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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HERMAN F. BREHM, whose home is just west of the corporate limits of Waterloo, Seneca County, was born on this place, July 24, 1861. His parents, Frederick C. and Elizabeth (Kunz) Brehm, were natives of Germany, the former born in Allendorf, and the latter in Rillshausen, Hesse-Cassel.

Frederick Brehm was a lad of ten years when he made the journey across the Atlantic, in the year 1846. He was accompanied on this trip by his mother, and together they joined the husband and father, Herman Brehm, who had come to America two years previously. The latter was born at Rothenburg, province of Hesse-Nassau, Germany, May 26, 1796, and was the youngest son but one of a large family of children. An older brother, John, perished in the campaign of Napoleon in Russia, probably at Smolensk. Reared amid the exciting scenes then being enacted by the Napoleonic Wars, he saw and remembered much which transpired in those historic times, when Germany was overridden by the French, each family of any ability being required to supply its quota of food and shelter to the French soldiers, his own among the rest. On several occasions he saw the great Napoleon, and too often witnessed the effects of his generalship on German soil. His descriptions of the appearance of Jena after the battle and of similar scenes were most interesting.

After the usual term of schooling the grandfather was apprenticed to the nailmaker’s trade, of which he became master. Between the years 1846 and 1849 he worked for J. R. Webster in the soap business, and in 1849 established a soap factory on the place where his grandson now lives, and where he engaged in the manufacture of candles and soap during the remainder of his life. While a journeyman nailmaker he traveled pretty thoroughly over Germany and Poland, and could tell something of almost any town of note in those countries. Endowed with a retentive memory, and being a keen observer of the ways of men, traveling about before the days of railroading, he saw much of the every-day life of the people among whom he moved, and had an inexhaustible fund of stories about them. Being past middle life when he emigrated to America, he found it difficult to converse fluently in English, and always spoke in his native tongue when convenient. It was for this reason that he attended, whenever possible, services at the German Lutheran Church at Bearytown or Seneca Falls, whose pastor was the late Rev. Diedrich Willers. The latter he held as his steadfast friend. Strange as it may seem, they were nearly the same age, and died about the same day, April 29, 1883. Although coming to the New World a poor man, the grandfather prospered in his ventures, and at the time of his death left his family in comfortable circumstances.

The grandparents of our subject had a family of twenty-two children, only two of whom grew to mature years, and Frederick C. was the only one who married. He aided his father in the factory, and in this way became thoroughly acquainted with the manufacture of soap; he followed this business during the active years of his life. In 1882, however, he retired, at which time our subject took charge of the factory. In 1859 the father was married to Miss Kunz in Cayuga County, she having located there with her parents on her arrival from the Fatherland. They became the parents of three daughters and three sons, of whom Herman F. was the second-born. The eldest, Christina, makes her home in Rochester; Minnie A. married George F. Schrader, and is likewise a resident of Rochester; F. Elizabeth is teaching in the public schools of Waterloo; C. J. B. died aged thirteen months; and Frederick W is engaged in business in Rochester.

The father of the above family, who is a resident of Waterloo, is a Democrat in politics, and on this ticket served in many responsible offices. For some time he was Town Clerk and Assessor, and also was Commissioner of Highways. In his native land he attended school until the removal of the family to America, after which he was a pupil in the schools of his home district. He is well read and well informed on the topics of the day, and is an interesting conversationalist. He was reared in the faith of the German Lutheran Church, but after coming to America became identified with the Episcopal Church. Socially he is a Mason.

Herman F. Brehm was educated in the public schools of Waterloo, and after attaining his twenty-first year purchased the soap business from his father. This he is now carrying on, and he is in command of a good wholesale trade in textile soaps for woolen-mills.

Mr. Brehm and Miss Grace W. Batsford, of Waterloo, were united in marriage May 19, 1891. She was born in this village, and completed her education in the Waterloo Union School. Her parents were Edwin and Elizabeth (Wall) Batsford, highly esteemed residents of this locality. To our subject and his wife has been granted a daughter, Gertrude, who was born on the home farm, July 26, 1892.

In politics Mr. Brehm is a Democrat on national affairs, but in local elections usually votes for the best man, regardless of party lines. He is decided in his opinions concerning temperance, and has done much toward establishing reform in his community. With his wife, he is a member of the Episcopal Church. In January, 1894, he was appointed Deputy Collector of Customs, under the supervision of the Collector at Rochester. Socially he is a Mason, and has taken the commandery degree and filled most of the offices in the blue lodge. In 1891 he formed one of the party of Knights Templar who took a trip to Europe, on which famous expedition he visited Ireland, Wales, England, France and his parents’ old home in Germany. In 1886 Mr. Brehm erected his present fine residence. He gives strict attention to business and possesses the confidence of the entire community.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Seneca County, New York family biographies here: Seneca County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Seneca County, New York here: Seneca County, New York Map

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