Biography of Ferdinand Herman Duckwitz


Duckwitz, Ferdinand Herman, Buffalo son of Augustus and Louise Donath Duckwitz, was born in the town of Wheatfield, Niagara county, N, Y., on the 11th day of August, 1858. His father and mother emigrated from Stettin, Germany, in the year 1853, and after a residence of five years in the city of New York they settled in Niagara county in 1858 on a farm, and at the same time Mr. Duckwitz, senior, conducted a nursery and sold nearly all of the fruit trees in that part of the county. During the war his father was provost marshal, and in 1868 he bought, and for many years thereafter conducted, the largest general store in Niagara county, being at the same time farmer, auctioneer, insurance agent and justice of the peace. Ferdinand remained with his father upon the farm and in the store, and attended German and English district schools until his fourteenth year, when his father sold his store and also agreed that his son should stay with the new landlord for two years without compensation, except board and clothing. This, however, did not exactly meet with the views of his son, who was determined to go to college, and his employer being unexperienced in the business, and appreciating the value of the boy’s services, was determined to retain him, and so he secretly agreed to pay the boy $300 per year if he remained, which he did, and for two years he practically carried on the entire business, doing all of the buying and fixing of retail prices and keeping the books for his benevolent employer. At the end of two years he left for Buffalo, contrary to the wishes of his father, and entered Bryant’s Business College, from which he was graduated in the year 1875, having paid his own expenses. After a year’s journey through the west, working upon the farm and in stores, he returned to Lockport, N. Y., and commenced the study of law (without the suggestion from any one), in the law office of Hon. George C. Greene (general counsel for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway), and remained in his office for nearly three years. In connection with his studies he published the “ Lockporter Deutche Zeitung,” a weekly publication in the German language. Was insurance agent and organized fraternal and beneficial lodges, with the result that he not only paid his own way, but saved up a sufficient sum of money to take him through college. In 1879 he entered the law department of Union University, and was graduated on the 24th day of May, 1880. Mr. Duckwitz was admitted to practice as attorney and couuselor at law in all of the courts of this State at a General Term of the Supreme Court, Third Department of the State of New York, held at the city of Albany, N. Y., in the month of May, 1880. On the 19th day of June, in the same year, he came to Buffalo and opened his office in the American Block, and as there were then only a few members of the Erie county bar who were able to read, write and speak the German language, Mr. Duckwitz met with marked business success. In 1881 Mr. Duckwitz formed a copartnership with John Burr Perkins (who was his class mate in college, and valedictorian in the class of 1880), under the firm name of Duckwitz & Perkins, and upon the death of Mr. Perkins, two years later, Mr. Duckwitz formed a copartnership with Charles K. Robinson, esq., under the firm name and style of Duckwitz & Robinson, which firm continued for several years, and then Mr. Duckwitz formed a copartnership with William Armstrong, esq., which was dissolved in 1889. On January 1, 1890, Mr. Duckwitz formed his present copartnership with Wallace Thayer, esq., of Buffalo, N. Y., and Frederick S. Jackson, of Holland, N. Y.. under the name and style of Duckwitz, Thayer & Jackson, who have their offices at 703 D. S. Morgan Building. During all of these years Mr. Duckwitz kept the same offices in the American Block, where he first hung out his shingle in his chosen profession, and continued there until all of the tenants were obliged to remove, Mr. Edward Michael having rented his entire premises to the Adam, Meidrum and Anderson Company. Mr. Duckwitz is considered a good counsel, an excellent business lawyer, and being associated with Mr. Thayer, one of the ablest trial lawyers in this city, and Frederick S. Jackson, esq., a young attorney of the highest standing, his firm is one of the strongest, of what might be called young attorneys, in the city, and they are meeting with marked success in their profession. Notwithstanding his large professional duties, and his many interests in real estate, Mr. Duckwitz has devoted much time to charitable, religious and benevolent institutions. He was for many years the moving spirit of the “Mechanics Institute,” was a member of the Board of Trustees, and its treasurer. Mr. Duckwitz is a member of St. Luke’s Protestant Episcopal church, was for many years its treasurer, and is now junior warden. Mr. Duckwitz is a member of the Supreme Ruling of “The Fraternal Mystic Circle,” a fraternal corporation of the State of Pennsylvania, and one of its supreme trustees as well as grand recorder of this State; an incorporator of “The Order of the Iroquois” of Buffalo, its supreme counselor, chairman of the committee of laws and one of its trustees; a member of the Supreme Council of the” Empire Knights of Relief,” of Buffalo; member of the “Royal Arcanum,” “Improved Order of Heptasophs,” “United Friends,” and many other fraternal and social organizations. Mr. Duckwitz is a Republican in politics of the most pronounced proclivities, though he has never taken any especially active part in politics; he is and for many years has been a member of the Buffalo Republican League. He never hesitates or wavers in his political beliefs and actions, although his father, who died March 23, 1895, and his brothers are Democrats. Mr. Duckwitz was married in the city of Albany to Henrietta Waldron Springsteed, December 22, 1880. Mr. and Mr. Duckwitz have three children living; Caroline Fackler, Herbert Springsteed, and Raymond Waidron Duckwitz, who, with his wife’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Springsteed, compose his pleasant home at No. 278 Hampshire street. Little need be said of Mr. Duckwitz’s characteristics and popularity. In addition to what will be gained from a perusal of the above, he is at all times affable, courteous and a most generous gentleman, always ready to accommodate and assist his fellow-men, and his professional standing is of a most enviable character.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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