Turner Hall of Monroe
Monroe, Wisconsin

Schützenverein in Wisconsin

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
7:00 pm - Grand Hall
Free-will donation

Chris Pederson, a military historian for the United States Army, will present a fascinating talk about Schützenverein, German/Swiss marksmanship societies, in Wisconsin and their close ties with Turner (gymnast) and singing societies. (Photo: Chris is shown here, holding a Wisconsin Swiss Schützen rifle.)

Currently a resident of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Chris grew up both on the farm near Cleghorn and in the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2003. Upon graduation Chris was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army and shortly after was living in the German state of Hesse, and then Baden-Württemberg in the old center of the picturesque town of Heidelberg.

While in Germany Chris developed a great interest in the traditions, organizations and festivals of hunters and marksmanship societies, some of which were over 400 years old. He then took a four-month course learning about the local wildlife, marksmanship techniques and traditions of the hunters of Germany, certifying him to be a hunter (Jäger) in Germany. In a torchlit ceremony in October 2007, Chris was sworn into the brotherhood of German hunters near Heidelberg, Germany. This allows him to hunt and be a member of marksmanship societies there.

These traditional marksmanship societies, called Schützenverein, have close ties with the German and Swiss gymnast and singing groups. All these groups worked towards unifying Germany into a Constitutional Monarchy or Republic in the mid-1800s, but these bold marksmen and revolutionaries failed in their fight for freedom, with Prussia being the one to to unify Germany. Consequently, many members of these groups joined our republic, recreating these organizations and societies here.

Chris serves as a Major in charge of the 49th Military History Detachment located in Forest Park, Illinois. He has written articles on Germanic social groups from the mid-1800s for national magazines, museums and historical societies.

This presentation, as well as other programs during 2019, is part of Turner Hall's on-going Swiss Heritage Series. More information on the Swiss Heritage Series is available here.