Biography of William Hengerer


Hengerer, William, Buffalo, one of the foremost merchants of Buffalo, was born March 2, 1839, in Wurtemberg, Germany, where he attended the common schools. In 1849 he came to America with his parents and first lived for twelve years in Pittsburg, Pa., where he completed his education. In March, 1861, he removed to Buffalo and entered the dry goods store of Sherman & Barnes, at 259 Main street, receiving $6 per week, but on the first call for troops enlisted in the 21st N. Y. Vols., the first regiment to go to the seat of the rebellion from Erie county. Returning to Buffalo in 1863, after a meritorious career at the front, he accepted his old position as clerk. The firm was succeeded by J. C. Barnes & Co., and they by Barnes & Bancroft, to which Mr. Hengerer was admitted as a partner in 1874 under the style Barnes, Bancroft & Co. They removed to larger quarters, taking a building afterward replaced by the "Great Iron Block" and on a part of the site now occupied by the William Hengerer Company's store. On the retirement of Mr. Barnes from the active management in 1885 the firm became Barnes, Hengerer & Co., and after the death (in 1895) of the senior partner the concern was reorganized January 1, 1896, as the William Hengerer Company, with Mr. Hengerer, president; C. O. Howard, treasurer; E. D. Robbins, secretary. The "Great Iron Block" was burned in February, 1888, and on its site was at once erected the present mammoth store, one of the largest and most complete between New York and Chicago. For fully twentyfive years the business was confined almost exclusively to dry goods; from this it has developed into one of the largest department stores in the country, representing over 600 employees and combining stocks valued at upward of $1,500,000. From a trade of $300,000 in 1865 it has increased to more than $4,000,000 per year at the present time. The strong personality, rugged honesty and progressiveness of Mr. Hengerer have been largely instrumental in causing this wonderful advancement, and to him is also due many valuable and worthy innovations infused into the great retail trade of the city. Mr. Hengerer is one of the most public spirited of citizens, taking an active interest in all good movements and contributing constantly to the general welfare. He has been a park commissioner since 1884 and is now president of the board, is a trustee of the Buffalo State Normal School, is a member of the Buffalo Club, Orpheus, Liedertafel, and other organizations. He is also one of the founders and president of the Lutheran Church Home for Aged and Infirm. September 24, 1863, he married Louise Duerr, of Buffalo, and they have eight sons and one daughter, of whom five sons are connected with the William Hengerer Company.

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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