Photograph of William Kothe, 1885
In 1856 the Maennerchor, which in the meantime had grown into an organization with statutes and by-laws, decided to also accept passive members. The same year the Maennerchor participated in the song festival in Cincinnati. . . . The year 1858 was quite eventful. The "Indiana Saengerbund" hosted a song festival [in] the . . . city of Indianapolis with the entire German population participating. Conductor of the festival was Carl Barus, then director of a singing society in Cincinnati. . . .
The German social life in Indianapolis suffered considerable setbacks during the years of [the Civil W]ar. . . . [Maennerchor] Conductor E. Despa . . . resigned in the spring of 1861. He was followed in quick succession by C.A. Biedermeister and Joh. Straubenmüller. The latter moved away from the city after only a few months. What followed for the Verein was a terrible time, a "conductorless" period. To make matters worse, a miniature civil war had broken out among the members, with the result that a faction of the active members seceded and formed a Verein of their own, the "Konkordia." On the side of the Maennerchor stood, among others, Clemens Vonnegut, the president of many years, W[illiam] Kothe, and Cha[rle]s Grobe; the "Konkordia" was headed by Gottfried Recker and Ed[uard] Longerich, who had returned from Germany in 1862.
Fortunately, the "Saengerkrieg" didn't last very long. As early as January of 1863, the two Vereins reunited under the old name, Maennerchor.
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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
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