New Ulm History

A German Town

A city of charm and tradition
The city’s charm is seen in the orderly design of its streets, the beauty of the natural landscape and designed parks, and the common use of brick in building construction. In 1858, Christian Prignitz, a member of the Turner colonists, completed a town plat for New Ulm. This master plan expressed a grand vision of the city’s future based on the ideals of “Practical Turnerism” and included support of education, development of a rich cultural life rooted in German traditions, and a relative equality of opportunity. Geography, ideology, and regional economic development combined to create a vibrant commercial center. The vision conceived in 1858 continues to make New Ulm’s downtown rich in tradition and charm.
The traditions come from its German heritage. The city was founded in 1854 by the Chicago Land Company, an association of German Americans under the leadership of Frederick Beinhorn. In late 1854, a party of company members embarked from Chicago and settled in the vicinity of present-day New Ulm. Then, in 1856, amidst widespread violence against German immigrants, the Turners—the most important secular German American organization in the country—authorized the creation of a colonization society. Led by Wilhelm Pfaender, this colony hoped to establish a new community based on “Practical Turnerism.” Following a search of several sites on the frontier, they joined with the Chicago settlers to found New Ulm.