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The night watchman in Turckheim


"Han sori zu Fir und Liacht"
(Take care of the fireplace and the candle)
Thus was the advice that the night watchman gave to his fellow villagers when he started his round. Besides, it was the main purpose of his duty : fire risks.

A burning candle or an uncontrolled fireplace could lead to a catastrophe : there were very few means to contain a fire in those days.

Over the years, the watchman's duty will also be to tell the time, control the streets ; later he'll also be a rural policeman and grave-digger.

The night watchman is rarely mentioned in our records ; nominations and some remarks about being negligent in his duty. The guilds paid the watchmen who were usually two ; each family paid the "Wachtgeld" (watch money) every term. We still have the « Wachtgeldbücher » (watch money books). In 1791, the guilds are abolished and so are the night watchmen in Turckheim. At night, rounds will be organized by the inhabitants. The watchman will be restored in 1795, and maintained until the eve of the 2nd World War (1939).

The last night watchman will be Matthias Jamm, ,who succeeded his father Joseph Jamm ( in duty from 1873 to 1920) with his brother Auguste, killed during the liberation battles of the Colmar area.

Modern times with its general progress - especially electricity installed in streets and houses - will lead to the night watchman's disappearance.
In 1953, this honourable character was revived by the Wickram historic society and it was Mr. Joseph Liechty who was going to do the rounds from August 1st, 1953 onwards.
For over fifty years now, from May 1st to October 31st, the watchman's songs have been heard again in the streets of our old village during his rounds at 10.00p.m.
Besides Mr. Liechty (1953-1958), Mr. Matthias Jamm (1958-1968), and Mr. Charles Meyer (1968-1985) have contributed to keeping alive this tradition for the greatest joy of both inhabitants and visitors.

Today, there are three of them to keep up the tradition, and take turns during the touristic season :
Jean-Luc KILLY
Louis MEYER
Marcel SATTLER 

From May 1st to October 31st, every night at 10.00 p.m., the night watchman does his rounds, in old traditional clothing, wearing a cloak and tricorn, carrying a halberd, a lantern and a horn, inviting you to follow him through the village's narrow streets.
 


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To know more about the towns of the Wintzenheim canton, heritage, walks, nature, gourmet route See the video 

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In the page "military heritage" you can discover an interview of the curator of the Museum "Musée des conbats de la poche de Colmar" :   http://colmar.dna.fr/?L-enfer-de-l-hiver-44-45-video

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