Gruenau Hall, a gathering place
On May 1, 1898, a group of German settlers organized the Gruenau Turn and Schuetzen Verein, an athletic and shooting club just north of Yorktown, Texas. They built the original Hall that became the center of the Gruenau community. In 1927, a larger Hall was built.
Twice a year, sausage feasts were celebrated in May and October. Weddings and other family parties took place. Eventually, Gruenau and the other buildings like it became known as dance halls.
In 1974, I moved to Yorktown after my daddy retired from the Air Force. My Arkansas-raised daddy was given my grandfather’s membership in Gruenau. Membership at that time was still following the old traditions. Only men could be members, and that membership had to be inherited and approved. Women were considered members through a husband or father.
My first Feast was in May of 1974. The adults made the sausage and sides. Stuffed cabbage and desserts were made at home and brought in on Sunday. There
were no jobs for the kids, so we played around on the dance floor or ran outside. We were offered the opportunity to help wash the sausage casings, an offer
we never accepted. After the bingo stand had been put together and cleared of dangerous insects, we’d climb all over that.
My parents also worked the dances on Friday and Saturday nights. So again, my only job was running around and having fun. Many of those nights, I would
fall asleep at a table with my coloring books as a pillow. When my uncle and his friends were in town, I would bus their table of empty beer and soda cans. My
brother got really good at finding the change dropped at the bar window.
In my teens, it didn’t seem that cool to go out and help with Feast. Hanging out with friends was more important. College came around, and getting out to the Hall to help with Feast wasn’t part of my routine. The only times I would be there would be for a wedding or reunion.
Then in January 2007, the Hall burned down. Out of those ashes, Gruenau has risen. A new hall was built. It has features that we could never have hoped for back in the old days—air conditioning and a huge kitchen.
One of the biggest changes that came to pass was allowing women to join on their own. And now even I am a part of it as a member and the event booker. I do those jobs I wasn’t allowed to do as a child, like tie sausage. It’s almost as much fun as running around and falling asleep on a stack of coloring books.
One of my sweet memories of the hall is going with my Grandma Hardt to the sausage feast. At that time I was a picky eater, so I didn't eat much of the food, but I did enjoy sliding all over the dance floor and playing with the other kids!
I somewhat remember a decent size purse on Grandma's arm, but can't really confirm if she was one to put sausage in it as, I hear this story from others.
Now I help with preparing the feast and this website.
Gruenau German settlers organized a Turnverein, or athletic club, and a Schuetzen Verein, or shooting club, about 1897, and a brass band sometime in the early 1890s. The community's club hall, built in 1900, was also used for dances and for the rifle team activities; contests with neighboring communities became major events, including feasts, dances, and the crowning of a Schuetzen-Koenig, or king of the riflemen.
We lost our hall in January 2007 to fire, but it has since been rebuilt and is used twice a year for our feast! We also have it available to rent for events.
May 1, 1898, the Gruenau Turn and Schuetzen Verein was organized at a meeting held at the Little Chicago Store owned by George Langley. Charter members of the Verein were John, George and Adolph Brandt; Anton, John and Willie Koopman; John Pundt; Arthur Haertig; Henry Buesing; and Henry Remmers. Pictured are, left to right, Anton Koopmann, Adolph Brandt and William Koopmann that were present at the Gruenau Turnverein Reunion October 8, 1939.
At the general meeting held on April 10, 1927, interest of building a new and larger hall began to surface. The larger hall was constructed in November of 1927 by members with Herman Buchhorn as supervisor and Gus Buchhorn as assistant supervisor.
Our organization is looking for new members! Contact us on how to become a member.
We appreciate all our members and the help they give for each feast and other events.