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Sister City - Pfaffenweiler, Germany

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Address for Pfaffenweiler's City Hall

Rathausgasse 4
79292 Pfaffenweiler

From the Vineyards to the Village of Pfaffenweiler   Pfaff. view of city

About the City

MAYOR: Dieter Hahn - Elected in 2007 

The old world word "Pfaffe" (from lat .: papa = father)was a name for a priest. The concept was used originally for Roman-Catholic priests or priests as a stately general term for a person who lives according to an ecclesiastical rule in the Middle Ages. Almost only the priests were educated.  "weiler" means little village. The original part of the town had a church and it is summized that the Priest was the head of the village.

Pfaffenweiler is located in the foothills of the Black Forest nestled in the south west corner of Germany. It is in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and is just south of Freiburg. The community lies 40 miles north of Switzerland and about 16 miles east of where the Rhine River borders France.

According to the archivest, Eddy Weeger, it is impossible to tell exactly when Pfaffenweiler was founded. There have been some graves discovered from the 7th & 8th century, but the first record of the town is dated 1094.

2600 citizens

1.39 square miles

Pfaffenweiler is located in a valley surrounded by 250 acres of grape vineyards. The residents formed a wine cooperative in 1950 and presently have 270 members who grow 15 kinds of grapes producing about 100 varieties of wines each year. Harvesting is done by the property owners or the coop.  Production is done at the winery located on Weinstrasse (Wine street), a main street running through the middle of the Pfaffenweiler.

Pfaffenweiler is also known for its stone quarries. Master Stone Carver, Michael Eckert, has his shop in Pfaffenweiler and has created masterpieces throughout Europe.


History of the Sister City Partnership

Partnership Logo

In 1847, 85 residents of Pfaffenweiler, Germany, headed to America on a 52-day trip on the sailing ship "Tallahassee." Family names included Baumann, Beck, Brucker, Blattmann, Daeschle, Eckerle, Eckert, Erb, Georg, Kiefer, Kraft, Lang, Schmidt, Schuble, Steinle, Stenftenagel and Zipfel. Today, most of these names can be found in Jasper and in Pfaffenweiler. Jasper residents went back and asked the community that spawned them to be their Sister City, 138 years after the eventful trip.

In the early 1980's Sabine Jordan, Humanist-in-Residence for Jasper, suggested that Pfaffenweiler could become an ideal partner since many settlers in Jasper and the surrounding communities were immigrants from Pfaffenweiler and neighboring villages.

In 1984, Ruth and Eberhard Reichmann visited Pfaffenweiler, Germany, to discuss with Mayor Fritz Gutgsell, the possibility of a Sister City arrangement with Jasper and the interest to reconnect with Jasper's German roots. The Reichmann's took a local phone book along with them to Pfaffenweiler and it was soon discovered that many of the names were the same names as that of local Pfaffenweiler residents.

A group from Jasper was planning a visit to Austria and Germany in September and Mayor Gutgsell invited them to Pfaffenweiler. They went, felt at home, and got a great feel for the relationship that grew, based on close historical ties. It was the consensus of the tour group that, because of the genealogy and heritage between the two communities, they should become Sister Cities.

In 1985, 41 people from Pfaffenweiler came to Jasper for a visit and the official signing of the partnership document. Since then, many groups have traveled to Pfaffenweiler and many groups from Pfaffenweiler have traveled to Jasper. In addition, there are high school student exchanges on a regular basis, job exchanges, newspaper exchanges and performances at the Strassenfest by groups from Pfaffenweiler. Many families have been reunited and ties have been formed and continue to grow.


In 1997, Mayor Schmitt and Mayor Gutgsell saw the need to have a central group who could work directly with the two communities to plan and implement all visits between Jasper and Pfaffenweiler.  Mayor Schmitt established the Jasper Partnership Commission to act as the liaison between the two communities.  A representative of Jasper High School's German language classes, a member of the Jasper German Club, a member of the Sister Cities of Jasper, and members of the community who had a passion for the partnership of Jasper's Sister City, made up the Commission.  Original members included Mayor Bill Schmitt, Matt Hilger, Raymie Eckerle, Stan Jochum, Lowell Glendenning, Ed Eckert, Bob Dilger, Vic Knies and Lois Kuntz.  Lowell summed it up - "it is important to tie all of the local groups together and work toward the common goal of sharing our culture and enhancing our relationships". 

In 2011 Pfaffenweiler formed their Partnership Commission.

Partnership Commissions

Mayor Dean Vonderheide                  Steffi Schmuecker

Irene Kapp                                         Kim Lottes

Andrea Gramelspacher                     Max Verkamp

Stan Jochum                                     Gina Schuetter

Lisa Bower

Pfaff. Comm. members

Current Pfaffenweiler Partnership Commission - L-R

Row 1 - Franz Hilger, Michael Eckert, Mayor Dieter Hahn, former Mayor Fritz Gutgsell

Row 2 - Eddie Weeer, Diana Treyer, Karin Horst, Annika Marschall (Dominik Klein, not present)

The 15th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership was celebrated in June, 2000, in Pfaffenweiler, with 65 visitors from Jasper traveling to Pfaffenweiler.  Visitors included Mayor Bill Schmitt and his wife who were welcomed by Mayor Fritz Gutgsell. The Jasper Partnership Commission members planned the trip and met with Pfaffenweiler officials to review projects in both communities.  A handmade quilt with a pattern called "The Snail Trail" was given as a gift to Pfaffenweiler.  The names of the original immigrants who settled in Jasper were embroidered around the edge of the quilt.

Quilt - given in 2000

The 20th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership was celebrated in August, 2005, when 49 visitors from Pfaffenweiler came to Jasper for a week during the Strassenfest. The group included Mayor Gutgsell and his wife, Councilman Albert Keller and his wife, 4 Alpine Horn Blowers who performed at several events, and Franz & Barebel Hilger who were the Grand Marshalls for the Strassenfest.  The Jasper Partnership Commission met with Mayor Gutgsell and other visitors to review projects in both communities. 

Jasper was given a wine vat front with the inscription of the 20th Anniversary. Jasper gave Pfaffenweiler an etching of the Baumann Cross that stands at St. Joseph's church in honor of those who made the original trip to Jasper from Pfaffenweiler.

Vat front Etching of Cross Horn Blowers

The 25th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership celebration began with a newly elected Burgermeister of Pfaffenweiler, Dieter Hahn.  Arriving in June of 2010, 46 visitors from Jasper, including Mayor Schmitt and his son Nathan, enjoyed the comfortable summer weather and even warmer hospitality in Pfaffenweiler. 

The two Partnership Commissions met and agreed to pursue several mutual endeavors. One was to link to each other's website. Another was to establish a Partnership Commission in Pfaffenweiler.  Another was to establish a Stone Carver group in Jasper in hopes that it could bring a better understanding of this art to Jasper.  It was suggested that Pfaffenweiler’s Master Stonecarver Michael Eckert could train someone from Jasper.  All of those projects were completed.

A wooden clock made in Jasper was presented to Pfaffenweiler.  It had two clock faces with one showing Jasper time and the other showing Pfaffenweiler time.  It was hand painted by Gary Horney, a City of Jasper Street Department employee.  Smaller versions of the clock were given to the Host Families.  Jasper accepted a beautiful stained-glass piece of art with stone base denoting the anniversary.  It is on display in the 2nd floor window at Jasper City Hall.

Dieter w/clock  stained glass


In 2012-2013 The Jasper Partnership Commission, especially member Stan Jochum, assisted with gathering donations and grants to send Jasper High School art teacher, Josh Dodd and his family, to Pfaffenweiler for a month in the summer of 2013 to learn the trade. A Jasper Stonecarver group was formed and Josh continued to hone his skills and proceeded to teach the other members of the Jasper group. They all have helped restore some of the original tombstones in several local cemeteries. In addition, they publicly share their skills on various occasions at the Dubois County Museum which is where their stonecarver hut and work area are located. It was built to replicate the hut in Pfaffenweiler.

stone carvers

In 2014 Mayor Terry Seitz and his wife, Deena, traveled to Pfaffenweiler to meet with Mayor Hahn, tour Pfaffenweiler, and meet its citizens to familiarize himself with the Sister City program prior to the group's arrival in Jasper in 2015.  He also met with their Partnership Commission.

Mayor Seitz w/Pfaff. friends


The 30th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership was celebrated in Jasper.  Mayor Seitz greeted Mayor Hahn and 35 visitors of all ages, from Pfaffenweiler.  The Partnership Commissions of both communities planned the visit which lasted for 10 days. All of the guests stayed with family members or Host Families.


At the joint Partnership Commission meeting Mayor Seitz suggested the possibility of establishing a winery in Jasper which would utilize the expertise of the vintners of Pfaffenweiler. The members saw this as a challenge to consider by the 35th celebration of the Sister City Partnership event in 2020.

Joint Mtg. Part. Commissions  2 Part. Comm.

Partnership Commission members Karin Horst from Pfaffenweiler and Stan Jochum from Jasper were Co-Grand Marshalls for the Strassenfest.

A quilt, which was hand made by Irene (Eckert) Kapp, was given to Pfaffenweiler.  It was made of t-shirts from past Strassenfests.  Pfaffenweiler gave Jasper a "thank you" flag which hangs in City Hall. 

quilt   Banner in City Hall

Among the visitors were members of various Pfaffenweiler community bands who combined their talents to perform on several occasions during their visit.  Those appearances included the Strassenfest Opening Ceremony, a German Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, the Strassenfest Parade, and the 30th Anniversary party of the Sister City Partnership. The group was led by Karin and Alex Horst.

  Pfaffenweiler Band   Group Singing

Also during the anniversary party, Jasper received a memorable gift which featured a special song, sung in English, by the visitors, to the tune of “Oh Suzanna” written by Annika Marschall. The song gave an overview of the history of the partnership and received a standing ovation and many tears. 

We come from Pfaffenweiler
with famous good old friends
we say Hello and Guten Tag
weˋre glad to shake your hands. 

Oh oh oh . . .

Refrain -                

           Jasper forever 
           the friendship never ends
           to celebrate the partnership 
           we always stay good friends.

We took the plane across the sea
to spend some time with you
letˋs meet and greet and dance and laugh
for that we say Thank you

Oh oh oh ...refrain

The mayors weˋve had in 30 years 
were Fritz and Dieter Hahn
Jerome and Bill, now Terry Seitz,
oh how the time has gone. 

Oh oh oh ...refrain

The Gutgsell, Baumann, Kiefer, 
Scherle, Eckert, Eckerle,
theyˋre names we have that you have too
what a lovely history.

Oh oh oh ...refrain

Matthias came to Jasper
as a young and single man
he worked and met a pretty girl
the endless love began.

Oh oh oh ...refrain

Saint Joseph and the Eckert Mill
remind us of the start, 
we wish good health and lots of luck
from the bottom of our heart. 

Oh oh oh ...refrain

Ein Danke Schön and thanks a lot
for your warm hospitality
weˋre glad to have such lovely friends
you and he and she.

Oh oh oh ...refrain

During the 2015 visit in Jasper Mayor Dieter Hahn and Mayor Terry Seitz along with former Mayor Fritz Gutgsell visited with former Jasper Mayor Chick Alles who was in office when the original Sister City Partnership certificate was signed.  Also, former Mayor Fritz Gutgsell, former Mayor Bill Schmitt, Mayor Terry Seitz and Mayor Dieter Hahn gathered during the Stone Carver demonstration at the Jasper City Mill.

Mayors & Chick  4 Mayors

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