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:
Turnen-to perform gymnastic exercises
Turnerbund-a gymnastic union
Turnfest-a gymnastic festival
Turnverein-a gymnastic society
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.
Not a postcard
Vine St. Turner Hall Walnut St. Turner Hall The backs of these cards are interesting
West End Turner Hall
Print 1865 Turner Festival
THE 30th NATIONAL TURNFEST
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.
Gold Border Silver Border
The blank area probably was for
a photo to be pasted on.
These cards show the town of Carthage welcoming the Turners.
(Notice the speed limit sign in the first card)
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?
Carthage Fair Grounds
A little beer Some good food A nap in your tent Then a little exercise
Cincinnati Dutch Boys Girls Shot putter
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.
Gold Border Silver Border
These seven cards show the Stadium.
Same image - wider viewing angle
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.
RPPCs of the Parade past the Stadium
Printed Card of the Parade Turnfest at night-Fountain Sq.
Official Turnfest Cancellation
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.
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.
Card in envelope on left