Festival of the Red Rose is this Sunday

By on June 8, 2016

A Manheim tradition will be showcased on Sunday, June 12, as Zion Lutheran Evangelical Church, 2 S. Hazel St., hosts its annual Festival of the Red Rose. The Rose Payment Service begins at 1:30 p.m. with a musical program entitled, “Songs of Beauty,” presented by a special Rose Festival Choir. The Rose Festival service begins at 2 p.m. and will be followed by an ice cream social.

The event carries on the tradition of paying rent, a single red rose, to a descendent of Manheim’s founder, Henry William Stiegel. This year, Joseph Douglas Ragan III will receive the rose payment. A ninth generation descendant of Stiegel and his second wife, Elizabeth Holz Stiegel, he is the chief financial officer of Ferroglobe. He recently relocated to London, England, and holds a B.S. in accounting from the University of the State of New York and a master’s in accounting from George Mason University, Virginia. He is member of the Sons of the American Revolution and served in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer. Ragan is the great-great grandson of John Calvin Stiegel, who accepted the rose payment in 1892. He was the first recipient to receive the rose payment since 1773.

Ragan’s mother, Barbara J. Wood, Edenton, N.C., a past rose recipient will be the guest speaker at this year’s event. She is involved with the US space program and collaborates with other worldwide space agencies. She will discuss “One Stiegel Line.”

Ragan said that he’s honored to be accepting the red rose.


Joseph Douglas Ragan III

Joseph Douglas Ragan III


“Accepting the rose is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s a day that I’ll always remember,” Ragan said. “While my great-great grandfather, grandmother and mother all received the rose, I’m not aware of any other recipients in my line.”

The 54-year-old said that he’s quite interested in history, and his uncle, Richard Cummings, has done extensive work on Stiegel lineage.

“We have made many trips to Manheim as a family. Attending the rose festival is a deeply honored tradition,” he said.

He said that he and a number of family members will be attending the event including a brother, sister, fiancée, daughter, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, grandson and four nephews. He said that they will be staying at a local B & B and plan to explore the town on Saturday.

“We’ve made many trips to Manheim over the last 50 years, and those who can’t be with us in person will be with us in spirit,” he explained.

Stiegel not only founded Manheim, but on Dec. 4, 1772, he and his second wife, Elizabeth Holz Stiegel, conveyed to their fellow Lutherans, a plot of ground on the corner of Wolf and East High Streets on which to build a church in exchange for a unique continual payment. The deed specifically states “for five shillings and in the month of June, yearly forever hereafter the Rent of One Red Rose if the same shall be lawfully demanded.”

Stiegel himself may have collected the rose in 1772 and 1773, but that cannot be verified.

“The Festival of the Red Rose is a unique celebration of our church’s founding. It gives the congregation the opportunity to honor the generosity of Henry William Stiegel,” said Linda Kiefer, Festival of the Red Rose committee member.

In the community, Zion Lutheran Church has become known as “the Red Rose Church”. Although the Festival of the Red Rose is now an annual celebration at Zion, the payment of the rose was virtually forgotten for over 100 years until Manheim physician, Dr. J.H. Sieling, heard about the legend of “Baron” Stiegel. After searching church records, he discovered the deed with its special clause and suggested that a day-long celebration be held in conjunction with the annual rose payment, and that the payment be made to a descendant of Stiegel, if one could be located. The celebration and rose payment, originally called “The Feast of Roses” became a tradition.

For more information on the Festival of the Red Rose visit zionmanheim.com or contact the church office at 665-5880.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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