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December 13, 2018

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"The Bluffton We Never Knew" history photo book being released

198-page book includes over 175 photos of Bluffton prior to 1911

Imagine living in a Bluffton you never knew.

A book released in time for Christmas by the Bluffton Icon takes you there.

“The Bluffton We Never Knew,” photographs from our first half century, 1861 to 1911, is at the printer now. The book, with 198 pages, includes over 175 black and white photographs of Bluffton.


Bluffton pioneer photographer Will A. Triplett took most of the photos. Those photos include Bluffton scenes, people, businesses, churches, Main Street, the college, railroads, early vehicles and residences from Bluffton.

The also book includes 18 Bluffton school class photos taken before 1901. The book cover shows the Bluffton tennis courts from the early 1900s in a colorized post card. The tennis courts were located on the site of Riley View Apartments. Kat Luginbuhl of Bluffton, designed the front and back book cover.

“The book has many photos that few residents today have ever seen,” said Fred Steiner. “Placing these in one collection reveals a very interest story of the early growth of our village.”

“The book was in the idea stages for several years and over the past 12 months it came together,” added Steiner.

Former Bluffton resident and Bluffton College faculty member, Von Hardesty, retired from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., contributed the Foreword. Tomm Triplett, who grew up in Bluffton and now lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, wrote the Preface. He is a great-grandson of Will Triplett.

Steiner said that many of the photos are from his own collection, which includes post card photos of Bluffton and photos collected by his parents and grandparents. The book also includes several photos from the Triplett family, Richard Boehr and from the Allen County Historical Society.

“Each of the photos include a description of the Bluffton scene portrayed,” he said. “I’ve tried to identify as many people in the photos as possible. Many residents will find their grandparents and great-grandparents in the collection.”

Many of the photos are reproduced directly from Will Triplett’s glass negatives. He was a Bluffton photographer for 53 years, working from 1881 to 1934.

“Few communities are blessed with so many early photos of their town, and most photos are identified,” said Steiner. “The book is dedicated to Mr. Triplett, because, without him, the photo history during our first half-century would barely exist.”

In addition to photographs, the book includes a list of sources used to explain and identify the photos. It also includes Bluffton timeline of events from 1820 to 1911, an 1880 village plat map and a brief biography of Mr. Triplett.

Chapter titles in the book include:

• Main Street – businesses and buildings on Main Street
• Churches
• Our neighbors – photos of village residents
• Where we lived –photos of early Bluffton houses
• The Riley and our quarries
• The old school – 18 class photographs
• A college town
• Going places – horse and wagons, automobiles, railroads and interurbans
• One Bluffton family – some photos of the author’s Bluffton ancestors

Upon release, the book sells for $19.95 plus tax. The book will be available in several Bluffton businesses and from the Icon.  Advance sale copies are discounted now through Nov. 30  at $16.95 plus tax.

A pre-release order form is attached at the bottom of this story. Persons from outside Bluffton may order books that include a Priority Mail charge.

Workplay Publishing, Hesston, Kansas, is the book publisher.

• Book pre-release order form - save $3 if ordered by Nov. 30
• Photo sampler showing selection of material in the book
• Book cover - designed by Kat Luginbuhl