Oelkers, J. E., was born in Germany, February 8, 1851, and came to America in 1870. He traveled over the country for a year before selecting a permanent place of residence, and in 1871 came to North Tonawanda and decided to make it his permanent residence. The same year he began his business life as a clerk in the grocery establishment of F. Sommer, and after a clerkship of three years he embarked in the grocery business for himself and has conducted it up to the present time with great success, building up an establishment equal to any in the country. Not only on account of his honorable business record, but also because of his able public services, it is but just to say that the history of Tonawanda could not be fairly written without making special mention of Mr. Oelkers, for in the line of his successful business operations he has done much to develop the place and he has given considerable of his valuable time to public affairs. He has long been connected with the Savings Association; was one of the organizers of the German American Bank and was its vice president from the time of its organization until March, 1897, when he became cashier, undoubtedly re-establishing the bank in its former excellent standing, his name alone restoring public confidence; he is also vice-president of the Niagara Cider & Vinegar Company, and also conducts the leading grocery business of the Twin Cities. As a public man Mr. Oelkers has been trustee of the village of North Tonawanda, also its treasurer and president for two years. He served in the Fire Department for ten years, and was one of the organizers of the first fire company. Although Mr. Oelkers has accomplished much more than is attained during the whole life of the average business man, he is still but in his prime and is therefore justly rated as one of the leading business men of this county. He is also well known in social circles and is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the D. O. H., a German society. In 1871 he married Margaret Dodenhoff, who died in 1882, and on February 8, 1883, he married for his second wife, Ella Sommer, and they have a family of five children: Carl, Hedwig, Eveline, Dorothea and Elsie.
Contributed 2017 by Lisa Slaski from Landmarks of Niagara County, New York, by William Pool, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, 1897
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