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BRIEF HISTORY of SWITZERLAND COUNTY, IND.
thorne, Melcher & Eblin, $28,000; Joseph Peelman, $28,000; Samuel Coplinger $28,952; John Ha!y, 26,132.40. The contract was given to Haly by J. R. Harris, William Anderson and Luther Hotchkiss, who were commissioners and was entered by H. .W Gordon who was Auditor, September 22, 1862. The old Court House was sold to Haly for $200. The total cost of the construction was $29,724.90. The present County Jail was begun in 1853 and finished in 1855. Joseph Peelman was awarded the contract by Jacob Shull, J. S. Ferguson and John Weaver, commissioners at the time. It cost $8,675 and is 20 x 37 feet, built of good brick.
The early settlers did not forget the educational side of life. As early as 1810 Lucien Gex had a school near Vevay where he taught French only. In 1814-15 Mrs. Julia L. Dumont taught here. By her essays, editorials and poems she became the pioneer champion of better education in this county and state. She not only taught what could be found in books, but also helped her pupils in the up-building of character.
After Vevay was laid out, two sections belonged to the "Vevay Seminary" which stood where the National Bank now stands. In 1811-12 a man named Buchute came here and taught a grammar school. Being of a poetic turn of mind, he wrote the "Empire of Bacchus" in Latin. This was the first poem ever written in this county.
In 1873 the Legislature of Indiana passed a law requiring the trustees to appoint a County Superintendent, whose duty it was to care for the schools and see to their improvement. Many able minded men have filled this office. Since its establishment it has changed from an appointive to an elective office.
In early times teachers were good and the enrollment was large, as is shown by the report of the State Superintendent for years 1883-84:
"There are 77 buildings pertaining to education and valued at $69,543, having an enrollment of 4,467 with an average daily attendance of 2,115 and only 26 per cent of all the children of the county are enrolled.
This record is one to be proud of, because, taking into consideration the hardships the pioneer children had to endure, it is remarkable that such a large percentage attended.
Today we have better buildings and books. Teachers now are more efficient than those years ago, but they could not be more willing to help educate the coming generation than those early forerunners who braved the dangers of a frontier life to give the boys and girls an education. Since that time Indiana has made wonderful strides in education and today we are proud to say she ranks among the first in the United States.
The zeal for religion was never allowed to flag by our Swiss ancestors. Before the church was established, Daniel Dufour read a chapter from the Bible and preached a short sermon to them each Sunday. The first Sunday School, which was the prelude to the religious sects here, was started in 1817 and kept up until all the different churches had separate Schools.
The Presbyterian was the first organized church in Vevay. On January 28, 1828, the people favorable to this sect founded a church here by popular subscription -- the amount being $270. Daniel V. Dufour gave them the lot on which the present church stannds. They worshipped in their
old building until 1837 when the structure was considered unsafe and torn down. From this time until 1844, they had no church. In 1844 they reorganized and the present building was erected.
The Methodist church was organized in 1816 by Rev. Allen Wiley and Russel Bigelow -- these ministers belonging to the Lawrenceburg circuit. In 1823-25 it was reorganized and ordained as a station. In 1837 a brick church was erected where the present Ruter Chapel stands. Previous to this their meetings were held in the old Presbyterian church. In 1858 the present building was erected and dedicated by the Rev. Thomas Bowman.
The Baptist church of Switzerland county was organized in 1833. Mr. Dufour gave them a lot and a building was erected. Here the Baptists worshipped until 1873 when they occupied the imposing edifice which stands on the corner of Main Cross and Pike streets.
The Universalist church was founded January 1, 1852. In 1862 they built a building next to the Odd Fellows Hall. The church now belonging to this sect is of comparatively recent construction.
The Christian church was organized in 1842 by Rev. John M. Holton. Their first meeting was held in the Court House. In 1882 the old Baptist church building was bought and furnished for them by J. W. Wright.
The Catholic church dates back to 1854. The first member was Mrs. S. Pleasants, Father Shaw being the priest. Frank Dufour and wife united with the church in 1857 and a chapel was erected at his house. In 1862 they rented a room in Perret Dufour's building and worshipped here until their present church was built in 1875.
Many old fashioned revivals were held in the early history of our town, but space permits only a slight mention. The principal evangelist, Lorenzo Dow, came here many times and exciting incidents are recorded. He preached where the old chair factory stood. One day while preaching he heard whispering among his congregation and desired to know who the offender was. He was told that it was some one translating the sermon to a young Swiss who did not understand his English. This appeared to him to be sufficient excuse for whispering so he went on with his sermon which was only two hours long -- at that time considered short. How the times have changed.
The newspapers of the county from the first issue of the "Indiana Register" in 1816 down to the present time, have played an important part in shaping the destinies of the county. William C. Keen came here in 1815 and one year later started the publication of the "Indiana Register". It was published by various editors until 1832, when Thomas Berryman bought the shop and started the "Weekly Messenger" which he continued until 1836. In this year Isaac Stevens commenced the "Village Times" which ran until 1840. Charles Horton bought him out and changed the name to the "'Ohio Valley Gazette." Four years later he sold out to Waldo who again changed its name to the "Vevay Reveille." All of its editors have been high minded men who have kept its morals above those of the average newspaper. In 1869 the "Vevay Democrat" was established and has been published ever since under the name of the "Switzerland Democrat." It has a large circu-
lation and has had a successful career.
One of the early taverns was erected by William T. Huff on the site now occupied by the LeClerc House. One of the earliest blacksmith shops started was that of T. J. Siebenthal in 1814. For early shoemakers we had Blaney, Kelly, Chaudet and Johnston. About 1825 Charles Thiebaud came to Vevay and started a shoe business which, upon his death was continued by his sons. In the harness business the first was Joseph Malin. Others who followed the trade were, Miles Mendenhall, J. W. Cole, J. N. Malin, J. Kern and George Kessler & Son. Tanning was begun in 1815 by T. S. Lindley.
The first silversmith and watch maker was William Paxton who came in 1816-17. Later William Norisez established a shop here. These were not permanent and in 1857 Frederick Boerner opened a jewelry store. He was succeeded by Sieglitz and Robenstein in 1881.
In 1819 Dr. J. Welsh started a drug store. J. L. Thiebaud opened a store in 1847. Later Golay & Stevens started a partnership which was later dissolved and each started separate businesses.
In 1817 the Branch Bank of Vevay was organized and continued until 1820, when owing to a fraud the bank and all equipment was handed over to J. Blackford the receiver, by J. L. Dufour, the President.
The First National Bank was organized in 1864 with a capital of $100,000, which was later increased to $150,000 and then reduced to $50,000, with a surplus of $20,000.
We have been unable to find the exact date of the founders of the dry goods business here, but in 1840 U. P. Schenck Sr. ran a large store of this nature on the corner of Pike and Ferry streets. The taverns named above were the first hotels as nearly as we can learn, and the LeClerc House, which stands at the corner of Main and Ferry streets, was the first large hotel. About 1840-70 it was considered one of the best hotels between Cincinnati and Louisville.
Many historical buildings are still standing. On lower Main street stands the white brick school house immortalized by Edward Eggleston in his "Hoosier Schoolmaster" and "Hoosier School-boy." Some three blocks above it on the same street stands the house where Eggleston was born. The first hotel is still standing on its original site, but the houses erected by the first settlers have all been stricken down by time and only the hallowed ground on which they stood remains to tell the tale of the hardships of the occupants. Not until after the close of the Civil War did the manufacturies of Vevay get a start. In 1865 the Vevay Furniture Company, with a capital stock of $38,000, was organized. The annual output was about $50,000.
The year 1868 saw the establishment of the Vevay Woolen Mills by a Mr. Schofield. Capital $30,000. Annual product $40,000.
A steam carriage factory began in 1873, capital $5,000; yearly product, $8,000.
A chair factory was established in 1872 with a capital of $12,000; annual product $45,000.
The Union Furniture Company was established in 1874, capital $40,000; an- nual product $53,000.
Mayer's Cigar Factory commenced in 1867, capital $8,000; product $35,000.
At the end of the year 1876, Vevay was a prosperous and peaceful little city, carrying on an extensive busi-
ness with other places and lending all possible aid to enterprises which would bring prosperity to the community.
After speaking of the Early History of Vevay, let us glance for a short time at the present places of religion, education and business. On the corner of Main Cross and Pike streets stands the imposing Baptist church, rearing its steeple Heavenward in the midst of Godfearing men. It has a large membership and attendance and the Sunday School is doing excellent work under the leadership of Mr Walter Cotton. The pastor. Rev. Bowman, is an excellent talker and a man beloved by all.
The Christian church, one square below on Pike street is also worthy of consideration. Among its members are some of Vevay's most prominent citizens. Although the pastorship is now vacant the outlook for a minister at an early date is good.
On Main street stands the Methodist church. Its pastor, Rev. Asher, is a man liked by all people. He takes a lively interest in all movements pertaining to the welfare of his members and the city at large.
At the intersection of Main and Market streets stands the Presbyterian church. The pastor, Rev. Barrett, is especially liked for the interest he takes in the young people and their work. Having been here but a short time, his reputation among the townsmen is an enviable one.
Two blocks below stands the Universalist church. The edifice is a model of architectural beauty. Although the membership is not large, it includes Vevay's best citizens. At present no services are held by this denomination, but the United Brethren, under the leadership of Rev. Todd hold weekly services here. Rev. Todd is an earnest and zealous worker for the cause of religion and the church has at present a large and active membership.
On upper Ferry street stands the Catholic church. Its membership is also small, but the people are revered by all in the city. The present priest is Father Guerdon, of Madison.
Now let us notice the Public School System. We have a common school building containing eight grades with a most efficient corps of teachers. Taken from one to eight, inclusive, they are: Misses Fannie Shadday, Citha Gordon, Hazel Richards, Mary Hall, Laura Lamson and Mr. Ernest Gray. The building is situated in the midst of a large playground equipped with the modern apparatus for the healthy amusement of the pupils. It has an enrollment of 205. The High School building stands about sixty feet to the northeast and has four grades. Mr. R. N. Tirey is at present Superintendent of the schools, and he and the other instructors are both willing and able to help the students in every way possible. Not only is the learning of sums in Arithmetic, propositions in geometry, etc., looked carefully into by them, but also the proper shaping of the characters of those intrusted in their care. The assistants of Prof. Tirey are Miss Julia Knox, Principal; Miss Grace Stepleton, Miss Frances Culbertson, Mr. Clayton E. Tanke and Mrs. Loubelle Gougar. The building is large, well lighted, and ventilated. The equipment is good with an enrollment of 120. We have a High School of which all are justly proud.
The schools of Vevay have about 600 alumni, many of whom have gained
almost world wide reputation in their chosen line of work.
Through the untiring energy of the school trustees, Wm. O. Protsman, W. D. Cotton and P. D. Pleasants, the coming generation is to be benefited by a large and spacious assembly hall which is being erected adjoining our present High School Building, and by a complete overhauling of the old school plant. We have felt the need of these improvements and are happy that we are to get them.
Today we have six groceries, four dry goods stores, two clothing stores, four shoe shops, two drug stores, two confectioneries, one jewelry store, four hotels, three livery barns, two hardware stores, two furniture stores, three blacksmith shops, two large automobile garages, two meat markets and two tin shops. These are all owned by wide awake business men, who are courteous and accommodating in every respect.
In a professional line we have five lawyers and seven physicians, all men of high ability.
Engaged in manufacturing we have two flour mills, one furniture factory, ice plant, creamery and planing mill.
The city boasts two weekly papers, the Vevay Reveille and the Switzerland Democrat. The former is, and has been edited by Mr. W. O. Protsman, a man of great energy and ability, for twelve years. It is published in a building situated on Pike street and built in 1906. It is constructed along modern lines and contains machinery for an up-to-date bindery and catalogue office. Some excellent work has been put out by the workmen here and we, as Vevayites, are very proud of this establishment. The latter is published by Mr. J. F. Patton, a man true to his principles and a friend of all classes. Both papers have a large circulation and are well patronized at home and abroad.
The Vevay Deposit Bank has capital of $50,000, with a $25,000 surplus and profits. It carries on business in one of the most beautiful and up-to-date buildings in Indiana. Mr. James M. Scott is President, with Mr. F. S. Stucy as Vice President, Mr. C. C. Shaw, Cashier, Mr. H. B. Shaw Asst. Cashier, and Misses Leila Thiebaud and Afra Brindley as Bookkeepers. It has a large business and has for its depositors, some of Vevay's and Switzerland County's best men.
The First National Bank has a capital of $50,000 and a surplus of $30,000. Mr. C. S. Tandy is President, Mr. A. J. Porter Cashier, and Mrs. Isolene K. Mills bookkeeper. It has done business for many years and has gained the confidence of all classes of people.
Between Vevay and Ghent, the pretty little town that is situated just across the Ohio, runs the Ferryboat, "Eva Everett" owned and operated by the Graham brothers. It is large and comfortable. The owners are courteous and accommodating. It carries on a good business and is one of the most valuable assets to Vevay's material growth.
So much for the business side of Vevay, now the social side. We have two literary clubs, the ''Julia L. Dumont Club" and "Eggleston Club." Both have a large membership and are doing good work along their respective lines.
There are many beautiful residences in Vevay. The Schenck mansion on the hill back of Vevay is one of the most attractive for miles around. The homes of Mr. Wm. O. Protsman on upper Main street, Mr. A. B. Shaw,
Mr. W. W. Fry, Mr. Dudley Craig, Mr. C. S. Tandy and Mrs. Laura Craig on lower Market street, are examples of modern architecture.
We have been exceedingly fortunate in the selection of city officers. At present the politics of the city are Republican and the officers are as follows: A. V. Banner, Mayor; Mr. James M. Scott, Mr. Hugh Cole, Mr. Warren Sullivan, Mr. Chas. Kincaid and Mr. Harry Seifert, Councilmen. Mr. Chester Kiesel and Dr. L. H. Bear are City Clerk and City Treasurer, respectively. The city is blessed with an electric light and water plant, municipally owned and operated. It is of modern structure and one of the most efficient in the state. Water under high pressure can be had at all times, thus making ample fire protection. River water is used, it being pumped into a large reservoir situated upon one of the hills back of the city.
Such is the brief review of the history of Vevay. We are all proud of our little Swiss city and what it has done. The fair pages of its life have few dark blotches of political or social scandal to spot it. There have been times when there was more business here, but never since its founding has it been so clean morally and religiously. Other towns larger and more populous can offer more advantages to the laborer, but remember, as size and population increase the vice and corruptions likewise increase unless carefully watched and held in check. The gift of prophecy has been denied the human race and consequently we cannot accurately predict the future of the town, but, if we were to venture an opinion, we should say "give Vevay a railroad connecting with one of the great systems of the United States and in a few years she will offer to the workingmen of all professions and trades, places to work, homes to live in and a place to rear their children free from the contaminating influences of an illegally and corruptly managed metropolis."