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July 14, 2020

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Swiss homestead open each Saturday this summer

Your opportunity to step into Bluffton and Pandora's past; open 1-5 p.m.

Summer open houses at Schumacher Homestead began last Saturday.

“Are you a ghost?” a little girl once asked Schumacher Homestead volunteer Susie Gratz, who was dressed in the somber black cap, long full dress, and apron worn by women in the Bluffton-Pandora area Swiss Settlement in the mid 1800s.

Gratz assured the youngster that she was real and alive, and could show her how families in the area lived more than 150 years ago.

This summer, Gratz will be one of more than a dozen guides who will give tours at the “Swiss Haus” at 8350 Bixel Road, welcoming visitors from 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays,  now through the end of August.

The homestead offers a fascinating window to local history, with stories and artifacts dating from as early as the 1830s.

Swiss Community Historical Society guides, also known as docents, will give an introduction to those new to the area and subject, and provide further information for visitors with specific interests. The society also provides genealogy resources for those with Swiss roots.

The homestead property includes the renovated 1843 farmhouse built by Christian and Barbara Elizabeth (Luginbuhl) Schumacher, as well as a workshop, kitchen garden, replica summer kitchen, and original 1854 barn.

The couple came to America from outside of Basel, Switzerland. Their daughter-in-law Elizabeth Schumacher was once featured on a Ripley’s Believe It or Not keepsake plate as having 16 children, 163 grandchildren and 452 great-grandchildren!

Each month, special activities will be scheduled.
• On June 8, the massive bank barn will be open, with docents supplying information about farming implements and practices.
• On June 15, Wendy Chappell-Dick will sing "Songs of the Settlement."
• The barn will also be open on June 22.