The Turn Verein
Lillian Arcularius and Octavia Bagby
The Washington Turn Verein was founded on December 13,
1859. Franz Wilhelmi was the first president,
and associated with him in this organization were: E. Wuestner, Secretary; C.
Schmidt, Cashier; A. Klein, Turn Teacher, and J. Duester, Assistant Teacher.
Among members at this timer were: W. Dierking, H.
Mayn, H. Poppenhusen, E. Blumer, C. Walter, A. Godt, J. Meyer, A. Schrader, Andreas
Eberius, Joseph Schmidt, August Peters, Charles Arcularius, Julius Everts, Theodore
Lorenzen, G. A. Mentz, R. Reichard, F. Diemar, J. Eilts, A. Fischer, Mathias Mekhaus, F.
Muench, J. Adams, Adolph Fricke, Charles Mayn and Oscar Guether.
The first gymnastic exercises were practiced at Fricke's
meadow, located on Jefferson street. Later meeting places were the Lafayette Market
Hall and the second story of the City Hall.
The Turn Verein disbanded in 1862, at the time of the Civil
War, but was reorganized on October 9, 1865. Among the new members who joined the
Verein at this time, were Henry Krog, Ferd Hausgen, Robert Hoffmann, Franz Schwarzer,
Robert Voss, Dr. Werth, Henry Huhn, Otto Brix, Ludwig Muench, and Christian Mullgardt.
A song section was also organized, and in 1865, a Christmas
celebration and a New Year's Ball were held.
In the next year a new hall was built at Jefferson and
Third streets (Now the Elk's Hall.) and was used for the first time on December 26, 1866,
when a big celebration was held.
In 1868 a three-day District Turn Fest was held here.
Teams from the Washington Verein also were sent to compete in Turner Fests in large
cities, and brought back many prizes. Successful contestants of the early teams were
G. Fehrmann, Arthur Miller, Charles Rumpelt, Charles Grohe, R. Koerner, and Charles Tamm.
In 1889 the team composed of G. H. Otto, Charles Grohe, E. A. Zoff, O. W
Arcularius, Otto and Dick Steinhaus, Henry Puchta, William Giesike and H. Grohe won
trophies at Cincinnati.
There were classes in physical exercises for men and women,
boys and girls. Among the teachers were Huhn, Charles Tamm, Charles Grohe, Henry
Krog, Arthur Rumpelt, Herman Grohe and Dr. Elmar Schmidt.
In 1868 a dramatic section was formed and became a very
pleasant and important part of the Verein's history. This was a continuation
of the Player's Club, started in 1854 by Otto Brix and August Leonhard.
Among the plays that were produced were Koerner's
"Toni" and "Hedwig;" Schiller's "Wallenstein's Camp" and
"Die Reuber." Plays were given about twice a month. Some of the
noteworthy actors of later days were Toni Muench, Minnie Krog, Albert Krog, Henry Krog,
Oscar Arcularius, William Stumpe and Alice Ruge. The outstanding plays of this era
were "The Cricket," and "Preciosa."
Many social gatherings were held. Among them were
weekly Sunday night family gatherings; the annual Kinderball, during the Christmas
holidays, and a masque ball for children and another for adults in February. The
crowning events of each year was the New Year's Eve celebration. At this time a play
was given, followed at midnight by a tableau portraying the passing of the old year and
the coming of the New Year, then dancing until cockcrow. Arnold Godt was musical
director for many years, and was a succeeded by W. C. Nordmann. Afterwards, Mr.
Peterson was director of a large orchestra.
With the passing of the older generation, interest in
German culture and the German language waned, so the Turn Verein ended on June 28, 1932,
when the hall was bought by the Elks Lodge.
During its existence, the Washington Turn Verein, in
addition to providing athletic and gymnastic training, made enormous contributions to the
social life of the community.