Nichter Family Farms

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Date: 1840 to 1920
Location: Lancaster, New Yorkmap
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by Michael Nuwer
June 15, 2020

Andrew Nichter was born in January 1808 in the town of Dorrenbach, which is in the Palatinate district of Germany. He married Agatha Bohnwitz in Europe, and they had nine children between 1835 and 1846, with all the births occurring in Dorrenbach. The Nichter family left Germany in 1847. Their ship arrived in New York City on August 6, 1847 with a manifest that identified Andrew (age 42), Agatha (44), John (12), Julia (9), Balthasar (6), Elizabeth (4), and Francis (1).

By September 1847 Andrew Nichter was in Lancaster and on the 3rd of that month he and John Brunck purchased 50 acres of land located in the western part of lot number 1 section 8. The land was on Ellicott road near the intersection of Cemetery road. The two partners, or “tenants in common,” paid $1,500 for the parcel, money they would have brought with them from Germany. [1]

John Brunck arrived in the United States on the same ship as Andrew Nichter. The manifest listed him as 50 years old. He was accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth (age 48), and five children, Christina (20), Elizabeth (18), Catherine (15), Magdalena (9), and Jean (5). It is likely that Andrew Nichter and John Brunck were from the same town and planned their journey to America together.

On October 16, 1848, a year after the two friends purchased their farm, John Brunck and Andrew Nichter legally divided their property. Each took 25 acres of land and paid the other $400. John Brunck then sold his parcel in December 1848 to someone named Philip Lutz. The selling price was $725.[2]

It is possible that John Brunck had become ill. On the same day he and Andrew Nichter divided their farm, John Brunck wrote his Last Will and Testament. That document left his estate to his wife and expressly gave her the 25-acre farm. If she sold the farm, the proceeds were to be used for the wellbeing of their children. It appears John Brunck found an opportunity to sell the land before he died. The sale to Philip Lutz was dated December 1, and John died later that month. Seven months later that 25-acre parcel was sold again, this time to Casper Kromm for $750. In 1860 Elizabeth Brunck and her three youngest children were found living in the Village of Attica.[3]

Andrew Nichter and his family worked their 25 acres of land for ten years, after which more land was added to the farm. In April 1857 Andrew purchased 11 acres from his neighbor, Casper Kromm, for $525. The Nichter’s then had 35 acres of farmland (the railroad had purchased a one-acre strip—25+11-1).[4]

Map 1

Andrew Nichter sold his farm in May 1869. The sale price was $2,500. The deed identified the original 25 acres plus the 11 added acres, while noting the railroad owned a one-acre strip. Andrew and Agatha Nichter then moved to a house on their daughter’s farm at Town Line (Elizabeth Nichter was the wife of Henry Nuwer). Andrew and Agatha both died in the fall of 1870. There was no probate folio, but then Andrew had liquidated his real property before his death thereby removing much of the need for probate.[5]

Part 2

When the Nichter’s arrived in New York, Andrew had three sons, John, Balthasar (Bils), and Frank. John, the oldest son, died April 16, 1858 from an accident in the Isthmus of Panama while working on the Panama Railroad. The other two sons started their own farms in 1866. In June of that year, Balthasar and Frank together purchased 133 acres of land on Pavement road for $5,400. The property was comprised of parts from four lots: the northern parts of lots 8 and 10 in section 4 and the southern parts of lots 7 and 9 in section 5. The deed stipulated that the land would remain undivided, but that Balthasar had rights to use two-thirds and Frank to use one-third of the land. Today, the road that cuts through these lots is named Nichter Road.[6]

In May 1874 Balthasar Nichter added 15 acres of land in lot 10 to this farm, bringing the total acreage to 148 (133+15), which matches the acreage shown on the 1880 land map of Lancaster. The cost of this addition was $600.[7]

The agricultural schedules in the 1875 New York Census confirm the distribution of the farmland between the two brothers. Bils Nichter was reported as working 103 acres of land (88 acres were from the jointly owned land) while Frank Nichter was working 44 acres.[8]

Two years after the census, in February 1877, Frank Nichter purchased a separate farm. That land was on the east side of Pavement road. The deed specified 100 acres of land in lots 3 and 5 section 5 and stipulates that 50 of those acres had been sold in 1864. In addition, the purchase included 117 acres of land in the north east part of lot number 1 section 5. The total purchase was 167 acres for $7,000. Frank’s father-in-law, John Kieffer, was a co-owner of the property, suggesting that he may have supplied some of the financing.[9]

Map 2

Frank Nichter immediately sold 10 acres to his new neighbor, James Lowrey, for a sum of $450. This left him with a 157-acre farm. But it wasn’t until 1882 that Frank sold Balthasar his one-third share in the Nichter road property.[10]

In the early 1880s, Balthasar Nichter and his wife, Mary (Nuwer) Nichter were the sole owners of the 147-acre farm on Pavement road. In November 1882 Balthasar purchased another parcel of land. This was 113 acres in the south west corner of Lancaster Village. He paid $11,000 for the property, which was most of lot number 5 and a small sliver of lot number 3 in section 10.[11]

Balthasar then sold that land in 1890 to a representative of the Union Land Exchange. In November 1890, he was paid $13,225 for the deed. The Union Land Exchange had purchased more than 600 acres of land in the Village of Lancaster in 1890 and 1891. New residential streets were laid out, Como Lake and Park were created, and a new waterworks was established. Balthasar Nichter’s speculative investment became part of this development.[12] (“A Big Land Deal,” Lancaster Times, March 5, 1891)

Balthasar Nichter’s Pavement road farm was sold two years later, in March 1892, but the deed does not specify the sale price. Balthasar Nichter was only 50 years old. After the sale of his farm, he, Mary, and their children still living at home moved to Buffalo. Balthasar died in 1904 and Mary (Nuwer) Nichter died in 1905. They left an estate of $8,000, which would be about $230,000 in today’s valuations (Buffalo Courier, October 6, 1905).[13]

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Balthasar’s brother Frank was the co-owner, along with his father-in-law, of the farm purchased in 1877. Frank’s wife, Celestine (Kieffer) Nichter died in October 1896 and a series of odd transactions followed. On October 23, 1896 John Kieffer surrendered all his rights and interests in the property, thereby making Frank Nichter the sole owner. But, in May 1899, Frank Nichter conveyed the farm back to John Kieffer. In an interesting twist, after John Kieffer died in 1905, Frank Nichter’s children became heirs to this property through their late mother.[14]

Frank Nichter was found in the 1920 Census living with his nephew, Edward W. Nuwer, at Town Line. His obituary from Lancaster newspaper states:

“Frank Nichter died February 14, at the home of his sister, Mrs. Henry Nuwer at Town Line. He was 73 years and 9 months old. The funeral took place Tuesday at 8:30 from the home of George Nichter, and at 9 o'clock at St. Mary’s Church. Interment in St. Mary’s cemetery. Mr. Nichter was born in Lancaster [in fact he was born in Dorrenbach] and had lived here all his life. He is survived by ten children as follows: Mrs. Frank Roll, Frank H. Nichter, Geo. W. Nichter, Peter Nichter, John Nichter, Andrew Nichter, all of Lancaster, Henry, Edward, Clara and Ida Nichter of Buffalo.” (Lancaster Enterprise-Times, February 19, 1920)


  1. Mathew Heist to John Brunck and Andrew Nichter, Sep 1847
  2. John Brunck to Andrew Nichter October 1848
    Andrew Nichter to John Brunck October 1848
    John Brunck to Philip Lutz December 1848
  3. Philip Lutz to Casper Kromm July 1849
  4. John Casper Kromm to Andrew Nichter April 1857
  5. Andrew Nichter to George Bitterman May 1869
  6. Frederick Grahling to Balthasar Nichter and Frank Nichter June 1866
  7. Louis Beck to Balthasar Nichter May 1874
  8. 1875 New York Census
  9. Richard B. Chaffin to Frank Nichter and John Kieffer Feb 1877
  10. Frank Nichter to James Lowrey April 1877
    Frank Nichter to Balthasar Nichter March 1882
  11. William Grimes to Balthasar Nichter November 1882
  12. Balthasar Nichter to Louis Deuther (of the Union Land Exchange)
  13. Balthasar Nichter to John L. Williams
  14. John Kieffer to Frank Nichter October 1896
    Frank Nichter to John Kieffer May 1899

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Map 1
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Map 2
Map 2

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