially chartered under the Regents of the State of New York.

Father Schaus, the beloved pastor under whose constant guidance St. Mary's parish flourished and expanded, served the church on the hill for 29 good years. He died on January 4, 1929, and was suceeded by the Rev, John Schmitt of Annunciation Church, Elma, in February, 1929, Father Schmitt continued his late predecessor's program of advancement. He remodeled the church in 1932 at a cost of $17,000. In 1933, he purchased eight acres of land for use as a cemetery, installing drainage facilities and water, and beautifying the tract with the erection of an altar and the placing of numerous pieces of statuary. The cost of the entire cemetery project was $20,000, In 1936, Father Schmitt had 12 new church windows, with the glass imported from Innsbruck, Austria, installed.

The energetic, hard-working Father Schmitt, whose leadership was an inspiration at St. Mary's and whose good works were incalculable, passed away on June 24, 1946. Always fortunate in the acquisition of great leaders, St. Mary’s was placed under the guidance of the Rev. Roman Nuwer, originally of Lancaster but then acting as pastor of St. Joachim's Church, Buffalo, He was appointed on October 23, 1946, and has since been elevated to a Monsignorship. He was, and still is, serving with the U. S. Army in Austria as Chief of Chaplains, holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel* He was installed by proxy, and the occasion was believed to be one of the first times in Catholic Church history that such a ceremony took place. His proxy was the Rev. Howard M. Adolf, current administrator at St. Mary's, who continues that parish's tradition of efficient, inspirational leadership. In Msgr, Nuwer's absence, Father Adolf is continuing the improvement program on the school, convent, rectory and grounds.

KNIGHTS OF ST, JOHN, Commandery No. 347

In the year of 1048 of our Redemption in the City of Amalphi in the kingdom of Naples, some Catholic merchants banded together to form the illustrious order known as the Knights of St. John. This name was chosen in honor of their favorite Saint, St. John the Baptist.

Down through these many hundreds of years the Knights of St. John have striven to inculcate the noblest of Christian principles and in the practice of the highest of civic virtues.

Today they may look back with great pride in having organized over 300 commanderies in the United States and Canada, consisting of some twenty-five thousand uniformed members with many more not yet in uniform, all joined together under the banner of “One God and One Country.”

On September 8, 1874, one of the first parishes in this territory to have a uniformed commandery of the Knights of St. John was St. Ann's Church in Buffalo and from that time on has steadily grown in popularity.

The history of Commandery 347 of St, Mary's Church in Lancaster dates back to April 4, 1937. At that time Captain George Schmitt, then a member of the Commandery of Our Lady Help of Christians parish of Cheektowaga, invited several top officers of the Buffalo Regiment to join with him in an interview with the late Rev. John A, Schmitt, pastor of St* Mary’s Church, regarding the forming of the Knights of St, John in this parish. Following that meeting Father Schmitt requested that the Regimental Staff Officers in uniform and the men of the parish to join with St. Joseph Sodality in receiving Holy Communion. The date for this was Sunday, April 11th, 1937. This was a grand success. Father Schmitt was chosen as moderator and together with the honorable president of St, Joseph's Sodality, Theo. Loecher, presided at the meeting.

Among the speakers to outline the aims and objects of the order were Ins. Gen, Harder and Col. Kreppei, Adjt. Frank Wopperer, Capt. Geo. Schmitt was chosen as temporary chairman and Frank X. Nuwer as assistant chairman and secretary to organize the commandery that is known today as St. Mary’s Commandery No. 347.

Among the first to sign their names to an application were: Jack Kaull, Charles Keicher, Simon Kuhl, Harry Ott, Paul Thill, Albert Enser, Frank Stabell, Norman Rozler, Norbert Adolf, Jacob Ott, John Baumann, George Ott and Frank X. Nuwer.

The first meeting was held on May 5, 1937, and the first table officers chosen and elected to head the Commandery were as follows: Pres, Walter Bielman, first vice president, Jack Kaull; second vice president Frank Staebell; recording secretary Paul Thill; financial secretary Peter Haller; treasurer, Simon Kuhl; trustees, Joseph Besch, Frank Nuwer, Harry Ott, John Baumann, Charles Keicher, Robert Coughlin.

Soon after, the semi-military feature of the organization was discussed, and the following military officers were chosen and elected. Captain, George Schmitt; 1st Lieutenant, Victor Ott; 2nd Lieutenant, Morlyn Hurley. The real hard work of the members then began, the job of raising money for uniforms. This was partly accomplished by running parties in St. Mary's Hall and baked goods sales. On May 15, 1938, twenty-nine members received their uniforms. The following Sunday the Commandery received Holy Communion in a body and the blessing of their uniforms and also the indulgence granted by Pope Pius XI.

St. Mary's Commandery has steadily grown and today has a membership totalling 100 members. To this grand success must go the untiring efforts of its officers such as past Presidents Walter Bielman, Frank Staebell, Richard Murray, Leo Morrissey, George Ott and our present President, John Schrader, retired Captain Geo. Schmitt and Captain Morlyn Hurley.

In its many turnouts the Commandery has had the honor of participating in many events with high dignitaries of both church and state. In the early 1940's, St, Mary's Commandery sought to organize its sister organization, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of St, John in our parish, but met with little success. In 1946 the Commandery succeeded in organizing an auxiliary which since then has become another one of the many popular organizations now holding forth at St. Mary's,


In the early nineties Italian immigrants began to pour into the United States. A few families found their way to Lancaster and Depew, The railroads and shops here furnished, them employment, and soon their numbers grew. After a short time they began to form a little colony of their own in the vicinity of Laverack and Sawyer Avenues, just at the Laneaster-Depew village limits. The construction of the sewage system in Lancaster in 1908 called a great many more Italians to our neighborhood. So great had become the number of Italians who up to this time had come to St, Mary's Church that Father Schaus, upon consultation with Father Killeen, then pastor of St, James Church, Depew, determined to start a special church for them. Here they might hear sermons in their own language. Here their spiritual wants would be taken care of.

Accordingly, Father Schaus launched a campaign. He gathered as much money as possible; and with the aid of the diocesan authorities purchased a plot of ground at the comer of Cowing Street and Laverack Avenue, A frame structure was built as a church.

This first church was known also as the Italian Mission of St. Mary's. Father Shaus' introduced a mass for them on Sundays at 7 A. M. with a sermon in their own language. Father Rarsutti, of St, Lucy's Church, Buffalo, cared for the mission for a time but Father Shaus soon assumed its ministration. With the hope that the Italian people would soon be able to turn this mission into a parish, Father Shaus brought various Italian priests here during the years 1909 and 1910, all of whom worked zealously for the souls of their countrymen. Among them were: Rev. Remigion Barsotti, Rev. D. Carra, Rev. J, Massola, Rev. Ciabattoni and particularly Rev. John Tommei, who later established the parish of St. Francis of Assisi at East Buffalo.

The church was officially dedicated by Bishop Colton on the 14th of March, 1909 and given the name of Our Lady of Pompeii, The name "Our Lady of Pompeii” is the name of a picture venerated at Pompeii, Italy, one of the nation's most famous shrines.

The need of the Italians in other parts of the diocese, however, became so great that the Bishop could not spare an Italian priest for our mission and so in the year 1910 the work of the mission was turned over to the assistant priest at St. Mary's under the supervision of Father Shaus. Fathers Max Mueller, F. X. Hoernschemeyer, Leo E, Keen, P, J. Tronolone, Thomas McGuire and Martin H. Ebner have since taken care of the church.

In 1929 Father Ebner, Assistant Priest at St. Mary’s, under the direction of Father Schaus, lengthened and entirely renovated the church.

In 1932 the Italian Catholics of the Mission of St. Mary’s Lancaster, petitioned to the Most Rev, William Turner, Bishop of Buffalo to establish a separate parish of their own. On April 12, 1932, Bishop Turner appointed, as first pastor, Rev. Leo Pulling, who at that time was assistant priest of St, Mary’s Church, Lancaster, N. Y, In the same year a rectory was built next to the church.

In 1934, Father Pulling extended the basement and out in a new floor.

On June 19, 1942, the Most Rev. Bishop John Duffy appointed as second pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Rev, Alfonso J. Bernardo who was pastor of Our Lady of Loretta Church in Falconer, N, Y. In September of the same year, Father Bernardo requested the village board of Lancaster to have Cowing Street paved as far as Sawyer Avenue. This improved the Church property. Early in 1944 the church was beautifully remodeled and decorated. In June, 1944, Father Bernardo purchased a piece of land from the Village of Lancaster for a future expansion of the parish.

The spiritual progress of this parish has been increasing year by year and we now number more than 300 families. We hope in the near future, in order to accommodate this increasing number, to build a new church on the land purchased in 1944 and turn the present church structure into a parochial school.

At the present the societies of this parish are as follows: Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, Children of Mary, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts.


In the year 1895 a Sunday School was organized in the store at the corner of Laverack Avenue and Sturm Place, Lancaster, N. Y. under the supervision of Mr. Volney P, Kinney, a loyal Baptist Layman. Mr. Kinney was supported by a group of Baptists who were desirous of giving their time and talent to the children of the North community of Lancaster which was then under construction of many new homes.

Under the guidance of these men and women the children were taught the love of the Lord Jesus for all of humanity, the School began with an enrollment of 80 with an average attendance of 60. Their first assembly began August 11, 1895 and grew in numbers during the following years.

The following May, a meeting of the men and women of the Baptist faith were called to discuss the advisability of organizing a Baptist Church and 20 people assembled. It was the unanimous conclusion that the church be organized and to call upon Baptist families for their support in the Village of Depew nearby.

Rev. J. A. Heath presided and Volney P. Kinney was elected as secretary. On motion duly made and seconded it was carried that the First Baptist Church of Lancaster, N. Y. was organized by those present who were members of good standing of Baptist churches elsewhere. The following names were signed as the organizers of this church: Oliver D, Seitz, Volney P. Kinney, Gertrude A, Kinney, Annie Stoddard, Rosalie Alvord, Philip Alvord, Sarah J. Baughan, Mary E. Eldridge, Amos J. Sider, Maggie Sider, Victor R. Pratt, Sr., Georgiarxna Pratt, Clara Pratt, Victor R. Pratt, Jr., Algernon S. Pratt and George H. Pratt. Volney P. Kinney was elected the first deacon and Amos J. Sider was elected second as deacon, church clerk Victor R. Pratt, treasurer Oliver D. Seitz.

June 17th, 1896, it was decided to call a council of Baptist Churches of the Buffalo Baptist Association for recognition and affiliation as a regular Baptist Church and that this service be held Thursday, June 25th, 1896, afternoon and evening. The clerk was instructed to send a letter of invitation to all Baptist churches in the Buffalo Baptist Association inviting the pastor and two delegates to attend the council. On June 24th, 1896 by unanimous vote, the Church adopted the Declaration of Faith written by Dr, J. Newton Brown and published by the American Publication Society. In September of 1896, Rev, Mr. Farquette was called and accepted the pastorate in succession to Rev. J. A. Heath who had resigned three weeks before. During the past year, 28 joined with the church membership.

In 1898 the church came into possession of its present location at the corner of Caswell Street and Laverack Avenue was purchased thru Mr. F. Mason Hayes. The present church edifice was erected the same year on this lot 101 by 165 feet at a cost of nearly $15,000,00 An organ was presented to the church to help in the church services.

The membership at this time stood at 31 members and at the opening of the new church building faced a debt of $4,000.00 mortgage at five per cent. In 1901 the church membership rose to 61 and the Sunday School 90 with an average attendance of 70. Mr. Kinney was the superintendent for the first 16 years. In 1902 one of the chief industries dosed up its plant here and many families moved away depleting the church membership and a heavy indebtedness to be faced by the remainder. The New York State Baptist Missionary Convention came to the church's aid and helped by paying half the debt.

Mr, Kinney and his wife moved to Buffalo, in September, 1911, and took their membership to First Baptist Church there. Both had given themselves to the organizing and development of the church and Sunday School. The church missed them greatly and their influence in the community.

From 1905 the Sunday School showed a prosperous condition and added much to the interest of the church with a goodly number uniting in the church membership. The Young People's Society presented a new Estey church organ to the church and thus added greatly to the services in the church.

During the 50 years of existence the church has had its ups and downs. In the midst of all its struggles she has always gone ahead and the blessings of the Lord has been her portion. Some 17 pastors have served the church, serving from less than a year to seven years.

Rev. J. A, Heath, 1896, resigned 1896; Rev. A. L. Parquette, 1896, resigned 1898; Rev. Starr K. Smith, 1898, resigned 1901; Rev. C. A. Clausen, 1901, resigned 1902; Rev. L. S, Shumaker, 1903, resigned 1903; Rev, W. V. Bacon, 1904, resigned 1909; Rev. C, W. Robinson, 1909, resigned 1912; Rev. F. E. Robinson, 1913, resigned 1914; Rev. G. F. Griffin, 1914, resigned 1916; Rev. E. J. Dryer, 1916, resigned 1918; Rev. A. Stockton, 1919, resigned 1920; Rev. A. Bell, 1921, resigned 1925; Rev. Stein, 1925, resigned 1926; Rev. H. Wahl, 1927, resigned. 1929; Rev. M. S. Scriber, 1929, resigned 1933; Rev. C. Hammel, 1933, resigned 1939; Rev. J. A. Barker, 1939.

During all of the years over four hundred have united with this church and we carry on knowing there is a place for the small church in the work of the Kingdom of our Lord, We have an honored place with the churches of Lancaster, and with working together for our Blessed Lord much spiritual advancement will be attained in the days to follow.


The planting of the Church is interwoven into the history of the Village of Lancaster from its very beginnings in 1804,

From the start villagers banded themselves together in worship in private hemes, an interest that was to cryscalize into Church structures at a later date.

In 1849 Lancaster was incorporated into a village on the tenth of April and by 1913 had grown to a population of 5,000.

Its civic interest kept pace with its religious life and practice and imparted to this locality a solid value which is reflected in its general prosperity and desirability as a home center to this very day.

An old record relates that “Lancaster's religious history forms one of the most animated and interesting chapters of its life..” It goes on to say: “Lancaster's building of Churches presents a picturesque period. In those days people did not "talk business' but discussed long arid solemnly the state of their souls. The matter of religion was a serious one. Our early ministers had long distances to travel and were heard with much interest."

This inheritance from the past is a marked trait of our village to this very day and can be fairly described as a “Church going community.”

The history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lancaster started when Protestants met in various homes for Sunday horship. They were served by Circuit Pastors. A Rev. Wagenals ministered to nine congregations and officiated in Lancaster every four weeks.

Then came a period when a large number of settlers of Huguenot ancestry from Alsace Lorraine and Wuertenberg established themselves on farms.

The first house of worship after leaving the Mansion House on Central Avenue was built in 1835. It had its beginning with 195 members signing the charter.

The structure was of frame erected on the site now occupied by Cushing's Drug Store. Rev. William Fetter presided at the organization meeting.

The church officials whose names appear on the ancient document were: George Paul, Jacob Young, John Halpert, Michael Wollgung, Frederick Heim and George Seligman. Rev. Fetter was succeeded by the Rev. Christian Knapp in 1847 who served the Church for more than forty years.

Rev. Christian Knapp

The Church on Central Avenue soon became too small and the present site on Pleasant Avenue and Church of St. John’s Evanelical Lutheran Church was bought for $400, Michael Ansteth, John Walter, John Brunk, John Seiler and Michael Young were the trustees.

In the year 1873 a resolution was signed to erect a House of Worship, the cost of which was not to exceed $10,000.

In 1887 Pastor Knapp retired—St. John’s was his first and last parish. He was called home in 1894 and lies buried in the Rural Cemetery.

Rev. F. Bambam, Rev. F. Schaefer and Rev. Blum served the parish until 1910 when Rev. George Bock took charge, serving for 35 years. During this period of ardent service the Church experienced an outstanding growth. He entered the Church triumphant in 1944 and was sueceeded by the present Pastor Rev. Carl H. Miller.

Throughout this entire celebration the names of many who aided in making the Churches of Lancaster and the life of the village, a wholesome contribution to the well being of the state and nation, will be held in grateful remembrance.

They form a silent succession of laborers and citizens un-named, un-pictured without whose faith and devotion we would not he able to enter into the fruits of their endeavors.

Their name and faces thru the long reach of time, are sealed in our hearts, and in God’s Book of Life.


The records reveal that Trinity Church congregation first held meetings in the little school house or academy building in Lake Avenue about 1866, and later in a third story room known as Grimes HalL The Mission flourished from the start and the good size Sunday School membership and congregation was built.

In December, 1879 a plot of ground was purchased by the Episcopal Church Society, located in Broadway (formerly known as East Main Street,) and plans for the building of a new church were laid. The cornerstone was formally laid in 1880 and the completed edifice was opened with impressive ceremonies by the Bishop of the Diocese, The Rt. Rev, A. Cleveland Cox.

The church is of Gothic style of architecture and is in cruciform shape and fronts on Broadway, It is 70 feet in depth, 35 feet in width and has a seating; capacity of about 175 people, Twelve stained-glass windows add considerably to the beauty of the interior. It has a large basement and contains a vault for the temporary sepulchre of the dead. The church is built chiefly of brick, with stone facings, and has a plain Nave and Chancel. The Interior fittings are of white ash.

An educational building with Sunday School rooms and parish hall is erected in the rear of the Church,

Members of the following families constituted the regular congregation of the School House Days: Bostwick, Bartholomew, Bell, Farr, Prowett, Ives, Little, and Farrar.

First recorded baptism: Miss Lucia Cruthers.

First wedding: Samuel B, Smiley to Janet Wood Bell, January 18, 1883.

First Confirmation class: Mr. Farrar and Mr. and Mrs. Bell.

The Women's Mite Society later called Women’s Guild originated in “Grimes Church”, as townspeople were wont to call the Mission at that time.

The first Wardens were Mr, Thomas Leary and Mr, George Bartholomew. In its issue dated May 3, 1878, the Lancaster Star reported the following officers elected at the first Annual Parish Meeting: Wardens, W. H. Bostwick, and George Bartholomew. Vestrymen, Thomas Leary, Frank James, Thomas Miller, S, F. Hartman and Richard Kurtz.

Missionaries conducted the worship services, Clergy and Lay Readers coming from Buffalo and vicinity. An outstanding Lay Reader, zealous for the advancement of Trinity Church, labored unceasingly and eventually was ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood — The Rev. Cyrus P. Lee. He conducted many services in “Grimes Church” and was ordained soon after the new church was built, A beautiful window was unveiled in 1887 in his memory.

The church became a regular Diocesan Parish in 1883 and Doctor Huntington became the first resident pastor. Other clergymen to serve have been the Revs. W. H Capers, Stuart Crockett, B. F. Cooley, H, B. Jefferson, George A, Harvey, George M. Irish, Frank Marchant and Fred W. Goldsmith. The Rev. Dr. W s G. Woodward is the present pastor.

A rectory located in Lombardy Street was presented to the Parish in 1900, Many prominent citizens of the village have been members of the Parish including such well-known families as James, Grimes, Bedell, Bruce, Oswald, Critsinger, Cushing, Dann, Young, Dykstra, Wenz, Murray, Smiley, Cullen and Edwards.


H. Perry Smith’s History of Buffalo and Erie County gives this information: “It is from the year 1811 that the Rev. William Waith dates the first public Christian worship in the township. For several years it was held at private houses and at the school house . * . Notwithstanding the large and growing population of the county, there was not a solitary church building within its limits excepting the log meeting house of the Quakers at East Hamburg.”

Conable’s History of the Genesee Comerence has these notes: “1818—At this time the Genesee District embraced the whole territory from Cayuga Lake to Lake Erie and from Lake Ontario on the north into Pennsylvania. This broad field was divided into twelve circuits and manned by twelve heroes.”

At the bottom of the list of appointments of the New York Conference for 1818 is the following entry: “Aurora Seeger goes to the Genesee District.” The following is a quotation from his diary: “I was appointed to Clarence Circuit with Brother (Jetar) Forster as my colleague. His circuit, including the towns and villages of Clarence, Batavia, Alexander, Attica, and westerly to within a few miles of Buffalo, and to the east and south embracing Bethany, Warsaw, Orangeville, and the adjoining vicinities, was extensive. It was a four weeks’ circuit with thirty-five preaching appointments.’ Dr. Z. Paddock who was appointed there the next year, said that at that time, when he followed Brother Seeger on that extensive charge, there was not a church or chapel belonging to any denomination,”

Since the bounds of this extensive circuit extended “westerly to within a few miles of Buffalo”, it might easily be that “Cayuga Creek” was one of the preaching places. This might have been the real beginning of the Methodist group that in 1835 built the church on Aurora Street, and is now the “First Methodist Church of Lancaster”—although no specific year can be given as the actual beginning, The first definite mention of Lancaster Methodist Church is made in Conable’s History of the Genesee Conference as follows: “In 1835 . . . Clarence circuit embraced Williamsville and Lancaster, no regular house of worship in either place.” H, Perry Smith’s History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County has this record: “The framed church building, formerly occupied by the Methodist Episcopal Church, was erected in 1835 ...” The Genesee Conference Minutes (Official Journal) under date of 1838, under the question “Where are the preachers stationed this year?” gives for “Buffalo District, Lancaster” the name of J. W* Vaughn, The membership is listed as 107.

In 1352 the congregation built the main part of the present church building, and sold the frame structure on Aurora Street to the German Methodist congregation The addition to the main church building was dedicated January 21, 1900.

The parsonage was built about 1884. During the pastorate of the Rev. Peter Thompson, his illustrious daughter, Dorothy, was born in the parsonage.

Nathan L. Tanner, owner of the horse and wagon that provided transportation for the first R.F.D, route, which was begun In Lancaster ah February 15, 1902.
West Main Street — 1913
Edward Zurbrick, shown driving his hearse outside of his West Main Street undertaking parlors in 1904.

Officers of Centennial Planning Board

Front, left to right; Mrs. Angela Schultz, recording secretary; Warren Delzer, general chairman; Walter Winter, co-chairman. Rear, left to right; Christ Becker, corresponding secretary; Joseph Geyer, financial secretary; Elmer Deutschlander, treasurer.

Centennial Planning Board

First row, left to right: Christ Becker, corresponding secretary, chairman of parades and prizes; Mrs. Angela Schultz, recording secretary; Joseph Geyer, financial secretary, chairman of automobile award; Warren Delzer, general chairman; Walter Winter, co-chairman; Mrs. Marlo Schermerhorn, co-chairman program of events, music and choral; Elmer Deutschlander, treasurer. Second row; Lloyd Bull, Joseph Scherer, chairman of properties; Marlo Schermerhorn, co-chairman of events, music and choral; Milton Wheat, chairman of housing; Ray Blair, chairman of badges and souvenirs; George Schneider; Arthur Wendel, chairman of ways and means; Robert Laney. Third row: Edward Handel, chairman of invitations; John Lyon; Charles Ahlstrom, chairman of cachets; James McGurk, chairman of publicity, historical editor; Norman Hauber. George Gregory, chairman of decorations, Fred Oestreich, program book chairman and editor, and Mrs. Raymond Knauber, chairman of antiques, were absent.
The Lancaster businessmen pictured in 1907 at their annual outing, held at the Lancaster Driving Park. It is reported that the event was highlighted by a lengthy discussion of store hours.


Bottom, left to right; Ray Blair, chief; Lloyd Bull, third assistant, Top: John Lyon, second assistant; Arthur Wendel first assistant.


Front, left to right: Edward Lang, lieutenant; Edward Bund, chief; Francis Sweitzer, captain. Rear: Patrolmen Joseph Huber, Andrew Smith, Henry Rogers.
Maute's Iron Foundry on Holland Avenue, from a picture taken in 1913.


Tiie Scott Aviation Corporation, although comparatively new, has already taken its place as one of Lancaster’s top-ranking industries. Situated at 207 Erie Street, its modernly-design-ed plant has factory floor space of 25,000 square feet; office, engineering and service space of 5,000 square feet; and its average number of employees is 75.

Its officers are listed as follows: Earle M. Scott, president and sales manager; Howard A, Benzel, vice president and general manager; Robert D, Pollock, vice president and treasurer and Emery C- Prior, secretary,

Scott Aviation Corporation was founded by Earle M. Scott as the Universal Alloy Products Co. in 1932; was incorporated as the Uniloy Accessories Corp. in 1939 ; and as the Scott Aviation Corporation in 1940.

Before the war the major production was for light aircraft only and consisted of tail wheel assemblies, brake cylinders, and other related items and accessories.

Shortly before the war the company engaged in the manufacture of high-altitude oxygen equipment for the British Air Force. After 1941 it engaged in the design and manufacture of portable oxygen breathing equipment for the U. S. Army Air Forces and manufactured, during the war, several hundred thousand pieces of this type of equipment; all of its own original design. Other war production included all of the tail wheel assemblies for the Glider Program and light aircraft accessories of many types of liaison aircraft.

The principal products manufactured between 1946 and today are accessories and subassemblies for light aircraft, and aircraft com trol wheels. It supplies most of the Oxygen Breathing Equipment used on U. S. and Foreign Airlines.

For the civilian market the company designed, developed and began the manufacture, shortly after the war, of emergency breathing equipment for fire fighters and for industry known as the Scott Air-Pak; builds this equipment in high volume as well as various types of Oxygen Breathing Equipment for Industry, Fire Departments and the Hospital and Medical trades.

Its products are distributed by several hundred Distributors and Dealers throughout the U. S, A., and are exported throughout the world.

Recent export shipments were to such diversified users as an Oil Company in Saudi-Arabia and an Airline in Sweden; to a Cannery in the Fiji Islands and to a steel mill in Australia.

The first Lancaster-Buffalo trolley, which began its local run in October, 1893. Shown in the open window at the right is Mrs, Joseph Scheicr, Photo was taken at corner of Church Street and Broadway.
The Young Men's Sodality of St. Mary's Church pictured in 1909 at their annual outing, held at the Lancaster Driving Park, which is now the Repka property. Shown are; front, left to right— 1) Lawrence O'Neill, 2) Henry Swartz, 3) Arthur Anstett, 4) Louis Ferrand, 5) Linus Enser, 6) Steve Jacobowski, 7) Carl Adolf, 8) Raymond Hastrich, 9) Dave Schrader. Second row: 10) George Mullaney, 11) Henry Wahl, 12) John Mullaney, 13) Ed Hoke, 14) Henry Newhouse, 15) Joseph Bach (now Rev. Bach), 16) Roman Nuwer (now Monsignor Nuwer), 17) John Goldbach, 18) Merle Dickinson, 19) Frank X. Nuwer, Jr. Third row: 20) John Lambrix, 21) Ed Adolf, 22) Walter Robinson, 23) Dab Monnin, 24) Charles Goldbach, 25) Frank X, Nuwer, Sr., 26) William Hurley, 27) Fred Dentinger, 28) Ray Knauber, 29) Roger McGraw. Fourth row: 30) Leo Lambrix, 31) Edward Ott (now Rev. Ott), 32) Charles Thill, 33) Joseph Meiler, 34) Joseph Goldbach, 35) George Emminger, 36) Joseph Nichter, 37) Robert Adolf, 38) John Wolf, 39) John Hoke, 40) Charles Keicher, 41) Frank Staebell, 42) Henry Staebell, 43) Henry Stephan, 44) Frank Ball. Top: 45) Ralph Maute, 46) Charles Newhouse, 47) Nick Haungs,48) unidentified, 49) George Haungs, 50) Pete Haungs, 51) Richard Voigt, 52) John Geyer, 53) Ed Ball, 54) Joseph Sheffler, 55) Leo E. Huber, 56) Arthur Seibert and 57) Simon Kiehl.


In 1899 the Gould Coupler Company of Depew formed a battery division to build storage batteries to operate in conjunction with railroad axle generators that the Coupler Company had just introduced on the market,

These batteries, and the parts of the batteries, were produced in various parts of the Coupler Company buildings. So successful were the batteries, and so successful was the reception by the railroad people, that in 1900 a separate battery plant was erected on the site of the present Gould Storage Battery plant. The plant was added in 1902 and as business increased other building additions were made.

The original batteries produced differed considerably from the batteries familiar to most people today. Instead of having a grid framework into which was pressed active material, these early batteries were made of solid lead sheets. In the course of years, Gould developed their own technique for improving the performance of these lead sheet batteries. Today, these batteries are still produced at the Gould plant in Depew, They are no longer used for lighting purposes, but are used in power stations by public utility companies as emergency stand-by units. Their great dependability and long life of twenty years or more contribute much to the efficiency of many large utility operations in this country today.

The present type of battery—in which the power producing part consists of a grid and active material pressed into the grid —- became popular about the time that electric automobiles came into use. As electric automobiles were replaced by gasoline type automobiles the batteries changed from power units to starting units. The automobile battery is, of course, the type most familiar to most people today.

However, the automobile battery is no longr produced at Depew. Today, most of the batteries produced at Depew are many times larger than the largest automobile batteries, and used to power fork trucks in factories, for telephone systems, for public utility systems, for mining coal, for car lighting and air conditioning systems on railroad cars, for starting the huge diesel locomotives that now draw America’s trains swiftly across the country — in fact, they are used in hundreds of places unsuspected by the average person.

The development of Gould has paralleled very closely with the development and use of the storage battery by American industry.

In 1901, at the Pan American Exposition, Gould exhibited the largest stationary cell in existence, A special built generator kept the cell in constant operation throughout the exhibit. For this achievement the company received a Silver Medal.

In 1904, Gould received a Gold Medal at the St. Louis Exposition. The battery exhibited was put in operation in 1905 at the University of Illinois, and gave over 40 years of service.

During World War I, Gould manufactured submarine batteries for the U. S. Navy. Batteries of various types and uses were furnished to our Allies,

About 1925, the Symington Company of Rochester, purchased the Gould Coupler Company and its battery business. And in 1930, the battery business was sold to The National Battery Company of St. Paul, Minnesota.

During World War II, Gould became actively engaged in war production work and received the Navy Award with several stars for its work on submarine batteries.

Gould has grown from a small operation to become the second largest industrial battery company in the country. The present National Battery Company now has two commercial battery plants, two contained plants, and 13 automotive battery plants located throughout the United States and Canada. The battery plant at Depew, founded 50 years ago, is still the Mother Plant of that industrial battery division of the National Battery Company. It is an outstanding plant of its kind in this country, and the laboratory there is the only modern and complete laboratory, with pilot plant, in the battery business. It represents an operation of which all Lancaster and Depew people can well be proud.


Incorporated In 1896

(Photo taken during Old Home Week in 1913.)
  • President—ANDREW CANT
  • Vice President—JOHN CANT
  • Secretary—R. J. CANT
  • Treasurer—W. J. CANT

The Lancaster Machine and Knife Works was originally engaged in the manufacture of wood-working machinery and machine knives. The company was reorganized and the capitol stock was increased in 1899, after which the production of wood-working machinery was suspended, and the entire effort was concentrated on knives, braces and a few small tools.

The factory burned to the ground in 1899— but was promptly re-built.

An effective display of products was made at the Pan-American exposition in 1901—resulting in associations that have improved year after year over the entire 48 intervening years.

In 1916 the brace business was disposed of to the Stanley Rule and Level Co, of Connecticut. This left only machine knives, shear blades, punches and dies in the regular line.

Andrew Cant, president since the company’s incorporation, passed away early in 1924, and his son Roderick J. Cant was elected president, and his grandson Perry R. Cant, vice president.

In 1925 the company was re-incorporated into the Lancaster Machine Knife Works, modernizing the whole establishment in every sense of the word. A new modern office was built, the shop re-arranged and new equipment added.

In March, 1941, Roderick J. Cant, president, passed away, to be followed by his son, the present president, Perry R. Cant. Mr. H. Earle was elected vice president and treasurer and Mr. H. W. strite, secretary.

The company makes wood working knives from a mere fraction of an inch long, up to 213 inches long—this monster being used for cutting veneer.

In the metal cutting, shear blades, punches, dies and bar cutters. The most outstanding item being a sectional shear blade to cut a 6 inch square bar of steel.

During the recent war, gun carriage ways, tank springs, airplane motor cutting tools, machine gun parts and numerous other dose tolerance items were produced.

Machine knives are used in planing mills, box factories, paper mills, cooperage factories, in fact, every conceivable place where lumber or wooden articles are produced.

A machine knife is a knife that is used in a machine, be that machine large or small. No machine knife ever has a handle—that trade that makes handled knives is known as cutlery trade.

Machine knives are made from soft steel backing, with the tool steel that holds the cutting edge welded on. The entire process from rough bar stock to finished knife being handled in the Court Street Plant.

Photo's from the Centennial Celebration

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