Obituary of Martin Kalbfleisch


Publication: The New York Times

New York, NY, United States


Martin Kalbfleisch.


Ex-Mayor Kalbfleisch, of Brooklyn, died yesterday afternoon, at 1:10, in his sixty-ninth year. He bad been sick of a painful and dangerous disorder for just one month, but such was his remarkable vigor and strength that he was enabled to struggle all that time against a disease to which many a younger man would have succumbed long before. His last illness was caused by Bright's disease of the kidneys, aggravated by an affection resembling heart-disease.

Martin Kalbfleisch was born at Flushing, in the Netherlands, Feb. 8, 1804. He passed his youth in his native town, and received a thorough and useful education. His father was a merchant, but Martin was averse to entering a commercial life, having a strong predilection for scientific pursuits, and be devoted himself to the study of chemistry. On reaching the age of eighteen, a desire to seek new lands and experiences led him to accept the position of supercargo on an American vessel bound for Padang on the coast of Sumatra. When the vessel arrived the cholera was raging, so she returned to Antwerp, and was sold. The Captain induced young Kalbfleisch to go with him to France, where they engaged in commercial business together for about four years. This association with an American led him to seek a permanent home in the United States, so he crossed the Atlantic in 1826. At first he found it difficult to gain a living, but persevered until success was fairly earned, enabling him to establish a color factory in Harlem. The business was a prosperous one, and Mr. Kalbfleisch made what was considered a fortune in those days. The prices of real estate on Manhattan Island rising rapidly about 1839 he sold his factory, and located another in Connecticut, but finding himself too far from market, determined to return. He next settled at Greenpoint, Long Island, in 1841, the business having since increased to unusual limits, the manufactories covering several acres.

Mr. Kalbfieisch always took a deep interest in politics, and attached himself to the Democratic Party. He, however, betrayed no desire for office, but local interests led to his election in 1851 as Supervisor of the old town of Bushwick, which office he held until the consolidation of Brooklyn and Williamsburg. In 1853 he was appointed on the commission to prepare a charter for the proposed consolidated city, and in the following year was the Democratic candidate for the Mayoralty, but was defeated by his opponent, George Hall. In 1855 he was elected Alderman of tee Eighteenth Ward of Brooklyn, and served in that board until 1861, wean he was elected Mayor. In 1862 he was elected to Congress from the Second District.

In the Fall of the same year he ran as an independent candidate for Mayer of Brooklyn, his opponents being Benjamin Prince, the regular Democratic nominee, and Col. A. M. Wood, the Republican candidate, the latter being elected. In 1865 Mr. Kalbfleisch was again defeated as the regular Democratic candidate for the Mayoralty by Samuel Booth, Republican. In 1867 he again entered the field as Democratic candidate for Mayor, and was elected over A. M. Bliss, the Republican candidate. In 1869 he defeated William Little, Republican, and R. M. Whiting, Independent, for the same office. In the Fall of 1871 he was again an aspirant for the same office, but owing to a rupture between himself and the Brooklyn Ring, failed to secure the Democratic nomination. He ran, however, as an independent candidate, and was defeated by Samuel S. Powell, the present incumbent. He was defeated for Alderman on the independent ticket at the Fall election of 1872. At the time of his demise, Mr. Kalbfleisch was President of the Prospect Park Trotting Association, President of the Oceanus Club, and was also connected with several financial institutions of Brooklyn. He was remarkably successful in his private business career, and to his abilities mainly was due the success of the chemical establishment of Kalbfleisch & Sons, of which be was the founder. His integrity was proverbial, a fact which gained for him the sobriquet of "the Honest Old Dutchman," an appellation of which he always seemed to feel very proud. He was very decided in his intentions and opinions. He was married twice, and leaves three sons and two daughters, all of whom are married. His estate is valued at over $2,000,000. In the death of Mr. Kalbfleisch, Brooklyn has lost one of her best men, and reform one of its ablest and most persistent adherents.

The funeral will take place, next Monday afternoon, from the Kalbfleisch mansion, and the arrangements will be announced in due time. Various public bodies in Brooklyn will doubtless take some action in the meanwhile looking toward a participation in the obsequies, as a mark of the public respect for him and for the position he held.


Keywords:Martin Kalbfleisch : Brookfield
Researcher notes:The Martin Kalbfleisch glass house was taken over by James and William Brookfield
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:October 18, 2008 by: Elton Gish;