Turner Society


  Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852) founded the Turner movement in Germany as a half-secret paramilitary training facility for resistance fighters against the Napoleonic occupation. Shocked by the poor physical condition of the soldiers during the Napoleonic wars Jahn devised a system of exercises and games to help improve a persons strength and stamina. The Turners were trained not only in running, jumping, swimming, and weight-lifting, but also in the martial arts such as fencing, shooting, and even bayonet-fencing. He also invented much of today's gymnastic equipment. Thus he is credited with the invention of gymnastics. The following words were added to the German vocabulary because of his movement:

  The Turnverein, from their very beginning, were gathering places for German radical democrats. Thus, the Turners were a constant threat to the nobility and were ardent fighters for the Republic. They joined, and even started, many revolutionary uprisings in all the various German speaking countries. Their motto "Frisch, Fromm, Froehlich, Frei" (fresh, pious, merry, free) had its emphasis on the last word.
  In 1848, when the German revolution took place, many of these Turnvereins were in existence. The failure of this revolution caused many Germans to immigrate to the United States. Once here the Turnvereins were quickly started with the one in Cincinnati being the first in 1848. 
   The most famous Turner from the Cincinnati area was President and Chief Justice of the United States William Howard Taft. Whenever President Lincoln traveled the country Turners would gather to serve as guards much like the Secret Service does today. The Turners are still going strong today, they moved out of Turner Hall on Walnut St. (see below) in the 1950s. They now are located on Pinney Lane in Springfield Township. The old Turner Hall was razed in 1972.

Turner group.jpg (1429037 bytes)
Not a postcard


Turner Hall Vine.jpg (85382 bytes)    Turner Hall-2.jpg (116468 bytes)    Turner hall walnut.jpg (114420 bytes)    Turnfest back 1.jpg (81148 bytes)    Turnfest back 2.jpg (56941 bytes)
Vine St. Turner Hall                                  Walnut St. Turner Hall                                    The backs  of these cards are interesting         


*West End Turner Hall, Freeman Ave.jpg (53719 bytes)
West End Turner Hall
Freeman Avenue


Turner Festival-1865.jpg (1274252 bytes)
Print 1865 Turner Festival



   Starting on June 19th, 1909 and lasting until June 28th delegates from nearly every Turnverein in America and several from Germany arrived in Cincinnati to hold the largest Turnfest ever held. The lowest estimate of attendees was 50,000 and since Cincinnati started the first Turner Society this seemed appropriate. There were two main venues at this Turnfest, the "Festplatz" or campus was located at the Carthage Fair grounds. It was here where all the competitive exercises and contests were held. The U. S. War Department loaned the Turners enough tents for 2,000 participants to live there. Meals were also provided. For the first time in Cincinnati a series of motorcycle races were also held here. 

These cards are souvenirs of the Turnfest.

Turnfest vert 1.jpg (101775 bytes)    Turnfest vert 2.jpg (112143 bytes)    Turnfest Souvenir-vert.jpg (300500 bytes)    Turner SB2.jpg (316390 bytes)    Turnfest vert 3.jpg (101970 bytes)    Garfield Turnfest vert.jpg (118116 bytes)
  Gold Border           Silver Border


Bundes Turn Fest.jpg (294905 bytes)
The blank area probably was for
a photo to be pasted on.


These cards show the town of Carthage welcoming the Turners.

Carthage Turners-1.jpg (135333 bytes)    Carthage Turners-2.jpg (135311 bytes)    Casrthage after Turners.jpg (197391 bytes)
                     (Notice the speed limit sign in the first card)                         


Cartthage Turnfest-1909.jpg (178294 bytes)    Turners Elmwood Place.jpg (282911 bytes)*    Carthage Seymore & Vine St..jpg (140359 bytes)

   The last image above is a present day photograph of where, I believe, the image in the first two cards were taken. I am going by the building on the left and in the distance you can see what looks like a (train?) overpass which appears to have a banner over it in the postcard. The corner is Vine & Seymour. I believe the first two cards show the opposite sides of this welcoming gate. The writer of the first card\states that the area is Elmwood Place. It is titled Carthage Pike which is what this part of Vine Street was called.


1909 Turnfest.jpg (418017 bytes)

   The card above shows the entrance to one of the Turnfest's exhibition venues. There is no information on the card but look closely behind the statue and you will see the shield used in a couple of the souvenir cards above. It also says welcome Cincinnati in German with the date 1909. The statue also looks like one of the figures in one of the souvenir cards above. I am guessing that this could be the entrance to the Carthage grounds but I don't know. Can anyone help?


Turnfest-Carthage.jpg (97990 bytes)
Carthage Fair Grounds


 Turnfest25.jpg (384106 bytes)*    Turner vert.jpg (45067 bytes)      Turnfest Girls.jpg (251759 bytes)      Turnfest 1909.jpg (91928 bytes)*    Camp Site.jpg (279923 bytes)
 Grandstand &                                                                                                    
 Tent City                                                                                                     


Turnfest gut heil.jpg (111819 bytes)    Turnfest food.jpg (116730 bytes)    Turnfest tent city.jpg (78270 bytes)    Turnfest gymnastics.jpg (70637 bytes)    Turner-Women.jpg (665593 bytes)
      A little beer                      Some good food                 A nap in your tent                                    Then a little exercise                      


Dutch Boys-Turnfest.jpg (233157 bytes)    Dutch Girls-Turnfest.jpg (192486 bytes)                        Turnfest-shotpui.jpg (128578 bytes)
Cincinnati Dutch Boys                      Girls                                                             Shot putter          


NY Turners.jpg (125408 bytes)                                 Turnfest Winner.jpg (140083 bytes)
New York Turners                                                  Participant

   The 2nd postcard above shows 19 year old Charlotte (?) who seems to be a participant at the Turnfest. It looks like she may have a ribbon on her blouse.



   The second main venue for the Turners was the Stadium that was constructed in Government Square. The platform was 40' wide and 180' long. It was here where Turners and other prominent amateurs gave nightly exhibitions of athletic skill. This included exhibitions of the ladies classes from the different Turner Societies. 
   Cincinnati businessmen realizing the importance of all these visitors to the city contributed around $75,000 ($12,000 for the Stadium construction alone) for this Turnfest. 

Turnfest stadium 1.jpg (119303 bytes)        Turner SB1.jpg (328077 bytes)
Gold Border                            Silver Border

Turnfest stadium 3.jpg (75350 bytes)        Turnfest stadium 4.jpg (126948 bytes)        Turnfest stadium 5.jpg (116884 bytes)        Turner Stadium.jpg (365195 bytes)

Turnfest stadium 2.jpg (62365 bytes)        Turnfest Souvenir-21.jpg (247751 bytes)
Same image - wider viewing angle

  These eight cards show the Stadium.

   The crowning event was the great parade where the ex-Mayor Julius Fleischmann was the grand marshal. The streets were all decorated, at a cost of $1,000, and prizes were given to the best decorated buildings. The parade lasted nearly 5 hours and included 10,000 school children in various costumes, each carrying a flag and each group singing a different song as they marched. It was reviewed by Governor Judson Harmon. Musical entertainments and receptions were held at Music Hall and Memorial Hall and all the Turner halls held reunions and "Kommers". A mass drill was held at the Base Ball park by the public school students and swimming contests were held at Chester Park.

Turnfest-RP.jpg (84862 bytes)     Turnfest Parade 6-24-09.jpg (201588 bytes)     Turnvereen Parade 2.jpg (277650 bytes)     Turner Parade 1.jpg (222977 bytes)     Turner Parade 2.jpg (239638 bytes)
 RPPCs of the Parade past the Stadium 


Turn-Fest Parade.jpg (191872 bytes)                        Turnfest at night.jpg (168794 bytes)
    Printed Card of the Parade                       Turnfest at night-Fountain Sq.


Elmwood Turners Parade 1909.jpg (173122 bytes)
Turner  Parade-Elmwood
during Turnfest


Turner SB2 back.jpg (75802 bytes)
Official Turnfest Cancellation


Turners-Group Shot.jpg (97239 bytes)                Turners-Group Shot-rev.jpg (82649 bytes)

   This postcard of a class of Cincinnati Turners seems to be used in an invitation to a Benefit and Ball (?) to be held April 19, 1909 at a hall at 6th and Vine Street. Seems to be a 50 cent charge. I believe this benefit was put on to raise money for the Turner Society.


University of Cincinnati 31.jpg (195008 bytes)
Turner gymnasts


Turner Party.jpg (115773 bytes)
Party Invitation
Blank Back


   These 22 items are called First Day Covers. When the post office issues a new stamp the first day of its issuance is commemorated in the city that is closely related to that stamp. In this case the stamp, issued in 1948,  commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Turners. As you can see there are many people who put out these covers.

5Turner FDC.jpg (198151 bytes)    3Turner FDC.jpg (179525 bytes)    Turner FDC1.jpg (616528 bytes)    Turner FDC4.jpg (816901 bytes)    Card inside Turner FDC.jpg (680291 bytes)
                                                                                                                                                                              Card in envelope on left


Turner fdc-5.jpg (172461 bytes)    Turners cover-n7.jpg (148785 bytes)    Turners cover-n8.jpg (196320 bytes)    Turners FDC-m.jpg (213706 bytes)    Turner FDC-8n.jpg (207413 bytes)


Turnerfdc1.jpg (143261 bytes)    Turnerfdc2.jpg (174402 bytes)    Turnerfdc3.jpg (182145 bytes)    8Turner FDC.jpg (315380 bytes)    Turner FDC-9n.jpg (188266 bytes)


Turner FDC-pb4.jpg (551229 bytes)    2Turner FDC.jpg (224565 bytes)    Turner FDC.jpg (216675 bytes)    4Turner FDC.jpg (194607 bytes)    Turners FDC-nw1.jpg (248641 bytes)


6Turner FDC.jpg (195215 bytes)    7Turner FDC.jpg (182573 bytes)    Turners cvr.jpg (183927 bytes)




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