Swiss Settlers

The Swiss settlement in the Bluffton/Pandora area included both Swiss Reformed who settled in the southern part of the area and Swiss Mennonites who settled in the northern part, mostly in Putnam County.

The first Swiss Mennonites to settle here were Michael Neuenschwander and his family who migrated to northern Wayne County from the Swiss Jura in 1823 and then built a farm here in 1833 along present day Bixel Road, not far from the restored Schumacher Farm/Swiss Homestead. Numerous other Swiss Mennonites who moved here from the Wayne County settlement or directly from Switzerland and France soon joined the Neuenschwander family.

The growing Swiss Mennonite congregation in this area eventually became focused around the present Ebenezer church, with additional meetinghouses in Pandora (St. John) and Bluffton (First). A number of other Mennonite churches emerged in the area, either as divisions from the main Swiss congregation (Reformed, 1844; Zion, 1857; Grace, 1904) or as divisions from the divisions (Evangelical, 1884; Missionary, 1898).