Lesson Plan: Overview

Oktoberfest: Celebration Honoring the Founding Settlers of Walhalla


Grade Level: 3rd

Ivester Family-Walhalla Founding Settlers

Academic Standards

Social Studies Standard 3-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the exploration and settlement of South Carolina and the United States.

3-2.5 Summarize the impact that the European colonization of South Carolina had on Native Americans, including the conflicts between settlers and Native Americans.

Social Studies Standard 3-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.

3-5.7 Summarize the rights and responsibilities that contemporary South Carolinians have in the schools, the community, the state, and the nation.

Social Studies Literacy Elements

D. Create and interpret data on time lines.

H. Construct maps, graphs, tables, and diagrams to display social studies information.
Essential Questions

!. How has our German heritage affected the citizens of Walhalla today?

2. Why is it important to know about the German Heritage as Walhalla Citizens?

Historical Background Notes

The German Society of Charleston organized and purchased land from Colonel Joseph Grisham of Pickens District.  This district was divided into what is known today as Oconee and Pickens County in 1868.  The site for the town of Walhalla was chosen to be on a high ridge between two creeks.  A road already existed there.  Later, the Biemann family built the Biemann Hotel.  The hotel became a flourishing business which provided a place for visitors and potential citizens of Walhalla to stay.  Another corner was designated as a cemetery.  Today, this cemetery is located directly behind Saint John’s Lutheran Church.  The settlers established farms outside the town limits.  Some of the farms are still owned by the descendants of original families.  The Biemann, Brandt, and von Lehe (Ivester) families still maintain the properties. (Shealy, 1990 Ch. 4)  The von Lehe (Ivester) family still lives on the original farm.  J.C. von Lehe, his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons are buried on the property.  The Biemann family and the von Lehe (Ivester) families are still friends. (John C. Ivester, III)

Since the settlers were of German descent, the Sunday sermons were given in German.  The town's settlers changed this practice in 1908 to accommodate the new members.  (Shealy, 1990 Ch. 4, 5, & conclusion) 

The town was growing and changing.  Families were moving to the area, building schools, churches and businesses.  Saint John’s Lutheran Church was constructed and still stands today on Main Street in Walhalla.  Newberry College was originally established  in Walhalla.  This college later moved to Newberry, South Carolina.  (J.C. Ivester, Jr. Seneca Journal, 1974 AND Shealy, 1990) “ ‘there is a good English School on the square attended by twenty German children’— From Wagener’s description and other references”. School for younger students was taught in various places around the community.  (J.C. Ivester, Seneca Journal 1974) However in 1902, the Walhalla Grades School was opened.  (Shealy, 1990)  This building still exists and is now the Civic Auditorium on North Broad Street, Walhalla, SC.  A school for blacks opened in 1869 by the Freeman’s Aid Society. (Shealy, 1990 Ch. 12).

The German traditions began to die out after the Civil War.  Today, a revitalization project has taken on the job of educating the town’s citizens of the history of Walhalla.  Each October, civic organizations celebrate the German Heritage by hosting the annual Oktoberfest.  As a part of the celebration, German traditions, foods, dress, music and dances are presented.  (Walhalla Chamber of Commerce and Oconee Heritage Center) 

Early settlers in Walhalla were mostly farmers and small merchants.  The typical farms of that time grew enough food for their family, and some had crops to sell.  The houses were modest.  Some farms boasted many out buildings on the farm; the house for living and a smaller kitchen house where the food was prepared, a large barn, a smokehouse for meat storage, a corn crib for storing animal food, and a chicken coop.  Some farms were large enough to support a tenant farmer.  Merchants in Walhalla carried all the basic necessities and some luxury items. (Scott Foresman, 2006) See photos of kitchen house and tenant farmer house still standing on the J.C. von Lehe (Ivester) farm.  Some artifacts have been found on the farm consisting of mostly tools of the time.  However, John Ivester, III, found a silver coin dated 1828.            

Cultural Institution Partner

Oconee Heritage Museum


Primary Sources

Oconee Heritage Museum. Walhalla, South Carolina. Nick Gambrell, Director.

Original Photographs of German Settlers. Private Collection of John C. Ivester, III (see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation, slides 11 and 12).

"Saint John’s Lutheran Church" (building and archives) and "Wagener Monument." Photograph. Walhalla, South Carolina (see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation, slides 9 and 10).

The Journal and Tribune Centennial Edition (1868-1968).

Secondary Sources

Foresman, Scott (Ed.) Social Studies: South Carolina (Teacher’s Edition). Glenview, Illinois: Person Education, Inc., 2006.

Ivester, III, John Christopher. Walhalla, South Carolina (direct descendant of German settlers).

Ivester, Mary Elizabeth Corbin. Charleston, South Carolina, (Historian).

“J.C. Ivester Discusses Ebenezer and the German Colonization Society,” The Seneca Journal_TUGALOO Tribune (1974).

Shealy, George B. Walhalla: The Garden of the Gods. Walsworth, Inc., 1990.

"Walhalla Chamber of Commerce." Available from http://www.walhallachamber.com/news.php. Internet.


• projector
• world maps (see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation, slide3)
South Carolina maps (also see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation, slides 5 and 8)
• textbook
• 10 Copies of Walhalla: The Garden of the Gods
• artifacts (pictures and other items — see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation)
• colored pencils
• shoe boxes
• large construction paper

Lesson Plans

1. Students will read the story of German Immigrants, chapters 4 and 5 from Walhalla: The Garden of the Gods. (Shealy, 1990)

  • The teacher and students will discuss the world map, locating Germany and South Carolina, while reminding them of the continents of the two locations.
  • The teacher will share photographs and artifacts belonging to the Ivester Family (see Oktoberfest PowerPoint presentation)

2. The students will then label and color the world map, tracing the route German Immigrants took.

3. The students will record dates of when Germans arrived in Walhalla in their journal and reflect on information gathered so far.

4. The teacher and students will read Chapter 12 of Walhalla: The Garden of the Gods (Shealy, 1990)

5. The students will reflect on the information gathered about schools.

6. Divide students into three different groups.  Using information learned in previous lessons, each group will write three different Readers Theaters:

  • One group will write playing the roles of children traveling from Charleston to Walhalla.
  • One group will write playing the role of children in Walhalla after the town is established.
  • One group will write playing the role of children in school during the early establishment of Walhalla.
  • Each group should describe the sights, sounds and activities, including chores and playtime.

7. Students will share Readers Theaters with other classes.

8. Arrange for a group tour at the Oconee Heritage Museum and Saint John’s Lutheran Church.

Teacher Reflections

Teaching American History in South Carolina has been an incredible journey for me.   I did not realize just how little I knew about history until I started listening to the professor and some of the other students in the class.   At the beginning of the class, I was intimidated, but by the end of the class, I was eager to hear the lectures and discussions of each day’s topic.   The content instruction, cultural institutions and the methods instruction of the class took my insecurities and turned them into enthusiasm for teaching history.

The content instruction taught by Dr. Paul Anderson of Clemson University was captivating.  The text book used was  The Unfinished Nation Volume II: From 1865.   Each day, topics from the book were introduced.   To engage and encourage discussion, Dr. Anderson would begin the lesson by presenting concepts.   As he discussed each concept, students became actively engaged in the teaching and the learning.   I learned that every piece of history is bound together.   Each concept is related to the next.   I have never thought of history like this before.   I learned of new resources that have always been easy to access, but I was unaware of them.   Items in my teacher’s edition give only a brief and somewhat vague description of some of the topics taught in this class.  Dr. Anderson’s clear and entertaining way of describing the big picture was a very effective way of presenting the material.   When I begin my school year, I will use a totally different approach when teaching South Carolina History. 

The cultural institution tours were very useful.   Some were more relevant to my curriculum than others.   Some were just a pleasure to visit.   All were important to the study of American History.   I especially liked the Oconee Heritage Center, the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, and the Pendleton District Commission. I have lived in this area all my life and heard some of the same stories told and/or seen similar artifacts that were represented in the museums.   I felt the history.   I want to present history to my students so they feel connected, too.   The Oconee Heritage Center is in my home town and is filled with primary sources that my students and I can connect to my lesson.   Nick Gambrell has a quiet demeanor, yet conveys his love of history in his apparent knowledge and subtle humor.   Allen Coleman’s, the Pickens County Museum Director, enthusiasm for his job was over flowing.   I understood why the teachers from Pickens County were eager to get to the museum.   Finally, the walking tour we took through Pendleton was absolutely wonderful.   So many times I have driven through Pendleton and looked at the stately, beautiful homes and wondered if their story matched their facade.

Tami Finley, Instructional Coach from Pickens County, led us through many innovative ways to present material.   The notebooking method she presented gave me a valuable tool to use with my third graders.   I plan on teaching my students how to use notebooking, including this method as another form of my assessment.   Notebooking will show how much my students understand the lesson and not just reciting facts.   Ms. Finley also showed us how to use primary and secondary sources in our lessonsI am eager to share this information with my colleagues and students.   Photostory was one tool we could use to present these sources to our students.   Ms. Finley presented many ideas and techniques that I will use in my classroom and will share with other teachers.   I appreciate her dedication to teaching. 

I taught a lesson on the founding of our town and how the early settlers’ influence is evident today.   I was very please with the reaction to the presentation on the Founders of Walhalla.   One of the assessments of the lesson was to have students pretend they were traveling to Walhalla to start a new life.   They were to tell of what they saw, what activities they did, what foods they might eat, and how the land changed from the coast to the mountains.  I was very pleased with how the students added their own experiences to their writing.   The second part of the lesson extended the first activity by pretending to be an elderly citizen recalling the first trip to Walhalla and telling of changes that have occurred since first arriving.   (This assessment will come in late March after the Chapters in our book are completed.)    One improvement I will make next year will be to start much earlier on the history of our town and build on that concept all through the year.   Another improvement would be to expand the information to the industrialization of our town and the changes that occurred. In our town, we have two mills that are now vacant.    Some of the students are unaware of those buildings.  So much of what shaped our town centers on those mills.   Also, another change that would be very effective would be to invite descendants of founding families to come in and speak. 

Overall, I have been very pleased with the student work, reaction from colleagues, and writing produced by my students.   Had I not taken this class, I probably would not have put together this lesson in such a manner.  I will definitely continue to use primary resources in my classroom.  Also, I plan on adding to the presentation.  Hopefully, the pride I feel for our town, state, and country will spread to the next generation. 

Student Assessment

The students will use a World map and a South Carolina map (see Tools section above) to trace the route settlers took to arrive in Walhalla. Students will write about what the settlers might have seen and/or encountered along their journey, being sure to include points discussed about land regions in South Carolina (See Rubric).

Examples of Students Work

Student Work
Student Work 2


Rebecca Ivester
Walhalla Elementary
Walhalla, South Carolina