By Steve Cichon | firstname.lastname@example.org | @stevebuffalo
Most of us who were born and raised in Buffalo feel strong ties to this place, and a feel a terrific bond whether we live here or not— and whether we particularly like it or not.
In most cases, it’s a generational thing, too. If we think at all about our roots, we think about our fathers and grandfathers who worked in dangerous plants to provide better lives for us. We think about the loving homes and families managed by our mothers and grandmothers. We think about how of all the places in the world our ancestors could have come after long voyages over the sea, they chose here.
All four of my grandparents were born and raised in Buffalo. All eight of my great-grandparents lived in Buffalo. Some were born here, some traveled from Pennsylvania, some from Scotland and England, some from Poland. In all, dating back to the 1820s, I have 37 grandparents who have called Buffalo home.
Knowing my family’s history, and seeing it in virtually every Buffalo neighborhood, only underscores my love and appreciation of our great city, the way it was, and the exciting imaginings of what is to come.
I enjoy seeing my family tree reflected in the great new things happening here, and it’s fun to trace. One adventure started in the 1906 Buffalo City Directory.
My mother’s mother’s mother was Jeannette Greiner-Wargo. Her great-great grandparents (and one third-great grandfather) came to Buffalo from the tumultuous Bas-Rhin area along the French-German border in 1827 and 1830.
Catherine Greiner, my fifth-great aunt, was among the first babies baptized at the newly-built log-hewn St. Louis Church in Downtown Buffalo in 1832.
Anyway, I know I am related to a handful of the folks listed on this city directory page, but Joseph P. Greiner is my third-great grandfather, and his son, Fred W. Greiner, is my second-great grandfather.
I had never heard of the streets on which they lived, so I started in on some research– which took me to Buffalo’s promising new home of medical research.
Joseph and Mary Greiner lived on Burton Street, which in 1906, ran from Main Street to Michigan Avenue, one block north of Goodell.
A portion of Burton Street was deeded to Trico to expand its now historic Plant #1 in 1928.
Later, urban renewal ate up the rest of the ramshackle housing along Burton Street to create government-subsidized housing on a new streetscape.
Today, Burton Street exists only as an utterly useless single block with no front-facing buildings from Main to Washington.
In 1905 or 1906, Frederick W. Greiner married Jeanette Loewer and moved a few blocks north of his parents to Neptune Alley. What a great street name!
Neptune Alley ran north/south between Carlton and High Streets, and was deeded to Roswell Park Memorial Institute to make way for a parking lot in 1955.
The Greiner family only lived on Neptune Alley for a very short time. They soon moved a few blocks away to 67 Maple Street, which stood on a block which is now a parking lot for St. John Baptist Church.
To be closer to Fred’s job as a bottler at the Iroquois Brewery, they then moved to 67 Adams Street between Peckham and William. This neighborhood still stands, but the house is gone.
In 1940, they lived at 414 Madison Street between Jefferson and Sycamore, and a few years later, 481 Hickory near Sycamore. They moved around quite a bit.
My grandmother remembered her grandmother as living in a house with a wrap-around porch on a corner near Sycamore and Jefferson Streets.
Grandma Coyle’s grandma was 4-feet, 11 inches tall and she used to chase the neighborhood kids off that corner porch with a broom.
At 5-foot-2, Grandma Coyle would mention her grandma’s height every time we would make fun of how short she was.
I love family history and I love Buffalo’s history. It’s really exciting for me that they are one in the same.