Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
[Transcriber’s Note: The original cover of this booklet was of heavy paper, deep purple in color with glittering gold lettering. Both the paper and the gold lettering have faded to the point that the lettering is unreadable when scanned. The layout of the cover is similar in style and nearly identical in content to the cream colored title page displayed above. The ads on the inside and back covers don’t appear to be faded, and they show the purple color as it must have originally been. We have not displayed the pages of this booklet in their original order, nor do the page numbers of this presentation correlate to the original page numbers. Both the spellings Saengerbund and Sangerbund are used interchangeably throughout the booklet. Six pages of the original text are in German.
13th Saengerfest of the Saengerbund Des Northwestern June 29 & 30, 1887
Medallion belongs to John Kornfeind and is about the size of a US half dollar
Any attempt to write an adequate history of the Freeport Saengerbund is necessarily attended with many difficulties, when it is considered that none of the early records of the society were preserved and of the original members but one survives, Mr. Phil Hoebel of Blaristown,, Iowa. Hence it is from personal recollections only, in addition to the brief mention which is contained in the early numbers of the Deutscher Anzeiger, that the writer has to draw upon for the early history, and since at the time of the organization of the Bund he was but a boy of fourteen – not yet eligible to membership – his memory may occasionally have lead him into error. Mr. Hoebel, however, verifies the statement that it was largely due to the efforts of the senior William Wagner that the society came into existence.
On Saturday evening, Dec. 15, 1855, in response to an appeal published in the preceding issue of the Anzeiger twenty men – both old and young – assembled in the hall in the third floor of the Hoebel building, at present No. 79 Stephenson Street, for the purpose of organizing a Singing Society. The project met with such favor that the organization of the Society, for which the name Freeport Saengerbund was chosen, -- was duly accomplished, and a constitution and by-laws, prepared in advance by one of the more zealous agitators of the movement, were adopted. The first president of the organization was Mr. Carl Strohacker, and Mr. John Geiger held the office of secretary for many years. The following are the names of some of the charter members: Wm. Bergholte, Phil. Fleischmann, John Geiger, Geo. Held, John, Phil, and Peter Hoebel, Louis Jungkunz, Jos. Lampert, Carl Schoen, H. Schrenkler, John M. and Henry Spratler, Carl Strohacker, and Wilhelm Wagner.
Mr. P. Knecht, a German teacher, who had emigrated from Rhenish Bavaria a few years before, was unanimously chosen director, a position he filled very creditably for eight years. The first rehearsal took place Friday evening, Dec. 21, in the same hall in which the organization of the Bund was perfected and during the fifty years following Friday evening has continued to be rehearsal evening except in especial exigencies.
The first social entertainment was given on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27, 1856, at which choruses, solos, and declamations comprised the program, and these gatherings were given bi-weekly every winter for many years, though later on evenings instead of afternoons. On Easter Monday, March 24, 1856, the society made its debut in public concert, followed by a dance, in Phoenix Hall. Besides choruses the program embraced solos, duets, and also piano selections for two and four hands, and in a communication, which appeared in the Anzeiger, written by Mr. Christian Mueller, long since deceased, that gentleman spoke very favorably of the concert, urging the singers on to continued efforts.
In 1856 a German Turn-Verein was organized, which together with the Saengerbund formed the center of the society life for the German element of the community. Almost all the liberal minded Germans belonged to one or the other of the societies, and many to both. Festivities of every sort were held and especially was the celebration of the 4th of July made an occasion of the great rejoicing for many years. The two societies worked hand in hand even after the Turn-Verein organized a singing section of its own. The two choruses would forget all differences and rivalries and mingle their voices on many occasions. On Nov. 10, 1859, at the centennary celebration of the poet Schiller’s birth, the societies sang a chorus together and each rendered two numbers independently.
Toward the end of the fifties the Saengerbund took an active part in a national Saengerbund, but no details of this event are to be found. In 1863 Mr. Knecht, who had also assumed the leadership of the singing section of the Turn-Verein, resigned his position as director of the Saengerbund and Mr. W. H. Wagner was chosen in his stead. The new director was young in years, only twenty-two at the time, and comparatively lacking in musical knowledge and experience, but he set himself to his task with such zeal and enthusiasm – practicing oftentimes until late into the night hours – that success rewarded his efforts.
By the end of the year 1863 the society had increased its membership to such an extent as to necessitate larger quarters and in February 1864 rooms in the building Nos. 100-102 Stephenson St., previously vacated by the Masonic fraternities, were occupied. In this hall, which was almost twice as large as the original meeting place, many pleasant and happy hours were spent. In those days, the director received no stipulated salary but occasionally gifts were made or a benefit concert arranged for him. One of these, during the winter of 64-65, from which the beneficiary received an unexpectedly large sum, will always be remembered by him with gratitude. Either in the year of 1865 or 66 the society moved its habitation again and this time to Hettinger’s hall, now known as Armory hall and in the meantime, as the young director was becoming more experienced, the renditions of the society gradually improved, so that on the occasion of a gathering held at Mineral Point, Wis., our singers were rewarded with great applause for the manner in which they rendered their selections.
The Saengerbund of the Northwest held a Fest in Galena from the 17th to the 19th of June 1869 and although the Freeport society was not a member of the Bund at that time, an invitation was extended to us by our Galena confreres to attend, and the invitation was accepted with pleasure. We reached Galena in advance of any other society. In fact up to the afternoon of the second day the Freeporters were the only visiting singers in attendance, and at the first concert they with their hosts, the Galena society, occupied the stage alone. The Fest-President in an address commended the Freeport Saengerbund for this and citied it as a model society.
In 1870 arrangements for a private Saengerfest were perfected and an invitation was extended to all German singing societies within a radius of 100 miles. The Fest was held from the 14th to the 16th of June and was participated in by the singers of the following cities: Davenport and Dubuque, Ia., Mineral Point, Janesville, and Burlington, Wis., Galena, Sterling, Rockford, Mendota and two societies from towns of our own county, Davis and Lena. The societies of Dixon and Amboy were represented by delegates, and the Davenport, Dubuque and Mineral Point contingencies were each accompanied by a band. The grand chorus comprised about 200 voices and the singers were assisted by an orchestra from Davenport, the Germania band from Dubuque and the local Union Cornet band. Upon this occasion addresses were delivered by the well known orator, Mr. Caspar Butz, of Chicago, in the German and Hon. T. J. Turner in the English language. Not only the German, but also the English speaking public was very enthusiastic in its praise of the event, and the marked success of the Fest induced the Freeport singers to ally themselves with the Saengerbund of the Northwest, since which time no Saengerfest of the Bund has been held at which the Freeport Saengerbund has failed to respond to the roll call.
In 1875 a number of the members of the Saengerbund assisted the musical director of the singing section of the Turn-Verein, Prof. E. Bischoff, in the presentation of the entire opera Freischuetz.
It having been decided that in the year 1877 the Saengerfest of the Northwest Saengerbund be held in Freeport, Mr. W. H. Wagner, not regarding himself competent to conduct so extensive an undertaking, resigned from the position as director of the society in the spring of this year and in his stead Prof. E. Bischoff was selected under whose leadership the Fest was held. About 170 visiting singers attended, scarcely more than took part in the private Fest held seven years previously. This was due to the fact that only one society from Milwaukee appeared in a body and two of the other societies merely send delegates. This was a great disappointment to the local Fest committee, who had expected the Milwaukee singers to turn out en masse; nevertheless from a musical standpoint, the Fest was a complete success. Bach’s celebrated orchestra from Milwaukee furnished the instrumental music and all of the grand choruses were rendered with orchestral accompaniment.
In November of the same year the Saengerbund and the Turn-Verein merged into one society under the name of Germania Society. This union was accomplished in the hope of becoming a more influential factor in the German life of the city. In 1882 the Turn hall, also rechristened Germania Hall, was remodeled and as a fitting dedication a grand concert was arranged, for which a part of the program was the presentation of the second part of Flotow’s opera “Stradella.” The several roles were sung by the following local talent: Leonora by Miss Alma Meyer, now Mrs. Louis Biersach; Stradella by Mr. H. W. Schroeder, now deceased; Barbarino by Mr. Ben Stoneman, who removed to California, and Malvolio by Mr. R. Hefti now of Chicago. The chorus numbered forty voices, assisted by an orchestra of fourteen pieces. This concert was unquestionably one of the best ever given under the auspices of the Saengerbund.
Yielding to the solicitation of the official body of the Saengerbund of the Northwest, the local society again undertook the management of a Fest in 1887. Prof. Bischoff had resigned the directorship at the conclusion of the Fest of 1877 and Mr. Wagner was again wielding the baton. At both of the previous Fests the concerts were given in Wilcoxon’s opera house, but this time, inasmuch as upwards of 400 visiting singers alone were expected, it was necessary to seek more ample quarters. The management decided to rent Taylor’s park and by erecting a temporary stage in front of the large amphitheatre for the accommodation of the singers and musicians – the audience to occupy the space in front of the stage and also the amphitheatre – provision was made for the large crowds which attended the concerts both afternoons and evenings. Nothing marred the success of the affair until the last day, just as the picnic was in progress, a heavy down-pour of rain scattered the crowds to their homes much to the chagrin of the Fest committee, whose treasury suffered in consequence. All that prevented a heavy deficit on the day of balancing accounts was the generosity of Mr. J. B. Taylor, owner of the park, in giving the use of the same almost gratis.
Toward the latter part of the year 1888 – the director now having served the society for 25 years and desiring to be released from his duties, Prof. Holub of Milwaukee, Wis., was engaged. His regime was brief, he conducting the society but three months. In May 1890 Prof. E. Lux was called to the leadership and he too remained but a few months; each time the former director, Mr. Wagner, being forced to step into the breach and again take up the baton. In January 1894 Prof. E. Tamm, a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory of Music, who had come to Freeport to locate, was induced to take the directorship of the society, and under him much good work was accomplished. However, as a result of dissensions arising between the Saengerbund and the Turn section of the Germania society the former withdrew in February, 1896, and held its meetings in Blust’s hall for a time. Scarcely a year later they rented quarters from the Germania and in 1897 again allied themselves with that society, the former difficulties having in the meantime been adjusted. In April 1898, Prof. Tamm resigned and Mr. Wagner was again at the helm for four more years. At the end of this period – having served the Bund in all fully 33 years – he felt privileged to rest from his labors in the field of music. The present incumbent, Prof. Theo. H. Trost, was appointed in October 1903, the society having previously been conducted a few months by Mr. Aug. Schmacker, for years a member of the Saengerbund.
Owing to the fact that the younger generation of Germans does not cherish the customs and traditions of the elders, the musical-literary entertainments of the early days have for years only been given occasionally. The annual “Carnival of Fools,” which, since 1899, is held just preceding lent, has found great favor with the public and owing to its humorous features always attracts large audiences.
To the credit of the Freeport Saengerbund, however, let it be said that its members have always championed German song and the spirit and customs of the Fatherland, and it is the fervent hpe of the writer that in the future as in the past they may labor in the same direction, always true to the motto of the Saengerbund of the Northwest:
“O gruene fort und bluehe lang, In unsrem Bund, du deutscher Sang.”
(O blossom forth and flourish long, In our midst, thou German song!)
Index of Advertisers
A. C. Wanner, Jeweler &Optician
A. H. Tempel’s Sons
-- Furniture & Undertaking
Arcade Manufacturing Co.
August Kluth, Contractor and Builder
A. W. Ford & Son, Jewelers
B. F. Brubaker, Dealer in Wisconsin Lime, -- Michigan Stucco, Plaster Hair
B. P. Hill Grain Co.
Baier & Ohlendorf, Freeport Brewery
Balles Bros., Fine Wines and Liquors
Burchard & Burrell, Attorneys At Law
C. H. Little & Co.
-- Museum of Wares Around the World
Chas. E. Meyer & Co., Pure Food Vinegars
Chas. F. Nieman, Haberdasher
Chas. H. Frick, Artistic Printer
-- Dealer in Fine Confectionery,
-- Fruits, Ice Cream, Cigars and Tobacco
C. D. Cramer, Groceries and Notions
C. P. Guenther, Northwestern Pharmacy
C. W. Harden, Jobber of Fine Cigars
D. Brauer, Dealer in Wines,
-- Liquors and Cigars
Delhauer’s Tea and Coffee Store
Dickman & Peterson, Carriage Painters
Domestic Bakery, Frank Knauff, Propr.
E. F. Branen, Fluff Rug Mfg.
-- and Carpet Cleaner
E. Wagner & Bro.,
-- Furniture and Undertaking
E. & W. Clothing House
Evans Plumbing And Heating Company
F. A. Read, Dry Goods,
-- Notions, Ladies Ready
Ford & Frick, Watches, Clocks and Jewelry
Franz Bros. Brewing Co.
Freeport Railway Light & Power Co.
Freeport Telephone Exchange Co.
Geo. F. Schmelzle,
- Contractor-Dealer in Wall Paper,
-- Paints, Oils, Glass and Curtain Goods
Geo. H. Snyder, Mfg. of Single Twist
Golden Eagle, One Price Clothing House
Graff & Lamm, Eureka Saloon
Guyer & Calkins Co.,
-- Canned Fruits And Vegetables
H. A. Hillmer Co., Hillmer White Ash Coal
-- Fine Wines Liquors And Cigars
Hanover Bakery, H. Rohkar, Jr.
Henry B. Witte, Attorney-At-Law
H. J. Moogk, Dealer in Drugs,
-- Medicines and Fine Cigars
Hofmann & Buss, Local Agents
- Natural Carbon By-Products Co. (Paint)
Hollister & Barrett, Jewelers and Opticians
J. N. Galloway, Mfg. of
-- Soda & Mineral Water
J. O. Paules, Concrete Work
John Bauscher, Jr., Florist
John P. Scheidt, Prop. Senate Sample Room
John Schmich, Mfg. Pop,
-- Ginger Ale, Orange Cider
John Schneider, Dealer in Flour,
-- Feed, Grain, Graham Flour,
-- Buckweat, Corn Meal, Screenings,
John Schwarz & Sons,
-- House and Sign Painters
John Vaupel, Fine Clothing and Furnishings
Joseph Emmert, Drugs
-- Bicycle Repairing, Machine Work
J. W. Benston, Cigar Distributer
Kuehner Bros., Furniture Store
Kuhlemeier & Mauer,
-- Boots, Shoes and Rubbers
Lilley & Foss,
-- Clothing And Gent’s Furnishings
Louis Bauscher, Florist
-- Fine Liquors, Wines and Cigars
Martin Kroer’s Buffet
M. L. Parker Co., Plumbing and Heating
Mrs. M. Palmer, Hotel and Restaurant
O. D. Emerick, Jeweler
Otto Wagner; Card Systems,
-- Trays and Filing Cases
Racket Store, C. R. Yeager, Proprietor
Richard Weik, Wines, Liquors and Cigars
Ritchie & Lukerman,
-- Mfg. of Duplex Power Pumps
Robert Casey, Wholesale and Retail
- Dealer in Whiskies, Wines and Cigars
Robt. Luecke, Clothing and Shoes
Royal Lancer, 10c Cigar.
-- W.N. Tice, Distributor to the Trade.
Sanford & Zartman, Lumber Co.
-- Brewers, Bottlers and Maltsters
Schmidt and Wachlin, Tailor and Clothier
Second National Bank
State Bank of Freeport, Illinois
Steve Steffen, Fine Imported Wines,
-- Liquors And Cigars
-- Dealers in Wines, Liquors and Cigars
-- Imported Wines, Liquors and Cigars
The Eagle Sample Room, John F. Franz,
-- Fine Wines, Liquors and Cigars
The Elite, Jos. Ambruster, Prop.,
-- Choice Cigars, Choice Bottled Goods
The Freeport Gas Machine
The Freeport Hardware Company
The German Insurance Co. of Freeport
The Hub, Matt Wilkey Proprietor,
-- Fine Wines, Liquors and Cigars
The Troy Cafe
The Wagner Bindery; Mfg. of Blank Books
-- and General Book Binders.
The Wallace Severance Co.,
-- Originators and Mfg. National Gas Machine
Theo. Koch, Liquors
Toelle & Page, Proprietors of the
-- White House Sample Room
Union Loan And Building Association
Wagner’s. Largest Confectionery Store
-- in Freeport, Ill.
W. C. Jencks, Mfg. and Dealer
-- in Hand-Made Harness of All Kinds
W. C. Ruch, Agents for Candies
W. H. Shons, General Contractor
W. H. Wagner & Son,
-- Printers and Electrotypers
W. Kaste’s Studio (Photographs)
Wm F. Jungkunz, Druggist
Wm. O. Wright & Co.,
-- Leaders in Clothing and SHoes
Wm. Root, Dealer in
-- Fine Wines, Liquors and Cigars
Weaver & Moers, Stylish Footwear
Weiss & Co. Hardware, Stoves & Tinwork
Williams & Beckmire,
-- Women’s and Children’s Ready-to-Wear
Yellow Creek Brewery
Philip Knecht ~ W.H. Wagner ~ Philip Hoebel
Courthouse and German Insurance Company
W. Exchange St. cor N. VanBuren Ave.
Galena Street Top photo: Galena St., East From Walnut (Later became Main Street.)
Bottom photo: Stephenson St., East From Walnut
Grace Episcopal Stephenson Street looking West
Memorial of Lincoln and Douglas Debate
Held at Freeport August 27, 1858
Dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt
Bessie Andre - Mary Anslinger - Clara Baadte - Josephine Baadte - Carrie Backes Tracy Balles - Mrs. Stephan Bering - Stephan Bering - Jacob Boehner - Lena Boehner - Wm. Boelter - Bartheld Brauer - Ida Brauer - Peter Brauer - W. H. Bressler - Vallie Bucher- Walter L. Burkhart - Augusta Burns - Louise Camerer - G. A. Dinges - Albert Dittman - Jessie Cassford - Catherine Eberle - John Eberle - Lena Eberle - Mary Eberle - Etta Emrich - R. Fischer - Edwin Franz - Josie Franz - Margaret Freeseman - Robert Frick - Marie Froning
John Green - C. D. Grothe - May Grothe - Minnie Grothe - Fritz Guensler - Chas. P. Guenther - Robert Hadler - Mabel Hake - Alma Hansen - Clara Hill - Matilda Hill - John Hinderks - Louette Hinderks - Al. Hofmann - Mattie Hurst - Letta Isaacs - Jacob Kerch - Otto H. F. Kieckhaefer - John Kiefer - W. A. Kintzel - Annie Knauff - Mrs. Edward Koehler - Emma Kraft - Carrie Kropf - Meta Krueger
Jennie Leonhardt - Sophia Long - Mrs. Alvin R. Luecke - Henry Luecke - August Luedeking - Clara Luedeking - Edith Luedeking - Mary Luedeking - Mary Madden - Chas. A. Moers - Simon Mueller - Anna Oberem - Bena Ohden - Margaret Ohden - Nora Ohden - Mrs. Elmer Ohlendorf - August Ortmeier - Ottilie Ortmeier - Margaret Oswald - John Rau - Lena Raymer - Belva Reinecke - Elinor Rinderman - Regina Rinderman
Clara Sauer - Clara Scheidt - Kate Scheidt - Martha Schmedes - Geo. Schmelzle - Emma Schmitt - W. Schuerman - Hazel Schwarz - Clara Secker - Mrs. Frank Secker - Agnes Springer - Emma Staben - Minnie Staben - Charles G. Steffen - Clara Steffen - Anna Tappe - Clara Tappe - Ernst Tappe - Mary Tappe - Walter Tappe - Mrs. Prof. Theodore Trost - Ella Ulrich - Frederic Wagner - Alma Waldecker - Clara Wienecke - Helen Wienecke - H. B. Wutte - Paul Wurtzel - William Wurtzel - Alice Zimmer
Stephen Bering - President
Theo H. Trost - Director
Peter Brauer - Secretary
John Schneider, Treasurer
_. Brauer, ___?
John C. Kiefer
The Festival Chorus of the 50th Anniversary of the Freeport Saengerbund, July 3rd and 4th
President, Miss Clara Steffen.
Vice-President, Mrs. Prof. Theodore Trost.
Secretary, Walter L. Burkhart.
Librarian, B. Brauer.
Director, Prof. Theodore H. Trost
Robert L. Frick
Chas. A. Moers
Charles G. Steffen
C. D. Grothe
Charles P. Guenther
Henry B. Witte
G. A. Dinges
Herman H. Schulte
John T. Hinderks
Otto H. F. Kieckhaefer
W. A. Kintzel
W. H. Wagner
Bertha Lincoln Heustis
Mrs. Wally Heiber-Vizay - Matinee Program Monday afternoon
Christ Bach - Monday evening performance
Theo Hatrost - Monday evening performance
The 1905 Freeport Saengerbund
Page 5, Written in German
Translated by Roger Engels
[Transcriber's Note: The German text in the Freeport Sängerbund may have been written by a different person than who wrote the English text. While the basic history it covers is the same, new people, events, and musical compositions are described in the German text.]
On Easter Monday, March 24th 1856, the Saengerbund gave its first public concert with a ball following in the Phoenix Hall next door to the society meeting place, at which, among others the following choral songs were sung; Hunter’s Farewell by Mendelsohn, a hunting song and a march. The program also included solos and duets as well as two- and four-handed piano pieces. It was this concert, through a laudatory report by the long deceased Christian Mueller in the above mentioned newspaper [Deutscher Anzeiger], which spurred the singers to greater enthusiasm. The entrance fee for the concert was fifty cents, with an additional fifty cents to attend the ball.
In 1856 a German Turnverein was organized and the two organizations formed the center of German social life. Almost all of the liberal Germans belonged to one or the other, and many belonged to both clubs. All sorts of festivities were held and one of the high points for all of the German residents of the city and surrounding area was the almost yearly celebration of the national holiday (July 4th) to which the whole family, kids and all, turned out. The singers cooperated willingly in all of these festivities, and even after the Turnverein formed a singing group the two men’s choruses sang together and the minor differences between the two groups were forgotten on these occasions. So, for example, on the 100th birthday celebtation of the German poet Friedrich Schiller the two clubs sang as one chorus and then as two single choruses.
Excursions were occasionally made “on shank’s mare,” that is, on foot for several miles into the country, for example to the Heitinger brewery in Silver Creek Township, and such excursion were very cheerful. The German life in our city was briefly quite different from now, in that the entire german population took part in the pleasures of the clubs.
Already at the end of the 1850’s the Saengerbund had taken part in a National singing fest of the North American Saengerbunds in Chicago. We can, however report no more details about this fest.
In 1863 Mr. Knecht, also leader of the singing section of the Turnverein, resigned as director of the Saengerbund, since leading both clubs came to be too much work. A 22 year-old W.H. Wagner, who took great pleasure in singing and music, but who had relatively little knowledge and experience was chosen as director, and he went eagerly to his work. The club had obtained a piano several years earlier, and on this piano he practiced often late into the night in order to enable himself to properly carry out his obligations.
By the end of 1863 the club had grown so much that the meeting hall was too small, and in February 1864 they moved to the recently vacated rooms of the Freemasons on the third floor of 100 and 102 Stephenson Street. The club experianced many enjoyable and uplifting hours in the twice as big hall. The director at that time received no salary. From time to time he was given small gifts or benefit concerts and the like were held. One such benefit remains unforgettable to the writer. The club held, in addition to their entertainments, monthly dances in the winter of 64 and 65, and on January 19th the dance was for the benefit of the director. The take was far greater than expected, over a hundred dollars.
In the year 64 or 65 the Saengerbund made a move to Hettinger’s Hall (the present Armory Hall), and since the young director now had some work and experience the choir’s accomplishments became better and more tasteful so that we, for example on an excursion to Mineral Point passed with honor and the singers received much applause from that club, which had organized the public celebration. I can not fail to mention also that in August 1864 the German inhabitants of Mendota arranged an excursion here and the local club put on a public celebration in their honor, which occurred in a great fashion. The plan to make a reciprocal visit to Mendota came into being only several years later.
From the 17th to the 19th of June 1869 a songfest of the Saengerbunds of the northwest took place in Galena, and although the local Saengerbund was not a member of that group Galena’s singers invited the locals to the festival and they responded with pleasure. The festival at that time was somewhat different from now. On the first and up to the second afternoon of the festival we were the only out of town club that had arrived and the first concert was sung by our locals and the Galena club.
Various of the farther distant clubs arrived only on the afternoon and evening of the second day in order to cooperate in the public celebration at the fairgrounds on the following day, where the festival president Mr. van Embden gave an address, in which he gave extaordinary praise to the Freeport club and held them up as models to the other singing groups.
For the following year (1870) the local Saengerbund held a private songfest to which the clubs within a 100 mile radius were invited. The Festival was held from 14-16 June and the following organizations were in attendance:
Mens choir from Davenport 21 singers with a 14 man strong band
Mens choir from Dubuque with 22 singers and an 8 man strong band
Harmonie from Mineral Point with 13 singers and an 8 man strong band
Concordia from Janesville with 17 singers
Teutonia from Burlington, Wis. with 18 singers
Saengerbund from Galena with 20 singers
Germania from Sterling with 18 singers
Germania from Rockford with 12 singers
Saengerbund from Mendota with 9 singers
Also two singing clubs from our county took part in the festival, namely the Germania from Davis with 16 singers under the leadership of Mr. A. Althoff, and the Harmonie from Lena with 10 singers under the leadership of Mr. Chr. Brueckner. Additionally the clubs from Dixon and Amboy were represented by delegations. The festival choir, including the local singers consisted of 200 voices.
As festival choir the mass choir sang
The Blue Mountains by Tschirch
Yearning and Echo by Kreutzer and
To the Fatherland by Abt.
The Davenport orchestra and the Germania band from Dubuque cooperated in the main concerts and the last named work was sung with the accompaniment of the local Union Cornet Band.
The festival progressed well in wonderful weather, and Mr. Caspar Butz of Chicago, at that time a well known speaker, delivered the german address, and Attorney T.F. Turner the english. The festival was recognized not only by the Germans of our city, but by the english-speaking fellow citizens, as the most successful that had up to that time taken place. Since our guests were also full of praise for the successful conduct of the festival, the club was invited to join the Saengerbund of the Northwest, and since then has not missed a festival of that organization.
In 1871 a sharpshooting group was formed in the club, and they conducted target shooting and picnics over the course of the summer in a lovely place in the area of the present-day Arcade Addition, which were quite jolly, and about which, many pleasant tales could be told. As we, for example, began singing at one of these get-togethers, one of the most avid second tenors called out loudly in his native dialect “Sing me something pretty!” and we did, too, belting out the fiery song “ To whom shall I bring the first glass.” The avid second tenor, Mr. John Hoebel, had to hear his remark frequently in the following years. The shooting club could excite the singers, among whom several proved to be good shots, only for a short time, and it died out. Singing and music became even more avidly kept up.
From the following years there is nothing especially important to report. We don’t want it to go unremarked, however, that in 1875 the then director of the singing section of the Turnerverein, Prof. Bischoff, with some soloist power from Chicago, presented the entire opera Freischuetz, with the participation of several members of the Saengerbund. In early 1877 W.H. Wagner resigned the directorship of the club, since he felt himself in large measure unqualified to lead a singing festival. The 8th singing festival of the Saengerbund of the Northwest was planned for here and was held from the 19th to the 22nd of June. The aforementioned Prof. Bischoff was named as director of the club and the festival took place under his direction. About 170 singers from the following out-of-town clubs participated: Liederkranz, LaCrosse; Concordia, Janesville; Mens Chorus and Helvetia, Dubuque; Germania, Rockford; Concordia, Watertown; Singing section of the Fr. Association, Milwaukee; Germania, Sterling; Germania, Kankakee, as well as delegations from the Liedertafel and the men’s choir from Milwaukee and the Teutonia from Burlington. The particiption at this festival was scarcely greater than at the private festival held 7 years earlier. This was ascribed to the fact that only a single Milwauke club came in full, and only two others sent delegations since a far greater number had been expected. Our festival committee was therefore a bit disappointed, but the festival proceeded in a satisfactory fashion, and the musical and singing accomplishments were quite good. The festival choruses were:
“Salamis: by Gernsheim
The Hunter’s Return, by Gurlitt
Quiet Seas and Pleasant Journey, by Fischer
Norman Procession, by Moehring.
Bach’s popular orchestra from Milwaukee delivered the instrumental music and the mass choruses were sung with musical accompaniement.
For the year 1887 the local club was forced to hold another singing festival after Dubuque, which was scheduled to host the event, declined to do so because the previous year the Iowa legislature had enacted a strict prohibition law. The Dubuque singers came to the view that under the prevailing circumstances the festival could not be held because a singing festival without a sufficient quantity of beer etc, could not be contemplated. The officials of the Saengerbund of the Northwest urged our singers so long that they finally decided to take on the festival.
Prof. Bischoff had resigned as director following the singing festival of 1877, and W.H. Wagner had again taken the position. Both of the previously held singing festivals had been held in Wilcox’s Operahouse; however for this 13th Bund festival 400 to 500 visiting singers were expected and other arrangements had to be made. After long consultation they decided to build a stage in front of the Taylot Park amphitheater for the singers and musicians, while the listeners could find seating on the stage or in the amphitheater. (The arrangement proved so practical that a similar installation was used for the 50 year jubilee.) Our expectations as to the out-of-town participation were not disappointed, from the Liederkranz, the Allemania and Harmonie in Milwaukee about 160 singers were found; the Orpheus in Chicago sent some 20, men’s choir from LaCrosse 22, the Concordia from Watertown 23, men’s choir from Madison 31, Saengerbund from Dubuque 25, Germania from Rockford 20, men’s choir from Davenport 17, Concordia from Janesville 17, Concordia from Elgin 16, men’s choir from Rock Island 13 etc. So that with the local singers we had a mass choir of more than 400 voices. The festival choruses were:
Hymn to Music, by Billeter.
Battleprayer, by Moehring.
German Men’s Festsong, by Tschirch.
Folksong: Tomorow I Must Depart from Here.
“Awake!” by Weidt
Luetzow’s Wild Hunt, by Weber.
For the concerts Bach’s orchestra from Milwaukee had again been engaged, as well as two voice soloists – Miss Mathilde Wilde from Chicago and Mr. Jos. Benedikt from MIlwaukee. The afternoon as well as the evening concerts were well attended and high praise was recieved from all sides. At the opening concert Mayor Bergman delivered a welcoming address and the festival went well until the afternoon of the last day when strong thunderstorms struck, just as the picnics were in full swing, and the participants hightailed it back to town. We would have had quite a deficit to make up from this annoying disturbance had not the owner of the park, Mr. J.B. Taylor waived nearly all of the rental fee. We came out about even, without a loss, but also without a profit.
However, we are getting ahead of the story and must go back to something.
In November 1877, only a few months after the second local singing festival, the Saengerbund had joined with the Turnverein under the name Germania Society. From that time on there was a single German social club and it was hoped thereby to strengthen the two divisions of the club, the men’s chorus and the gymnastics team. In 1882 the gymnastics hall, which at the joining of the two clubs was given the name Germania Hall, was renovated inside, and at the dedication of the improved hall the singers, with the cooperation of a number of local ladies and several of the best musicians of our city, held a concert, one part of which consisted of the second act of Flotow’s opera “Stradella.” Miss Alma Meyer (the present Mrs. L. Biersach) sang Leonore, Mr. H.W. Schroeder, one of our best tenors, who regrettably is long dead, had the role of Stradella, Mr. Ben. Stoneman, a local American who was always an eager attractive singer with our society, that of Barbarino and Mr. R. Hefti, who many years ago moved to Chicago, that of Malvolio. The completely locally formed chorus numbered 40 voices and the orchestra 14 pieces. This concert was indisputably among the best that our singers ever accomplished, and the old-timers who were in attendance recall the pleasure of the presentation. The memory is admittedly made more plesant since the occasion brought in nearly $250. The material success is regarded by many as higher than any other form of success.
The years went by, and with them much has disappeared, but the Freeport Sengerbund has survived, and the singers can say with no little pride, that in their society, that is among their own members, during the long years of continued existence squabbles never arose, rather that they cooperated in harmony.
At the end of 1888 the director had led the chorus for 25 years and longed for some peace and relaxation. However, in January 1889 a man recommended to us from Milwaukee, Mr. Bohumil Holub ( as can be seen from the name, a Bohemian) took over the lead, but was released in April after only three months, and then in May 1890 a Prof. E. Lux from Chicago was hired as director and lasted only till the end of 1890. Once more the former director had to spring into the breach willy-nilly and take up the director’s baton.
In January 1894 a Leipzig trained musician, Mr. Ernst F. Tamm arrived here and was moved to take the directorship. Quite a lot was accomplished under his leadership, but as a result of disputes between the Saengerbund and the gymnastic section of the Germania Society the singers left the society in February 1896 and held their gatherings and rehearsals in Blust’s Hall. Scarcely a year later our club again rented rehearsal space from the Germania Society and in 1897 reunited with that society, since the earlier differences had been settled. Mr. Tamm kept the leadership of the chorus only until April 1st 1898 and once again Wagner had to assume the office, which he filled an additional four years.
BACK - HOME
© Genealogy Trails