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  • Writer's pictureKyra Mangold-Ostovich

Voices of the Past: Franz Anton Natter

Voices of the Past will showcase an interesting person or family within the Cemetery each week.

Franz Anton Natter

Born: September 14, 1868

Died: May 25, 1922

Franz A. Natter was born in Rhinelan-Pfalz, Germany, to parents Joseph and Katherine (née Young) Natter, and was one of seven children. He arrived by the ship, Ems, in New York via Ellis Island at the age of 22 on June 02, 1891. The Ems was built in 1884 by the Scottish company, John Elder & Co. of Glasgow for the German ship operators, Norddeutscher Lloyd. He was naturalized on March 1, 1902.

Franz and Magdalena R. Pfirrmann, a German daughter of Wilhelm and Carolina (née Betsch) Pfirrman, were married on November 12, 1892 in Pittsburgh, and had several children.

On July 08, 1900, an application was to be made the following week in Harrisburg. Franz, along with Adam Wohlfarth, Charles Bechtold, Martin Neckerman, and Valentine Greb (Wohlfarth's son-in-law) for a charter to begin the "Wohlfarth Baking Company." Their capital was stated as $7,000.00, but the real amount was to be much larger, as it was designed to build an immense plant to add to the already established bakery. The peculiar feature of this charter, as noted by the Pittsburgh Daily Press article, was that all applicants were employees of Wohlfarth and had worked under him for many years. According to Wohlfarth, bakers often had no loyalties to their places of employment and he wished to reward the men for their labor by giving them shares in the new company. The bakery, called "Wolfarth Brothers Bakery," was located at 117 E. 8th Avenue in Homestead, but the building has since been demolished.

The following year, Franz, in conjunction with Charles E. Knab, Otto Mutschler, Clemenz Kuenzig, John Schmezer, and Charles Bechtold submitted an application to the Governor of Pennsylvania on August 08, 1901, requesting a charter to open the "Homestead Baking Company" at 229 Seventh Avenue, Homestead. Their capital stock was to include one thousand shares of $50.00 each, totaling $50,000.00 (over $1.613 million today). On October 9, 1903, the Homestead Baking Company purchased from Frederick Espy a 35x110 foot lot on Sixth Avenue for $9,200.00 to build a $5,000.00 addition to expand their existing bakery. The building still stands today, and houses the Homestead Borough offices and Homestead Police station. The Homestead Bakery Co. moniker still remains on the façade.

On April 22, 1904, the Homestead Baking Company was placed into receivership following an inability to collect outstanding debts to pay creditors, namely J. A. Steele. The company admitted to insolvency, but hoped to once again operate at a profit. Despite their hopes, under the order of Judge Marshall Brown, J. A. Knadlers was appointed as receiver of the bakery, and was given full charge of running the plant until it's financial obligations could be met. At the time, the bakery was operating within a four-story building and utilized 11 delivery wagons.

On June 01, 1904, Franz purchased a neighboring 20x111 foot lot from Otto Krone on Sixth Avenue for $4,500.00.

By July 29, 1904, Knadler had announced that the bakery was to liquidate it's properties located on Sixth and Seventh Avenues, along with all machinery, equipment, office furniture and supplies, baking supplies, horses, wagons, etc. The sale was set to take place the following day on July 30, 1904 at 3 PM. The receivership was to remain in place until the debts were paid. By May 12, 1906, a petition was filed to remove receivership from Homestead Baking Company, as it was once again in good financial standing.

On June 5, 1907, Franz purchased a 20x110 foot lot on Sixth Avenue from Valentine Greb for $3,000.00 (worth about $87,500.00 today), where he opened Natter Bakery at 242 E. 6th Avenue in Homestead.

Information gathered from:

  • "B. & O. Gets Another Property," Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 09 October 1903, p. 15.

  • "Daily Universal Movie Coupon," Pittsburgh Press, 22 January 1916, p. 2.

  • Family Tree: Natter Family Tree, as compiled by Ancestry user "kroll911."

  • "Legal Notices." Pittsburgh Press, 30 July 1901, p. 11.

  • "Legal Notices." Pittsburgh Daily Post, 29 July 1904, p. 7.

  • "Marriage Licenses Issued Yesterday," Pittsburgh Dispatch, 30 October 1892, p. 5.

  • "Notes of the Court." Pittsburgh Daily Post, 12 May 1906, p. 16.

  • "Old Employees Will Share," Pittsburgh Daily Post, 08 July 1900, p. 3.

  • Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1892 - 1893; Roll Number: 549762.

  • "Recorded Transfers," Pittsburgh Press, 30 June 1904, p. 3.

  • "Recorded Transfers," Pittsburgh Press, 07 June 1907, p.13.

  • "Receiver." Pittsburgh Daily Post, 22 April 1904, p. 10.

  • "Receiver for Baking Company," Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 22 April 1904, p. 12.

  • Second Industrial Directory of Pennsylvania, 1916, p. 791.

  • The National Archives in Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21

  • Year: 1920; Census Place: Homestead Ward 1, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1513; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 132.1241368.

  • Year: 1920; Census Place: Homestead Ward 1, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1513; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 132

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