George Urban Jr. was one of Cheektowaga's most prominent citizens. Born in Buffalo N.Y. July 12, 1850, the family lived at Genesee and Oak Streets. His father settled there in 1835 and had come from Alsace, France. Shortly after arrival George Urban Sr. started a milling company. George Urban Jr. attended Buffalo public schools and Shellys School for Boys until he was 16 years old. At that time he went to work for his father in the milling company. Four years later, when he was 20 years old , he was admitted as a partner in the milling business known as Urban & Co. Eleven years later George Urban Jr. was known throughout the country as the builder of the first roller mill in the U.S. The mill was located at Genesee and Oak Streets across from the company's original building.
When George Urban Sr. retired, George Jr. became head of the firm associated with Edwin G.S. Miller and William C. Urban a younger brother. Under George Jr. the company flourished and in 1903 became known as George Urban Milling Company.
The company built a new 5 story brick and steel mill on Urban and Kehr Streets and was one of the best equipped and finest of its kind in the world. It was the first mill in Buffalo to use power from Niagara Falls extensively.
George Urban Jr. married Ada E. Winspear, daughter of Pennock Winspear in October 1875. They had four children, George P. Urban, Ada Jeanette, Emma and Clara.
When George Urban built his family estate on Pine Ridge Road in Cheektowaga, he was surrounded by farm land. His property consisted of 8-9 acres. Besides a beautiful home, there was a grape vineyard, with 29 varieties of grapes and a 3/4 acre pond stocked with trout and gold fish. He was skilled in the knowledge of plants and his estate was filled with flowers and trees. There was Lilacs, Magnolia, 150 varieties of Roses including green roses brought from Bermuda, Pansies, a strawberry patch, ivy, oak, Lily of the Valley, ferns, and a hot house with lemon trees and flowers. At age 77 Mr. Urban had planted 5000 Elms on a 200 acre plot opposite the Pine Ridge estate.
In the vegetable gardens were melons, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and the first bantam corn in Buffalo.
The estate also raised approximately 800 chicks yearly. The modern poultry houses were equipped with electric lights.
When Mr. Urban became interested in electricity, he visited Thomas Edison. As a result of this visit, George Urban bought an electric generator for for his flour mill. It was one of the first ten generators made by Edison. He later gave it to the Buffalo General Electric Co. which he was vice president of, as an historic object.
After electricity was made available at Niagara Falls, George Urban attended a conference on how to bring electricity to Buffalo. Urban introduced the first incandescent light service in Buffalo on July 14, 1881. The experiment consisted of nine lamps on Ganson Street.
George Urban was always a Republican. He was chairman of the Erie County Republican General committee from 1892-95 and in 1896 & 1900 was Presidential Elector from Erie County. In 1904 he was honored as Republican presidential elector from New York State.
Among his friends were Presidents Cleveland, McKinley and Harrison.
Although President Cleveland was a Democrat, George Urban supported and worked on his campaigns for president, which helped the former Erie County Sheriff get elected twice.
George Urban was a strong supporter of the Pan American Exposition held in Buffalo in 1901. He met with Buffalo Mayor Conrad Diehl and others in planning this event.
Besides being CEO of George Urban Milling, George Urban was;
President of the Niagara Falls Electric Light and Power Co.
President of the Buffalo Loan, Trust and Safe Deposit Co.
Vice President of Buffalo General Electric Co.
Vice President of the Cataract Power and Conduit Co.
Director of Market Bank, Bank of Buffalo, the Buffalo German Insurance Co., the Buffalo Commercial Insurance Co., the Buffalo Elevating Co. and the Ellicott Square Co.
George Urban continued to work up to his death on Thursday,
February 23, 1928. The George Urban home still remains today on Pine Ridge Road next door to Villa Maria College.