Monday August 8, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Contemporary media stories tell us Americans are out of shape. At the same time, many health-conscious individuals sweat hours away at the gym. Although topical today, the pursuit of physical fitness through exercise is by no means a new idea.
Early German emigrants brought their tradition of Turnverein [tuhrn-veh-REIN], a gymnastic organization, to Jacksonville, Oregon, and built a gymnasium there in 1863. A local newspaper described the new 30-by-40-foot gym with great detail:
"The floor and ceiling of the hall have been taken out, and a large beam placed across the middle and upper portion of the room, to which are attached a swing and [trapeze.] There is also a single and double parallel bar, clubs and dumb-bells innumerable. The ground floor is covered with sawdust a foot in depth so that when the amateur accidentally 'bites the dust,' he is not likely to be injured thereby. Turning is the most attractive amusement to be found in Jacksonville, and as all doctors agree that the exercise is very beneficial to the general health, we say, long flourish the Turn Verein Society of Jacksonville."
The "Turners," as they were sometimes called, welcomed Germans and non-Germans alike and continued as a cornerstone of the community for decades.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
"New Turn Verien Hall," Oregon Sentinel, August 15, 1863; Farnham, Wallace D. "Religion As an Influence in Life and Thought: Jackson County, Oregon 1860-1890." Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oregon, 1955. LeCompte, Mary Lou. "Turnverein Movement," The Handbook of Texas Online, a project of the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/TT/unt2.html