Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 1
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Return to Freethinker Society of Indianapolis minutes, 1870-1890 EXAMINE page


That is certainly a humane idea. Inclinations and talent will then develop in full, for there is in the human being an inner impulse towards activity, independent of gain connected with it, and the intellectual condition of humanity will become a higher one.

Individual communist communities, ones within an entire world, however, which has individualism as the foundation of its social order, bear the seed of death in them, particularly with such senseless arrangements as have been practiced thus far.

Other gentlemen spoke after Mr. Rappaport. Mr. Vonnegut, Sr., referred to the necessity of social reform and the duty of the state to provide work for the unemployed. Mr. Grumann declared that the picture of communism drawn by Mr. Schütz was a false one. Mr. Conrad Bender and a few other gentlemen whose names are not known to us, spoke. At the end Mr. Greiner, the veterinary, describes the communist community Ebenezer, to which several of his relatives belong.

It was 11:15 when the meeting ended.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

March 26, 1883.

Executive Committee Meeting.

Mr. Clemens Vonnegut offered to hold the next talk. It was further decided to hold a joint meeting for intellectual exercises with the Social Turners women. And it was decided to engage Mr. Reitzel for a talk to be held later.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


April 2, 1883.

Last evening, Mr. Clemens Vonnegut held a talk. The theme was: "Observations on the destiny of man."

Mr. Vonnegut said in the introduction of his talk that despite the age-old advantages possessed by the human being in comparison with other creatures, there is still a feeling of subordination to the forces of nature. This and the certainty of eventual death leave the human being with a resulting dissatisfaction with earthly life, so that faith in a life after death and in divine providence has arisen.

However, because the teachings of religion are unreliable and contradictory about what is usually called the destiny of man, man might have to provide his own destiny for himself. We must strive, the speaker said, for those conditions which ensure all human beings a share in the reasonable enjoyment of life.

Reasonable enjoyment of life depends upon the education of human beings. The spirit of virtue and progress must be kept alert. Parents must set a good example for their children, must discover their inclinations and aptitudes and watch the company they keep. The art of education is a difficult one.

This earthly life is the only one we have. We must seek heaven in this world. It offers enough of everything we need and, indeed, for everyone and, to the extent that all resources are brought to bear in producing the means, will provide much more still for the satisfaction of life's requirememts, of artistic sensibility and of enjoyment. The possibility therefore does exist of turning this world into a place of comfort and of joy for all. Mr. Vonnegut added to his talk an admonition to the Freethinkers to become more active in their endeavors, and he received enthusiastic applause as he concluded.

Following the talk, there was a lively debate in which Messrs. Vonnegut, Braun and Rappaport took part and which mainly discussed what human happiness consists of. It really could not be called a debate, since the humane, rational views that Mr.Vonnegut expressed in his talk had not allowed actual contradiction.

Nevertheless, there developed a very lively discussion that fascinated the listeners late into the evening.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


April 23, 1883

Last evening, Mr. Robert Reitzel spoke before a large audience in Turnhalle. Held under the auspices of the Freethinkers Society, the talk related to the topic: "The triumph of the natural sciences." It was so broad and rich in content that it is impossible to repeat it even in outline. The underlying thought of the talk was to make evident how different the science of the ancients was. It was pursued to a certain extent as a pastime and amusement, while modern science is being pressed into the practical service of man and serves to increase man's comfort and enjoyments, and to point the way for social reform.

In his conclusion the speaker expressed his conviction that, once the storm of the inevitable world revolution will have passed over, the natural sciences will usher in eternal world peace, and that under their sign human beings will be able to concur in this song of triumph:

Seekers have fallen, but their search is here to stay.
In vain bloody onslaughts, the truth lives today.
Away flaming stake, signal in ghastly night!
Revolution of peace, ascend morning light!
Let your slogan shine forth, knowledge is might!

Mr. Reitzel is one of the few speakers whom one never tires of hearing, no matter how long they talk. The elegance of his presentation, the vitality of his language, the sincerity with which he expresses his views are unmatched by any American-German speaker. Mr. Reitzel enthralls his audience as no other speaker can, and even opponents of his views listen eagerly to the beauty of his language and appreciate its deep moral content. Attending a talk by Reitzel is an intellectual pleasure of a sort rarely offered.

No admission was collected for the talk.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


May 7, 1883.

Last evening, there was a joint meeting of the two previously mentioned societies. Entertainment began with a musical presentation of Messrs. G. Kothe and Riegger, and then a debate followed. It dealt with the section on the social question in the statement of principles of the North American Turnbund.

Before debate opened, Mr. Vonnegut, Sr. moved that a person should speak only once during the debate and that it should end no later than 10:00 o'clock. Those opening the debate would make concluding comments.

Mr. Vonnegut's motion carried, but it seems that life and spirit was lacking last night because of these conditions.

Mr. Vonnegut, Sr. opened the debate and Miss Oppenheimer spoke next. Both speakers declared that they were not at all sympathetic with the principles as formulated in the resolutions.

Mr. Vonnegut objected to the first paragraph of the resolutions in which protection of labor against exploitation and guarantee of real earnings are recommended as the appropriate instruments for overcoming crisis.

He suggested that it is difficult to determine what the real earnings of labor are, affirmed rather the right to a job and recommended that the state take on all unemployed by securing work for them and paying them well for it so that it would thereby become impossible for private employers to exploit their workers.

Mr. Vonnegut said that it would not be difficult for the state to employ workers if it improved the roads, built canals and had other public works started. With a few exceptions, none of the other resolutions received the unqualified approval of the speaker.

It was obvious from the views he presented, that he subscribed to a much more liberal tendency, that the framework of the resolutions was much too narrow for his radical views.

Miss Oppenheimer likewise declared that the resolutions were not clear and definite enough. She said that the recommendation to protect labor against exploitation and to guarantee real earnings actually did contain the solution to the social question, that the Turnbund had in fact pointed to the eventual goal, but that it had neglected to show the means and ways for reaching it. The Turnbund had also shied away from naming things by their proper name in the other resolutions as well, for when it demands the cessation of all further land grants and sales to individuals and corporations, this means nothing less than abolishing private ownership of land.

[127, 2]
Similarly, it by no means suffices to demand a law against child labor in industry. The demand should rather be for abolishing child labor entirely.

In regard to the last paragraph of the principal resoutions, "a significant instrument for the correction of our social grievances might perhaps be the reduction of work time and the establishment of a legal working day," the speaker expresed her regret that the Turnerbund had not proceeded decisively enough here either, since it has long since been established that reduction of labor time would provide the mightiest preliminary instrument for correcting social conditions.

Mr. Rappaport also participated in the debate. He also criticized the great lack of decisiveness in the resolutions. Other participants, Messrs. Koehne and Lieber, affirmed the resolutions as they are. Mr. Lieber expressed the opinion that the resolutions contain everything that one can foresee being achieved.

The entertainment concluded with a second musical presentation by Messrs. Kothe and Riegger and a piano piece by Mr. Sputh.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


May 28, 1883.

Executive committee meeting.

It was decided to hold the annual convention and election of officers of the association in Turnhalle on the morning of June 10th. There was discussion whether a picnic would be practical, but there was no definite conclusion about this matter.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 10, 1883.
Forenoon at 10:00 o'clock in Turnhalle.

The following reports by officers were read:

Report of the president:

I am pleased to say that the Freethinkers Society has developed effective activities during the preceding year, as it has in past years. The number of talks was actually not as great as in previous years, but the society was all the more active in another direction.

Mr. Pingpank spoke on the results of linguistic research, Mr. Vonnegut on the topic "Observations on the destiny of man," and Mr. Robert Reitzel gave a talk on the topic "The triumph of the natural sciences."

Mr. Fritz Schütz and I had a debate on the topic "Communism means slavery, death." In addition, there was a debate in co-operation with the Social Turnverein on the principal statements of the Social Turnverein. It was opened by Miss Oppenheimer and Mr. Vonnegut, who were both particularly interested in the debate.

In addition, there was the speech contest on compulsory education in which Miss Ida Steffens and Mr. Oscar Pflumm won the prizes. Several socials took place besides. The New Year's Eve celebration sponsored jointly with the Social Turnverein is especially worthy of note. Members remember with particular pleasure the picnic held last summer.

Attendance of talks was for the most part very good, and interest in the achievements of the society has not slackened in certain circles.

However,the most important activity developed by the society was the Sunday school and an evening school. Unfortunately, the reports on these two undertakings do not show the kind of success that we would like to see. Regarding the Sunday school, I ascribe this fact to the indifference of the parents, for among children there are always only relatively few who seek instruction on their own initiative.

But perhaps we also lack the experience needed for conducting the school in such a way that the children enjoy attending it. In any case, we ought to devote our attention to the matter, for planting the seed of free thought in youthful souls is still our most important task.

Regarding the evening school,it merely reconfirms the fact that few actually aspire to education.

The society has had the sad experience that the number of students declined when we added other subjects to instruction in the English language.

Nevertheless, the society can look back on this school with satisfaction. Instruction in English is a blessing for a new immigrant, who usually cannot take it up because of lack of means.

But in my opinion it cannot be the task of the Freethinkers Society simply to provide a language school if it is not at the same time given the opportunity to do something that promotes general education. And it is more appropriate to the purposes of our society to teach only 15 persons in subjects of general knowledge than 50 in the English language alone.

The expenses of the school were covered by voluntary subscriptions in which members of the school society and the Social Turnverein participated.

The treasurer's report on our financial status is a happy one.

Unfortunately, we lost two staunch members due to the deaths of Mr. Chas. Dietrich and Wilhelm Reger this year. Let us honor the memory of these men.

I have no special recommendations to make for the next year. I would like simply to express the wish that the society will stick to the course taken, that it will develop as much activity as possible and that members will take part diligently.

I herewith resign my office. I have performed its duties for some years now, hopefully to your satisfaction. In conclusion, let me express the opinion that it may be advantageous to elect a different member as president this time, so that others also get the opportunity to make use of their resources in leading the affairs of the society.

Phil. Rappaport

[129, 2]

Report of the Treasurer of the
Indianapolis Freethinkers Society:
For the Period from July 7, 1882 to
June 11, 1883.

It gives me special pleasure to be able to report to the society that our financial circumstances have improved in the last year, although fairly significant demands were placed on the treasury.

Income during the period given is distributed over the following fees:

1. Contributions of members 202.00
2. Previous surplus from the emergency fund 22.55
3. Interest on deposited money 5.70
4. Sale of two books 2.00

Carried over in the week ending the year 130.06

Total income 362.31
For lectures 51.50
For publications, advertisements and post cards 28.10
For rental of the meeting hall 28.00
For deficits from various meetings and the picnic 21.34
For the Sunday school 18.55
For flowers donations for funeral of former members 11.25
For collection fees 13.20
For prizes for written work 4.80
For subscription to the "Freidenker" 3.00

Total 179.74

Surplus remaining 182.57
Comparing reserve fund of 1882 120.06

thus a gain of 52.51.

Besides some back dues, we expect a return payment for gas, all together perhaps 10 to 11 dollars, so that in general our treasury is in good condition.

This does not mean, however, that we should be any less careful with our small fortune especially since the number of our members always varies, and because we can now quite definitely anticipate a high point in expenses for lectures, Sunday school or continuing education school.

Assuming, however, that the executive committee to be elected will keep the required thrift in mind, I would like to suggest, in view of our financial success, that the new executive be directed to spend up to $25.00 for a suitable propaganda publication to be distributed among the members.

With best wishes for the further prosperity of the society,

Chas. Koehne,
Treasurer of the Freethinker Society

June 11, 1883

The society's property furthermore consists of
I. 1 bookcase
II. A number of books, some valuable, which are linked with the Turner library and are available together with the books of the Turnverein.
III. Our share of effects accumulated in recent years. Books of the Sunday school and the continuing education school. Here the president added the remark that the society also has a piano somewhere, and it was resolved to have the president investigate.

[130, 2]
Trasurer's Report on the Evening School and Sunday School
Subscription monies:
School money

a. Sunday school
Singing teacher
Cleaning the rooms
Reading book
b. Evening school
Teachers' pay
Cleaning of the premises
Repairs and gas installation
Wall maps
Tables and chairs


deficit $ 18.55

Report on the Sunday school of the Freethinkers Society during the winter months, beginning October 29th.

Instruction in the upper class was done in turn by Miss Ida Steffens, Mr. P. Rappaport and Mr. C. Vonnegut, Sr., in the lower class by Miss Oppenheimer, Miss Müller and Miss Flora Bopp. The upper class began with 15 pupils, but the number shrank until finally only one was left. The subjects of instruction were: German language, history, geography, ethics and singing. The lower class began with about 30 pupils and ended with 15. These received instruction in language, natural history, ethics and singing. Attendance is not a happy topic in view of the large number of freethinking Germans, which is another sign of their indifference. There is a danger that the children will gradually fall prey to the churches. There is nevertheless the hope that efforts of the Freethinkers will contribute to preventing this result. The Sunday school is now closed, but should reopen next fall.

Clemens Vonnegut

Report on the Evening School

Continuing my report of December of last year on the evening school, I will add that the number of pupils, up to the start of the new year, continued at the number reached soon after the school opened, namely an average of 50 each evening, and on the whole people worked enthusiastically.

With the start of the new year, however, the number quickly declined. We may very well have to look at a resolution by the executive committee for the reason. It said that pupils who were only there to perfect their English should be obligated to attend other subjects even if they were not to their liking.

Until the first of February of the current year two teachers were engaged, but from then on only one, and on April 1st instruction stopped, because by then the number of pupils had declined to 15.

C. Pingpank

The assembly decided to postpone the election of officers until the first fall meeting and to leave the old executive in office until then.

The recommendation of the treasurer to use $25.00 for distributing propaganda literature was approved, but to leave the choice of writings to the first fall membership meeting.

A committee consisting of Messrs. Krull, Jose and Bender was elected to present recommendations on how to conduct the Sunday school at the next membership meeting.

A committee with the same purpose regarding the evening school was formed. It consists of Messrs. Vonnegut, Koehne and Grumman.

It was decided to assign the executive committee to arrange a picnic in the course of the summer.

Adjournment followed.

Monday, November 3, 1883

Yesterday afternoon, the Sunday school founded by the society was opened. Participation was not as good as had been hoped for.

In the evening there was entertainment in Turnhalle. It was fairly good. Mr. Rappaport and Mr. Vonnegut gave short speeches. Mr. Krull performed a few pieces on the piano. Miss Koster recited a poem and Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. Kothe sang a duet, which Miss Despa accompanied on the piano.

The Sunday school problem was discussed, a list for voluntary contributions for defraying expenses was circulated, and a number of ladies and gentlemen joined the Sunday school section and promised to improve the Sunday school through agitation and sharing of teaching.

Yesterday's meeting was a very promising beginning for the new season.

[131, 2]

Monday, November 12, 1883

A very well attended meeting of the society took place last evening. Its purpose was discussion of the Luther celebration. Speeches were given by Messrs. Vonnegut, Nikolaus Jose, Albert Grumann, Conrad Bender and Phil. Rappaport. All of the speakers had just about the same opinion, and said, in effect, that Luther's contributions to German language and literature were considerable, but for the freethinker there was almost no reason to celebrate Luther's birthday. It was quite justifiable for Lutherans to honor him as the founder of their religion, they said, but for the rest, the reformation as it was preached by Zwingli, Reuchlin, Erasmus, Melanchton and others would probably have taken a direction more favorable to free thought without Luther. Further, the opinion was expressed that the freethinkers could not agree with Luther because in the peasant war, in the great battle between the people and the nobility, Luther went over completely to the side of the latter.

While his precursors, such as Huss, Savonarola and others, died for their convictions, Luther relinquished entirely the progressive direction he had originally taken and became reactionary. Also for this reason the speakers were of the opinion that from the freethinker's standpoint there is no cause for celebrating Luther.

The meeting was very animated.

Monday, December 3, 1883.

Yesterday morning, there was a business meeting of the society for electing officers.

Mr. Rappaport remarked that he had been president of the society for four years, that most of the members of the executive had now held office for years, and that he believed it would benefit the society if there were a change from time to time. It is not good for the leadership of a society to remain in the same hands indefinitely, and he thought that the next executive committee should have all new members and should in part also consist of younger forces.

Mr. Jose expressed the opinion that in the future members should have more opportunity to discuss the interests of the society among themselves.

Mr. John F. Meyer moved that a committee be elected that on the following Sunday would recommend ten persons from whom the five members of the executive committee were to be elected. The motion carried.


Sunday, December 9, 1883

The business meeting called for today to elect officers was unfortunately poorly attended. The election of officers was therefore postponed until next Wednesday evening. A motion to make the committee report with the list of nominees public was voted down since some people considered such a procedure inappropriate because it was against the democratic principles of the society to slate candidates for election and, moreover, it was a departure from prior custom.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


Special Meeting of the Freethinkers Society
Wednesday, December 12th
Freethinkers Society

Last evening, there was a business meeting of the Freethinkers Society and an election of officers in Turnhalle. The executive committee members elected were Messrs. A. Grumann, A. Krull, C. Bender, A. Metzger and N. Jose.

Mr. Grumann received the unanimous vote of all present.

It was arranged to offer Mr. Fritz Schütz opportunities to give talks. The executive committee will act jointly with the Social Turnverein in engaging Mr. Schütz for one or two talks.

The Sunday school is said to be making good progress. It was decided to cover any deficit in expenses with society funds if subscriptions are not sufficient.

It was reported that the annual Christmas celebration for the Sunday school will be sponsored jointly with the Turner school of the Social Turnverein on Sunday, December 23rd. This time it will be held in the Lyra Hall.

After adjournment of the meeting, the new executive committee met and organized as follows:
President A. Metzger
Vice-President Conrad Bender
Protocol Secretary Albert Grumann
Corresponding Secretary Albert Krull
Treasurer Nik. Jose

The executive committee will meet every Saturday evening at 7:30 in Mr. Al. Metzger's office, and members of the society are invited to attend.

The executive committee decided not to arrange a membership meeting before the holidays, but to work hard after the holidays to make this a very active season.

Finally, Mr. A. Metzger will work with the Turnverein's committee on the F. Schütz matter.


Albert Grummann, Sec.

Indianapolis, Saturday, 12/15/83

Second executive committee meeting of the F.S. Present: C. Bender, N. Jose, A. Grumann. The minutes of the last meeting were read and accepted. Next, the first open meeting was set for the second Sunday after the New Year. Mr. N. Jose's talk and discussion will be on the agenda. On the fourth Sunday there will be a closed social meeting of the members.

It was further resolved to have another speech contest. The topic chosen was the personality cult and its bad effects and the purpose of the F.S. Sunday school and its advantages. It was further resolved to limit speakers, excluding lecturers, to 10 minutes during discussions. Further, to reform the funeral procedure and to support in every respect Mr. Kraylo's initiative regarding cremation. Further, to attempt to initiate a movement to draw up a protest against the barbaric treatment of political prisoners by the Russian government. Finally, to encourage the Society to take a more philanthropic line in relief for its poor and unfortunate members.


Albert Grummann


Executive Committee Meeting, December 30, 1883

Present: Metzger, President; Jose, Bender, Krull. The previous treasurer, Mr. C. Koehne, handed over $216.33 to his successor N. Jose.

The topic of Mr. Jose's talk is "Free Thought and Progress."

Resolved: not to spend over $7.00 for the two speech contest prizes.
Resolved: to subscribe to the "Freidenker." Speakers may speak only once at debates, and not longer than 10 minutes.
Resolved: that members of the executive committee take turns chairing socials or lectures.
Resolved: to establish a register for entering the births of children of members, marriages and deaths.
Resolved: to make a loan of $100 against real estate security.

Albert Krull
Secretary pro tem.

The president reported that the body of Mr. Beyschlag (a former spokesman of the Freethinkers Society) was removed to La Crosse, Wis.

Resolved: to send a telegram of congratulations to the Freethinkers Society of New York State (at their meeting in Syracuse)


Business Meeting, January 20, 1884
Mr. Metzger chairing

After the resolutions of the executive committee were read aloud, each was voted on separately. The following resolutions carried:

A speech contest with the topic "Funeral Reforms."
Kregli's initiative concerning cremation that the Society take a more philanthropic direction.
The cost for the speech contest may not exceed $7.00.
To subscribe to the "Freidenker."
That at debates a speaker has 10 minutes, as long as there are other speakers he may speak only once.
To leave up to the executive committee whether its members alternate as chair.
A series of talks, referred back to the executive committee. Admission charge for members rejected.
The executive committee should sponsor a concert.
Communication with the Board of Health regarding preparation of an index.
To support the proposals of Congressman Davis on regulation by congress of work hours in factories.
To arrange an evening of entertainment exclusively for members.


A. Grummann, Sec.

Fourth Executive Committee Meeting January 24, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, A. Grummann.

Resolved: to collect admission to the talks held and to sponsor these jointly with the School Society when possible.

Discussed: to hold an evening of entertainment exclusively for members.

Assigned: Mr. N. Jose is to make an inventory of all items belonging to the society.

Resolved: to hold the next executive committee meeting on February 5th in Turnhalle.


A. Grummann, Sec.

Fifth Executive Committee Meeting
February 3, 1884

Present: N. Jose, President, A. Krull, A. Grummann.

Resolved: to hold the planned entertainment social on February 24th, in order for Mr. A. Metzger to inquire about making arrangements at the same time as those for the concert.


A. Grummann, Sec.


Sixth Executive committee Meeting, February 28, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, C. Bender, A. Grummann.

First, payment of $7.50 approved for the bill from the "Tribune" for printing and announcements. Then C. Bender was made chair for the entertainment social next Sunday. Messrs. Metzger and N. Jose were assigned the remaining arrangements.


A. Grummann, Sec.

Seventh Executive Committee Meeting of
the FS, March 12, 1884.

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, C. Bender, A. Grummann.

Resolved: to require Mr. Grobe to settle accounts.
Resolved: N. Jose will chair. On the agenda should be a reading from "Freie Glocken" (Liberty Bells) as on the men of the reformation and on important issues of the day.
Resolved: to propose introduction of a death benefit fund to the society.

Resolved: to propose a sick benefit fund.
Resolved: to propose acquiring a picture which is designed to hold photographs of members. In case of death the photograph of the deceased will be enlarged for display and then given to the family.
Resolved: that members of the executive committee greet guests, accompany them to their seat and make introductions.


A. Grummann, Sec.

Eighth Executive Committee Meeting, March 16, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, A. Krull, A. Grummann.

A. Metzger reports that he received $22.70 from Mr. Grobe. Other unimportant business taken care of.


A. Grummann, Sec.


Ninth Executive Committee Meeting, March 22, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, C. Bender, A. Grummann. Mr. Eisle of the Social Turnverein was there in connection with the Schütz lecture on March 30th in the Maennerchor Hall.

Resolved: that J. Kahle will sell tickets at the door and C. Bender will collect them. Mr. Jose will usher and Mr. Vonnegut will arrange a musical presentation. Admission is 25c, ladies free.
Resolved: to call a general meeting for Wednesday, March 26th. On the agenda is the proposal in the following resolution which carried:

Resolved: that the following members of the Freethinkers Society who agree to acceptance into the School Society will apply for membership at its next meeting. These will have their admission fee paid by the society treasury.

Resolved: to hold a meeting on Wednesday, April 2nd. On the agenda: Is protective tariff advantageous for the worker? The speakers are P. Rappaport and N. Jose. Each is allowed a half hour for his opening speech. The speakers will receive 10 more minutes at the end when all other speakers have been heard.

The treasurer reports that the sum of $57 was received from J. Grobe. After deduction of 10% there remains $51.30.

A. Grummann, Sec.


General Meeting, March 26, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, president, and 10 members.

After the minutes were read and accepted, the proposal to merge the Freethinkers Society and the School Society was discussed. Mr. H. Lieber and N. Jose had reservations about its practicality. All others present were in favor. After the chair called the vote, it was adopted by an overwhelming majority and even in its original formulation.


A. Grummann, Sec.

Tenth Executive Committee Meeting, March 29th

Mr. A. Metzger, President; C. Bender, A. Grummann.

The president reports that J. Wocher has withdrawn his name and that those members who as yet do not belong to the School Society have been notified for admission in the society.

Next meeting Sunday April 6th.

A. Grummann


Eleventh Executive Committee Meeting,
April 15, 1884

Present: A. Metzger, President; C. Bender, A. Grumann

Resolved: to loan all property in money form to the School Society against security.
Resolved: to delegate collections to Grobe.
Resolved: if possible to hold an entertainment evening next Sunday and to delegate arrangements to A. Metzger.


A. Grummann, Sec.

6 5 4 5 7
Jose Mansfeld Bopp Metzger Grobe
10 9 6 20
Tschentscher Rappaport Kother (Lieber)

1 5 4 6
Sander Gauss Mayer Haueisen

4 10 11 3 1
Scheller Vonnegut Köhne Bohn Metzger

14 3 7
Jose Mansfeld Metzger Grobe
17 10 16 7
Tschentscher Rappaport Kothe Gauss
9 1 15
Haueisen Vonnegut Koehne



Twelfth Executive Committee Meeting,
April 27, 1884

A. Metzger chairing; C. Bender, N. Jose, A. Grummann present.

Resolved: to call a general meeting for May 8th, 8 p.m. in the Turnhalle for the election of officers.
Resolved: to loan $225 to the School Society against security.


A. Grummann, Sec.

General Meeting, May 9, 1884

The meeting was led by C. Bender. After a few small items of business were taken care of, Mr. Lieber made a motion to elect the same officers again by acclamation. The motion was adopted unanimously by the assembly.

Adjournment of the meeting followed.

Albert Grummann, Sec.


Executive Committee Meeting,
July 12, 1884

Since the former executive committee was elected again in the general meeting of May 12th, it decided that its members would also keep their former offices throughout the next quarter. The president reports that the society has a claim against the School Society of $150 in cash and $100 for the piano, thus $250. The note, however, is still loaned out.

The treasurer was then directed to delegate collection for the next quarter to Mr. Grobe.

Resolved: for the society to have a picnic with the Sunday school on Sunday, July 20th, and to have a meeting beforehand on July 16th and to invite to it the lady teachers of the Sunday school.
Resolved: to ask the society during the picnic about how it wants to participate in the coming Turner festival.

Present: A. Metzger, President; N. Jose, C. Bender, A. Grummann, Sec.


Executive Committee Meeting, October 15, 1884

A report that the executive committee had joint meetings about the picnic with the Turners and the lady teachers of the Sunday school on the 17th, 20th and 26th of August. The picnic turned out very well.
Income was $91.02
Expenses were $89.08
Surplus $ 2.01
with Jose 1.00

$ 3.01

Resolved: to call a meeting of the society for Wednesday the 22nd in order to discuss which steps to take in the winter season. Adjournment.

Present: A. Metzger, Pres.; C. Bender, A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, November 22, 1884.

Mr. Jose reports that there is still $1.00 on hand from the last picnic and requests that proposals to take a philanthropic direction be made in the next meeting, which is adopted. The president reports that School Society owes $125.


It was then decided to loan the School Society $200, including the $125, and to offer it $300 if it provides us with heat and light.

The next meeting is Saturday, November 29th.

A. Metzger, Pr., Bender, Jose.

A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, November 29, 1884

The president declares that since Mr. Jose, who had offered to present a proposal, was absent, another meeting on December 4th would be called. Present: A. Metzger, C. Bender, A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, December 4, 1884.

Messrs. Gustav Schnull, T. Stencel, A. Emerich were accepted as members.

Mr. Jose made a motion to found a trade school with the subjects of drawing, calculating and German language. Carried.

Resolved: a meeting for this purpose.

Sunday, December 7th, 10 a.m. to call an open meeting in the school building and to leave the invitations up to Mr. Metzger.

A. Metzger, Pr., C. Bender, N. Jose. After report discussion on school. A. Grummann, Dr. Bell, President Lieber, Miller, Secretary.

Executive Committee Meeting, December 10, 1884

After clarifying the immediate question, we attempted to draft a program for the current winter, and to call a general meeting for Sunday the 14th in the school building for detailed discussion of the program. One more executive meeting to be held Friday evening. Adjournment. A. Metzger, Pr.

A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, December 12, 1884

A. Metzger, the president, reports that a society for civil service reform has been formed in New York state, and that he has spoken with Mr. Swift, who is of the opinion that the Germans have to initiate agitation in this matter.[150]

Mr. Swift is willing to give a talk on this topic. Mr. Furguson will talk on tariff. Mr. Wappenhannes is also ready to speak. So steps have been taken for setting up a program, and the following is established:

January 11th, Swift, Civil service reform, Turnhalle
January 25th, Debate
February 1st, Pingpank, History
February 22nd, Heinzen's birthday, Entertainment
March 1st, Furguson, Tariff
March 15th, Debate
March 29th, Mr. Miller
May 19th, Mr. Wappenhannes on weather observation
End of May, Mr. Emerich, Closing festival

The above program should be discussed and divided up, and understanding should be reached with the Turners and other free thought organizations to try to hold the meetings jointly or at least not schedule meetings for the same time.

A. Metzger, Pr., C. Bender, C. Kohne.

A. Grummann


General Meeting, December 12, 1884

School money. After the minutes were read and accepted, a proposal was made to start agitation against life in the public schools. Since participation was very weak, however, it was decided to call another meeting for next Sunday at 9 a.m.

Present: 8 persons, A. Metzger, Pres.

A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, December 20th

The president reported that he had spoken with Mr. Emerich, who reports that there is already compulsory education in 8 states. And it is time to begin this here also. And a meeting will be held for this purpose on January 4th. The speaker on this topic will be Mr. Emerich. The winter program was then established as follows:

January 4th, Emerich, compulsory education.
February 18th, Swift, civil service reform.
February 15th, Entertainment in Turnhalle after Sunday school.

March 1st, Pingpank, history
March 8th, Furguson, tariff
February 22nd, Karl Heinzen's birthday, speaker: Heilmann.
March 29th, Debate on Swift and Furguson.
April 13th, E. Miller, a talk.
April 27th, Wappenhannes on weather observation.

In view of the hard times, a motion was passed to request the society to place $25 at the disposal of the executive committee so that it can help in any urgent cases and for 10% of the income of the society for a relief fund for as long as the panic lasts.

There was further discussion on founding an immigrant society.


A. Metzger, Pre., C. Bender, N. Jose, C. Koehne.

A. Grummann, Sec.


Executive Committee Meeting, January 22,1885.

Resolved: to send L.B. Swift a vote of thanks and to publish it in both German newspapers.

A. Metzger, Pr., C. Bender, A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, March 5, 1885

Resolved: not to regard the "Tribune" as a party organ and not give this impression to the public. This should be achieved by not using the Tribune for announcements. If the issue is understood, notices can again be made in the paper.

A. Metzger, Pr., C. Bender, N. Jose, A. Grummann, Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, March 22, 1885.

Resolved: to have C. Furguson's talk on March 29th and to announce this in several English newspapers, also to dedicate a memorial to the departing member C. Koehne.

A. Metzger, Pr., C. Bender, N. Jose, A. Grummann, Sec.


Executive Committee Meeting, September 18, 1885

After today's issues involving areas for agitation were discussed, it was resolved to have another executive committee meeting on Tuesday, September 21st and a general meeting on Friday for election of officers. Present: A. Metzger, Pres., C. Bender, N. Jose.

A. Grummann
Rec. Sec.

Executive Committee Meeting, September 22, 1885

The president reported that he received $15 from Gerlich as payment on the $25 loaned to him. After several unimportant things were taken care of, there was adjournment. A. Metzger, Pres., N. Jose.

A. Grummann, Sec.


General Meeting, September 25, 1885

Mr. A. Metzger, President, calls the meeting to order. After the minutes are read and accepted, the president gives a report in which he resigns from his office and complains that the society brought to light an antipathy against all progressive endeavor of the executive committee. After this, the protocol secretary reads his report, which is similarly passed. The report of the treasurer shows a balance of $378.79, which was referred to Messrs. F. Vonnegut, C. Bender and W. Kothe for review. After this the secretary, A. Grummann complained that every principle necessary for the existence of a society was absolutely absent from the society at present. In addition, a certain aristocracy had spread among previous supporters, who only show themselves as members by still paying dues and thus make all social and educational affairs impossible. It forces the poorer members to find educational and entertaining company at a lower social level.

Then Mr. C. Vonnegut made a motion to dissolve the society. A. Grumann supports it. It was pointed out that the attendance was too small to actually decide on the motion, and the former executive committee was directed to call another general meeting.

Resolved: to remit to the Social Turnverein $25 for completion of its library.


Eight persons present.

A. Grummann, Sec.

Indianapolis, March 12, 1887

Mr. Alex Metzger
President of the
Indianapolis Freethinkers Society

The undersigned hereby request that you call a meeting of the executive committee of the Freethinkers Society as soon as possible for a Saturday or Sunday morning to deliberate on the welfare of the society.

Albert Krull
Conrad Bender
Theo. Stempfel
C. Pingpank
Clemens Vonnegut
Franklin Vonnegut


Indianapolis, October 2, 1887

General meeting, school auditorium called by A. Krull, C. Bender, T. Stempfel, C. Pingpank. Clemens Vonnegut, and F. Vonnegut.

A. Metzger is presiding. He reports that the society's $300, which had been loaned to the School Society, has been passed on to the Social Turnverein as a loan. He says that the executive committee's activity is consistent with the circumstances. Since the society's books have been with the investigation committee, no minutes could be read.

Resolved: to accept Rappaport's motion to engage Mrs. Wilhelmi for a talk.

Resolved: to allot $40 for this purpose and to admit members free of charge.

Resolved: to establish contact with the women's section of the Social Turnverein and if possible, give a talk in the Maennerchor Hall, at which admission is to cost 25c, and to hold a second talk at Turnhalle which would be just for members of the Freethinkers Society. A. Krull and T. Stempfel were assigned to the committee for arrangements.

Resolved: that the executive committee call a general meeting on dissolving the society no later than two weeks after the talks by Mrs. Wilhelmi.


A. Grummann, Pr. Sec.


Special Meeting, January 31st, 1890

This meeting was called by the executive committee to conclusively decide on the further existence of "the society."

President Metzger opened the meeting and the minutes of the last meeting on October 2, 1887 were adopted as read.

A letter of Messrs. Clemens Vonnegut, Sr. and Wilhelm Kother, Sr. was read aloud, and it was resolved to add it to the minutes.

Treasurer Jose reports as follows
On hand as of March 14, 1886 371.41
Expenditures for subscribing to the "Freidenker" 9.48
Mrs. Wilhelmi's talk 40.00 49.48
Remaining in the treasury 321.93

Of this sum, $300 has been loaned to the Turnverein.

The review committee of Rappaport and Lieber found the report correct.

Each person present then expresses his opinion about continuing or dissolving of the Freethinkers Society. The views were so diverse, however, that we could not reach a conclusion, and so the meeting was adjourned until February 6, 1890. Members are to be invited to it by mail. Those present were: A. Metzger, H. Lieber, Ph. Rappaport, N. Jose, Miss Oppenheimer, Henry Mansfeld, Longerich and Krull.

In the absence of Secretary Grummann, Krull was appointed secretary.

Albert Krull, Sec. pro tem.


[Inserted Letters]

Nos. 184 and 186 East Washington Street

Indianapolis, Ind., January 31, 1890

To the meeting of the Freethinkers about the final decision as to its fate and determination of its property (cash, case, library and whatever it may be).

Since we are unable to attend personally, we declare ourselves completely in agreement with whatever you decide to do.

We wish, however, that you might give favorable consideration to the Sunday School, the Trade School and possibly a Saturday school, whether this be with the whole capital or only with the interest.

We believe the Freethinkers Society could well go on existing, Turnverein and Socialist Association notwithstanding, as earlier [when] it was placed under a strong, active leadership in spite of and aside from them.

Our own particular circumstances prevent us, however, from participating other than through paying our dues regularly.

Sincerely yours,
Clemens Vonnegut, Sr.
Wm Kothe, Sr.

January 31, 1890

The Trade School

100 members at 2.70
tuition 100.00

3 teachers 40 Sundays = 120 x $2 = $240.00
2 teachers 40 Sundays = 80 x 2 = 160.00

other expenses 200.00 600.00

deficit $230.00

Existing for 6 years
At first with lively participation, which, however, as with similar promulgations, gradually declined.

Evening school was given up.-- The executive committee developed renewed efforts.--

Evening school again taken up
Pupils now 75
Members 100
Teachers 3
Finances:year's deficit $230.00


General Meeting, February 6, 1890

Mr. Jose is presiding. The minutes of the last meeting were adopted as read. Grumann's motion to dissolve the society was defeated. On the other hand, his motion that the society's property should be divided among four organizations--the women's aid for poor Turners. the Social Sunday School, the Trade School and the Socialist Section. Except the Trade School had been substituted for the Social Turnverein, which will forgo its inheritance. Upon Lieber's motion the library was given to the Social Turnverein, and the bookcase was bequeathed to the Socialist Section upon Rappaport's motion. Further, the protocol book was added to the library. It was further resolved [to have] a standing committee, allowed to replenish members on its own, to intervene if any occasion arises and to bring the resolutions of this meeting to fulfillment. Appointed to it are: Messrs. N. Jose, A. Krull and A. Grummann. Hereby adjourned.

A. Grummann, Sec.

Present: N. Jose, C. Bender, H. Lieber, Mansfeld, Longerich, A. Krull, Mrs. Oppenheimer, Rappaport.


Meeting of the Executive Committee
February 25, 1890

Present were Messrs. Jose and Krull. The committee is constituted as follows:
Chairman Albert Krull
Secretary Albert Grummann
Treasurer Nicolas Jose

Resolved: to write the Social Turner Society to send our treasurer the $300.00 belonging to the society, so that the committee can carry out the resolution of the Freethinkers Society.

Albert Krull
Recording Secretary pro tem.

Meeting of the Executive Committee
April 18th, 1890

Present: Jose and Krull.

Treasurer Jose reported that he will receive [from] Mr. Clemens Vonnegut, Sr. 4 checks at $75.00 payable to the society treasurers of the 4 societys in question, that he had sent these back and finally had received one check for $300.00.

Resolved: to have a meeting on the 22nd about the letters to the chosen societys as well as writing out the checks and sending them.

by proxy, Albert Krull


Meeting of the Executive Committee
Sunday, April 27, 1890

Present: N. Jose and Albert Krull

Mr. Jose made out the 4 checks, payable to the following persons:
Mrs. Louis Hellwig Treasurer of the Ladies Aid Society
Mr. Johann Ruff Treasurer of the Socialist Section
Mr. N. Jose Treasurer of the Trade School Society
Mr. Albert Metzger Treasurer of the Freethinkers Sunday School

and Mr. Krull was directed to write a letter to each of the organizations and to enclose the checks in question (drawn on Fletcher's Bank). Further, he was directed to inform the Social Turnverein that the Freethinkers Society had donated to the same its library, chairs, tables and other such property, except for a bookcase which had been bequeathed to the Socialist Section.

Mr. Jose reports that after payment of the subscription of the "Freidenker" ($1.25) there is $20.58 remaining in his possession.

Any unforeseen expenses that may become necessary so that these may function as intended by the Freethinkers Society will be defrayed from this fund.

Adjournment sine die

The Executive Committee
by proxy
Albert Krull, Chairman
N. Jose, Treasurer
Albert Grummann, Secretary



Indianapolis, Ind. April 28th

Mrs. Henry Severin
President of the Ladies Aid Society

Dear Madam:

A meeting of the Freethinker Society held on February 6th of this year resolved to distribute 300 dollars among several organizations with which it is closely associated in principles and aspirations. It considered the "Ladies Aid Society" to be among such organizations, along with the "Trade School Society," the "Socialist Section" and the "Freethinker Sunday School," and it charged the undersigned committee with the distribution of the money. We are fulfilling the resolution of the society by presenting you with the enclosed check for $75.00, and we hope that the sum may contribute towards realization of the motto of the Freethinkers Society: "Freedom, Education and Prosperity for All."

[164-170] blank or illegible


Talks, Readings of the Society in the Third
Year of its Existence, Beginning with April 7th.

April 7th. Talk by Mr. Vonnegut on the effectiveness of the society in the past year; then a reading by Mr. Koessly.
April 17th. Talk by Mr. Koessly on patriotism.
April 21st. Reading by Mr. Koessly on the cultural history of the earth.
April 28th. Reading by Mr. Koessly on the cultural history of the earth.
May 5th. Talk by Mr. Schabehorn from St. Louis on the mission of Germans in America.
May 12th. Reading by Mr. Koessly on the natural history of birds.
May 19th. Reading by Mr. Koessly from the cultural history of the earth by Kolb.
May 26th. Reading by Mr. Koessly. Continuation of previous reading.
June 2nd. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut. Continuation of previous reading.
June 9th. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut. Continuation from last Sunday.
June 16th. Reading by Mr. Koessly of a talk by Mr. Carl Heizen on communism and socialism.
June 23rd. General entertainment.
June 30th. The same.



Membership List of the Freethinkers Society
in Indianapolis in its Third Year
of its Existence, April 1, 1872.
Dues paid in April - June August - September
Bergner G. $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Becker Jacob $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Bieler P.L. $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Bohlen D.A. $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Bennerscheidt C.A. $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Bohn G. $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Bopp C. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Dickert Jacob $2.00 $2.00 $0.00 $0.00
Dietz Fr. $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Emmerich H. $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $0.00
Ferling G. $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Fertig Fr. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Fieber V. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Flickinger Wm $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Goldhausen F. $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Huber P. $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50
Henninger G. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Henning H.R. $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $0.00
Haueisen Wm $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Haas, Lehrer $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Jose N. $1.25 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Kothe Wm $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Koehne Charles $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50
Kuhn A. $2.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Klare Fr. $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Knotel Lehrer $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Koessly Lehrer $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Lieber Hermann $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00
Longerich E. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Lang Louis $2.50 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Metzger Alexander $6.25 $6.25 $6.25 $6.25
Metzger Jacob $1.25 $1.25 $1.25 $1.25
Manfeld H. $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Meyer John F. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Meyer Theodor $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Reese Henry $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $0.00
Recker Hubert $1.25 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Reichwein Phillipp $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Schnell Henry $6.25 $6.25 $0.00 $0.00
Scheller Dr. $2.50 $2.50 $0.00 $0.00
Schulmeyer Th $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Schulmeyer Louis $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Schmidt Robert $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Schmidt Fr. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Sander Theodor $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Vonnegut Clemens $6.25 $6.25 $6.25 $6.25
Voegtly Jacob $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Ziegler Ch. $2.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Zschech Gustav $1.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Gauss Charles $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50
Kiefer Jacob $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $0.00
Reissner Albert $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Charles Grobe $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Hermann Gustav $1.00 $1.00 $0.00 $0.00

$1.00 $1.00
Post Charles

$6.25 $6.25

Late Payment from
N. Jose - $2.50
H. Schnull - $12.50





J. Metzger, 407 N. Delaware Peter Lieber
H. Schnull, 124 N. Alab. Otto Schissel
F. Simon, 188 N. Noble Fred Ballschwinger
C. Reese, 240 E. Market Gust. Aeth
P. Berwig, 255 S. New Jersey Rappaport
F. Lietz,
H. Romberg, 117 E. Washington
L. Hollweg, 96 or 98 S. Meridian
H. Pink, 245 E. Wash.
H. Kiewachner [?], 156 N. Davidson
C. Post, Odd Fellows' House
C. Hedderich, 233 N. Noble
A. Seidensticker, 377 N. East
Ch. Levisohn, Circle House
W. Keilmann, Office Telegraph
N. Hendrics, Corner Circle Meridian
G. Gramlich, Wabash St. betw. [ ] and Noble
H. Baas, 378 S. East
G. Martin 355 S. Meridian,
Theo. Wagner, Chas & Rachig Mark'g
E. Schnellkopf, N. New Jersey Betw. Market + Ohio.
A. Schleicher, the same
C Gehring,
E. Mueller, 182 E Wash.
L. Ludorff, 304 S. Meridian
Ch. Bieler, Corner East u. McCarty
L. Schulmeyer, N. Tennessee Corner 5th St.
P. Berwig,
J. Frenzel,
Ch. Freese, 27 W. Wash.
Ch. Lechner, Bates Block
C. Kaufmann, Paris Store, E. Wash.
Prof. E. Knodel Russel Ave
Prof. C. Haas. E. Wash. L. Schmidt
Casp. Hederich,
Ch. F. Hahn, 25 S. Meridian
C.R. Weigenau, 26 W. New York
A. Metzner, Corner South & East St.
Fr. Schulmeyer, N. W. Corner Alabama & St. Marys
R. Schmidt, 96 S. East
A. [ ] Schmidt Brewery G. Ferling 124 E. Maryland
G. Recker, 238 S. New Jersey Chas. Dietrich,
H. Recker, 507 E. Market
C.B. Lizius,
F. Noelke, 435 E Georgia

[ ]

Mr. A. Grummann, Sec.

According to the enclosed invitation our society should be represented, and since there has not been a society meeting in the meantime, allow me to appoint you as delegate, and I hope for the best success of our worthy society.

Indianapolis, June 23, 1884

Albert Metzger
Prsdt of the Freethinkers Society


Secretary's report

The board of directors of the Freethinkers Society held 12 meetings since its election on December 12. President A. Metzger chaired 9, present 9 times; Mr. C. Bender chaired one meeting, present 8 times; Mr. N. Jose chaired one meeting, present 9 times; Mr. A. Krull present 4 times; A. Grumann present 10 times.

There were 3 general meetings and 4 entertainment evenings. Also,a public meeting was held jointly with the Social Turnverein. F. Schütz was the speaker. The board, especially the president, strives to develop a field of action which is in compliance with the principles of the society and which may benefit the general public.

A. Grumann
prot. secr.

Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 1
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 2
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 3

Return to Freethinker Society of Indianapolis minutes, 1870-1890 EXAMINE page

Created: 12 June 1998, CAC
Updated: 4 February 1999, BAS