GEORGE JACOB HAFFA, Superintendent of the Erie County Penitentiary, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 65th Regiment, N. G. N. Y., and a member of the firm of J. G. Haffa's Sons, is a leading citizen of Buffalo and a man well-known in business, civic and military affairs. Col. Haffa is of German descent, being derived from a family which lived for many years in the Kingdom of Württemberg.
John George Haffa, father of the subject of this sketch, was the son of Elias and Catherine Haller Haffa, and was born in Württemberg, Germany, in 1828. In the Revolution of 1848 he espoused the Republican side, and was obliged to leave the old country and seek his fortunes in the United States. On reaching America he came to Buffalo, where he worked as a journeyman tailor until 1859, when he became cutter for Bogart & Doolittle. In 1865 he entered the employ of William H. Stuart, and in 1868 was admitted partner. In 1870 he established a tailoring business, which he successfully conducted until his death in 1886. He was for many years a member of St. John's Lutheran Church. In 1853 Mr. Haffa married Maria Elizabeth Biller of Buffalo, who died in 1891. Their children are: Barbara K., George Jacob, John George, Elias and Frederick C. Haffa, all of whom reside in Buffalo.
George Jacob Haffa was born in Buffalo, February 23, 1858. He attended the common schools. High School and Bryant & Stratton's Business College. When fourteen years old he entered his father's tailoring establishment, and in 1884 was admitted partner. On the death of their father, George J. Haffa, and his brother, Elias, formed a copartnership as J. G. Haffa's Sons, which firm continues and is one of the best-known and most prosperous in Buffalo, being among the oldest tailoring concerns of that city.
Col. Haffa's connection with military affairs began in 1873, when he joined the Buffalo City Guard Cadets, being promoted Second Lieutenant in 1876. The following year he was commissioned First Lieutenant and served till 1884, when he was made Captain. In 1887 he was commissioned Captain in the 6th Regiment, N. G. N. Y., and placed in command of Company A. In 1896 he was promoted Major, and became commanding officer of the 2d Battalion. At the outbreak of the Spanish American War, Maj. Haffa volunteered for active service. Greatly to his disappointment he was not accepted on account of defective eyesight, but he served for three weeks at Camp Black. June 13, 1898, Maj. Haffa was commissioned Colonel of the 165th Regiment, N. G. N. Y., and assisted in raising a volunteer regiment. At the close of the war. Col. Haffa resigned his commission as Colonel, and resumed his rank of Major in the 65th Regiment. May 18, 1900, he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, which office he still holds. During the railroad strikes of 1877 Col. Haffa was engaged in active service as First Lieutenant in the Buffalo City Guard Cadets. In the railroad strike riots of 1892 he served with the 65th Regiment as Captain. He has also accompanied his regiment at State camps and field service, and on all other occasions when the regiment has been engaged in active duty.
Col. Haffa has always been a Republican, and in 1903 was elected Alderman from the 21st Ward of Buffalo, being reelected by an increased majority in 1905. He has been a faithful and intelligent official, and has served on many important committees. In 1907 Major Haffa was elected superintendent of the Erie County Penitentiary, a position in which he is serving with characteristic ability and fidelity at the present time.
Col. Haffa was a member of Citizen Hook and Ladder Company No. 2, Volunteer Fire Department of Buffalo, from August, 1877, until the department was disbanded in 1880. He is now a member of the Exempt Fireman's Association, and for several years has served as Secretary of both organizations. He is a member of Washington Lodge, No. 240, F. & A. M.; Keystone Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Hugh de Payens Commandery. Knights Templar, and a charter member of Ismailia Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, He is a member of the Acacia Club, a life member of the Young Men's Association, and a member of the Buffalo and Park clubs, of the Army and Navy Club of New York City. Since 1878 he has been a member of the North Presbyterian Church.
January 29, 1880, Col. Haffa married. Hattie Jeanette Gering, daughter of George J. and Rebecca Elliott Gering of Buffalo. Mrs. Haffa died November 23, 1893.
SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I