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Historical Bluffton

A baptism font unlike any other

By Fred Steiner

The St. John's United Church of Christ, at the corner of Jackson and College, has a baptismal font featuring Bluffton artist Peter Klassen's work. There are six ceramic pieces created by the artist in the 1930s.

The images feature marriage, Christmas, baptism, family, Jesus and the dove of peace.

Klassen became a member of the Bluffton College faculty at the invitation of President S.K. Mosiman in 1924 and remained on the faculty until 1958. Visitors to the campus can see more than 30 works created by Klassen and by his students in bronze, wood, and marble. 

Professor Klassen was born in Kronsgarten, Ukraine, on April 8, 1888. In 1923 the Klassen’s arrived in Canada from Russia.


Mysterious Bluffton: Swimming pool in the Riley

By Fred Steiner

­Imagine a mysterious Bluffton location partially under water. Stand near the entrance to Steinmetz Field. Turn toward Harmon Field. Take about a dozen steps toward the creek.

There you will discover the remnants of a dam. That dam backed up the creek, but not anymore. Instead, it simply creates a mysterious Bluffton location.

Today the dam is just an impediment in the stream. However, on the Harmon Field side of the stream stand the remains of a very well-constructed flagstone wall. The wall on the Steinmetz Field side lost its battle with nature years ago.

Why is there a dam? Why a flagstone wall? Who built these structures and when?

By our definition, Bluffton’s places of mystery involve unexplained human-constructed features on our otherwise familiar landscape. They exist today like the statues of Easter Island.

This partially underwater site fits our list.

1906 - No spitting on the sidewalk

2023: Automobiles replace electric railroad

By Fred Steiner

Some photos are worth one-thousand words. This photo (on top) could rival War and Peace, containing slightly north of one-half million.

We’ll save viewers lots of time by offering highlights.

• Year: 1906

• Event: Bricking Bluffton’s Main Street for the first time

• Location: Looking south on Main

• Specifically: CNB on right side, Edward Jones on left

August 1947: A sound foreign to Bluffton’s ears

The first-ever diesel locomotive passed through town on a test run

By Fred Steiner

Remember seeing your first-ever electric-driven vehicle in Bluffton? Compare that to the following image: It passed through Bluffton in an unusual color scheme (reddish-orange) blasting a very foreign sound (a “hoarse” whistle).

How did you spend your summer vacation?

By Fred Steiner

If you lived in Bluffton during the summer of 1947–76 vacations ago–chances are your vacation plans were announced on the front page of The Bluffton News.

And, if you don’t believe this, simply scroll to the bottom of the feature and see for yourself. You will discover the vacation plans of over 50 Bluffton families.

Bluffton residents brush with history c. 1940s

By Fred Steiner

In November 1945 Bluffton resident Betty Steinman experienced a brush with history like no other person in Bluffton.

It is one of several interesting brushes with history that Bluffton residents reported in The Bluffton News. Some of those accounts follow Betty’s. The accounts in this feature are from the mid-1940s.