The Wedekindt Family has been in funeral service since 1887. Henry Wedekindt, Sr. was born in Hanover, Germany in 1846. He came to New York City in 1865 and worked as a cabinetmaker for two years before marrying Augusta Volgenau and moving to Buffalo, NY. Henry worked as a cabinetmaker for the next 20 years before opening an undertaking parlor at 326 High Street (corner of Peach St.).
This was basically a German neighborhood. The original building consisted of an office, layout room and embalming room. The family lived upstairs. There was a barn-like building to the rear for the horsedrawn wagon, coaches and horses
The majority of the funerals took place in the private residence of the deceased. All the necessary equipment such as potted palms, door crepe, chairs, flower stands, floor coverings, backdrape, bier and register stand had to be hauled to the deceased’s house by horse and wagon. The furniture in the home had to be rearranged to accomodate the layout and funeral. The undertaker had to remove all the funeral paraphernalia and arrange the original furniture in the rooms after the funeral.
Henry Wedekindt, Sr. had three sons. Ernest Wedekindt was born in 1868 and opened his own undertaking establishment at 5 Walden Ave. (at Genesee St.) around 1893. The Ernest Wedekindt Funeral Home became the largest undertaking business in Buffalo, reaching over 1,000 funerals per year during the flu epidemic. Ernest’s son, Howard B. Wedekindt, born in 1896, continued the business after his father’s death in 1941. He enlarged the funeral home. His son, Roger Odell Wedekindt, did not follow in the funeral business. Howard sold the business in 1952 and died in 1959.
Henry Wedekindt, Sr.’s second son, Adolph Wedekindt, was born in 1871 and opened his own business at 750 Seneca St. around 1894. He later moved across the street to larger quarters at 761 Seneca St. in 1897. Adolph died in 1902 at the age of 30. His widow took in a partner, Michael F. Dirnberger. Dirnberger and Wedekindt stayed in business until 1914 at the 761 Seneca St. location.
Henry Wedekindt Sr.’s third son, Henry Wedekindt, Jr. was born in 1874 and worked at the High Street location with his father. When Henry Sr. died in 1925, Henry Jr. remodeled the building. Henry Jr. had a daughter, Erna C., and two sons, Lester H. and Harry A. born in 1908, 1909 and 1912 respectively. They joined their father in operating the Henry Wedekindt & Sons Funeral Home and took over its operation in 1937. After their father’s death in 1945 they enlarged the funeral home in 1946. They continued their partnership until 1957.
Lester H. Wedekindt opened a new funeral home in Kenmore in January 1958. Lester died in 1960 and his son, H. Lester Wedekindt, born in 1942, continues the funeral business.
Harry A. Wedekindt opened a large funeral home at 280 Grover Cleveland Hwy., Amherst in September 1958.
Harry’s twin sons, Richard H. and Raymond H. Wedekindt, born in 1942, joined him in the business in 1965. Harry died suddenly in 1982 and Richard and Raymond continued the business. They were assisted by their aunt, Erna C., who was the last surviving third generation funeral director in the family. Erna died in 1995.
Richard and Raymond continued to serve the area as their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had done since 1887. Their funeral home offers traditional funerals, private or memorial services including burial, cremation or mausoleum entombment.
Without any family members to follow in the business, they sold the business to the John E. Roberts Funeral Home in June 2008 and are presently enjoying retirement. However, they are available to meet with families they served in the past.
In 2008, Richard’s son David interviewed him about the family business for National Public Radio’s “StoryCorps” project during its visit to Buffalo. Local NPR affiliate WBFO-FM interviewed them about the experience. Click here to listen to the story.
View a gallery of photos from our family archives (click on image to enlarge):