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German Immigrant Ancestors
in Syracuse and Onondaga County, New York

Biographies


The following biographies of Onondaga County Germans and their descendants were excerpted from the book by Franklin H. Chase, Syracuse And Its Environs: A History, Vol. 3, (Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., New York and Chicago, 1924).



NICHOLAS M. PETERS, one of the foremost in mercantile activities in Syracuse, has for many years been identified with the firm of N. Peters & Company, leading clothing merchants of Central New York State. Mr. Peters has made his talent of wide importance to the business progress of Syracuse, and his usefulness in this community is ever extending. He is a son of N. G. Peters, who was for many years identified with the same concern.

Nicholas M. Peters was born in Syracuse, July 19, 1881. Receiving his early education in the public schools of his birthplace, he covered the high school course and later entered Phillips-Exeter, at Exeter, New Hampshire, and graduated in 1902. With this excellent educational preparation Mr. Peters entered business affairs in Boston, where he learned the clothing business from the least detail to its active management in the employ of the Boston Clothing Store. Resigning in 1904, he came to Syracuse and entered the firm known as N. Peters & Company, leading distributors of men’s and boys’ clothing and furnishings. In 1914 the interest was incorporated as the Nicholas M. Peters Clothing Company, Mr. Peters being secretary and treasurer, in which office he still continues. The firm of N. Peters & Company was founded by Nicholas M. Peters in 1856. Admitting to the concern Jacob Knopp [sic; Jacob Knapp], Mr. Peters also received into the business his cousin, N. G. Peters, father of Nicholas M. Peters, whose name entitles this review. The interest was carried forward under the same name of N. Peters & Company all through the subsequent years, and Nicholas M. Peters, the son of the founder, was received into the interest in due course of time. Nicholas M. Peters, as manager for a full decade of the Nicholas M. Peters Clothing Company, has done much to advance its progress. It is now counted among the most important concerns in its field in Central New York State. Mr. Peters is a Republican by political affiliation, but never an office seeker. He is a member of Union Council, No. 191, Knights of Columbus; the Chamber of Commerce, the Automobile Club, a director of the Citizens’ Hotel Corporation, a member of the Onondaga Golf and Country Club, the Citizens’ Club, the Syracuse Advertising Mens’ Club, the Turn Verein Club, the Liederkranz Club, the Sedgwick Farm Club, of which he is secretary and treasurer, and is also a member of the Kappa Epsilon Pi fraternity. His religious faith is that of a Roman Catholic, and he attends St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Nicholas M. Peters married, in Syracuse, June 29, 1910, Inez L. Sawyer, daughter of Elihu and Katharine (Post) Sawyer. [page 230]



HARRISON FRANK PETERS - His well-proven abilities as a leader in the larger mercantile group of Syracuse citizens has been won and maintained by Mr. Peters through the excellent prestige that family training and direction secures, as well as by his own personal aptitude and preferences, and scholastic qualifications from some of the most noted academic institutions in New England added thereto. The high rating obtained under the management of the Peters department store, of which Harrison F. Peters is a partner, is a matter of household knowledge throughout this section, and the establishment of this house by a member of the family two generations ago is a mercantile landmark of local interest. The business history of Syracuse has no more substantial chapter indicative of the city’s progress than that of the Peters department store, whose others [sic] partners are William H. and Arthur J. Peters. Mr. Peters’ popularity, both as a captain in this branch of industry, and in social circles, is a proof that a business prophet receives due honor in his native place. He is a son of Jacob Peters, a merchant, and of Hattie (Moses) Peters. Jacob Peters was a son of Nicholas Peters, who was the founder of the firm of N. Peters and Company, and of whom it will be of more than passing interest to make reference here.

Nicholas Peters was born in Germany, and coming to the United States while a young man, he settled in Syracuse. Establishing himself in business here in 1856, his merchandise at that time consisted of groceries, dry goods, wall paper, carpets, rugs and notions. In 1872, with the expansion of his business, he added a men’s clothing department, and, in 1877, upon a small scale, merchant tailoring and the manufacture of clothing, which has been continued to the present, clothing being both made in the factory and sold in the retail store, direct to the wearer. Extensions have been made from time to time, also, so that at present the factory building is two stories in height, and 160 by 40 feet in dimensions, while the retail store building is three stories in height and 100 by 160 feet in dimensions.

Throughout his life Nicholas Peters was a leading merchant, and he possessed the entire confidence of the community, while he was deeply interested in civic and related projects for the benefit of the public. Mr. Peters married, in Germany, Gertrude Faulk, and their children, all born in this country, were: 1. Henry, deceased. 2. Nicholas, Jr., deceased. 3. Jacob, of whom further: 4. John M., superintendent of the Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, for the past twenty-seven years. 5. Frank, deceased. 6. Gertrude. Both Nicholas Peters and his wife, Gertrude (Faulk) Peters, died in Syracuse.

Jacob Peters, son of Nicholas and Gertrude (Faulk) Peters, was born in Syracuse, in October, 1859, and he received his education in the public schools of his birthplace. Soon after leaving school, he joined his father in partnership in his department store business, so continuing until his death, the third partner in the enterprise being Nicholas Peters, Jr. Jacob Peters married, April 25, 1882, Hattie Moses, a daughter of Philip and Elizabeth (Lattener) Moses, the Lattener family being one of the first German families to settle in Syracuse; and they were the parents of: 1. Edith, who married Albert M. Howeth, and who are the parents of Lois. 2. Harry F. (Harrison F.) of this review. 3. Arthur J., a sketch of whom follows. 4. Henrietta. 5. Grace F., who married Francis McCurn, of Syracuse.

Harrison Frank Peters was born in Syracuse, August 17, 1888, and he received his education in the public schools of his birthplace. He later extended the course of his school education, academically, when he had the privilege of attendance at the famous Phillips Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, and of graduation from Lawrence Academy, at Groton, Massachusetts. Afterwards, he entered the mercantile world, and he went to Utica for a year to thoroughly acquaint himself with the department store business. This apprenticeship acquired, he returned to Syracuse, and became an attachee of the store of Nicholas Peters, his grandfather, at No. 2000 [sic] Lodi Street. Upon the death of Jacob Peters, September 3, 1922, he became a third partner in that establishment. Mr. Peters politically has interested himself in the Republican party, but has never held office.

During the World War Mr. Peters served in the Motor Transport Corps, a part of the 8th Regular Army Division. Fraternally, he is a member of Union Council, No. 191, Knights of Columbus, and his clubs are: Citizens’ Club, Optimist Club, Alhambra Club, and Turnhall Club. He is a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church, and has active membership with Assumption Catholic Union, and the Saint Bonifacius Society.

Mr. Peters married, September 17, 1919, Martha Brown, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Brown, of Baltimore, Maryland, and they are the parents of Beatrice Peters, who has born January 16, 1921. [pages 391-392]



ARTHUR J. PETERS - The well-ordered direction and arrangement of his business career, as witnessed in its result in partnership with the long-established Peters department store in Syracuse, is an outcome not only of Mr. Peters’ thorough academic training in the liberal arts, but as well of his personal share in that calling, to the successful carrying out of which he was obviously born and bred. It may well be declared that his entire life work has been mapped out for practical attainment in the department store business that was begun years ago by his grandfather, Nicholas Peters. His capabilities in the mercantile field in his native city are being cordially recognized, and he holds a high place of esteem, also, in the various organizations of which he is an active member. He is a son of Jacob and Hattie (Moses) Peters.

Jacob Peters was a son of Nicholas Peters, who was the founder of the firm of N. Peters and Company, of whom and of whose industry it will be of more than passing interest to make reference here. Nicholas Peters was born in Germany, and he came to the United States while a young man and settled in Syracuse. He established himself in business in 1856, his merchandise at that time consisting of groceries, dry goods, wall paper, carpets, rugs and notions. In 1872 his business had so increased that he had added a men’s clothing department, and in 1877, upon a small scale, merchant tailoring and the manufacture of clothing, which has been continued to the present, clothing being both made in the factory and sold in the retail store direct to the wearer. From time to time, also, extensions have been made, so that the present factory building is two stories in height and 160 by 40 feet in dimensions, while the retail store building is three stories in height, and 100 by 160 feet.

Nicholas Peters was deeply interested in civic and related projects for the benefit of the public; throughout his life here he was a leading merchant and possessed the confidence of the community. He married, in Germany, Gertrude Faulk, and their children, all born in this country, were: 1. Henry, deceased. 2. Nicholas, Jr., deceased. 3. Jacob, deceased. 4. Dr. John M., Superintendent of the Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, for the past twenty-seven years. 5. Frank, deceased. 6. Gertrude. Both Nicholas Peters and his wife, Gertrude (Faulk) Peters, died in Syracuse.

Jacob Peters, son of Nicholas and Gertrude (Faulk) Peters, was born in Syracuse, in October, 1859, and he received his education in the public schools of his birthplace. Soon after completing his education, he joined his father in partnership in his department store business, so continuing until his death, the third partner in the enterprise being his brother, Nicholas, Jr. Jacob Peters married, April 25, 1882, Hattie Moses, daughter of Philip and Elizabeth (Lattener) Moses, the Lattener family being one of the first German families to settle in Syracuse, and they were the parents of: 1. Edith, who married Albert M. Howeth, of Syracuse, and who are the parents of Lois. 2. Harry F., a sketch of whom precedes. 3. Arthur J., of this review. 4. Henrietta. 5. Grace F., who married Francis McCurn, of Syracuse.

Arthur J. Peters was born in Syracuse, November 11, 1890, and he received his education in the public and high schools of his birthplace. He thereafter continued his school training at Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts, and at Phillips Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire. He then entered the business world, and coming to Syracuse, joined himself to the Peters store enterprise, being made a third partner September 3, 1922, the other members of the firm being William H. and Harrison F. Peters. Mr. Peters supports the principles of the Republican party by his vote, though he has not held political office. He answered the call of the World War, and he was a private in Ammunition Train, No. 102, attached to the 1st Division, and has the record of having had eighteen months’ service overseas. His fraternal affiliations are those of Union Council, No. 191, Knights of Columbus; and he is a member of such prominent organizations as the Citizens’ Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Automobile Club, the Turnhall Club, and the Alhambra Club. He is a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church, and he is a member of the Assumption Catholic Union, and of Saint Bonifacius Society.

Mr. Peters married, June 16, 1919, Wilhelmina S. Spath, a daughter of Lewis Spath, wholesale and retail merchant, of Utica, New York, and of Anna (Robenstein) Spath, and they are the parents of Janet Peters, born in 1922. [page 392]



EUSTACE A. SAWMILLER - A member of a widely known organization in Syracuse, New York, Eustace A. Sawmiller is bearing a prominent part in present-day affairs in this part of the State of New York, his personal interest being the distribution of coal, having charge of the shipping department for many years of Nate Sawmiller's Sons. Mr. Sawmiller is a son of the Hon. Ignatius Sawmiller (q. v.), who was more familiarly known among his friends, and, indeed, among all people of his county of Onondaga as "Nate" Sawmiller.

Eustace A. Sawmiller, son of Hon. Ignatius and Josephine (Sax) Sawmiller, was born in the town of Salina, Onondaga County, New York, on October 18, 1877. Receiving his early education in the local grammar school, he later attended Galeville Academy, in the town of Salina, and the Salina Assumption Schools, both of Syracuse, also covered special courses in night school during the winter months. From his boyhood Mr. Sawmiller was interested in the activities in which his father was engaged, and as soon as he was able to bear a part in the progress of the enterprise he entered the organization. The business was founded in 1868 by his father, Ignatius Sawmiller, and an account of same will be found in the preceding sketches of the father and another son, Frank G. Sawmiller.

Mr. Sawmiller is a Republican in his political faith, but has never been a seeker of office. Fraternally, he is affiliated with the Improved Order of Red Men and the Foresters of America, in which he has been very active, holding every office in the organization and for many years serving as deputy. He belongs to the Roman Catholic Church of Syracuse, Assumption Parish.

Eustace A. Sawmiller married, on October 10, 1910, Augusta Meyerer, of Liverpool, New York, daughter of John and Mary Meyerer, both natives of Liverpool. [page 249]



FRANK G. SAWMILLER - At the head of one of the pioneer concerns of Syracuse, New York, Frank G. Sawmiller stands among the thoroughly noteworthy business men of the day in Central New, York State, and the coal and wood business which he is carrying forward ably and efficiently forms one of the most important of its kind in this section. Mr. Sawmiller was reared in the traditions of commercial affairs and associated his entire life with his father in this same enterprise until the death of the latter, whose long activity in the concern had been a strong force in its growth, progress, and development.

Frank G. Sawmiller was born at Salina, New York, on July 25, 1879, son of Ignatius and Josephine (Sax) Sawmiller (see preceding sketch). His education was begun in the local public schools, and after attending business college he became associated with his father in the present enterprise, now conducted as the Nate Saw-miller's Sons. This business was founded by his father in 1868, and carried forward to success, and long before his death he admitted his sons into the concern. Since the father passed away in 1916, Mr. Sawmiller, in association with his brother and sister, continued the business, and in the hands of the younger generation it has been very materially increased and enlarged. Besides the coal and wood activities, coal pockets, stables, garages, and various other buildings comprising the plant, are located on Salina Street, and the whole concern occupies a ground space of about a full city block. They employ about twenty-five people, and operate in Syracuse and for some twenty miles outside of Syracuse, holding rank as one of the largest establishments of this general nature as well as one of the oldest and most reliable in Syracuse. Mr. Sawmiller is active in the civic life of Syracuse, and holds high place in the business world of his section. He is a director of the Business Men's Credit Association of Syracuse, as well as a director of the Coal Merchants' Mutual Insurance Company of New York and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Syracuse Credit Men's Association. In his political convictions he is a Republican, and has served as president of the First and Second Ward Improvement Association. During the World War Mr. Sawmiller was active as chairman of the committee in charge of the coal dealers' division in securing the sale of Liberty Bonds, War Savings Stamps, and the various other activities of that period. Fraternally, he is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus, and his religious connection is with the Roman Catholic Church, the Assumption Parish of this city.

Frank G. Sawmiller married, in 1904, Catherine Easterly, of Salina, New York, daughter of Fred and Catherine (Christe) Easterly, esteemed residents of Salina. The Sawmiller home is at No. 204 Washington Square; Syracuse, New York. [page 249]



HON. IGNATIUS SAWMILLER - After a long and distinguished career, in which he was largely successful in business, and in which he won an eminent position through his own endeavors and service to the community, Mr. Sawmiller, who began life without influence or resources more than the ordinary, died in 1916, leaving behind him a name honored and esteemed in Syracuse for the public services that he had so ably rendered.

Mr. Sawmiller was born at Württemberg, Germany, son of August and Ida (Muhl) Sawmiller, and came to this country at the age of nine years with his parents, who settled in Syracuse in 1853. The father was a contractor and builder; he died in 1895, his wife passing away in 1894. The son, Ignatius Sawmiller, was educated in the public schools of Syracuse, and when he first went into business was engaged in the manufacture of salt, but later branched out into the ice, coal, and wood business, as a wholesale and retail dealer, at the same time becoming broadly prominent in the commercial affairs of his day. In the handling of his business he exerted a wide influence in the progress of his branch of commercial endeavor, having founded his concern in the year 1868. Eventually, in 1899, he sold the ice interest to the People's Ice Company. He then continued in the coal and wood line until his death, and the business is to-day conducted under the title of Nate Sawmiller's Sons, a name by which he was generally known and loved. His public services are perhaps the most significant part of his life, for he was considered one of the greatest supporters in the Legislature in the development of the Skaneateles water project, and the leading figure in the accomplishment of the present successful water system as supplied from that source. His efforts in this behalf were considered the most vital force in its success, and it was conceded by many that it was largely through him that it not only became an actuality, but that it was the greatest step in placing Syracuse in the forefront of productive cities, known for its wonderful drinking water. In the earlier part of his career he had been active in the salt business, but this industry was discontinued on account of the apparent reduced supply of the natural brine. He bore a part in every branch of public endeavor, having served six terms as supervisor and two terms as Assemblyman from his district. He esteemed his own work of value only in so far as it promoted the welfare of the people, and he was broadly generous, indeed lavish in his giving of himself for the general good. The people, however, were appreciative of his qualities. His death in 1916 removed from the city and county one of the most noteworthy men of his time.

Mr. Sawmiller married, in Syracuse, Josephine Sax, a native of the city, whose death occurred in 1908. Mr. and Mrs. Sawmiller were the parents of five sons and one daughter. Biographies of Eustace A. and Frank G., two of the sons, follow. [page 249]





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