Colonel Wilhelm Pfaender (1826-1905), born in Heilbronn, Wurttemberg, Germany, came to America as a result of the 1848 Revolution. In Germany he helped found the Turner Societies in his birth-city ofHeilbronn and in Ulm. In Cincinnati, Ohio, he co-founded the first American Turner Society, presided over its Settlement Society and, notably, over the German Land Association that pioneered the New Ulm settlement (1856). Besides organizing the New Ulm Turners, Pfaender actively served New Ulm as its first president, and later distinguished himself as astate Senator and Treasurer and during the Civil War, as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. cavalry. The original Pfaender home was located in Milford Township before the family moved to the city. (Continued on other side)
In 1860, he cast an electoral vote in the historic election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. In the same year, he was elected Register of Deeds of Brown County and also to the House of Representatives of the Minnesota State Legislature and in 1870 was elected to the Minnesota State Senate. From 1873 to 1876, he served as Mayor of New Ulm, and then as Minnesota State Treasurer in 1876, and was re-elected in 1880. From 1890 to 1893 he served on the New Ulm City Council.
In September 1861, he was commissioned First Lieutenantof the First Minnesota Battery, and participated in the Battle of Shiloh, but returned to Minnesota because of the 1862 Dakota War. He was then commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the First MinnesotaMounted Rangers, and placed in command of Fort Ridgleyto protect the frontier; later he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the Second Cavalry Regiment. For 16 years he served as Commander of the Hecker Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.
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In his History of Brown County, Minnesota: Its' People, Industries and Institutions (1916). Dr. L.A. Fritsche wrote that Colonel Pfaender "always had at heart the interests of New Ulm and its people, and was ever a promoter of the locality and its inhabitants."
He also wrote that Pfaender "was not only a public spirited citizen and busy man in civil life, but a patriot of high type, as proven by his record inwar. The corner stone of Mr. Pfaender's character wasa high sense of justice and honor, and whether in civil or military life, he was always a courteous gentleman." He further notes that "While he was firm in his convictions of his rules of life, he was always tolerant of differences of opinion; and he was ever a peace-maker."
As one of the founding fathers of New Ulm, Minnesota, Colonel Pfaender occupies an honored place in the annals of its history as one of its most admired citizens.
Dedicated April 2009 Sponsored by
Members of the Pfaender-Fritsche Family and New Ulm Area Foundation