The mere name tells one this valley must lie in Bavaria between the skyscraping mountains where even today the eagle nests and the mountain goat hides from the hunter. Schlierachtal - where the river Schlierach winds its way through green, flower-covered meadows, and the lake called "Schliersee" sparkles only a few kilometers away from Miesbach.
In 1927 no Trachtenverein existed in New York City except a social club, the Enzian (now called Original Enzian), and an Austrian group Weiss-Blau. Fond memories of home and its traditions prompted several German immigrants to form a Bavarian Schuhplattler and Trachtenverein in New York City. In the spring of 1928 Leonhard and Rosa Dobler, Nick Stegner, Sophie Dobler, Joseph Gschrei, and Justine Fink - all of whom had belonged to the Schlierachtaler Vereine in either Nurnberg or Hausham - together with Eugene and Lisl Schick, John Reisinger, and Elisabeth Schick met at 125th Street between First and Second Avenues. They wore their Miesbacher Tracht and voted unanimously on Leonhard Dobler's motion to name this new Verein "Schlierachtaler Stamm." The Verein also voted to adopt the Miesbacher Tracht. Each of the ten members donated $10 to form a club treasury.
The first officers were:
President: Eugene Schick, Vice President: Nick Stegner, Kassierer: Hans Reisinger, 1. Vorplattler "Hardl" Dobler, 2 Vorplattler Joseph Gschrei. Shortly afterwards more members joined including Franz Reisinger, Leo Pfleger, Simon and Winnie Dobler, and Peter Grabendorfer. Also joining was Sepp Mueller who arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, and got off the ship wearing his Lederhosen.
First Performance, 1928
The Schlierachtaler performed in public for the first time at Hunts Point Palace, Bronx, New York, at the Bauernball of the Bayerische Volksverein von 1874. Over one thousand people, including Mayor James Walker, watched as the Schlierachtaler danced the "Muhlradl," presented for the first time in the United States. Hardl Dobler had taught the group this dance, which was again performed at our first Edelweiss Ball held in November 1928 in the Yorkville Casino on East 86th Street. The "Muhlradl" has since become the Schlierachtaler's Ehrentanz. Hardl, who became our first Ehrenmitglied, donated the Tischstandart, which is still proudly displayed wherever we perform.
During the years 1928
through 1941, the Verein was under the leadership of Presidents Eugene Schick, Nick Stegner, and Karl Steger. In 1941 Sepp Mueller was elected president and held the position until 1955 when he was
Between 1932 and 1936 the young Verein, growing in membership, experienced internal problems. Several members, including Hardl Dobler, left the Verein. The Verein overcame these obstacles with Franz Reisinger taking over as Vorplattler, a position that he would hold for the next twenty-five years.
After leaving the clubhouse on 125th Street in 1930, the Verein moved to the Schweizer Halle on East 138th Street. Many happy hours were spent there until the hall was sold suddenly in 1953. Our new home was Foresters Rendezvous on East 84th Street, a cozy place. But as the club grew, Foresters became too small, and a move was made to the German-American Athletic Club on East 82nd Street. New ownership forced us to make the move to the Old Brewery Restaurant on 90th Street and Second Avenue. This building was condemned, and in 1967 we moved to the Castle Harbor Casino in the Throggs Neck Section of the Bronx. By 1980, 95 percent of our membership lived in Queens and Long Island. This prompted a move to the Plattdeutsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square where we still hold our monthly meeting and Plattlerprobe every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.
As World War II swept through Europe, many members were called to defend their new land. With much difficulty and dedication, the remaining members continued to uphold their traditions. This spirit was evidenced by the Fact that the Schlierachtaler dancers never missed a German-American affair in the metropolitan area.
After the war, through the efforts of Ludwig and Paula Eder, Schlierachtaler Stamm obtained its first flag, sewn by the Sisters of St. Dominic in a Bavarian convent. The flag was blessed in the Yorkville Casino by the Reverend Dr. J. Assmuth in conjunction with our twentieth anniversary. Our Patenverein was Bayern Verein Newark with its President Albert Richter. Our Fahnenmutter was Paula Eder and Fahnenjunker was Conrad Mueller.
Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, 1953
September 27, 1953, Schlierachtaler celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with a Trachtenschau and Preisplatteln in the Schuetzen Park, New Jersey. The results of Preisplatteln for single couples
found the first three places going to Schlierachtaler members Franz Reisinger, Peter Grabendorfer, and Sepp Mueller, who all turned down the awards. And so the first, second, and third place awards,
respectively, were given to Ray Piazzi and Anton Leneis, both of Almrausch Philadelphia, and Phil Rettenmeier of Weiss-Blau.
The dance performed was chosen by the competitors, and they had their choice of the "Haushamer," Reit-im-Winkel," "Auerhahn," or "Trauntaler." The judges were Michael Hamburger, Hans Breckel, and Michael Nothaft, all known Bavarians. Gruppenplatteln winners were:
1. Preis: Almrausch Philadelphia
2. Preis: Original Enzian, New York
3. Preis: Edelweiss, Washington, D.C.
For Landestracht, the members of Bayern von 1874 took first place in their Schaffler Tracht. Second place went to Karl Rein and Anna Wolz in their Ochsenfurter Tracht. Almrausch Philadelphia took home Meistpreis, and Edelweiss Washington, D.C., was awarded Weitpreis.
Fund-Raising Efforts, 1954
In 1954 we raised funds in Schuetzen Park to help those left homeless and destitute after the waters of the Passau River flooded the banks. An Ehrenurkunde dated April 8, 1956, was received from Dr. Konrad Adlmaier, 1. Gauvorstand of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Bayerrische Trachtenverbande in Traunstein, Ober-Bayern, in thanks for our financial assistance.
Steuben Parade, 1958
September 20, 1958, was the birthdate of New York City's first Steuben Parade. We were proud not only to march but also to dance down Fifth Avenue and 86th Street. We have continued to participate in every parade since - rain or shine. Member Helen Glockler was voted Miss German-America in 1960, presided over the Steuben Parade, and represented the German-American community of New York City in Germany in April 1961.
In 1960 our club filed a New York State Certification of Incorporation. The structure and purpose of the club were set forth in detail. Some highlights are:
We are incorporated to…maintain and foster the customs and fold ways traditional to Bavaria, Germany;… The territory in which the operation is principally conducted is broadly indicated as that of metropolitan-suburban areas of New York City and other principal cities of southern and eastern New York. This is a non-profit member-ship corporation without pecuniary profit. That the number of directors shall not be less than three nor more than fifteen. The original directors after incorporation were listed as: Franz Reisinger, Peter Grabendorfer, Michael Greul, Rudolf Waegener, and Anna Haehnlein.
New York World's Fair, 1964
August 30, 1964, found us participating at the German Day at the New York World's Fair expressing its appreciation for our contribution to the Special Events Program in the New York State Exhibit.
The 1960s were indeed a decade not to be forgotten. Ehrenpresident Sepp Mueller, fifty-three, died in 1960 after a short illness. Our long-time recording secretary, Rudi Mitschke, passed away in 1962, after performing the "Muhlradl" at our Edelweiss Ball. And a shock still felt: The Vietnam War claimed Vorplattler John Schlecht in 1965. Musician Gus Sengenberger was critically wounded, received a Purple Heart, recovered and rejoined the Verein in November 1967. Our Gus, with his accordion, is with us wherever we appear.
Charter Member, Gauverband Nordamerika
Schlierachtaler Stamm had the privilege of being a founding member of the Vereinigte Bayern von Gross New York. In 1966 we were honored to become founding members again, this time of the Gauverband Nordamerika ( www.gauverband.com ). Vorplattler Kenneth Ruff was elected to the board of directors at the first election. Many changes have been made since that first meeting in Milwaukee on January 15 and 16, 1966.
The Gauverband's 1. Gaufest was held in New Jersey in 1967. Schlierachtaler's Peter Grabendorfer was chosen to be a judge and Franz Reisinger, an alternate judge.
We have sent delegates to every subsequent Gauverband meeting. In 1978 Marie Hugel, our Vortanzerin and Trachtenmutter at the time, was elected to the Gauverband's board of directors and had the honor of being the first "Dirndl" to serve on the executive board of the Gauverband. She held that position until 1986 when she was elected Vortganzerin.
Schlierachtaler Stamm has been represented at every Gaufest since its inception. Our dancers have competed in every Preisplatteln except in 1969 (Denver), 1971 (Detroit), and 1985 (Denver).
Fiftieth Anniversary and Fahnenweihe,1978
With our flag constantly being used and subjected to various elements of weather, we found it to be deteriorating. With this in mind, we found it most fitting to celebrate our golden anniversary with a new flag. The old flag is to be treasured and preserved, as are the traditions and memories it represents.
A new flag was ordered from Bavaria. The front side is a replica of the original flag. It portrays a man and woman outfitted in our Miesbacher Festtracht amidst a background of the mountains and valleys of Bavaria. The reverse side depicts our new homeland, the New York City skyline. It contains the flags of Germany and the United States crossed to symbolize the friendship of the old home with the new. Oak leaves and branches as symbols of strength and unity surround the scene. The seven shields represent the Bavarian counties of our membership.
Festivities were held in the Hotel Americana with our fourteen hundred participants. This included fourteen other groups who came to celebrate with us. Friday night was a Heimatabend, Saturday a free day except for Vorplattler and presidents meeting and a workshop conducted by Gauvorplattler Erich Bayer. At 7 p.m. the buses started to roll for Pier 83 where a sightseeing boat tour of New York at night with music by the thirty-five-piece Foehrer Musik Freunde was scheduled. Eleven-thirty brought us back to the Hotel for "party time." It was early in the morning before anyone got to bed.
The Mass and Fahnenweihe at 2 p.m. in St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was a most impressive sight with the seating of all the Trachtler and Trachtlerinnen on both sides of the middle aisle. The sides were filled with non-Trachtler and tourists of New York City. The Foehrer Musik Freunde led us with music and song throughout the ceremony. Revered Joachim von Kessenbrock and Reverend John Seidenschwang concelebrated the mass, retiring the old flag and blessing the new one.
Upon exiting the cathedral onto Fifth Avenue, a circle was formed and the "Gauplattler" was performed. A parade back to the Hotel for the banquet, Ehrentanze, and open dancing completed the not-to-be-forgotten weekend.
A Dream Comes True, 1986
The membership dreamed for many years of making a group trip back to the homeland of many of its members and for the first and second generation to seek and discover their roots.
The trip became a reality on July 7, 1986, when thirty-five members left Kennedy Airport. All were anxious to start sight seeing which began with a boat trip down the Rhein, and trips to Koblenz, Niederwald Monument, Ruedersheim, Heidelberg, and the castles and churches along the way to Nuernberg.
Upon arrival in Nuernberg, we were met by Gunda and Wilhelm Holler - longtime members of D'Schlierachtaler Nuernberg and niece of our founder, Hardl Dobler - and Peter Bock, Vorstand of D'Berglerburschen. A Heimatabend was planned for us, and it was our pleasure to meet with Franz Kohlman, 1. Vorsitzender of the Vereinigung Links der Donau and 2. Vorsitzender of the Vereinigte Bayerischen Trachenverbaende e.V. The evening was spent getting to know our newfound trachten friends.
Then we were on to Muenchen to the Marienplatz and the "Alter Peter". While climbing to the top of Muenchen's oldest church, we discovered a painting in the foyer with the signature of Peter Grabendorfer, now deceased, who had joined our Verein in 1929.
On to Diessen am Ammersee where D'Ammertaler, our trachten friends whom we had met in Denver, had planned a Heimatabend for us. We enjoyed another evening of singing, dancing, and Gemuetlichkeit.
Our trip was slowly coming to an end when we arrived in Miesbach. This was the last four days of a never-to-be forgotten experience. We arrived in Miesbach to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Miesbacher. This surely was the highlight of our tour. Over 170 Trachtenvereine were in attendance. We participated in all the activities, including marching in the two 7 kilometer long Fest -and Kirchenzuege. Proud in our Miesbacher Tracht, we marched along, and the spectators were astonished to see that we were from New York. The greatest moment came when we performed our Festtanz and received a standing ovation. Truly, our dreams came true.
Sixtieth Anniversary, 1988
Another big anniversary was in store for us. What to do, to make this year different? Heads together, we planned a celebration, which culminated with over seven hundred guests. The high point was the "Bavarian Buffet." Hot and cold, you name it, it was served, and we are still getting calls to find out when this feast will be repeated.
Sadness Strikes, 1989
April 19, 1989, a day not to be forgotten. Peter Bopp, who had come up from the Jugendgruppe was serving on the U.S.S. Iowa, counting the days before he was to be discharged. We knew he would be able to partake in a short tour that would make it possible for him to see Germany before donning his Lederhosen again with the Schlierachtaler.
An explosion on board the Iowa made the difference, and Peter came home to his final rest. He took with him memories of the Verein, and the Verein did not let him down as fellow members participated in full mourning Tracht, lowering the Verein's flag over his grave before he was lowered into the ground.
Trachtenverein Schlierachtaler Stamm, Hausham, 1990
Trachtenverein Schlierachtaler Stamm, Hausham, invited us to participate as honorary guests at its one hundredth anniversary. July 26, 1990, found us packing our Tracht again. With forty-five people we left New York. Our first overnight stop was in Wuerzburg where old-time members and relatives of current members greeted us. We continued to Hemau where a Heimatabend was scheduled. Again, an unforgettable evening. The next days were spent in Regensburg, Passau, and Vienna before returning to the Starnberger See, our headquarters for a week. While enjoying our stay we were able to attend the Passion Play in Oberammergau and also had two Heimatabende with our friends in Diessen, D'Ammertaler. Castles and churches filled our itinerary, but we always had time to spend a couple of hours downing the best beer brewed anywhere.
Our trip to Munich found us running into members of STV Bavaria Cleveland. However, the highlight of the day was being welcomed by the Buergermeister and spending forty-five minutes in the famed Rathaus.
On to Miesbach, where the Miesbacher rewelcomed us after four years with a beautiful evening of music, song, and dance.
Friday night and Saturday we were most welcomed by the Schlierachtaler, and many new friendships were made. It was an honor to perform our Ehrentanz on Saturday evening and again perform on Sunday after the Festzug where bystanders welcomed the New York Schlierachtaler.
Many years have gone by since that first spring day in 1928, but wherever we go and wherever we participate, our members are proud to wear the Miesbacher Festtracht and to stand behind our motto:
"Treu dem guten alten Brauch"
Eugen Schick, 1928
Sepp Mueller, 1941-1955
Peter Grabendorfer, 1955-56
Sepp Mueller, 1956-57
George Haehnlein, 1957-58
Rudi Wagner, 1958-61
Karl Ettl, 1961-64
Louis Ettl, 1964-67
Kenneth Reisiner, 1969-71
Louis Ettl, 1969-71
Jerry Hugel, 1971-2012
Michael Mattern 2013-present