The Buffalo History Museum Pt. 1

This Saturday I went to a WNYGS program on German Research at the Buffalo History Museum given by Larry Naukam who is the President of the Rochester Genealogical Society. After the program I hung around and waited for the Research Library located within the Buffalo History Museum to open up.

I had been there once before and had a mission that previous visit. I remember I was trying to find a picture of the Gollwitzer Restaurant on Pearl St. and I heard that they had a large photo collection. We looked and did not have any luck finding a picture of the restaurant.

This visit I didn’t have a research question in mind, I was just curious to get familiar with their collections. Unfortunately, most of their collection is behind a chain that only employees can access. How it works is you ask for the librarian to bring you a specific book and they bring it to you. They will also make the copies for you. I felt bad after a while as it felt like I was treating the librarian as a waitress and being a problem customer that is a pain. I told the librarian my analogy and she laughed. She said that her reason for being there is to bring the books to the researchers and that it helps keep their collection safe.

She gave me a handout of the library’s “greatest hits” for genealogy research which content their most popular genealogy collections and records for researchers. The first item that I asked to look at was titled Buffalo Homicides, 1902-1936 by Vance McLaughlin. This is a book of transcriptions from the Annual Report Board of Police.

On page 3 was the transcription that I was hoping to find. It mentioned the murder that happened at 838 Smith Street in 1903. My 2nd great-grandmother, Barbara Gollwitzer Hetzel, lived at 842 Smith Street and her sister, Mary Gollwitzer Grybsky (then went back to Gollwitzer), lived next door at 838 Smith Street. 3rd great-aunt Mary rented part of her house to boarders and one of them living upstairs murdered his daughter.

Vance McLaughlin, Buffalo Homicides, 1902-1936 (2013), 3.

I had found this story by doing address searches on newspaper websites like Fulton History and The one newspaper article included a picture of the house at 838 Smith Street and it is the only picture of that house that I’ve seen.

838 Smith
No. 838 Smith Street.
Scene of the Case Tragedy – The Crime Was Committed in the
Family Apartments in the Second Story.

I have thought a lot about how Mary, her children, and my great-grandmother’s family, felt during this time. I’ll write more about this story another time.

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