by Shirley J. Riemer
Turn Verein came into being as the result of a simple call
for the founding of an organization through a notice posted
in town on May 28, 1854, translated from the original German
and reading as follows:
"Those gentlemen who intend
to participate in the founding of a Turn Verein are kindly
asked to sign their name, stating if they want to become
active or inactive members of said club."
August 12: Captain Johann Sutter
arrives at the site of present-day Sutter's Fort.
January 19: Gold is discovered in Coloma.
March 19: The first issue
of the Sacramento Union newspaper is published.
August 1: The first city
election is held and the first brick house in the city is
finished. The first Baptist and Roman Catholic churches
are organized. A second devastating fire levels much of
September 9: California
becomes the 31st State
The first telegraphic message passes between San Francisco
and Sacramento. The city is flooded. The first public school
May 28: Signatures are gathered
to start a Turn Verein in Sacramento
June 2: The signators meet
at the home of H. Ehmann, on J Street between 5th and 6th
June 9: A constitution is
ratified, effective June 20.
June 20: Temporary officers
July 5: Membership is recorded
July 13: Fire, starting
in a furniture shop between 3rd and 4th streets and J and
K, spreads east on J Street and North to I Street, destroying
12 city blocks, including Turner Hall with all its gymnastic
November 15: A singing society,
the beginnings of the Turner Harmonie, is formed, with C.
Wolleb as director.
December 9: After meeting
at various locations following the fire, the members begin
meeting at the "Zinc House" in the alley between
7th and 8th streets and J and K streets.
December 10: The Turn Verein
constitution is revised.
December 20: Members vote
to join the Socialistischer Turnerbund Nordamerikas.
The population of Sacramento, which is made the permanent
capital of California this year, is 10,000.
June 18-19: The Turners
celebrate their first anniversary, with 40 Turners arriving
from San Francisco on the steamer "Senator" to
join them. The delegation parades by torchlight through
the Sacramento streets, accompanied by a city band, the
Swiss Rifle Club, the Sacramento Turners, and the Harmonie.
It is greeted at Columbus Hall on the American River by
a salute of cannons. The women of the Turn Verein present
a flag as "...a sign of friendship the women have for
your Turn Verein. We feel that although young, this organization
has a great future. In the name of the German women, we
wish you 'Gut Heil!""
February: A gunsmith member
Carl Böttger designs a seal (for $10), consisting of
a sword, a torch and a crossed handshake, symbolizing bravery,
liberty and friendship.
April: The organization
is officially incorporated as the "Sacramento Turn
July: A marksman section
is organized, but it did not last very long. A Founder's
Day event is planned, to be held at a building on the corner
of 6th and L streets.
December 4: Ground is broken
for the State Capitol. The Sacramento Valley Railroad to
Folsom is completed.
February: The Sacramento
and Yolo bridges are constructed. The first overland mail
service departs from Sacramento via Placerville to Salt
September 20: The Turners
hold a torchlight parade in honor of the opening of the
undersea telegraph line between Europe and America
October 2: The Turners move
to a new Turnhalle, their last move into rented quarters
February 12: The Turners
decide to leave the North American Turners and join the
Pacific turners. The "Turn jacket" is replaced
with the "Turn coat." Dues are raised from $1.00
to $2.00 per month. Although it is decided that the Turnfest
will be held in Sacramento in 1858, the Turners of the Pacific
Coast decide the Sacramento event will be delayed until
after the new Turner Hall on K street is completed.
September: The California
legislature proclaims Sacramento as the permanent site of
the State Fair. (The first State Fair was held in 1852 at
Warren's Feed Store on J Street near 2nd Street.)
October 9-11: The Sacramento
Turners hold their State Festival. Sacramento Turners meet
the San Francisco Turners and several glee clubs at the
steamer and escort them to their K Street Turnerhalle, to
the accompaniment of a marching band. The first land route
from San Francisco to Sacramento becomes a reality.
April 18: A new constitution
is drawn and accepted.
June: The Pacific Turnfest
is held in Stockton. In this year, the first messenger of
the Pony Express leaves Sacramento and the Sacramento Turn
Verein establishes gymnastics in Sacramento schools and
furnishes its first instructors.
June 14-16: The Pacific
Turnfest is held in Sacramento for the first time and is
the most extensive held so far. (the first was held in 1860
in Stockton, the next in 1861 in San Francisco and in 1862
in San Jose.) The Turnfest presents a concert and huge parade,
escorted by the City Guards, the National Guard and the
The Turner Library is formed.
April: Members decide to
note the death of Abraham Lincoln in the club's minutes.
German Lutherans establish the German Evangelical Lutheran
Church (today's St. John's Lutheran Church).
August 30, 31, and September 1:
The 8th Annual Pacific Coast Turn Verein Union holds its
Turnfest in Sacramento, with many delegates from San Francisco
October 3: The Turners hold
a fair to aid the wounded, the widows and children during
the time the German armies were in France representing a
united Germany. The fair brings in $3,500. The population
of Sacramento is 16, 283.
February: A torchlight parade
is held in Sacramento, supported by all its German-Americans,
to celebrate German unification and the end of the Franco-Prussian
April 19: The West Coast
Turners decide to join the Pacific Turnerbund again. The
Turners send aid to the sufferers from fire damage in Chicago,
Wisconsin and Michigan.
May: For their 18th annual
picnic, the Turners march from Turner Hall to the depot
to board street cars for Richmond Grove, a park located
between 19th and 21st streets, extending from Q Street to
the alley before R Street.
December 25: The women present
to the Turners a beautiful $600 flag of red silk, embroidered
in gold with the words, "Frisch, Frei, Stark, Treu."
The flag is on display in the Turn Verein Library.
February 19: The Turn Verein's
Drama Society is formed, presenting a play and sponsoring
May 2: The Turners celebrate
their 20th anniversary with a picnic, attended by at least
1500 people, at the new 30-acre East Park located on the
east side of 31st Street between E and H streets (now McKinley
Park). Activities include the usual singing and dancing
in the afternoon and exercises including calisthenics, foot
races and swimming.
December: The Christmas
Ball is a success.
February: The Karneval celebration
is a success, bringing in $550. Despite the admission for
men of $2.00 and $1.00 for women, a massive crowd attends
(Three months later it is decided to increase the admission
to $5.00, with only a limited number of tickets to be sold).
March 28: The May festival
brings in $454, leading to the decision to pay off the $500
February 21: The Turners
hold their 7th Annual Masquerade, which brings in $337.10
December: The Christmas
dance brings in $310.85.
November 7: A Turner committee
schedules a meeting with the city government concerning
gymnastic instruction in the public schools.
April 3: The Drama section
is reorganized and a committee is formed to organize the
August 10: A celebration
of the 100th year since the birth of "Father Jahn"
is held in Richmond Grove, including a ball, a theater event
and the presentation of busts of Jahn.
June 1-2: Foundation Day,
celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Turn Verein, includes
a picnic in Richmond Grove and a dance in the Turner Hall.
January 7: The membership
drops to 80
July 4: The Turner Harmonie
sings at the Fourth of July ceremonies at the Pavilion.
August 27: The Harmonie
is rejuvenated with the arrival of the new director of music,
October: A new instructor,
Gustav Lohse, arrives and is introduced "with three
loud Gut Heils." A graduate of the Gymnastic Seminary
in Milwaukee, he is credited with bringing new life to the
In the first half of the year, a Turn Sisters organization
February 16: The Karneval celebration brings the highest
profit ever, $780.
June 18: Despite an unusually
short time for preparation, the Turnfest brings in $168.50.
November 17: The Turners'
beloved instructor Gustav Lohse dies of typhus, age 23.
January 17: Several German
clubs join with the Turners and donate 800 Marks to aid
the Silesian flood victims.
February: The Drama section, which was discontinued, is
started up again. At the Turnfest in Oakland, Sacramento
wins many prizes. The Turners are accompanied by music to
the railroad depot and also when the arrive home. The Turner
Harmonie wins the first prize at the Turnfest.
March 16: The Turn Verein
purchases, for $150, a plot in the Sacramento City Cemetery,
20 by 44 feet in size.
August: Turners attend the
Pacific Turn Bezirk Festival in Oakland.
October: The Turn Verein
observes the 200th year since the first landing of Germans
in America, where they founded Germantown.
January: The 149 Turner
members are described as "very active" this year.
March: The Karneval brings
May: The Turn Verein picnic
is held in Richmond Grove.
August 20: Turners do well
at the Turnfest in Los Angeles
Sacramento Turn Verein hosts the Pacific
Turn Bezirk Festival in 1885. Parades like these were typical
for Turners through the years.
February: The annual Masquerade
is held at the4 Pavilion at 6th and M streets. Because the
tickets cost $1.50 the crowd is not as large as usual.
April 1: A grand Turnfest
is held in Sacramento.
May3: The Turners hold their
Early May: Sacramento celebrates
a historical occasion, the Floral Festival, to honor Margaret
E. Crocker who has donated the Crocker Art Gallery with
all its treasures to the City of Sacramento. To honor her,
a procession is formed in which all the townspeople participate,
including 1800 school children, the Hussars, the Hussar
Band and the Turner Harmonie. The floral tributes are dramatic.
The Turn Verein's floral display consists of a handsome
shield, five feet high and four feet wide. Across the face
of the shield, Mrs. Crocker's name is woven in, as well
as the name of the Turner organization. At the corners and
sides are emblems and the words "Gut Heil."
June 24-25: The Pacific
Turn Bezirk Festival is held in Sacramento. The San Francisco
and Sacramento Harmonies perform exceptionally well.
April 1: Members of the
various Turn Verein groups consist of 165 children, 49 active
Turners and 12 women.
March 3: A 12-woman group
begins to meet twice a week.
May: The number of children rises to 182
The annual picnic at Richmond Grove is not well attended
due to very windy weather, necessitating a shortening of
the children's gymnastic events.
June 1: Founders Day, 34
years after the founding of the Turn Verein, is celebrated
by an excursion to Placerville.
September 18: Dues are reduced
from $1 to 75 cents per month.
June 8-10: For the Turnfest
in Oakland, a $5.00 cost for travel is given, resulting
in good attendance.
February: A committee is
appointed to encourage Turning in public schools.
June 10-12: The Turnfest is held in Sacramento.
June 6: Turning is introduced
in the city schools. The instructor falls ill and the city
schools take on an instructor using the Swedish system.
January 1: The Harmonie
reorganizes. The teaching of the German system of Turning
is threatened by tight budgets. the property, valued at
$24,150 is free of debt.
January 1: The property
is valued at $23,900.
June 22: Sacramento Turners
win 11 prizes at the Los Angeles Turnfest.
January 1: The property
value is $29,400.
March 11: The Turn Verein
suffers difficult times as German immigration slows.
July 30-31: Sacramento is
well represented at the Turnfest in San Francisco.
January 1: The singers,
who have been lagging in activity, vote to be reorganized.
June 1: Turners celebrate
their 46th year with a trip to Dixon for a picnic with the
Redmen Singing Lodge.
December 4: To build membership,
it is decided to accept members "free," who are
age 18 to 25. The members consider it important to renew
the Singer's activity.
January 1: A mass meeting
is held to support the freedom movement in South Africa
February 4: The last living
founder, George Schroth, dies.
June: Sacramento Turners
attend the Turnfest in San Jose.
June: The Turnfest is held
in Oakland. It is decided to establish a new singing society
and 16 singers sign up.
1904 (50th Anniversary)
January 1: Singer membership
increases. The 10 actives, 12 children, 24 boys, 16 girls,
9 women and 5 elderly men (Bären) under instructor
Chas. S. Knapp represent an increased membership. Captain
Frank Ruhstaller is elected as the first speaker.
June 4-6: Sacramento's 20th
Turnfest takes place, with Captain Frank Ruhstaller presiding
over the festivities of the Golden Anniversary.
May 14: A memorial celebration
is held in Turner Hall in honor of the German poet Friederich
Schiller, under the auspices of the United German Societies
of Sacramento (12 societies, including three singing groups
Sacramento Turners attend the Turnfest in Los Angeles.
April: Turner singers join
the newly founded Pacific Sängerbund.
Six Turners attend the 11th German Turnfest in Frankfurt,
The Sacramento Turners compete with other singing clubs
at the First Pacific Sängerbund Festival in San Francisco,
bringing home the Austrian Wanderpreis, given by the Austrian
Emperor Franz Joseph. A formal picture of the harmonie is
sent to Kaiser Franz Joseph, who replies through his consulate
in San Francisco.
July: The Harmonie sings
between races at the Sacramento Driving Club's Matinee at
the State Fairgrounds for the benefit of the Home of the
Merciful Savior, a facility that cares for disabled children.
A Drum Corps is added to the Turn Verein.
Many Turners and singers participate at the National Turnfest
May 23: The Pacific Sängerbund
comes to Sacramento for the first time to present a 350-voice
concert at the Clunie Theater.
September: the gym classes,
especially the youth groups, begin a period of rejuvenation
following the hiring of Edwin Bercher of San Francisco as
Turnlehrer. Bercher introduces the Youth Masquerade,
to become an annual event. He also trains a large team of
young men and women who perform at the Panama Pacific International
Exhibition at San Francisco and receive many awards. (Bercher
remains the Turnlehrer for 30 years, until his death in
April: The Turn Verein holds
a Shakespeare Feier and furnishes an elaborate float for
the parade of the Spring Karneval.
October: The Turn Verein,
as a tradition, observes German Day in October each year.
During this year they also participate at the Turnfest in
Oakland and at the opening of the famous Causeway.
At the Turnfest in San Francisco, the Sacramento turn Verein's
"Damen Klasse" bring home first prize.
The surplus of the Annual Masquerade Ball, some 4320, is
turned over to the American Red Cross.
May: A resolution passed
to the effect that henceforth Turn Verein business will
be conducted in the English language instead of in German
(including the minutes of the meetings as well as the bylaws).
When the newly elected Turner President M.S. Wahrhaftig
is asked if the Sacramento Turn Verein would disorganize
as the Joplin Turn Verein has done, he replies: "Why
should the local Turn Verein disorganize? The Joplin Verein
is not affiliated with the German American Turner Alliance.
We don't take into our organization any person as a member
unless he has taken out his first citizenship papers. We
are doing good work. Nine members are in the service. We
have no idea of quitting." In the next meeting it is
resolved to turn out in full body for the next Fourth of
August: Active Turners hold
a large "Schauturnen" at which Oakland and San
Francisco, as well a team from the University of California,
The Pacific district meeting is held in Sacramento where
29 delegates, representing six Turner groups, decide to
conduct all future meetings in English.
August: Turner singers go
to San Francisco for the Second Pacific Sängerfest,
from which they return with high honors.
The Turn Verein's Handball-Paddleball Club is formed, later
to be known as the Handball-Racquetball Club. Handball becomes
a major Turn Verein sport from the 1930's through the 1950's.
Racquets replace the paddles in the 1960's.
Late Summer: The Turner
Harmonie goes to Tacoma to participate in the Gross-Pacific
Sängerfest, where they win first prize in their class.
A large group of active Turners and a women's team of 12
travel to Portland to participate in a three-day Turnfest
of the Pacific District, including all Western states. Competing
teams came from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle,
Salt Lake City and Denver, besides Portland and Sacramento.
At the same time, district headquarters are made in Sacramento.
The principal aim is to revive the Stockton and San Jose
Turn Vereine. (Marysville went out of existence at the outbreak
of World War I.)
1929 (75th Anniversary)
June 1-2: The Turn Verein's
Diamond Jubilee is celebrated.
Late June: The Turners
find a young choral director in San Francisco, Anton H.
Dorndorf, whom they engage to come once a week to Sacramento
for rehearsal. As the new director, he settles in Sacramento
and remains for 41 years until his death in 1970. Under
him the singers participate at the third Grosses Pazifisches
Sängerfest in San Francisco and win second prize.
April: The Drama Section,
having reorganized, presents its first one-act play, "A
Bargain is a Bargain," followed by a German Musical
Comedy by the Harmonie. Around this time the active Turners
begin making annual trips into snow country - for example,
trips to Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. Also, the Turn Verein
keeps its young students busy by enlivening their dances
with short vaudeville acts that demonstrate acrobatic abilities.
October 10: The Turner Singers
again host members of the Pacific Sängerbund, who come
to town to present a Festival Concert in the Memorial Auditorium.
The Harmonie sings the opening chorus and the festivities
end in a Grand Ball in he Turner Hall.
The Turnfest again takes place in Sacramento. This is the
first time since 1904 that a competitive district meeting
is held in Sacramento. More than 300 participants line up
for the Mass Drill and 186 active Turners take part in the
June: At the district competition in San Francisco, 27 women
and 23 men of the Turners, along with more than a dozen
teams, vie for championship titles.
May 5: An old traditional
German festival, the Bockbierfest, is revived after 16 years,
having been interrupted by passage of the Volstead Act in
1918. The event now becomes an annual event for the Turners.
November 3: The highlight
of the 80th Anniversary program is the "Wagner-Weber
Concert," given by the combined groups of the Oakland
and Sacramento Turner Singers, at Memorial Auditorium, with
200 voices, 4 soloists and an orchestra taking part.
December 10: The Harmonie
undergoes a change, becoming a mixed chorus. Some 25 women
join the group of men.
February: The Harmonie presents
its first annual Mardi Gras, with a Queen's contest and
is seen as one of the most outstanding events planned in
a long time by any Turner group.
July: Active Turners and
women take part in the Turnfest in Oakland, performing the
compulsory precision calisthenics drill. They not only take
first place, but also are praised by the judges for receiving
the highest scores of any such team in the records to date.
The National Turnfest is held in Cleveland, where the Turners
engage in stiff competition. The Turner Singers of Oakland
and Sacramento pool their resources and give a Wagnerian
Concert in both cities.
At the fourth Sängerfest of the Gross Pacific Sängerbund
in San Francisco, the Harmonie wins first place in the mixed
chorus class and receives the Beethoven Wanderpreis, given
by the Reichs Musik Kammer, of Berlin, Germany. This prize
is on display in the German-American Cultural Center Library
of the Turn Verein.
THE WAR YEARS
Many Turners join the Armed Forces, causing a loss in their
ranks, with some of the men never returning from the war.
The Harmonie, under its war president Anton H. Dorndorf,
celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the Turn Verein by giving
a concert for members and friends.
Turnlehrer Ed. Bercher, who served longer than any other
The Actives organize a Turn Verein Boy Scout troop.
October: The Harmonie, having
become the sponsor of an elaborate Goethe Festival, presents
a concert and continues giving such performances annually,
in German, at the Crocker Art Gallery.
At the fifth National Music Festival of the Pacific Sängerbund,
the Harmonie takes first prize in its own class and scores
the highest points of all participating groups.
January: The Harmonie presents
a benefit concert in the Turner Hall, raising $1,500 for
the Society of Crippled Children of Sacramento.
1954 (100th Anniversary)
The Centennial celebration of the Sacramento Turn Verein
is planned as a city-wide affair.
Through the efforts of its founder, Freddie Grosklos, the
Sacramento Turn Verein Soccer Club is formed and joins the
Central California Soccer League.
Racquets replace the paddles previously used in the popular
sport enjoyed by the Turn Verein's Handball-Paddleball Club,
formed in 1927
Anton Dorndorf, director of the Turner Harmonie for 41 years,
dies. Following him as director is Fedor A. Sinzig.
Dr. William J. Sullivan, Jr., as president of the Sacramento
Turner Harmonie, begins his overseeing of numerous Harmonie
performances in the Turner Hall as well as in many other
locales. His guidance of the Harmonie continues until his
untimely death in 2005.
May 30: Following the initiative
of Hans Joachim Raschack, the Turn Verein Library, beautifully
remodeled, becomes the focus of a grand opening, with city
officials and the Consul General of the German Consulate
in San Francisco participating. The opening of the Library
leads to the formation of the Turn Verein's newest section,
the German-American Cultural Center-Library. The team of
men who labored tirelessly from beginning to end on the
project with Raschack were Franz Bröcker, Alfred Cummings,
Günther Laudi and Uli Pelz. Monthly programs are presented
in the Library, organized by the Cultural Center.
Fall: The Turn Verein for the first time in its history
opens a German Language School, contracting with Irmgard
Schlenker, who organizes day and evening German language
classes for adults and Saturday classes for children.
December 4-5: The first Sacramento Turn Verein Christkindlmarkt,
under the leadership of Thom Seliga, is organized and conducted
by the Actives Section, resulting in an annual celebration
during the Christmas season in Sacramento.
newsletter of the Turn Verein's youngest section, the German-American
Cultural Center-Library, is launched as a quarterly eight-page
publication on German heritage, language, history and culture.
August 20: The Sacramento
Turn Verein amends its bylaws to give membership status
to qualified persons, regardless of gender. As a result,
21 women are installed as members between November 2003
and may 2004.
Many physical improvements are made in Turner Hall.
The Harmonie loses its longtime president Dr. William J.
Sullivan, Jr., in 2005.
The Sacramento Turn Verein launches its internet presence
Turn Verein Movement, Beginning in Germany
1854: German Immigrants Arrive in Sacramento
150 Years of the Sacramento
turn Verein: 1854-Present
Hall - Through 150 Years
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