1884: Shuffle Off To Buffalo


After Ferdinand Gustav Wrann signed his Declaration Of Intention in New York City in 1882 we have no documentation of his activities or whereabouts until 1884. When I first spoke to my Uncle Willard about the Wrann history he had indicated that his grandfather Gus (Ferdinand’s son) was born in Buffalo, NY. At the time I knew next to nothing about genealogy so I decided to check out the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, CT. This library is about a mile from my home. I’d never visited it because I thought it only dealt with Connecticut history. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I noticed it’s stacks were divided up by State. In the NY section they had some very old Buffalo, NY City Directories. These were books used prior to the widespread use of the telephone and indicated who lived where in the city. I picked up the oldest one on the shelf, went to the “W” section and found the entry for my Great Great Grandfather! I was astounded. To be holding a book over 120 years old and seeing my ancestors name in it was pretty exciting.

1884 Buffalo City Directory

1884 Buffalo City Directory w/ Gustave Wrann listing.

As you can see in the listing the name Ferdinand is not used and Gustav ends in an “e”. Since he spelled his name without the “e” on his Declaration Of Intention I’m going to use his spelling of it in future articles despite the occasional appearance on various documents of the “e”.

From Gustav’s listing we can see he was employed as a cigar packer, worked at 454 Main St. and lived at 32 Lemon St.

A cigar packer was the person at a cigar making shop who took the rolled cigars, put the paper ring on them and packed them in the boxes prior to shipping.

Following is a section of a map of Buffalo from 1894 – 10 years after The Wranns lived there. Click on it for an enlarged view. I’ve added a red arrow pointing to the dwelling they lived in.

1894  -32 Lemon St. Buffalo, NY

Following is a modern satellite view of 32 Lemon St. where the Wranns lived.

You can see the neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the last 120 years!

In the back of the directory were addresses for local businesses and I noticed that the business at 454 Main St. was M. Breitweiser and Brothers of Buffalo Cigar Co.

My father-in-law Jerry is a cigar ephemera collector and was able to find an associate who had a vintage Breitweiser Bros. cigar box. Following is a scan of the cigar box label from it.

Breitwesier & Bros Cigar Co. Cigar Box Label

At the time, Buffalo was a major transportation hub and there were a few railroad lines that went from NYC to there so chances are that the Wranns got to Buffalo via railway.  It’s also a possibility they got there on boat via the Erie Canal.

How long would the Wranns stay in Buffalo?


One Response to “1884: Shuffle Off To Buffalo”

  1. Sandusky Library Says:

    Your blog is terrific!

    Here is the url of a blog entry about cigar making in Sandusky, Ohio:


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