Archive for May 6th, 2023

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Hager Street shown in red. Approximate boundary of Hager Farm shown outlined in blue/purple color.

Hager Street is a street in the Hamlin Park neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo.  The street runs for two blocks, between Northland Avenue and East Delavan Avenue.  The street is named for early Hamlin Park resident and developer, August Hager.  Mr. Hager developed Hager Street, along with Viola Park, Pansy Place, Pleasant Place, and Daisy Place.

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August John Hager. Source: ancestry user Christine Middleton

August John Hager was born in Bliescastle, Bavaria on June 7, 1830 to John and Theresa Hager.  Mr. Hager came to Buffalo in 1849.   His first job in Buffalo was at a hotel. He worked at the hotel for a year and a half, before he became involved in the business of selling the types of fuel used in oil lamps as a door-to-door salesman.

In 1852, Mr. Hager went into the liquor sales business with Charles Gibbons as Gibbons & Hager. He worked hard and saved his money.  During the Civil War, a war tax was put on liquor.  Mr. Hager anticipated this tax coming and made a large order to have a full stock right before the tax went into effect.  Mr. Hager and Mr. Gibbons each made $20,000 ($370,300 in today’s dollars) more than they would have after the tax.  By 1865, he sold the liquor business and considered retiring at the age of 35, having raised enough money to live comfortably.  That only lasted a short while before he decided to open a small grocery store  in 1870 at the corner of Bennett Street and Batavia Street (now Broadway).  The grocery store was also very successful, so he sold that business and entered the wholesale tobacco business.  His tobacco business was located at 270 Batavia Street (now Broadway), with a large warehouse in the rear.  The business was one of the largest tobacco businesses in the City of Buffalo and dealt with all varieties of tobacco from Connecticut, New York, and Ohio.  In 1880, Mr. Hager’s business was doing approximately $50-60,000($1.5 to 1.8 Million in today’s dollars) of business annually and carried a stock value of about $15,000($443,000 today).

Mr. Hager married Mary Ann Backe on September 21, 1852, at St. Mary’s Church on Broadway.  They had nine children:  John Baptiste, Mary Ann , Otillie, Charles August, Jacob, Frank, Edward August, August John, and Rose.

Mr. Hager served as Alderman of the old Fifth Ward from 1865-1868.  At the time, the Fifth Ward was bounded by Broadway and Eagle Streets, between Michigan Avenue and approximately Fillmore Avenue.  While Mr. Hager was Alderman, one of the issues for the entire country was how to deal with the Civil Rights Amendment passed after the Civil War.  A Black man named Henry Moxley petitioned Buffalo’s Committee on Schools, requesting that his children attend Public School 32.  At the time, the City Charter prohibited the admission of Black children to the Public Schools, but required the City to provide one or more free schools for Black children.  The Common Council was upholding the fact that the Black children could not attend the Public Schools, only the schools provided expressly for them.  There was only one school for Black children, while there were Black children living throughout the school district, so it was difficult for many of the children to travel from their homes to the Black school.  During the discussion about this at the  Common Council meeting, Alderman Hager pointed out that the Civil Rights Bill gave Black children equal rights with white children and questioned if the Common Council of Buffalo or the City Charter was superior to the laws of Congress.  Alderman Hager put forth a resolution that “the superintendent is hereby directed to admit the children of Henry Moxley, a colored citizen and taxpayer, to Public School No 32, and to admit all colored children to the respective public schools in the boundaries of which school districts their parents reside”  The resolution was referred to the Committee on Schools, giving the Committee the power to make recommendations on admittance of Black children.  The Committee refused to put forth a recommendation for three months, stalling in hopes it would be forgotten.  This led to parents across the city, led by Henry Moxley, to withdraw their children from the Black School and send them to District schools beginning on September 1, 1867.  Eighteen Black children entered the district schools.  On September 16th, the Committee on Schools recommended denial of admission for the Black students in district schools.  On September 24th, Superintendent Fosdick (Father of the Fosdick of Fosdick Street) inspected the Black school, determined it to be sufficient and began physically expelling the Black students from the schools.  Althia Dallas, at age 13, insisted on remaining and claimed she had the same right to attend as white kids.  According to Fosdick, he then “took hold of her and led her out of the school”.  Go Althia for standing up to the superintendent!  On October 11, 1867, Fosdick was charged with assault and battery for forcibly ejecting the children from the school in violation of the Civil Rights Act.  On January 10, 1868 the case of Althia Dallas against John S. Fosdick came to trial before State Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels.  Daniels ruled in favor of Fosdick.  The case was appealed on May 4, 1868.  The judges reaffirmed the earlier judgement.  Buffalo’s Blacks had not yet succeeded in integrating the schools.  After the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1872, Superintendent Thomas Lothrope worked towards integrated schools.  While Mr. Hager was no longer an Alderman, Common Council once again took up the issue and Black children were given the right to attend the District Schools.  By 1880, there were 75 Black children attending 16 different Buffalo Public Schools and only 35 students at the Black School, so the Black School was closed.

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Hager House on East Delavan.  Source:  Ancestry User Christine Middleton

In 1874, Mr. Hager purchased a farm on East Delavan approximately 30 acres in size, near what was then the outskirts of Buffalo.  At the time, East Delavan was still a mud road.  He built a large 3-story, ten room house.  The house was on property bounded by Delavan, Florida, Pleasant Place and Hager Street.  Their property also included a large barn, green house, hennery and fish pond.  The property was surrounded by large shade trees along with cherry, apple and pear trees.  The house stood about 200 feet back from Delavan, with a landscaped lawn and groves of evergreens and willow trees.  The property sloped to the rear to a small pond fed by natural springs and surrounded by old elm trees.  The property was known as Elmwood Park and was sometimes referred to as Hager Park.

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The rear of the Hager Park Property and Pond in 1906. Source: Buffalo Times, February 11, 1906.

He used his business savvy to develop the property around his house and gave houses and land to each of his children as they married.  Mr. Hager formed a land company which developed Viola Park, Daisy Place, Pansy Place, and Pleasant Place.  Pansy, Viola, and Daisy were named after some of Mr. Hager’s favorite flowers.

He was appointed Parks Commissioner in April 1898, a post that he served until his death.  Mr. Hager was described as “an honest, fearless and efficient representative of the public” in his municipal offices.   He was a strong advocate for the improvements of the park system in Buffalo.  Mr. Hager was very interested in flowers, and had a large greenhouse at his home so he could have flowers all winter long.  He took a great interest in helping to select flowers and trees for the parks during his time as Commissioner.

Mr. Hager served as director of the Roman Catholic Cemetery Association at Pine Hill and was one of the first directors of the German Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum.  He was also a member of St. Vincent’s Church (now the Montante Center at Canisius College) and a member of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association (C.M.B.A.)  He was immensely proud of his American Citizenship.  His brother, Edward, returned home to Germany each summer, but August never returned to his homeland.

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August Hager’s grave in Cheektowaga

August Hager died on November 14, 1901. He is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery (the United German and French Cemetery, now part of the Mount Calvary group of cemeteries) in Cheektowaga.  After August’s death, the property on Delavan was listed for sale.   August’s wife Mary died a year later in December 1902.

The house was still listed for sale in September 1903.  The children were looking to sell the house to close out their parents estate.  In 1905, J.P. Staderman, husband of the youngest Hager daughter Rose, was using the home as “Home for Pets”.  Mr. Staderman was working with the Humane Society to board animals while their owners went away for summer vacations.  Boarding a cat cost $2/month ($67/month in today’s dollars) or 75 cents a week($25.15 today).  Boarding for dogs varied according to the size of the animals.  They also boarded canaries.  The Home for Pets only lasted one summer.


Lutheran Church Home’s Original Location on Walden Avenue. Source: Buffalo Courier, June 1896.

In February 1906, the Hager Homestead was sold to the Lutheran Church Home for the Aged and Infirm for $13,000($435,985 in today’s dollars).  The Lutheran Church Home was founded in 1896 to provide care for seniors, particularly for those from German, Swedish, and English Lutherans in the City.  Eleven churches – St. Johns, German Trinity, First Church, Lancaster, Holy Trinity, Christ’s, Swedish Trinity, Concordia, Church of the Atonement, German Church of the Redeemer and English Church of the Redeemer – came together to form the Church Home charity.  The Lutheran Church Home’s first location was in a rented home at 390 Walden Avenue near Goodyear Street.  Within a year, the Home had outgrown it’s space and expanded to 388 Walden Avenue as well.  The two houses were connected by a second floor hallway.


Hager Home on East Delavan. Source: Buffalo Times, February 11, 1906.

In 1906, the Lutheran Church Home purchased the Hager House from the heirs and moved their 25 residents into the Hager family house.  The Lutheran Church Home celebrated their 10th anniversary in Hager Park in June 1906.  The large grounds allowed the property to be used by the Lutheran community for events, particularly fundraising days for the Church Home and large open houses were the public was invited to come visit the Church Home and meet residents and enjoy the property.

A large building to allow them to provide accommodations for an additional 60 residents was constructed along East Delevan in front of the Hager house.  The new building was connected to the Hager House and opened in December 1907.  The Hager House was demolished in the 1950 when an addition was placed on the rear of the Lutheran Church Home Building.

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Lutheran Church Home Postcard, circa 1905

In 1956, the rear portion of the Hager Park property became the location of the Niagara Lutheran Home.  The property was donated by the Lutheran Church Home to the Niagara Lutheran Home.  Niagara Lutheran Home was organized by 59 Lutheran churches in Western New York and provided housing for 99 individuals needing critical care.  In today’s terms – the Lutheran Church Home was an assisted living facility, whereas the Niagara Lutheran Home provided skilled nursing and rehab.  When Niagara Lutheran Home opened in May 1956, it was the first nursing home of its kind in New York State.  It was also the first institution in the United States outside of hospitals in which nurse’s aides and Gray Ladies would serve. Gray Ladies were American Red Cross volunteers who provided friendly, personal, non-medical services to sick, injured and disabled patients.  The facility was not limited to Lutherans, members from all Protestant faiths were admitted.

In the 1990s, Niagara Lutheran Home expanded and added a facility at 1040 Delaware Avenue in addition to their site on Hager Street.  In 1996, the Niagara Lutheran Health System was incorporated and 52 acre of land on Broadway in Lancaster was purchased to become the location of Greenfields Continuing Care Community.  In 1998, the 120 residents of the Niagara Lutheran Home on Delaware Avenue moved to the Lancaster site and the Delaware Ave Home was closed.  In 2001, 92 residential apartments at Greenfield Manor and 49 assisted living apartments at Greenfield Court were opened in Lancaster.  In 2006 the Greenfield Outpatient Rehabilitation Clinic was dedicated in Lancaster.

In 2006, the Lutheran Church Home became a part of the Niagara Lutheran Health System.  In 2013, after 107 years on East Delavan, the residents of the Lutheran Church Home moved to Greenfield Terrace in Lancaster.   When the Lutheran Church Home building closed, the complex included 65 resident rooms, a full commercial kitchen that had been remodeled in the 1990s, a 75-seat dining area, a social hall, a library, a chapel, three elevators, a detached two-level masonry garage and parking for more than 35 vehicles.  In 2014, the Lutheran Church Home sold the property at 217 and 227 East Delevan to 217 Group LLC (an entity of Ellicott Development Company) for $450,000.


Modern view of 217 Delavan Ave.  Photo by Author

The former Lutheran Church Home building became home to the Community Music School of Buffalo in 2019.  The Community Music School was founded in 1924 and serves more than 500 students each year!  Their mission is to share the gift of music with the diverse communities of WNY and make it affordable for families of all incomes.  Community Music School shares the building with CCNY Inc, PIE Analytics, and Lakeshore Connections.

In 2015, the corporate offices of the Niagara Lutheran Health System moved from 64 Hager Street to a new office building at Greenfields.  The Niagara Lutheran Home was sold at the end of 2015 and the 164 residents were moved to Greenfields, consolidating the care to one site in Lancaster, consolidating the Niagara Lutheran Health system out in Lancaster. The former Niagara Lutheran Home facility on Hager Street operates under new ownership as Humboldt House, a skilled nursing facility.


Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Designed by Charles Hager.  Photo by Author.

Some of the other members of the Hager family also accomplished some important things in Buffalo.  August Hager’s son Charles Hager owned a contracting company which built the J.N. Adam Memorial Hospital in Perrysburg, many of the grain elevators along the waterfront and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Lafayette Square.  August’s son Jacob Hager was a city plumbing inspector.  August’s son Edward August Hager was a dairy farmer.  He had 20 cows on his property on Delavan Avenue.  At the time, the Hager farm part of the city was quickly developing, and as houses came closer to the pasture, Edward A. Hager gave up his cows.  He then was involved with the city parks and streets departments managing the hundreds of city-owned horses.


EM Hager & Sons Planing Mill Building on Elm Street

You may have also heard about the Hager family due to the EM Hager & Sons Company.  August Hager’s brothers Edward M. Hager came to America and lived with August when he ran the grocery store.  Edward worked at the store for awhile, then went to Newark N.J. to learn the carpentry trade.  When he returned to Buffalo, he established the EM Hager & Sons Company in 1868 on Mortimer Street.  The company built many of Buffalo’s early factories, grain elevators and other buildings.  E.M. Hager and Sons moved to 141 Elm Street in 1883.  The company was in operation until the 1980s.  The Elm Street building has recently been renovated and is know referred to as the Planing Mill.  It is a mixed used development with apartments and office space.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.  Interested in getting even more content from me?  You can become a Friend of Buffalo Streets on patreon.   You can go to https://www.patreon.com/buffalostreets/


  • “August Hager”  Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company, Buffalo:  1906.
  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Hager Street is Memorial To Former Chief of City Parks”.  Buffalo Courier Express Sept 22, 1940. Sec5, p6.
  • “August Hager, Leaf Tobacco”.  Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of Buffalo and its Environs.  Commercial Publishing Company; Madison, Wisconsin:  1880.
  • “August Hager Appointed Park Commissioner by Mayor Diehl”.  Buffalo Times.  April 30, 1898, p8.
  • “Houses for Sale”.  Buffalo News.  July 5, 1902, p8.
  • “Houses for Sale”.  Buffalo News.  September 15, 1903, p10.
  • “Home for Pets for the Summer”.  Buffalo Commercial.  July 20, 1905,  p13.
  • “A Noble Lutheran Charity”.  Buffalo Commercial.  April 8, 1896, p11.
  • “Hager Homestead Has Been Sold”.  Buffalo Commercial.  February 3, 1906, p12.
  • “New Lutheran Church Home:  Pretty Site for Old Folk”.  Buffalo Morning Express. February 3, 1906.
  • “To Build a Home for Old People.”  Buffalo Morning Express. February 11, 1906, p10.
  • “Dedication of Lutheran Church Home for the Aged”.  Buffalo News.  November 30, 1907, p4.
  • “Ellicott pays $450,000 for Lutheran Church Home”.  Buffalo News.  August 8, 2014, p38.
  • “Lutheran Home is Dedicated as Symbol of Faith”.  Buffalo News.  May 8, 1956, p21.
  • Watson, Stephen T.  “Lutheran Health Selling Facility”.  Buffalo News.  September 11, 2014, p39.
  • White, Arthur O.  “The Black Movement Against Jim Crow Education in Buffalo, New York”.  Phylon, Vol 3, No4.  pp. 375-393.  (accessed via https://sci-hub.ru/10.2307/274041)

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