Many artifacts in museum tell story of 200 years here


There are so many facets to Switzerland County’s history.

The artifacts, photographs and documents in the Switzerland County Historical Museum collection are the physical ties to the many stories that personalize the items. As a way to commemorate the county’s Bicentennial we are sharing “200 Objects, 200 Years – Switzerland County Bicentennial Stories” on our Facebook and webpage,

Music, steamboats, wine, recreation, advertising and domestic arts are all part of the story that makes Switzerland County unique. See for yourself.


#129: Drum from the Fairview Concert Band

The recent donation of a drum, uniform and picture from Carl Althoff and Barbara Dowdy preserves the history of the Fairview Concert Band and their father Dallas Althoff.

The band was made up of local musicians in the Fairview community during the 1920s and 30s, including: Dilver Clark, Woodson Porter, Aaron Moreillon, Henry Moreillon, Fred Althoff, Dallas Althoff, Earl Moreillon, Floyd Burroughs, Otho Flinn, Alonzo Bales, Darwin Seavers, Dilver Moreillon, Estol Long, Louis Blodgett, Emerson Neal and Dale Jarvis.


#131: The Switzerland Steamer, document and picture

One of the most famous steamboats of the 19th Century. Built in Cincinnati in 1854, this is the first steamboat brothers U.P. and Julius P. Schenck entered into the Louisville/New Orleans trade.

The Switzerland was the first sidewheeler specifically constructed for use as a towboat, although she also carried passengers. She carried eight barges: U.P. Schenck 1-5, Vevay, Ghent, and Winfield Scott. In July 1855 she was rammed by the steamboat Fremont near Vevay, damaging two of her barges.

Later that same year she was rammed by the steamer Uncle Sam near Natchez, Mississippi, and sunk. The Uncle Sam and the Mayflower came to the rescue. Raised and returned to service, she was purchased by the U.S. Quartermaster’s Department in April 1862 and was converted into one of Col. Charles Ellet, Jr.’s rams (Union gunboat) for use on the lower Mississippi. Col. Ellet was wounded during the Battle of Memphis and was transported to Cairo aboard the Switzerland, but died en route. After the war she was sold south to New Orleans. Her new owners retained her famous name, a rare honor.

Detailed articles about the Switzerland are in the museum files, along with a self-published book by Claude Brown, written in 1958.


#134: Wine merchant account book, 1822-1851

This account book belonged to Jean Daniel Morerod, one of the principal proprietors of the first vineyards in Switzerland County. The Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County, Indiana quotes from Morerod’s will:

“And though it may appear singular to some it is my will and pleasure, that no costly clothing nor a costly coffin be buried to rot with my body but if I should die at home I wish my body to be wrapped up in a plain white sheet and put in a plain coffin made of pine or other cheap boards the cost of which shall not exceed two dollars and that the difference in price between this equipage of mine and that usually afforded in Vevay to travelers, to that place whence no one returns, be dealt out to those who shall meet at my house, to accompany my body to the grave, in the best wine that may then happen to be in my cellar.”


#142: Time clock for the boat race, photo

Mounted on the flatbed truck with an umbrella to shade the officials, September 1951 at the Vevay Landing. Lettering on the side of the truck: Walter E. Gaudin Lumber, Vevay, IN.


#161: Match safe with advertising

J. H. Barker

You can use a barrel of Tacks, but will not need a barrel of Money,

If you trade with us.

Center Square, Ind.


#164: Knitting machine

This Home Profit Hosiery Company knitting machine, made in Rochester, New York, belonged to Sarah Goddard Smithson (1802-1889). Yarn went on the spindle and fed into the machine when the handle was turned. Sarah’s husband was Joshua Smithson.

Excerpt from Harriman’s 1885 History of Switzerland County:

Carding Machine – The subscribers most respectfully inform their friends and the public generally, that they have erected a new carding machine in Vevay, at Joshua Smithson’s fronting the court house. Their cards and machinery being all new they have no hesitation in saying they will operate completely. From the experience of their superintendent they can assure all those who favor them with their custom, that their work will be done in a superior style and with great expedition. The wool must be clean of burs and all other trash, and one pound of good, soft, clean grease must be furnished for every ten pounds of wool. The subscribers are erecting a cotton gin which will be in operation in a short time.

Vevay, May 22, 1824, Smithson & Dow


Due to our location on the Ohio River, an item from the Switzerland County Historical Society’s “Life on the Ohio” River History will be part of a special program on KET due to air on Monday, December 15th at 9 p.m. “A History of Kentucky in 25 Objects” with Barry Bernson will include a wooden bilge pump from a flatboat that we highlighted as one of our ‘200 Objects, 200 Years’ project. Tune in!

– Martha Bladen