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Historical Bluffton

Bluffton Forever: Dr. Robert Drake Murray

Soldier and physician, yellow fever control specialist

By Fred Steiner

A yellow fever specialist and expert, Dr. Robert Drake Murray, of international renown, was a son of Bluffton. 

During his career, he was looked upon as a leader in combating yellow fever and was sent by the U.S. government to take charge of places where yellow fever became epidemic.

Born in Ohlton, Ohio, in 1845, his parents Joseph A. and Nancy Drake Murray moved to Bluffton in 1855 when it was still called Shannon.

His father, Joseph, served in the Mexican War (some time during 1846 - 1848).

Samuel S. Yoder, Civil Water veteran and congressman

Famous from Bluffton series premier

By Fred Steiner

This is the first in a series of “Famous from Bluffton” features from

Samuel S. Yoder’s name does not register in the minds of many, if any, Bluffton residents today.

However, this one-time Bluffton mayor, former business owner and Civil War veteran, once served Ohio’s 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. adds 10 history links

Seeks Swiss genealogical information

This week Fred Steiner's local history-focused website added links to 10 area history-related websites for viewer access. The addition was due to the interest in history from followers of the website. 

History-related links now include:

• Bluffton Public Library

• Swiss Community Historical Society

• Bluffton University Mennonite Historical Archives

• Allen County Historical Society

• Hancock County Historical Society

• Hardin County Historical Museum

Neil Schmidt's high school career was interrupted by WW II

By Bill Herr

The Icon recently posted an article on the Pirate athlete with four Super Bowl rings, Neil Schmidt. Columnist Bill Herr has this first-hand account of Schmidt and his family.

During World War II, Neil Schmidt enlisted in the Navy before his senior year at Bluffton High School. After completing his service, he returned to Bluffton to complete his high school education. He starred on both the basketball and football teams in 1946. Those teams won the championship of the Western Buckeye League in each sport.

Bixel sledding hill - unsafe at any speed

By Fred Steiner,

Adolescent sledding memories thawed in my soul last week.

Probably due to viewing winter Olympic games on TV.

Thoughts of Bluffton’s 1950s most dangerous sledding hill–that is, in my opinion–caused this avalanche of recall on a cold winter day.

Other dangerous Bluffton hills existed. But, this one, at a slope of, oh, 80 degrees with no speed limits, cluttered with moguls–you know, those bumps on the way down–well, I’ve set the scene for you.

In the words of Ralph Nader: Unsafe at any speed.

1906 Bluffton snowstorm

Today's forecasting prepares us for big snow storms. In 1906, when this photo was taken on Main St., not so much. Learn more about the photo and photographer at