continues to establish
Agriculture Museum near Vevay
Thiebaud House, hay press barn
to be part of future attraction
(January 2008) In the early 1800s, Swiss immigrants
Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud attempted to journey across the Atlantic
Ocean to make a new home in the United States. Tragically, their trip
was cut short by rough seas and the death of their child, Justi, who
was buried at sea.
is still under
way to complete the
Thiebaud House museum.
Although their hearts were broken, their dreams were not
gone. The couples second attempt at crossing the ocean was successful.
Once they landed in America, the Thiebauds, who now had another son,
again named Justi, made another long grueling trip to what is now Switzerland
County, Ind. The brave pioneer family set up their homestead in what
was once a wild frontier and helped foster the Swiss community that
is such an integral part of the heritage of Switzerland County.
Nearly two centuries later, the Agriculture Museum Center is being planned
on the property once owned by the Thiebaud family. As part of the $2
million project, the original homestead will undergo a major restoration,
and a historic 19th century hay press barn will be reconstructed on
the property. An existing barn on the western side of the property will
be converted to a museum that will include modern restroom facilities
and spacious parking.
The 165 acres, located on Hwy. 56 three miles west of Vevay, Ind., was
donated by Dow Corning Corp., which had purchased the property because
it is situated directly across the Ohio River from its plant.
When finished, the new Agriculture Museum will be interconnected to
Switzerland Countys Life on the Ohio River History Museum and
the Switzerland County History Museum, said Martha Bladen. She is the
Interim Executive Director of the Switzerland County Historical Society.
Heritage tourism is an important part of the economic development
of this region. Preservation enhances economic development.
The farmstead and the house have been designated as two separate listings
on the National Historic Register of Historic Places.
Already, some restoration work has been completed on the farmhouse,
and reconstruction on the hay press barn is planned to begin in the
spring. Bladen said the project should be completed within five years.
The house, a vernacular farmhouse in the Greek Revival style popular
when it was built, will be restored to the 1850s. Much of the original
house and details are still there, including mantles, trim, baseboards
and door frames.
Work to stabilize the house is under way; a new metal roof has been
added and the front porch has been reconstructed. Bladen said several
grants have been acquired for the work already completed, including
$15,000 from the Vevay, Switzerland County Foundation and $32,000 provided
by Switzerland County Tourism for the comprehensive feasibility study.
Grants and funding are being sought for the $200,000 needed to reconstruct
the hay press barn.
Switzerland County Historical
Society is doing extensive work
on the historic Theibaud House,
which will be part of the
Agriculture Museum Center.
We welcome any donations, said Bladen.
The hay press barn played a significant role in the agricultural history
of the area. More than 200 were operating during their heyday; now there
are only five left, Bladen said. Hay was important to transportation
during the 19th century because the main mode of transportation was
Switzerland Countys Ulysses P. Schenck, who owned a fleet of steamboats,
became known nationwide as the hay king. He made a fortune
shipping hay to Louisiana. Schenck married Justine Thiebaud, daughter
of Harriet and Frederick Thiebaud. The Schencks became a prominent family
in the community.
The hay press barn is different than other barns. It is designed for
a large press in the middle of it. It stands two stories high over a
stone basement. In the cellar, horses or oxen were attached to a wheel
that moved a pulley. The pulley was attached to a rope that moved massive
blocks of wood. In the middle story, a tripping mechanism compacted
the hay into 400- to 500-pound bales.
We are extremely fortunate to have a working hay press barn,
said Bladen. It will be a vital part of the museum.
This project is going to give everyone vision into the past,
said Switzerland County Historical Society President Janet Hendricks.
The museum will be a showpiece for not only the casual tourist
but also for those serious about tracing history.
Hendricks, who is also the junior historical society sponsor, is a descendant
of the Thiebauds. Her great-great-great grandfather was Justi Thiebaud,
who arrived in America as an infant. This is a very exciting opportunity
for our family, she said.
The Thiebaud family loved to hold huge reunions and save things, and
some of those family heirlooms have been donated to the museum. One
of the items, which has been on display in the Switzerland County Historical
Museum, is a hair sculpture.
Hair sculptures, popular during the 19th century, were made of the long
hair of family members and usually had their names and ages on them.
Her grandmothers sisters hair, with the age of three years
old and the date of 1865, is on the sculpture at the museum.
Roger Reed, Hendricks uncle, donated an antique machine that chops
feed. That machine will be on display with other early agricultural
equipment in the new center.
The new museum will be a wonderful showplace for the agricultural
community, said Hendricks. The old equipment is fascinating.
For more information about the Agriculture
Museum, contact the Switzerland County Historical Society at (812) 427-3469.
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