A Piece of Buffalo’s Church Music History Is Discovered

Amidst a book-shifting project, a Grosvenor Room staff member noticed a curious tome. The aged, inscribed volume revealed itself as a hand-drawn music manuscript.

It belonged to Carl Friedrich Baum (1822-1899) who was a music teacher and organist.  Born in Lehrberg, Bavaria in 1822, Baum came to the United States in 1847.  He lived in Chicago and other western cities during his first years in the United States. Baum brought his wife and children to the United States in September 1854 on the ship Hermann Theodor via Bremen.  The reason for the permanent move may have been a job offer for the position of organist at Buffalo’s Trinity Old Lutheran Church.   Baum served in that position for forty years.  According to his obituary, he was also active in local singing societies.

1886 Buf Dir - Copy

1886 Buffalo City Directory

Baum Obituary

Buffalo Volksfreund, August 12, 1899

Trinity Old Lutheran Church played a significant role in the history of American Lutheranism.  Its first minister, Johannes Andreas August Grabau led the church’s early members from Germany to Buffalo in 1839 to avoid religious persecution.  His congregation did not want to go along with Germany’s religious agenda, which was to unify Calvinists and Lutherans.  The group formed Trinity Old Lutheran soon after their arrival.  Dedicated in 1843, its first permanent building stood on the corner of Maple and Goodell Streets.

Church scrapbook v2

Churches in Buffalo and Vicinity Scrapbook, Volume 2, Page 5

Grabau’s strong conviction towards pastoral hierarchy[i] led to a disagreement with the Missouri Synod, and to the establishment the Buffalo Synod.  It also led to a schism within his own congregation.  In 1866, half of the Trinity Old Lutheran’s members left to join First Trinity Lutheran Church, which was located at Michigan Avenue.

It was perhaps Grabau’s authoritarianism that sparked the sentiment written on the bottom of the title page of Baum’s manuscript.  Another factor may have been that in 1842, Grabau compiled a hymnal for use throughout the Buffalo Synod.  He may not have been open to creative interpretation of the work, or straying too far from it.  The following is a rough translation:

“These compositions or vocal texts had found many friends but the latest group did not want to find me when it came to rewarding my ability or giving me encouragement.  Unfortunately the state of affairs in the Evangelical Church of America is not geared towards liturgy and singing but mostly towards decay.  Meanness and mimicry prevail, the pastor’s envy stands in the way.”

Baum Manuscript Title Page

The paragraph’s date is unknown.  It is possible that Baum penned it well after Grabau’s June 1879 death, though the latest date found in the manuscript is August 1880. Baum or another wrote the title page in an Americanized German script versus a strictly German script, which is predominant throughout the rest of the manuscript. Though he did not feel appreciated, the 383-page volume surely indicates that Baum was not deterred.   Baum’s manuscript includes a collection of 172 choral and organ scores.  Example titles:

“Te Deum laudamus” –  Thee, O God, we praise

“Danksaget dem Vater” – Thank you, Father

“Kom heiliger geist” – Come, holy spirit

“Adventslied” – Advent song

IMG_1447 firstIMG_1451 secondIMG_1445 thirdIMG_1453 fourth

After researching Baum, Grosvenor Room staff wondered how the manuscript came to be in the library’s collection.  The first page of the book gave the information that was needed:  the name Mrs. Mary Harlinghausen, a library acquisition number, and the acquisition date.   Harlinghausen sold the manuscript to the Grosvenor Library, a predecessor of the Central Library, for $5.00 ($90.00 current value).

IMG_1454 HarlinghausenGrosvenor Library Accession

Mrs. Harlinghausen, who soon after selling the manuscript married Mr. Edwin Sy, was a local rare book dealer.  The Sy’s shared a love book collecting.  They ran their business first out of their home at 909 Elmwood Ave., and by 1951 they opened a bookstore at 926 Elmwood Ave.  The couple retired from their bookstore in the mid-1960s.


Local Biographies Scrapbook, Series 16, Page 274


Local Biographies Scrapbook, Series 16, Page 275

Special thanks goes to Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks and Nataly Salansky for translating Baum’s manuscript, obituary, and other documents.


[i] Trinity Old Lutheran Church.  The Story of Trinity Old Lutheran Church: 150 Years Under God’s Guidance, 1839-1989. Eggertsville, N.Y.: The Church, [1989]. Unpaginated.   http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/40a98b_a6b808e583f149a89d77e45dc45bdc0e.pdf  Accessed: Feb. 8, 2018.

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