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Historical Bluffton

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

The photographer's portrait: Leland Gerber

If you are 65 or order, he probably took your senior portrait

From the "files" of, a story on some 30 years of Bluffton photographic history:

Most residents 65 and older once sat in the chair where this photo was taken. It was taken in 1971 in the Leland Gerber Photography Studio. The studio is now part of the parking lot of Citizens National Bank (north of the Post Office). 

Historical barn takes a step back in time

Swiss Community Historical Society update

The Swiss Community Historical Society (SCHS) is reconfiguring the bank barn at the Schumacher Homestead to reflect the original location of entrances to the upper floor.

The doors will be painted but their design and materials can be best appreciated in the current state.

Female athletes at BHS: Greatest of all time?

By Bill Herr

This column introduces a new writer for the Icon, Bill Herr, who will be providing monthly articles about Bluffton athletes.

Who is the greatest of all time (GOAT) among female athletes at Bluffton High School (BHS)? It is Juleen Matter (track)? Or Ann Stechschulte (track)? Or Caity Matter (basketball)? Or Bonnie Stratton (track)?

Another candidate is Janet Shelly. Janet (Shelly) Donigan was a good student in my mathematics classes at Bluffton High School. She graduated in 1979. Her father was Bruce Shelly, a Nationwide insurance agent. After retirement Bruce and Marilyn Shelly moved to Florida. Janet has owned her own business, Health Care Financial Group, for 32 years in Florida. She is a CPA and is a consultant to hospitals. She and her husband, Jim Donigan, have three adult children.

66 years of Bluffton postal history

The Icon recently asked readers to date the Bluffton Post Office at 132 S. Main, which has been serving the community for over eighty years. In a recent post, goes well beyond that time frame:

"The six Bluffton postmasters in this portrait taken by Will Triplett represent 66 years of postal history in Bluffton. The eras these men served extend from 1868 to 1934. They are, standing from left, Russell Day, M.M. Murray and Gibson Locher. Seated from left are Henry L. Romey, Andrew Hauenstein and George W. Lewis."