Tyler Exhibit Focuses on German-Americans in the Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new exhibit at the Tyler History Center honors the region’s German community.

“Cultural Connections: German Americans in the Mahoning Valley” is on display through Aug. 31.

The display includes photos, Fraktur and other folk art, traditional German clothing, church record books and other artifacts. The items are from the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s collection and from Wolfgang and Helga Wengler of Youngstown. The Wenglers will donate most of their items to the MVHS after the exhibit closes.

German-Americans were among the first permanent settlers here. They established churches, made their livelihoods in manufacturing, commerce and trades, built homes and businesses, and created institutions to preserve their cultural connections.

The Youngstown Maennerchor was established in 1863.

Among the most notable German immigrants were William F. Maag, publisher of the Youngstown Rundschau and Youngstown Vindicator newspapers; and Christopher Deibel, great-grandfather to Jeanne Deibel Tyler, the Tyler History Center’s namesake.

Both born in Germany, Wolfgang and Helga lived through the World War II and post-war periods, and moved to Ohio from Germany in 1956 and 1955, respectively, speaking no English. Over the years, Wolfgang and Helga have amassed an impressive collection of historical records and artifacts, largely focused on the social aspects of German-American life in the Mahoning Valley.

Wolfgang has compiled the history of the German Singing Society since 1848. They joined the Youngstown Maennerchor in 1964, where Wolfgang served as president and an officer for more than 40 years. Helga was president of the Ladies Auxiliary Club, and an officer with the Ohio German Ladies Choir. They are now officers at the Apollo Maennerchor in Sharon, Pa.

Since 1982, they also have run the “German Melodies” show on WKTL-90.7 FM radio show every Saturday morning.

The Tyler History Center, 325 W. Federal St., is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For ticket information, go to mahoninghistory.org.

Pictured at top: Helga and Wolfgang Wengler of Youngstown admire items from their native Germany in this photo from years ago. Photo courtesy of Mahoning Valley Historical Society.