Peter Schock, Founder & President, by Michael Fricker


Have you ever made a discovery? Have you ever, as a result of your own curiosity, stumbled upon some item, idea, or fact? Was it incredibly interesting, previously unknown and seemingly right under your nose for some time? Recently the German Hungarians did!

Names of men and women have been remembered by our club because of the impact they have had on our development, our social culture, our successes and even our failures. Read the many issues of The Monthly Progress or glance upon our history books to find those names dotted throughout the details of the text. Names like Frank Follmer, Werner Fricker, Ted Kereczmann, Frank and Teresa Kirsch, John Mayersfeld, Rudy Rack, John Weber, Susi Welsch and Andy Weyershaeuser come to mind just to name a few. There are, of course, many more. They will be forever in the identity of who the United German Hungarians are.

There are other names which are written in our histories, though over the years we have forgotten or lost information about them. Until the near end of the summer of 2013, we knew very little about Peter Schock, the man who was elected President of the Banater Männerchor in 1910.

“The suspended section met three days later on November 16th to discuss its future and it decided to form the BANATER MÄNNERCHOR. A temporary eight man board of directors was appointed for a three month period. Peter Schock was elected President.”

(United German Hungarians written history) 

Those five words are the only words ever written about Mr. Schock in regards to our club. Why is someone who held such an important position and played an important role in our founding not given more space in our records? Why do we not know anything else about him? The answer to that question is that by 1913, just two years after the founding of our club, Peter Schock, founder and president, was in another city and was quite busy founding another club!

The Discovery

Always the history minded that I am, I searched the website of the Detroit Carpathia Club for their history. It was a simple plan with even more simple motives. In August the German-Hungarians would be traveling to that club for the Landestreffen der Donauschwaben. I am always interested in the histories of clubs and it pains me all the more when fellow clubs fail to keep and make available accurate records of these things. That being said, when I see the link to club histories on websites I try to make it a point to at least glance at them. The page opened. I read over the title and its many subtitles. “The Carpathia Chronicles” under which read, “Part 1: Genesis” in italic face. There was an immediate familiarity with that. Anyone who is well versed in our histories in our souvenir books will remember a similar titling “Genesis” followed by “Development” before “Metamorphosis” and “Renaissance” in the history from the 1972 50th Anniversary of Sports and Soccer. (Interestingly some of those legendary names listed above are among the writers of that history.) It gave me that feeling “similar wording, similar clubs” but I did not expect it to go any further.

Reading the first paragraph a name stuck out. You guessed it, Peter Schock. It was familiar; it sounded like someone I had heard of.

“The date was January 5, 1913. In the German community of Detroit’s East Side, the wind howled through the streets, adding a chill to the already bitter cold Sunday afternoon. But inside Beecher Hall on Michigan Avenue, a roaring fireplace provided warmth for 57 men who had gathered in response to an advertisement published in the “Detroiter Abendpost”, a prominent German newspaper. The ad called for the creation of a German-Hungarian Singing Society and anyone interested was invited to attend. Now, they sat in the room, listening attentively to the man who spoke; the man responsible for the summons, Peter Schock.”

(The Carpathia Chronicles. Part 1: Genesis)

Where had I seen that name before?  I continued reading. The second paragraph gave me a tiny feeling of possibility, a small shred of a clue that led me where to look next.

“Schock considered himself an “Ostschwabe”, or “East Swabian”, having migrated from Austria-Hungary’s eastern frontier to Philadelphia, before making his home in Detroit. He had been witness to the all too often harsh treatment of his fellow Schwaben by the numerous singing societies and other organizations prospering in Detroit’s booming German ethnic community of the time.” (The Carpathia Chronicles. Part 1: Genesis)

I almost would not have caught it if I was not looking for it. It was interesting; he came to the States where he arrived in Philadelphia first. Now my thought was, maybe he was a member or even just a patron of the club. His name could have been in an ad in one of our books. So I went digging. I went digging electronically as I was away from my paper copies at the time. I started with the latest book, from the 100th Anniversary. It has the most up to date history covering 100 years. Reading the opening page there it was the name I was looking for. He was our first president.

Wait could it be? Was this the same Peter Schock? Do any of my elders already know this information or did I just make this discovery? These and many other questions populated my mind. My eyes rushed and read over the parts of our history again! Then I ran back to the Carpathia chronicles. I tore through the first few paragraphs. It was coming together now. Peter Schock, Banater Männerchor, Philadelphia, Detroit, Carpathia club; what did all this mean? Now I reached the sixth paragraph where it all would come together.

“Few things kindle human resolve more than not being fully appreciated as an equal and, according to writings by Schock’s associate Peter Gänger, ‘…Schock would not have been Schock had he not mustered his entire oratory skills to remedy the unpleasant situation which had befallen the Detroiter Ostschwaben’. It was no wonder that, on this memorable afternoon, with unanimous consent and enthusiasm, a new Singing Society was created with Peter Schock as its first President. The Society called itself the ‘German-Austrian-Hungarian Singing Society’, and within days, established a constitution and elected its first board of directors.” (The Carpathia Chronicles. Part 1: Genesis)

Now there were too many coincidences not to be sure. Their club, the Carpathia Club, was founded as a singing society much like ours. In addition, its name was similar to what would become our name. It was not until the next year, in 1914 the club, after a split with another group, rebranded itself the Carpathia Club.           

I was convinced. I knew too much was the same. I had to tell someone. I had to find out. I called my father who was possibly more excited than I. He informed me of a list that existed in our 25th Anniversary Book from 1936. The book contains a list of our founders along with their whereabouts. One did not have to read far to find what we were looking for. First on the list: “Peter Schock, 434 S. Lakewood Str., Detroit, Mich.”

Now we knew. This was previously unknown truth. It was a piece of the puzzle that brought the name of Peter Schock back into the identity of the German Hungarians in a big way. We could now be proud of an aged but new-found connection to the Detroit Carpathia club.

We could now construct this story. Peter Schock comes from Austria-Hungary to the United States in the early 1900s. He arrives in Philadelphia where he helps to found the Banater Männerchor along with a number of other men. They gathered in Fred Schnabel’s Saloon and named an eight man board. He is elected President of the organization and they name August Beuchse as Musical Director. Sometime in the next three years he moves to Detroit. With the founding of one German-Hungarian Singing society under his belt he put out the call to form another one in his new home city. Many of whom have been persecuted; having been considered the lesser “Volks-Deutsche” gather inside Beecher Hall. The cold of that night was mirrored in the feelings of these people. The history eloquently states, “a roaring fireplace provided warmth” from the winds that “howled through the streets, adding a chill to the already bitter cold Sunday afternoon.” On another level, the connections and the purpose of this meeting warmed them as well. It was the Peter Schock who “mustered his entire oratory skills to remedy the unpleasant situation which had befallen the Detroiter Ostschwaben.” The heat and I’m sure the drink warmed their bodies, but Schock’s vision warmed their hearts. Out of this came what would become the Carpathia Club. It grew to succeed with seeds that go all the way back to 1910 in Philadelphia.

We shared this with the key people of our club and we waited for the day we would make this reveal at the Carpathia club in Detroit.

The Revelation

At the end of the German-Hungarian Czardas music, our dancers ran waving from the floor under the great tent at the Carpathia Club in Detroit. It was Sunday, September 1st and we planned to make a presentation to our host club. With our supporters in tow and our leaders at the forefront we gathered with the leaders of their club who were able to spare a few moments from their hard work of running an event of that magnitude. On the patio outside their members bar, President Galgon opened the presentation by thanking the club for their hospitality. We presented them with a wood carved plaque as a congratulatory gift for their 100th Anniversary. Along with our two club shields were inscribed the words “In Recognition of Our Friendship through Soccer, Song and Dance.” They were very appreciative and thanked us for our attendance as well as our hospitality when we hosted the Landestreffen in 2010, when we were the hosts of the 2010 USASA National Cup Finals of which they were a finalist team and our hosting of the 2011 Landestournier Soccer Tournament.

As I did the research and made the discovery, our club leaders left it to me to make this revelation about our origins and connection to Peter Schock as clubs. So as all eyes turned to me and I told my little story you have read here. Luckily I had their vice president and friend, Mike Talan to put words into my mouth earlier that weekend. Before we made this presentation Mr. Talan said to me, “When these two clubs come together,” he paused and patted his hand over the patch over my heart and then over his, “This emblem and this emblem are like sisters. Only good things come.” It was perfect and I knew that was the way to open my story. In an instant our already strong relationship was that much stronger. I think needless to say they were glad to know this new information and I hope happy to be as my father put it our “Patenkind.” Of course we were then ushered into the bar for a schnapps under the toast of “Welcome Home Family!”

Michael N. Fricker

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