Happy Ending


Opportunity knocked and the Switzerland County Historical Society answered!

Via email, we became aware of a grant to assist not-for-profit organizations who provide public humanities programming and were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 situation, so we applied. Weeks passed and then we received the hoped for response.

“I’m writing with the good news that Indiana Humanities is awarding you an Indiana Humanities CARES Grant. The application pool was incredibly competitive, and we were able to fund only about 40 percent of the requests. We had to make difficult decisions and weren’t able to fund many deserving organizations—so the fact that you received a grant is a testament to the good work that you do in your community. Congratulations!”

Awards range from $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the organization's budget. Organizations in the 6th Congressional District will receive a total of $87,500. The Switzerland County Historical Society will be receiving $5,000!

 “The CARES Act includes provisions to help small businesses and Hoosiers in many industries, including those employed by public humanities such as cultural sites, libraries, and museums. The funds appropriated for Indiana Humanities CARES Grants will help support these programs through this difficult time,” said Senator Mike Braun.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provided the funding to Indiana Humanities as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan appropriated by the U.S. Congress. More than $500,000 in funding relief was provided to Indiana humanities organizations through CARES Grants.

“We are pleased to have awarded grants to groups large and small, carrying out a variety of programming, in each congressional district and in 48 of our 92 counties,” said Doran Moreland, Indiana Humanities board chair. “Because of the immense need we had to turn down many organizations that are doing good work, including some of our close partners. The grant committees put great care into the review, weighing a number of factors such as public humanities focus, need, audiences served, and geography.”

“These CARES grants will help meet immediate needs at cultural institutions around the state, allowing Indiana museums, archives, libraries and historical societies to maintain vital operations,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “Thank you to Indiana Humanities for their swift and judicious distribution of CARES Act funding to the many humanities organizations suffering financial distress during the pandemic.”

In a previous column we shared the financial predicament we were facing due to the impending loss of $5,000 in county funds as the County Council was faced with striving to manage on a tragically reduced income due to Belterra currently being closed. We were also losing donations by not being able to have the museums open and the need to cancel income producing events.

As museum director I wrote, “Challenging times. How we respond becomes part of our history. Help make this story have a happy ending.”

We have an amazing community. From online donations, checks in the mail and cash, we have received $2,705. THANK YOU to each and every participant in this story! You have definitely provided a happy ending, even though the story isn’t over yet.

Challenging Times

The Switzerland County Historical Society has a weekly column in the Vevay Newspapers. I wanted to share this one to give you a perspective on our current situation and plans for moving ahead. Thank you for being a follower of our Facebook page. We love sharing our local history.

April 2020. Zero visitors to the Switzerland County Historical Museum and “Life on the Ohio” River History Museum. April 2019. Our museums had visitors from: Eldorado, AK; San Diego, CA; Chicago, IL; Bloomington, Elletsville, Florence, Indianapolis, LaPorte, Madison, Milan, Patriot, Rossville, Vernon, Vevay, and Vincennes in IN; Arma, KS; Carrollton, Florence, LaGrange, Louisville, Park Hills, and Warsaw in KY; Morgan City, LA; Knob Noster, MO; Blanchester, Cincinnati, Dayton, Lebanon, Logan, Loveland, Mason, Milford, New London, Orrville, and West Chester in OH; Townsend, MA; and Farmington, UT.
Then there was the “Coverlets, Quilts & Samplers, Oh My! textile exhibit that opened April 27th and ended in May that brought visitors from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Oh, my!

No visitors means no donations. We also lost our support funding of $5,000 from the County Council as they strive to manage on a tragically reduced income.

It’s so quiet at the museums now, aside from the Cincinnati Time Recorder wall clock ticking away. We are closed to the public because of the Covid-19 situation, but April had several grant deadlines that had to be met, so work proceeded. We’re hoping to bring you good news on those at another time.

Our spring into summer schedule of events has been cancelled. No “Hay Days” the second weekend in June at the Thiebaud Farmstead or “Back to Basics” Day Camp.

Our 13th annual “Conservators’ Holiday” scheduled for May, where we devote a week to education on conservation and preservation and putting that knowledge to work is being restructured. Besides working on projects at the Thiebaud Farmstead and the museums, we would make an excursion to a historic site and plan in plenty of time for dining and camaraderie. Instead of concentrating our work into a single week, the museum will outline projects that individuals or just a few can work on together, spaced throughout the summer.

No Sophomore Leadership volunteer day in May at the Thiebaud Farmstead, when 20 energetic students accomplished an extraordinary amount of work. The weeding, house cleaning, maintenance, and woodland management projects will be left to historical society members to work on throughout the summer.

Yet the work will be accomplished, somehow. We are seeking volunteers. You can help! We will have masks and gloves for all volunteers and will follow social distancing standards. Give us a call at 812-427-3560 (may have to leave a message) or email us at swcomuseums@embarqmail.com and we’ll get in touch with you.

Our museums will reopen June 13th, daily from noon to 4pm! The Thiebaud Farmstead will be open on Sunday afternoons starting June 14th from 1 to 4 pm. This won’t be like our events with lots of re-enactors and demonstrations. Volunteers will be there to greet you and give you a personal tour.

We are planning a 50th anniversary event later in the summer at the Historical Museum, commemorating when the historical society moved into its present location. Details to follow.

Challenging times. How we respond becomes part of our history. Help make this story have a happy ending.
Martha Bladen

2020 Event Schedule

he following events have been scheduled for 2020:

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, our schedule is changing.  The schedule will be updated here and our Facebook page.

Conservator's Holiday - May 18 - 22
Hay Days - June 13 & 14
Back to Basics Day Camp - June 15 - 19

The museums will reopen on June 13 (noon until 4 daily)
Thiebaud Farmstead - open on Sundays from 1 until 4 beginning June 14 through September
All Hallow's Eve - October 23 & 24
A Country Christmas - December 12
General Meetings: March 16 (cancelled) May 18 (cancelled), September 21, November 16

This is subject to change with the current coronavirus situation. Other events may be added as well. Please check back.

A Country Christmas

Celebrate the holiday season with “A Country Christmas” visit to the Thiebaud Farmstead and Musee de Venoge in beautiful Switzerland County, Indiana on Saturday, December 14th from 10am to 4pm.

Hearken back to the early and mid-19th century as you enjoy the Christmas holiday as it could have been celebrated on the rural farms in southern Indiana. Enjoy a simple country Christmas at 1820’s Venoge and experience the beginnings of our modern Christmas celebrations at the 1860’s Thiebaud farmstead. At Venoge you can sample traditional Swiss Christmas cookies, including the very special Springerle cookies, made with wooden molds. Sample doughnuts and fritters made on the hearth and enjoy other period holiday treats. Listen to music of the period played by Michael Thompson and play a few indoor games. Musee de Venoge is one of the few remaining examples of the French colonial architecture that once characterized the first settlement of Switzerland County. Visit the new shop area in the recreated barn for stocking stuffers. The Thiebaud home will be welcoming Christmas with later traditions such as a decorated tree and holiday crafts, as well as small dramatizations of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and other tales. Join the Thiebaud’s in the family parlor for holiday treats and spiced cider while enjoying Christmas tunes played by West of Dublin. A few holiday gift items will be offered for sale.

Free admission, donations always appreciated.

The Thiebaud Farmstead is located at 5147 East State Road 56, which is about three miles west of Vevay. Musee de Venoge is located at 4085 State Route 129, which is one mile up 129 off of SR 56.

For further information about the two sites, visit www.switzcomuseums.org or call 812-427-3560 and www.venoge.org or call 812-593-5726.

All Hallows Eve – Oct 18 & 19

All Hallows Eve is coming! Mystery paired with history on October 18th and 19th from 6 to 9 pm at the Thiebaud Farmstead! Experience old-fashioned Halloween fun with scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns, ghosties and games, crafts and tasty treats, engaging storytellers and characters.

A “Museum of Oddities” & “Cabinet of Curiosities” will have you wondering. The phrenologist will welcome visitors to have their head examined before proceeding with measurements and offering insights into their character, all in good fun. A body-snatcher aka resurrectionist may cause a bit of a fright as their historically based trade is revealed.

The Switzerland County Wolfshager Witches will be dancing around the cauldron and there will be storytelling by the campfire sure to mesmerize listeners.  Add a few more interesting characters for an evening of fun with just the right amount of fright.

Some of our crafty and creative historical society members are making Halloween and fall wreaths that will be offered for sale and by silent auction.

All Hallows Eve is a fundraiser for the care and maintenance of the Thiebaud Farmstead. Admission is $3 per person or $10 for a group of five. Come enjoy this 200+ year old National Historic Register site with the 160 year old house, still entertaining guests after all these years.

Meeting and Raffle

Raffle drawing and general meeting - September 23rd at the Thiebaud Farmstead!  Still time to buy tickets!

We have been selling raffle tickets for two handcrafted treasures ~ a Windsor chair by Jerry Wallin and a pierced tin lantern by his late wife Sandra Wallin. Both pieces signify their motto ~ “Pride in work marked by superb craftsmanship and elegance of design.” Jerry specifically made the Windsor chair for this raffle, utilizing wood for the seat from a poplar tree that was struck by lightning in 2006 on the museum grounds. In addition to creating the beautiful chair, Jerry then donated the pierced-tin three-light lantern. Both are extraordinary works of art and could become yours!

Raffle tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25. The drawing will be held at the Monday, September 23rd meeting at the Thiebaud Farmstead at 5147 East Hwy 56. The Thiebaud house and hay-press barn will be open for touring from 5:00 to 5:30 pm. The stone wall entrance to the cellar is now complete and is an amazing restoration.  The tour, meeting and the evening’s activities are open to members and the general public as well.

A brief business meeting will begin at 5:30, followed by an intriguing guest speaker, Tom Beall.  Tom Beall, owner of the First Vineyard property in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where the Dufours settled before coming to Vevay, Indiana, will be the guest speaker. Beall is an innovative researcher who has delved into the John Jacque Dufour story, combining archived data with hands-on artifact discoveries. Restoring the Dufour’s First Vineyard has become his passion and making great wine is part of the adventure. He has quite a story to tell.

Refreshments will be served following the program. The drawing of the winning raffle tickets will be at 7 pm. We hope you’ll join us for this exciting evening.

 All Hallows Eve event coming Oct 18 and 19. Details soon!

Scan-a-thon – Saturday, September 14

SCAN-A-THON ~ September 14th ~ Switzerland County Historical Museum

Pictures and their stories are tangible ways to remember the past. A special project called The Indiana Album is capturing memories throughout Indiana that can then be viewed at www.indianaalbum.com. The Indiana Album, a non-profit organization, makes Indiana's hidden gems available by scanning, cataloging, and sharing historic items for all to discover and use. Subjects desired include photographs, postcards, and documents of all eras of Indiana houses, farms, businesses, schools, churches, bands, clubs, transportation, or interesting people (including portraits of prominent or pioneer residents, people participating in activities, or great snapshots of everyday life).

Do you have interesting photographs of a past or present family business, your ancestral home, street scenes, childhood snapshots, or other historic images? Have you collected postcards of Indiana? The public won't find them in your attic or tucked away in a drawer or closet. The Indiana Album scans privately owned photos and other documents and brings Hoosiers' collective history to the web -- one image at a time.

"Many lenders are too selective, mistakenly believing that their family items or recent snapshots are not significant enough," says The Indiana Album’s Executive Director Joan Hostetler. "We not only document history with a capital H, but also the everyday person's journey up to present day -- after all, history doesn't have an end date. We seek images of activities such as doing laundry, farming, construction, or going to the prom. Of particular interest are visuals of houses, commercial structures, or nearly any building as we plan to geo-tag the images and make them map searchable." Hostetler advises that if you are unsure if your photos fit the criteria, bring along the whole box for staff to decide.

Dig through your shoeboxes and albums and bring Indiana-related items to the Switzerland County Historical Museum at 208 East Market Street in Vevay on Saturday, September 14, 11:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.

Volunteers will make high resolution scans while lenders wait. All items will be carefully handled and immediately returned to the owners. Later the scans and catalog records will be uploaded into the online catalog for The Indiana Album. It is preferable for participants to make a reservation for the Scan-a-thon or they can learn how to submit their own scans by contacting info@indianaalbum.com or call 317) 771-4129.

The Switzerland County Historical Museum and the “Life on the Ohio” River History Museum will be open during the Scan-a-thon. Guests and participants are welcome to tour free of charge.
The Scan-a-thon is a unique opportunity to share and preserve Switzerland County’s history as part of Indiana’s story. We welcome you to participate.

Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

“Of Sound Mind and Dead Body”

Dinner Theater & Murder Mystery – Saturday, August 3rd at 6pm

At the Community Art Center

The Switzerland County Historical Society will be hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater presented by The Murder Mystery Company on Saturday, August 3rd at the Community Art Center at 217 Ferry Street in Vevay. Tickets for this limited seating dinner event are $25 per person, and are available at the Switzerland County Historical Museum at 208 East Market Street, open daily from noon to 4pm. Tickets are also available online here: https://switzcomuseums.org/product/murder-mystery-dinner-theater/

Guests are encouraged to arrive by 5:30 to check out the selection of Silent Auction items. Wine for the evening will be available from The Ridge Winery. Dinner at 6 pm.

“Of Sound Mind and Dead Body”

When a magical mishap leaves a million-dollar inheritance up for grabs, the next trick will be figuring out who the lucky winner is, and who will end up behind bars for malicious magical mayhem. This is an abracadabra disaster, and it’s up to you to find the murderer before they vanish into thin air. Spend the evening glimpsing through the smoke and mirrors to uncover which hocus pocus hitman offed the poor fellow and stop them before this goes down as the most dangerous magic trick in history.


Raffle tickets available

windsor chair

Jerry Wallin is an amazing craftsman with a most generous heart. He made this Windsor chair for the historical society to raffle to raise some much needed funds, then also donated a lantern made by his wife, Sandra Wallin, who passed away just over a year ago. Chair 1st prize, lantern 2nd prize. The seat of the chair was made from wood from a poplar tree on the museum grounds that was cut down in 2007 after being stuck by lightning. So glad he decided to use that chunk of wood that has been sitting around in the attic. We got our official approval from the Indiana Gaming Commission and raffle tickets are now available at the museum. $10 each or 3 for $25. Drawing to be held September 23rd.  You can purchase tickets (and see these items!) at the museum, or, if you are out of town, call the museum to make arrangements to purchase.  Thank you Jerry, and thank you for supporting our mission.