John Kieber

John Kieber

Amherst, Erie County, New York, USA
Death 10 Apr 1956 (aged 79)
Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA
Burial Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 52566639 View Source

2 Nov 1876 in East Amherst, John Kieber was the third eldest child of Frederick Kieber (Sgt. Fritz) and Magdalena Grimm, both born in Alsace.

In 1880 the family lived on a 125-50 acre farm in Amherst, District 78. The first nine holes of the present Transit Valley Country Club were part of the farm. At this point there were 4 children: Fred (b. 1874), George (b. 1875), John (b. 1876) and Emma (b. 1878). Father Fritz ran the farm from his wheelchair due to the injury he received in the Franco-Prussian war.

The Kiebers attended the one-room Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church which is now relocated on the campus of the Amherst Historical Society living history site.

Other siblings: Martin (b.1881), Margaret (1883), Katie (1885), Lena (1886), Marie (1889) and Clara (1891) were born during the next decade.

When about 10 years old (abt. 1886), John was turned over to a farmer to work on the farm. His mother would be caring for 8 or 9 children at this point.

In 1895 John's father Fritz died rather suddenly of pneumonia.

MARRIAGE: 7 June 1899 St. Ann's RC Church, Buffalo to Anna Theresa Ruhland
He moved to the city of Buffalo and became a driver for a dairy. John met Anna when John was delivering milk to the Ruhlands chocolate shoppe where Anna worked dipping chocolate candies.

To avoid conflicts regarding their union, (Anna was Catholic and John was Lutheran), they told the family that they were marrying at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, which the Kiebers attended in Amherst (now located at the Amherst Living History museum….a "must see") when they really exchanged vows in a Catholic ceremony, John having been baptized into the faith the night before. The family, who were all dressed up and ready at the Lutheran church, took a while to realize that they were at the wrong place. I imagine one of Anna's five younger sisters blabbing the news to a stupefied congregation.

He was a driver (motorman) for a horse-drawn streetcar (the IRC) and during this time he participated in the Great Strike (1899).

In 1900 he and Anna lived at 413 Eureka Place, Buffalo Ward 12, district 95. John was 24 years old. His profession was as a Baker Peddler. He rented his own home.
Anna is 23 years old.
Another family lived at 413 Eureka: Pauline Hourn and her 3 sons: Charles, Edward, and Martin.

He also lived at 286 Genesee Street Buffalo.

Then Champion Switch Company….then company moved south during the Great Depression so John went to work for the railroad.
John had 20 barrels in the basement for the beer and wine he made. Whenever someone from the family came to visit, they'd always leave with a jug of homebrew. Robert talked about going on the reservation or along Lake Erie to pick fruit to make the elderberry (the women usually drank this), chokecherry (the men seemed to enjoy this best), grape, or other wines. They thought that anybody could make grape wine but you couldn't buy the specialty fruit wines! They also made root beer and draft beer. Part of the basement was taken up with a huge fruit press. During the Depression, they hid the sugar necessary for making wine in the piano.

In 1910 John and Anna (both 33) lived at 131 Bissell Avenue with Raymond (9) and Buddie(4). John was a motorman for the street railway. The house 6 bedroom, 2 bath with 2,288 sq ft. built in 1900. In 2010 the area is pretty bad.

Looks like the house duplex with Max and Eva Wendt sharing the other side.

John and Anna settled in the Kensington area of Buffalo when it was still fairly open country.

He was desperate for work and when he applied for work at the railroad, they asked him if he knew how to drive a steam shovel, he lied and said yes. He went in with his friend on Sunday and had a quick lesson. He became a Hoisting Engineer for the NewYork Central Railroad. When John worked for the railroad, he shoveled coal. Robert would hear him coming home and since he always had some nuts in his pockets, the squirrels would run down off the tree next to Pop's bedroom window and run up Grampa's leg to eat the nuts in his pockets.

He'd come home covered in coal dust…Anna would hand him his clothes before he even entered the house, he'd shower and change. Then he'd eat dinner and sip his homemade wine, and fall asleep on his chair.

Though he never served, when John was 41, he registered for the WW1 draft. He listed his profession as a motorman for the Railroad. He was of medium height and stout build. His hair was gray already and his eyes brown.

In 1920, they were 43 years old and lived at 126 May (Mercy?) Street Buffalo. They rented their home. John's parents spoke French and were from Alsace-Lorraine; Anna's spoke German from Germany. Interestingly, John says his mother-tongue is French and Anna's is German. John was a motorman for a streetcar.

They had five children: Raymond John (b. 1901) He was a clerk at City Bank), Florence "Buddie" (b. 1905), Clarence John (b. 1910), Lavern Edward (b. 1917), Robert John (b. 1919).

In 1930 they moved to 620 East Amherst, Buffalo NY. John, 54, (not a veteran) was a foreman at the Steam Railroad Yard. John worked twenty years for the railroad. He retired in November 1948. They owned their home with a mortgage. They also owned a radio. He listed his parents as from Alsace-Lorraine and hers from Germany.

Still living at home were Florence (24), Clarence (19), Lavern (120, Robert (10).
There was a lighter side to John as well. John loved to joke around. For one of the famous Kieber family reunions at the
……he is pictured dressed up in women's clothing for one of the skits.

Holiday traditions were strong in the family. Bob told the story of his dad making fudge every St. Nicholas Day (Dec.6). The children would place their shoes outside of their bedroom door and find fudge in them when they woke on Little Christmas. True to old world tradition as well, the Christmas tree never went up until Christmas Eve.

I'm sure the children assisted their Mom making the HUGE batch of cutout and decorated Bavarian Christmas anise cookies that have become legendary. Priscilla, Bob's wife received the recipe early in their relationship and she kept the tradition going…some of her grandkids still make them. The Kieber cousins love to rib each other over who makes the BEST anise cookies. And of course, there is the ongoing debate over whether the cookies made with anise oil were indeed better than the ones made with anise seed.

Son Robert would later fondly recollect stories of the family Sunday drives. Sometimes they visited John's brother Martin's (and Lena Wekenmann's) farm or sister Emma's (and Elmer Leib's) across the road. The family would receive vegetables etc to keep them stocked all summer. In return, any of John's sibs could stop by his house and fill a jug of the homemade wine to take home.

Sometimes they drove farther afield and headed out to the Cattaragus Indian Reservation (Senecas). They were always on the lookout for wonderful farm stands brimming with the fresh fruit western New York is known for. But I suspect that John missed his "country" upbringing on the farm and loved to spend a day out in nature after the drudgery of shoveling coal all week.

John and Anna's family were pious Catholics. Though not very well-to-do, they made sure that their children attended Catholic school at St. James. John was a member of the Holy Name Society of St. James Church. They were very proud of son Lavern's calling to the priesthood.

In 1949, John and Anna celebrated their 50th (silver) wedding anniversary with a Mass officiated by son, Lavern; sons Robert and Clare were altar servers; son Ray and daughter Buddie stood in as witnesses.

At 79 years, John died 10 April 1956 in the Christian Brothers Nursing Home. He probably had a stroke. He is buried at Mount Cavalry/Pine Hill Cemetery.


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