ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Plattdeutscher Verein


115 South Second







The annual excursion of the Watertown Pfattdeutscher Verein last Sunday was the most successful yet given by the organization.  This year it was to Milwaukee, where the opening of the season of National Park took place.  At 7:30 a.m. a special train of twelve coaches and one baggage car left here over the St. Paul Road.  All the coaches were crowded and nearly 1,000 excursionists participated, 650 6f them being from this city.  Upon arriving in Milwaukee, a picnic and various pastimes were on the program, and the day was much enjoyed by all.


The Watertown Cornet band enlivened the occasion with good music.  The party left for home at 10 in the evening.   WR




Following are the recently elected officers of the Plattdeutscher verein:  President, Charles Goetsch, vice-president, William Riehe; secretary, John J. Brusenbach; treasurer, William Schulz; board of managers, William Boettcher, August Conrad, C. J. Wenck.  The society is in a flourishing condition, having 121 members and funds amounting to $1,750.83.     WNEWS




The picnic and summer festival of the Plattedeutscher Verein on the island Sunday afternoon and evening was quite a success, notwithstanding the threatening weather.  The procession, composed of the Sinnissippi band, the Liederkranz and the Plattedeutscher verein, marched to the picnic grounds at 1:30 o'clock, and the balance of the day was passed in enjoying the band music, the games and other amusements, and in listening, to the exercises dedicating the fine new silk flag of the society.  The dedication speech was delivered by Otto Linde, of Milwaukee.   WR



01 24       17TH ANNUAL BALL

Last Saturday night Turner opera house was crowded with people, the occasion being the 17th annual ball of the Plattdeutscher Verein.  All present had a delightful time, and the management conducted the affair in first-class order.   WG



04 22

Society Organized Here 25 Years Ago


Members of the Plattdeutscher Verein

and Families Enjoy Social Time

They Banquet and Dance


The Plattdeutscher Verein (Low German Club) of Watertown, Wisconsin, was founded in 1882 with a twofold mission: “fraternalism and the perpetuation of the German language, especially the Plattdeutscher tongue.”  The regional, cultural, and linguistic diversity of German-speaking immigrants to the U.S. was reflected in the plethora of “Vereine” (clubs, societies, associations) they founded.  The German- American “Vereinswesen” (club culture) not only represented an example of direct cultural transfer but also a means through which the transition from the Old Country to the New could be eased.  Though many of these clubs did not last beyond the first generation, some still exist today, including Watertown’s Plattdeutscher Verein. 



Members of Watertown Plattdeutscher Verein and their lady friends, wives and daughters, made merry Saturday evening at a banquet and ball given by the society in honor of the 25th anniversary of the organization of the society.  The festivities were held at the Turner and the Weber-Stube orchestra enlivened the occasion with a specially prepared program, while Mrs. William Rohde and Mrs. Charles Zickert attended to the banquet for the society and all enjoyed thoroughly the good things for the inner man placed before them.  The ballroom decorations were of especially fine scheme and thoroughly in keeping with the occasion which marks an important epoch in the history of this local association.  Every one enjoyed themselves thoroughly from the time the first strains of music broke on the ear until the tones of "Home, Sweet Home" warned the merrymakers that it was time to leave.


The organization was effected in May, 1882 with a membership of 27.  Its total membership at the present time is 334.  Its first officers were:  President, John C. Halliger; vice president, Louis W. Krueger; secretary, Otto Linde; treasurer, A. Zickert.  Mr. Linde and Mr. Zickert are still alive, the former residing in Milwaukee, and the latter in Fond du Lac.  The organization's present officers are:  President, Ferdinand A. Krueger; vice president, Carl Stiemke; secretary, J. J. Brusenbach; treasurer, William Riebe; finance committee, Valentine West, Henry Winkler, William Schultz.


The organization has a twofold object, that of fraternalism and the perpetuation of the German language, especially the Plattsdeutscher tongue.  Its constitution requires that members shall be able to read and speak the German language.  Its fraternal feature is confined to a death benefit only, the heirs of the deceased receiving the sum of one dollar from each member.


The present secretary of the society, John H. Brusenbach, has been its secretary for the last sixteen years, a fact which speaks well for the manner in which he cares for the success of the organization.   WDT



07 24       John J. Brusenbach represented the society at the German-American convention in Milwaukee    WG



03 25       Officers elected at annual meeting   WG



01 20       A large crowd attended the annual ball of the Plattdeutscher Verein at Turner Opera House last Saturday evening and all report having had an excellent time.   WG



01 20                   A building with a car parked in front of it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence



Plans for the grand opening by the Plattdeutscher Verein of its new hall at South Second and Market streets, were announced today.  The event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29. with open house and inspection from 3 to 8 p.m., followed by a dance.  The general public is invited to attend the grand opening and the officers and membership of the verein, the auxiliary and the junior group joined today in issuing a general invitation and welcome to all.


The Plattdeutscher Verein was organized on March 2, 1882, as a mutual benevolent association, in Watertown, for the purpose of assisting in the support of the family of a member of the association, in case of the death of such member.


At that time the organization took the name of “De Plattdeutscher Verein von Watertown.”  The officers of the association were, John C. Halliger, Otto Linde, L. W. Krueger and E. Engelmann.


Planned Own Home


Throughout the many years the organization held its monthly meetings in various halls, such as Benke’s or Eagles, Brusenbach’s, Turner and St. Henry’s.


In 1941 the organization members felt they wanted a home of their own, so the present building was purchased on the corner of South Second and Market streets, which at one time housed the Otto Biefeld Co.  In later years, Jansky Printing Co. occupied it, and in more recent years, the Sears store.


Last March it was decided to remodel the entire building, which now contains a much larger hall, a check room, one of the most modern equipped kitchens, a spacious modern bar.  The heating facilities were changed from a steam stoker to oil forced air.  The upstairs includes a large women’s auxiliary hall, rest room, Junior Plattdeutseher meeting room and an office and board of directors room.  The men’s and women’s rest rooms are located in the basement of the building.


The arrangement now gives the public as well as the members every means and modern convenience.




           72 years for Plattdeutscher



02 14       The Plattdeutscher Verein celebrated at its clubhouse in Watertown, the occasion marking the burning of its mortgage which made possible its remodeling program, which began some five years ago.  Lester Teich, vice president of the verein and master of ceremonies, opened the program.  Raymond Franz, president of the verein, gave a talk on the acquiring of the club building in 1941, its use and purposes as a home of the verein.  Also the realization of the organization on the remodeling program in 1950 was stressed, making it a building representing the verein's home.  This was accomplished by hard work, put in by the membership of both the verein and the auxiliary. 



01 31       The Plattdeutscher Bar will open formally this evening. It is located in the Plattdeutscher Club at South Second and Market Streets and will be in operation daily.  The Plattdeutscher Verein, which will operate it, recently took over the license of the former Wolf Corner Tavern located at 119 North Third Street and has transferred it to the Plattdeutscher Club.   WDT




The Plattdeutscher Verein and the auxiliary of the organization last night held their annual elections of officers and during the evening a 92-year-old member, Franz Koch of 1000 Labaree Street, was presented with a life membership.  Mr. Koch's membership in the Plattdeutschers dates back 70 years.  He is the oldest member.  In addition to the life membership, Mr. Koch was presented with a gift by the organization.  Officers elected by the verein are: Marvin O. Niehoff, president; Leonard Fehrman, vice president; Charles Teich, secretary; Wallace Block, treasurer; Max L. Noffz, trustee for three years; Elmer Kube, warden. Other trustees are Raymond F. Franz and Leonard Nass.




A Watertown man, 31, a member of the Plattdeutscher Verein, was named in a warrant charging a violation of the state gambling or lottery statutes, following a "raid" at the Plattdeutscher Club building last night.  Officers confiscated some bingo-like game equipment and said they found some 25 persons, all said to be members of the Plattdeutscher Verein or its auxiliary, playing the game at tables.  Chief of Polite Herbert F. Vehlow went to Jefferson this afternoon to confer with county authorities, including District Attorney Robert J. Shier, relative to steps to be taken on charges.



03 18       The annual meeting of the Plattdeutscher Verein and its auxiliary has been held.  The following were named: Verein: President, Donald Lenius; vice president, August Meyer; secretary, Charles Teich and treasurer, Wallace Block were re-elected; trustee for three years, George Hiller; holdover trustee, two year, Walter Kube; holdover trustee, one year, Max Noffz; warden, Clifford Witte. Auxiliary: President, Mrs. Leonard Fehrmann; vice president, Mrs. Arthur Lenius (re-elected); secretary, Mrs. Marvin Niehoff (re-elected); treasurer, Mrs. Herbert, Schoenher; trustee for three years, Mrs. Wallace Block; holdover trustee, two years, Mrs. Max Noffz; holdover trustee, one year, Mrs. Ernst Oschmann; warden, Mrs. Alvin Zabel.   WDT



03 15       The Plattdeutscher Verein and its Auxiliary held its annual meeting Thursday evening at Plattdeutscher Hall.  Officers named for the Verein are as follows:  Clarence Zabel, president; Leonard Fehrman, vice president; Charles Teich, secretary; Wallace Block, treasurer; Max L. Noffz, trustee, three years; hold-over trustees, Ray Franz and Ernst Oschmann; warden Arthur Lenius.  Members of the auxiliary named the following officers; Mrs. Donald Lenius, president; Mrs. Arthur Lenius, vice president; Mrs. August Meyer, secretary; Mrs. Herbert Schoenher, treasurer; Mrs. Max Noffz, trustee, three years; Mrs. Hubert Gronert, Mrs. Wallace Block, hold-over trustees Mrs. Alvin Zabel, warden.







                Max L Noffz, 1907-1983; 55-year member, served as secretary, treasurer and house chairman, awarded a life membership




The membership of Plattdeutscher Verein has voted to purchase two buildings on South Second Street which have been owned by the Wayne R. Jagow family.  The properties, located north of the Plattdeutscher facility at 115 South Second Street, will be used for future expansion.  The properties, located at 107-109-111 South Second Street, are the location of New Life Bookstore which has an apartment upstairs, and the former JC Penney Catalog store.  The catalog building has been rented to Video Country of Burlington on a five-year lease.  Leasing will continue until plans are made for future expansion of the Plattdeutscher building.   WDT



                          Al Rippe Photography  /  c.1957 photo 




When the Plattdeutscher Hall doors are opened on Tuesday morning for its seasonal monthly Fair Day dinner, the ladies auxiliary will find people waiting in line outside who want to get in the buffet line inside.  The longtime tradition, which dates back about 40 years, has many repeat customers who come monthly June through November for the good cooking at a reasonable price.  The tradition of the Fair Day dinner is rooted in a longtime Watertown event which used to draw hundreds of people to the city. The dinner is held six months of the year on the second Tuesday of the month, the traditional date of the Watertown Fair Day.   WDT




One of Watertown’s oldest organizations, Plattdeutscher Verein, turns 125 this year.  Members will celebrate the anniversary Sunday with a dinner and a dance at the hall.  In 1882 a group of men in Watertown gathered together and formed, “De Plattdeutscher Verein von Watertown.”


Although the name of the group is German and the first constitution of the group was written in German, membership was, and still is, open to those of many other heritages including Irish, Dutch and Norwegians.  Until 1933 the organization was German oriented and all business was conducted in German.  “It’s a great way to socialize and get together with your friends,” Frank Wegner, club member, said.  The group began as a death benefit association with yearly dues going to the families of members who died in the year.  When the club was formed members paid $1 yearly dues.  Today, Verein members pay $10 yearly dues and the funds are still divided to families of members who died in the year.


“The members would wear special badges to funerals of a fellow member.  They stopped wearing the badges at least 50 years ago,” Doris Wegner, club member, said.  “Over the years the organization has done much to relieve financial burdens of Watertown families.”


Link to Daily Times article  [WHS_005_545 ]




Cross References:

Lodge badge  (WHS_009_985)

115 S Second had been location of Geschke Hardware




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin