He came with his parents in 1858 to New York where his elder brother Hugo founded Sohmer & Co. in 1872. His father was a physician and cared about a good education for his sons. In 1872, he entered the insurance business, and finally became President of the Niagara Fire Insurance Company.
He was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 10th D.) in 1890, 1891 and 1892. Afterwards he was appointed a Deputy Tax Commissioner. In 1894, he was defeated when running for Sheriff of New York County. In 1895, he was elected Register of New York County, and in 1897 Clerk of New York County.
He was New York State Comptroller from 1911 to 1914, elected at the New York state election, 1910 on the Democratic ticket; re-elected at the New York state election, 1912 on the Democratic and Independence League tickets; and defeated at the New York state election, 1914 for re-election running on both tickets again.
He was a delegate to the 1912 Democratic National Convention.
He was Treasurer of the Society of St. Tammany from 1910 on.
- Georg von Skal: History of German immigration in the United States and successful German-Americans and their descendants. New York, Smiley, 1908, p. 127, 164
-  The camapign expenses, in NYT on November 11, 1894
-  The Tammany nominees, in NYT on October 11, 1895
-  The campaign expenses, in NYT on November 10, 1897
-  The Democratic candidates, in NYT on October 1, 1910
-  The Democratic candidates, in NYT on October 4, 1912
-  Death notice in TIME Magazine on March 4, 1929
|New York State Senate|
Samuel J. Foley
|New York State Senate
Timothy D. Sullivan
|New York State Comptroller
Eugene M. Travis