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Boerne Turn Verein
221 E. Theissen, Boerne

HISTORY:The Turners derive their name from the German word for gymnastics, "turnen". Turner clubs were organized by German immigrants as athletic, social and cultural societies in most cities of the United States with a significant German population during the nineteenth century.

In his book Boonville, An Illustrated History, Robert L. Dyer states: "The principal German organizations, other than the churches, for maintaining cultural and social traditions were the singing and gymnastics societies known respectively as the "Gesang Vereins" and the "Turn Vereins" (Gesang = Singing; Turn = Gymnastics; Verein = Club or Society) established not long after the arrival of the first significant numbers of Germans in the late 1840's and early 1850's.  These groups, which came to be known among the non-Germans in the community simply as the "Turners," traced their origin to the work of Father Freidrich Ludwig Jahn who established the first Turn Verein in Berlin in 1809 at the time Germany was being suppressed by Napoleon.  Father Jahn supposedly formed the group to drill his followers in gymnastics and military tactics with the object of making them better soldiers.  In later years, however, music, theatricals and oratory were added to the social function in the German community."

These clubs thrived throughout the first decades of the twentieth century, but then began to decline around 1917 during the war with Germany. A few clubs still remain such as the Boerne Turn Verein in Boerne, Texas although the origins are no longer in the memory of the club members.

Some time in 1878 the Boerne Turn Verein was organized with Capt. Adolph Zoeller as the first president. The first meetings were held in the old Dienger hall and then later moved to the south wing of the Phillip House on South Main. Although the club did not immediately thrive, it reorganized in 1890 and in 1906 a charter was issued for a term of 50 years. Charter signators were L. W. King, Paul Kobbe, Gus Wollschlaeger, A. S. Toepperwein and M. F. Krause.

In 1903 before the charter was signed, the group purchased the property on Theissen Street and a small building was built for a clubhouse. This building was 24 feet by 40 feet.

By 1908 the building was enlarged and two alleys for bowling were installed.

There was a great increase in membership from 1939 to 1947. In 1939 there were seventy-five members. By 1947 the membership was over 300. This called for another building project to get under way, but before the funds were raised, the club building and all of its contents were destroyed by a fire in 1948.

The present building with its eight alleys for bowling was built soon after. This new building opened on the week-end of April 30 and May 1, 1949 by hosting a tournament of bowling teams from the surrounding communities, including San Antonio.

In August of 2004 the club celebrated its one hundred years of existence with the annual barbecue and meeting. For many years the club has had an open membership policy and the main activity has been bowling.

Source: Boerne Public Library files.- Sept. 1, 2006;

For More About the Turner Clubs in America SEE:
Turner Hall
Annette R. Hofmann's excellent historical article, "150 years of Turnerism in the United States";
and What Was the Turn Verein?

This page created September 1, 2006

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