Street Address
1200 Swiss Way
Berne, IN 46711
Mailing Address
PO BOX 88
Berne, IN 46711
Hours
May
Saturday10 AM - 4 PM
June 1st through October 31st
Tour guides (docents) available for guided tours.
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 4 PM
Sundayclosed
Also closed on holidays
Services
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Staff
Doug Milligan, Executive Director
phone: 260-589-8007
Jane Velasco, Administrative Assistant
phone: 260-589-8007

Description

Many years have passed since the Swiss emigrants left Switzerland and began the long journey that changed their lives forever. The trip was dangerous and difficult, but the prospect of a new life in a new land brought them to the United States of America. There were casualties along the way, but some of the hardy survivors went on to establish the community we know today as Southern Adams County. Some of the settlers had come for new opportunities in the great land of America. Others had come because of tremendous persecution for their Anabaptist beliefs and practices.

Persecution for the Swiss Anabaptists began as early as January, 1525, as believers in Zurich were arrested, imprisoned or killed for their religious convictions. Some were forced into the military with double fines or drowning if they persisted in their beliefs. As the numbers of followers of Menno Simons and other reformers increased, they became a threat to the established churches and authorities. They endured many decades of harassment before large groups left the Motherland and sought freedom elsewhere.

Many of the Swietzer Deutsch speaking immigrants from Canton Bern and surrounding areas came first to Wayne County, Ohio, and then to the less expensive territories in Adams County, Indiana, in the 1830s. The town of Berne was platted in 1852. Here they were free to practice their faith. In 1838 Christian and Peter Baumgartner moved from Wayne County to Adams County. A year later they were joined by their brother, David Baumgartner, and the Baumgartner Church began. A few years later the M√ľnsterberg Mennonite Church was established. The two later merged to become the present First Mennonite Church.

For the new Americans, settling in Adams County enabled them to live according to the dictates of their consciences. They built sturdy homes, established on a strong faith that sustained them through their arduous journeys, worked the soil, and began businesses that met the settlers' needs as they became citizens in the new land. They brought with them their European culture and hardiness, which has taken them successfully through several generations to today. It is this heritage that Swiss Heritage Society strives to preserve for future generations.

A high priority of the original Swiss Heritage Board in 1985 was to secure suitable acreage for an outdoor museum. In this regard, the trustees participated in formulating site selection criteria by traveling to many established historical attractions. They also consulted with several foundations experienced in supporting historical parks. The very active participants and first board consisted of Ked Graber, Floyd Liechty, Gloria Muselman, Claren and Ruth Neuenschwander, Chris Yoder, Bob Willey, and president Madeyn Wurster

Several sites in the Berne area were considered as possibilities and land owners were contacted to determine purchase feasibility. The present location at 1200 Swiss Way was selected after Swiss Properties, Inc. offered to gift about eight acres of land as well as an additional land purchase option. Adjacent land owners Waldo Liechy and his sister Helena Mae Ellenberger then made available about 12 more acres at a very reasonable price. The 26 acre Swiss Heritage Village has several advantages. Geographically, its location within the city limits affords good fire and police protection along with other municipal amenities. Also, modern Swiss Way offers easy accessibility and wide berms for excess parking needs

Mission

To spark and sustain an interest in the cultural heritage of Berne, Indiana and southern Adams County by promoting learning through discovery.

Artifacts Collections

Indoor museum contains many artifacts and displays depicting early and current life in this Swiss community. All outdoor historic buildings contain historic artifacts and weaving looms in the summer kitchen.

Research Collections

We are proud of the display featuring Berne native Richard Shrock who received the NOBEL Prize in chemistry.

Educational Programs

Each September we host over 1,500 fourth-grade students from 8 counties in Indiana and Ohio for Education Day. We have 350 volunteers working with the students as they visit the historic buildings and participate in activities that relate to their cultural heritage. Included are games and activities including two merry-go-rounds dating back to the 1800's.

    Facilities

    Gift Shop. Indoor Museum. Eleven historic buildings for touring. Large Sweitzer barn sometimes used for gatherings and meals.

    Governance

    Board of Directors (15) and Executive Director

    Publications

    Semi annual newsletter and web site.

    • Newsletter. Need email address.

    Services

    Gift shop open and tours available. Special event rental of barn, church and log cabin available. Phone 260-589-8007.

    Gift Shop

    Special Event Rental

    Group Tours