The following is taken
from a local publication on the History of Young America that gives
a history of Stiftungsfest and
how it was started :
Bachmann, grandfather of Eda Shelby living in this community, loved
to sing and was gifted with a beautiful tenor voice. Karl also had a
dream in which he was leading a group of men singing songs from that
era. Most of the songs were sung in German because all had a very German
background. Then he awoke, but the dream gave him an idea. The following
day he gathered together the best male singers in the community and
men willing to put in hours of practice, and that night they gathered
at his home for their first practice. That night in 1861 in Benton,
Carver County, the "Pioneer Maennerchor" was born.
first members were: Karl Bachmann who was chosen president, Heinrich
Bachmann, Adolph Hoftermann, A. Schrimpf, H. Verufen and Henry Hostermann.
During the following years, numbers came and went. By 1911 not many
members were left. Most had died and the remaining members discontinued
singing except at Stiftungsfest when two would burst into song at the
practices the men would gather around a table known as "DesBrosse
Runde Tisch". They would play cards and drink beer (never to the
point of inebriation, though). The beer glasses, about 5 inches high,
were placed on a shelf just below the top while playing cards. Many
people have inquired as to the whereabouts of this table. The writer,
red faced and with a guilty conscience, has to confess she chopped it
up for kindling wood about 1931 as it was excess baggage in moving at
1867 several members' activities were curtailed as they, in line with
men from the entire U.S., enlisted for army duty in the Civil War. As
soon as the war ceased though, the society again became active. The
minute books, which began in 1861 but were abandoned several years later,
are now in the possession of Eda Shelby. She hopes they will never be
meetings were held in homes, alternating between Schnappsburg and Young
America. In 1876 they were held permanently in Young America where the
society built a special building, "The Singers' Hall". Once
a year the men, along with their families and friends, met for a picnic
in the old "Volger Woods", then the "City Park".
They chose the name of "Stiftungsfest" which means Founders'
Day Festival". Later they moved to the new city park at the
west end of town. Observance grew and grew until the entire community
became involved, and a baseball game was held, along with entertainment
by the Turn Verein from New Ulm. A special train brought people from
New Ulm and along the way in the morning and returned in the evening.
7, 1938 was the date of the last meeting of the singers. The six members
previously mentioned were present at this meeting, called to order by
President E. Bachmann. Secretary August Ackermann records, "It
was moved and seconded and carried that the society of the Pioneer Maennerchor
be from now on disbanded and wish the village and fire department the
best of luck in their undertaking. It was then moved and seconded for
adjournment, peace and harmony prevailing among the members."
a result of the dissolving of the group, the Singers Hall and grounds
were presented to the Village of Young America. The village authorities,
in turn, released the property to the fire department to manage the
hall and carry on the traditions of the old singing society. In the fall of the same year, the
fire department had full charge and responsibility for the Stiftungsfest
celebration. Since that time the department has spent much time and
effort to sustain the interest and festivities occasioned by the announcement
of this big day in Young America.
Stiftungsfest was born. What once was a dream for Karl Bachmann became
a reality and Stiftungsfest is now 151 years old - the oldest annual
picnic in Minnesota.
1956 Bob Stolz, grandson of a singer, Ted Molitor, began a new phase.
Free BBQ sandwiches were served, Bob made the special sauce, and with
the help of his wife and friends barbecued meat for 2 or 3 days. Now
the sandwiches are sold.
change was that Stiftungsfest became a three-day affair with parades
of every description, bingo, rides , softball play-offs, dancing, singing
contests, etc. You name it, Young America did it. Rain or shine, it
was always a success.
are many: Going to her dad when he was talking to someone to ask for
a nickel; she got it, too. Going to the park the next day looking for
loose change. The grandstand seats were open in the back and change
would drop out of men's pockets during exciting moments. We would find
it - oh, two or three cents - big deal. Big ice cream cones for 5 cents;
a new dress; a family reunion. No beer bottles or cans - all beer was
sold in glass mugs. Extra people were solicited to wash glasses!
close with a bit of humor here is an excerpt from an old "Young
America Eagle" put in by Dr. Grivelli (Ted Grivelli's grandfather,
who was health officer). It stated that all horse droppings were to
be cleaned up and outdoor buildings disinfected before Stiftungsfest.
Trick led the Stiftungsfest parade for many years. The parade started
at the Singers' Hall and marched east to Main Street. When Gust came
to the corner (now where the Gasthouse is), he would shout; "Links
um die Ecke, Varvart marz." Then up the street to the park they
and promoting of this new organization was first done by Herr Josef
Ritzler. About 15 to 20 youngsters came together at first to learn and
play the instruments with the hope of fostering and perpetuating the
people's music in Diedesfeld. The first conductor was Herr Karl
Bolz from Neustadt on Winestreet, who because of his own practical experience
made a good teacher for the young musicians. Under his direction the
band grew in numbers and soon found itself obligated to play at events
Karl Bolz accepted directorship of another band Herr Jacob Wunstel from
Landau took over as director. After a short period of time Herr Wunstel
resigned for timely reasons, and Karl Bolz again accepted the director's
position. After the demise of Herr Bolz in 1971, one of the active members,
Ernst Ehmer, gratefully accepted the position of director. Because
of illness in 1974 he was forced to retire as director.
very important factor increasing the musical standards of the band was
the committed efforts of director Isidor Schwarzwalder. He instituted
the training of youngsters (junior band) for replacements in the main
band. As of 1976 since its founding, the band has known 120 members,
the senior band being 40 in number and the junior band having 15 young