The History of "German Day in Texas”

 

The Texas German Day Council

 

The non-profit Texas German Day Council was founded in 1963 with the purpose to acknowledge the accomplishments of the early German settlers in Texas, to acclaim the contributions of all Texans of German ancestry, and to commemorate the 1683 founding of Germantown, Pennsylvania and the achievements of all German pioneers. The Texas German Day Council continues to encourage German-American cultural exchange and create a better understanding between the two peoples on a non-political basis.

 

The Texas German Day Council (TGDC) includes representatives from North Texas German organizations who together have commemorated German Day in Texas annually since 1963 by producing the German Pioneer Ball and other cultural events for German Day at the State Fair from 1963 through 1995, the last year that ethnic days were designated at the Fair. At the annual events, the TGDC honors distinguished Germans and persons of German descent and salutes specific cities and states in Germany, as well as Texas cities originally settled by Germans and present-day sister city partnerships. The annual commemoration owes its existence and successes to the voluntary and dedicated services of the past and present officers and members of theTGDC and to the entire Texas German community.

 

The TGDC was founded by Honorary German Consul Gershon Canaan with the assistance of many other Dallas area residents. Mr. Canaan won the support of Texas Governor John B. Connally for a designated German Day in Texas to be an annual commemoration. The first gubernatorial German Day in Texas proclamation designated October 6, 1963 as the special day.

 

In that 1963 proclamation, German Day is said to be a renewal of a 19th and early 20th century Texas custom of paying tribute to the first organized group of German settlers who arrived on American shores in 1683. The 19th century German Day custom in Texas actually has its roots in the earlier (1883) celebration of German Day in Philadelphia, from where the idea spread to other cities around the United States. The celebrating of German Day in communities across the country also eventually led to numerous leaders in the U.S. German-American community requesting that a German-American Day be officially proclaimed by the U.S. President. Their efforts finally led to success in 1987. 

 

 

Early German Day Commemorations in the U.S. 

 

Although there were Germans among the settlers in Jamestown in 1608, the first organized group of German settlers arrived on our shores on October 6, 1683 when their ship sailed into Philadelphia’s harbor. They founded Germantown just outside of Philadelphia and so that date and that permanent settlement is commemorated as the beginning of German immigration.

 

In 1876, when the U.S. celebrated its Centennial, German-Americans decided that the upcoming 200th Anniversary of the founding of Germantown should also be commemorated. On October 6, 1883, the “German-American Pioneer Anniversary” was celebrated in Philadelphia. The event became known as German Day, and its annual celebration spread to other cities around the country. In Texas, the first groups of German settlers had arrived in the 1830s, and in 1889, the city of Houston began to pay tribute annually to the heroic pioneers of German descent in Texas. Toward the end of the 19th century, other communities such as Brenham, Waco, San Antonio, and Galveston also celebrated German Day. Dallas newspaper accounts tell of German Day being observed in Dallas annually beginning in the 1890s and as late as 1915. We also know that German Day was recognized at the State Fair in Dallas during those same years and even between the World Wars in 1928. Most of these observances, in Texas and across the U.S., ceased before World War I, however.

 

 

German-American Day

 

In 1983 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October 6 as German-American Day to honor the 300th Anniversary of German-American immigration. Efforts were already progressing to obtain official national recognition of an annual October 6 German-American Day. In 1987 Congress passed a resolution that celebrated the contributions of Germans in American history and also the strong ties between Germany and the United States. The first of the now annual proclamations was signed that year by President Reagan, drawing attention to the achievements of German-Americans in history and highlighting the many aspects of the international partnership between Germany and the United States.

 

 

Honorees at German Day in Texas Events Since 1963

 

Texas Governors John Connally and Dolph Briscoe
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dr. Wernher von Braun
Mayor Sidney Henke of Fredericksburg
Air Force General Bernard A. Schriever
German President Karl Carstens
Aviation pioneer Jacob Brodbeck


Honored German states have included:
Nordrhein¬Westfalen and Bavaria
Honored German cities have included:
Bremen, Berlin, Trier, Wewelsfleth and Kaifenheim
Honored Texas cities with German heritage have included:
Muenster, Schulenburg, Boerne, Fredericksburg and New Braunfels


Honored sister city partnerships have included:
Bad Königshofen/Arlington and Trier/Fort Worth

 

Texas German Day Council Officers

 

Chairperson

Gershon Canaan 1963¬1972

Eugene de Kieffer 1973

Teddy Trept 1974¬1989

Karl Kuby 1990

Hans Mansion 1991¬2002

Juergen D. Werle 2003¬2006

Gary Nelson 2007¬2009

Tillmann Hein 2010¬2012

Traute Heiland Malhotra 2013 -present


Co¬Chairperson
James Gerhard 1963
Consul Gen. Frederick M. Lange 1964
Prof. Heri Bert Bartscht 1965¬1968
Eugene de Kieffer 1969¬1972
Teddy Trept 1973
Frank Norton 1974¬1975
Hans Mansion 1976¬1977
Herman Meiners 1978¬1984
Frank Norton 1985¬1987
Hans Mansion 1988¬1990
Joseph Rucker, Jr. 1991¬2002
Gary Nelson 2003¬2006
Tillmann Hein 2007¬2009
Gary Nelson 2010
Carmen Ramirez 2011
Alexandra Kinney 2012 - 2013

 

Executive Secretary
Teddy Trept 1963¬1972
Trudy Adelmeier 1973
Klaus Driessen 1974¬1976
[None] 1977¬1978
Gary Nelson 1979¬2001
[None] 2002
Kirsten Holzmeier 2003¬2007
Ray Hahn 2008¬2013


Recording Secretary
Heidi van Hulst 1963¬1964
Annette Bales 1965
Magdalena Wendel 1966
Gesa Vogt 1967
Marieluise Baur 1968¬1969
Karen Kinne 1970
Diane Voge 1971¬1972
Jayne McCollough 1973¬1974
Kim Frick 1975
Jeanne Lauckhardt 1976
Isolde Baur 1977
Christa Settle 1978¬1979
[None] 1980
Rosemarie Bayles 1981¬1982
Karola LeMieux 1983¬2000
Rita Dubester 2001¬2003
Barbara Woitalla 2004¬2009
Traute Malhotra 2010¬2011
Kirsten Holzmeier 2012

David Brown 2013 - present


Treasurer
Clarence Talley 1963¬1977
Charles Heck 1978¬1998
Kirsten Holzmeier 1999¬2002
Hazel Nelson 2003¬2010
Michael Prange 2011¬2012

Michaela Struss 2013 

Kai Schaefer 2014

Juergen Mahneke 2015-present

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