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Thiebaud Farmstead

Thiebaud Farmstead Side One Thiebaud Farmstead Side Two

Location: 5147 E. State Hwy 56, Vevay (Switzerland County), Indiana 47043

Installed 2022 Indiana Historical Bureau, Switzerland County Historical Society, and Switzerland County Tourism

ID#: 78.2022.1

Text

Side One

In 1802, French-speaking Swiss immigrants settled the area that became Switzerland County. Encouraged by their success in viticulture, more Swiss families followed, including Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud, who purchased land here in 1818. After local inventor Samuel Hewitt patented a powerful hay press in 1843, the local economy transitioned to hay production.

Side Two

Justi and Mary Thiebaud, who inherited this farmstead, built a barn and hay press in the early 1850s. Like other Switzerland County farmers, they increased hay production through the 1870s, using the Ohio River to reach large urban markets. During this period, commerce, transportation, and industry depended on horsepower, making hay an essential agricultural product.

Annotated Text

Side One

In 1802, French-speaking Swiss immigrants settled the area that became Switzerland County.[1] Encouraged by their success in viticulture, more Swiss families followed,[2] including Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud, who purchased land here in 1818.[3] After local inventor Samuel Hewitt patented a powerful hay press in 1843,[4] the local economy transitioned to hay production.[5]

Side Two

Justi and Mary Thiebaud, who inherited this farmstead,[6] built a barn and hay press in the early 1850s.[7] Like other Switzerland County farmers, they increased hay production through the 1870s, using the Ohio River to reach large urban markets.[8] During this period, commerce, transportation, and industry depended on horsepower, making hay an essential agricultural product.[9]


[1] Treaty Between the United States and the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Eel River, Wea, Kickapoo, Piankashaw and Kaskaskia Indians Signed at Greenville, August 3, 1795, General Records of the United States Government, 1778-1869, National Archives Catalog; Jean Jacques Dufour to Thomas Jefferson, January 15, 1802, Jefferson Papers, Founders Online, National Archives; Journal of the Senate, March 17, 1802, Seventh Congress, First Session, 193, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, American Memory, Library of Congress; “An Act to Empower John James Dufour, and His Associates, to Purchase Certain Lands,” May 1, 1802, Statutes at Large, Seventh Congress, First Session, 47, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, Library of Congress; An Act for the formation of a new county out of the counties of Dearborn and Jefferson, and for other purposes, 1814, Approved September 7, 1814, in Louis B. Ewbank and Dorothy L. Riker, The Laws of Indiana Territory, 1809-1816 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1934); George Pence and Nellie C. Armstrong, Indiana Boundaries: Territory, State, and County (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1933), 766; John James Dufour, The American Vine-Dresser’s Guide (Cincinatti: Emporium Office, 1826), 7-11, accessed GoogleBooks; Perret Dufour, The Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County Indiana, Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. 13 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1925), xiii-37.

In 1795, the Treaty of Greenville opened the parts of the Indiana Territory that would include the future Switzerland County for legal white settlement. Bands of Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Miami, Wea, Kickapoo, and Kaskaskia – all peoples that could have resided in or stewarded the area at different times – signed this treaty under extreme military and economic pressure. Small numbers of white settlers trickled into the area.

In 1802, Swiss immigrant John James (Jean Jacques) Dufour successfully petitioned Congress for 2,500 acres of land (with deferred payment) on the Ohio River. DuFour and other Swiss immigrants (originally from the French-speaking district of Vevay, Canton de Vaud, Switzerland) had already had some success with viticulture across the Ohio River in Kentucky but determined the Indiana side of the river would provide a more hospitable climate for grapes. Some secondary sources claim the settlers left Kentucky because it was a slave state. This is inaccurate as Dufour’s original business plan, though they did not raise enough capital to put it into effect, included the purchase of enslaved peoples.

The lands selected by John James Dufour were mapped, sectioned off to settlers (Samuel Mennet, Louis Gex, Luke Oboussier, Frederick Louis Raymond, Frederick, Deserns, James Stewart, John Francis Siebenthal, David Golay, Phillip Bettens, Jean Daniel Morerod, John Francis Dufour, John James Dufour, Antoinette Dufour, Susanna Margarette Dufour, and Jeane Marie Dufour) and registered in June 1802. The settlers cleared the land and began planting crops, orchards, and grapes; other families soon followed. The Indiana General Assembly formed Switzerland County in 1814.

[2] Jean Jacques Dufour to George Washington, December 19, 1796, Washington Papers, Founders Online, National Archives; Jean Jacques Dufour to Thomas Jefferson, January 15, 1802, Jefferson Papers, Founders Online, National Archives; Lydia Bacon to family, September 3, 1811, reprinted in Travel Accounts of Indiana, 1679-1961, Compiled by Shirley McCord, Indiana Historical Collections Volume 47 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1970), 61; “New Swisserland,” Niles Register (Michigan), October 9, 1811, reprinted Indianapolis Journal, May 19, 1901, 16, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Vevay,” Western Eagle (Madision), October 22, 1813, 4, Hoosier State Chronicles; Samuel R. Brown, Western Gazetteer; or Emigrant’s Directory (Auburn, NY: H. C. Southwick, 1817), 59-61, GoogleBooks; William Tell Harris, Remarks Made During a Tour Through the United States of America, in the Years 1817, 1818, and 1819 (London, 1821) reprinted in Travel Accounts of Indiana, 1679-1961, Compiled by Shirley McCord, Indiana Historical Collections Volume 47 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1970); 1820 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, page 165, Roll: M33_14, National Archives, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; John James Dufour, The American Vine-Dresser’s Guide (Cincinatti: Emporium Office, 1826), 7-11, accessed GoogleBooks; “Sugar, Wine and Silk,” New York Times, reprinted Western Sun & General Advertiser (Vincennes), May 12, 1827, 2, Hoosier State Chronicles; “Switzerland in Switzerland County, Switzerland (Iowa) Monitor, reprinted in the Western Sun & General Advertiser (Vincennes), October 22, 1831, 2, Hoosier State Chronicles; Leo Schelbert, “Swiss” in Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience, Robert M. Taylor, Connie A. McBIrney, and John Bodnar, eds. (Indiana Historical Society, 1996), 595.

Dufour and other French-speaking Swiss immigrants established vineyards in the region and their wine achieved some degree of national renown over the following decades. The success of the vineyards brought more Swiss immigrants to the area. By 1810, the colony established “eight acres of vineyard, from which they made 2,400 gallons of wine, which, in its crude stated, was thought by good judges, to be superior to the claret of Bordeaux,” according to the Western Gazetteer. By 1817, the Swiss colony had “greatly augmented the quantity of their vineyard grounds.”

[3] Land Patent, Frederick Louis Thiebaud, Switzerland County, Indiana, Issued June 26, 1818, Accession #: CV-0039-387, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, glorrecords.blm.gov; 1820 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, page 165, Roll: M33_14, National Archives, accessed AncestryLibrary.com.

In 1818, Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud, newly arrived in the county from Switzerland with their children, purchased land along the Ohio River from the U.S. government.

[4] United States Patent Office, Patent No. 3394, “Hay Press,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Approved June 22, 2004, National Archives Catalog; Second Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture for the Year 1852 (Indianapolis: J. P. Chapman, State Printer), 28, GoogleBooks; Advertisement, Evansville Daily Journal, March 10, 1855, 4, Hoosier State Chronicles; Advertisement, Evansville Daily Journal, March 10, 1855, 4, Hoosier State Chronicles; Advertisement, Indiana Reveille (Vevay), April 27, 1859, 3, Hoosier State Chronicles.

Switzerland County resident Samuel Hewitt invented a hay press which he patented in 1843. In his patent, Hewitt named the invention “Hewitt’s Improved Press.” However, it became known by different names, including “beater press,” “Mormon press,” or the combination of “Mormon beater press.” Hewitt’s press was popular in Switzerland County, with as many as 150 operating in the region by 1855. The press was extremely powerful, pounding hay into tight bales to increase the amount that could be loaded onto ships for export. In short, this type of press made hay production profitable.

[5] “Agriculture,” Seventh Census of the United States: 1850 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853), 792-96, United States Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture Historical Archive, agcensus.library.cornell.edu; Perret Dufour, The Swiss Settlement of Switzerland County Indiana, Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. 13 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1925), 184; Christopher Baas and Darrin Rubino, “The Most Successful Press in This or Any Other Country: The Material Culture of 19th-Century Beater Hay Presses in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Material Culture 45, no. 1 (2013): 2, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24396730;“Highlighting Hoosier Archaeological Sites: Southeast,” November 5, 2021, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology;

Starting in the 1830s, winemaking declined in the region (due to American preference for other alcoholic drinks and difficulties with diseases of the vine) and the Switzerland County farmers turned to other crops. According to Hanover College Professor Darrin L. Rubino and Ball State University professor Christopher Baas: “By the 1840s, in response to growing demands for hay, Mid-Ohio Valley farmers were supplying distant markets with timothy [hay] via the Ohio River and subsequent water transportation routes of the Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean . . . Farmers sold bales to local hay dealers who shipped the product downstream on flatboats and steamboats to New Orleans.” See note 8 for more information and statistics.

[6] Marriage Registration of Justi Thiebaud and Mary Banta, June 4, 1839, Indiana, U.S. Marriages, 1810-2001, page 233, FHL Film Number 001310439, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Frederick Louis Thiebaud Gravestone, Vevay Cemetery, Switzerland County, Indiana, accessed Find-A-Grave; Will of Frederick L. Thiebaud, Admitted to Probate January 1847, Switzerland County, Indiana, Probate Records, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Indiana State Sentinel, March 18, 1848, 2, Hoosier State Chronicles; 1850 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, September 24, 1850, page 38, lines 23-29, National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, accessed AncestryLibrary.com.

Justi Thiebaud and his wife Mary took over his parents’ farm by 1847.

[7] 1850 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, September 24, 1850, page 38, lines 23-29, National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; “Agriculture,” Seventh Census of the United States: 1850 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853), 792-96, United States Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture Historical Archive, agcensus.library.cornell.edu; Justi Thiebaud Agricultural Census in “Thiebaud Farmstead,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Approved June 22, 2004, National Archives Catalog; Christopher Baas and Darrin Rubino, “The Most Successful Press in This or Any Other Country: The Material Culture of 19th-Century Beater Hay Presses in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Material Culture 45, no. 1 (2013): 2-3, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24396730; Darrin L. Rubino and Christopher Baas, Dating Buildings and Landscapes with Tree-Ring Analysis (New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis, 2019), 13.3.3, accessed GoogleBooks; “Highlighting Hoosier Archaeological Sites: Southeast,” November 5, 2021, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

The 1850 Agricultural Census shows the Thiebauds beginning hay production. See note 8 for statistics. In 2019, tree-ring analysis by Hanover College Professor Darrin L. Rubino and Ball State University professor Christopher Baas determined that the barn built to house the large hay press was constructed in 1850.

[8] 1850 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, September 24, 1850, page 38, lines 23-29, National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; “Agriculture,” Seventh Census of the United States: 1850 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853), 792-96, United States Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture Historical Archive, agcensus.library.cornell.edu; Advertisement, Weekly Reveille (Vevay), May 4, 1854, 4, Hoosier State Chronicles;  1860 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, June 18, 1860, page 45, lines 25-34, NARA microfilm publication M653, National Archives and Records Administration, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; “Agriculture,” Eighth Census of the United States: 1860 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864), 38-45, United States Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture Historical Archive, agcensus.library.cornell.edu; “Agriculture,” Nineth Census of the United States: 1860 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864), 138-145, United States Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture Historical Archive, agcensus.library.cornell.edu; 1870 United States Census, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, August 19, 1870, page 35, lines 21-30, NARA microfilm publication M593, National Archives and Records Administration, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana (Chicago: Weakley, Harraman & Co. Publishers, 1885), 1273, HathiTrust; Justi Thiebaud Agricultural Census in “Thiebaud Farmstead,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Approved June 22, 2004, National Archives Catalog; Michael Strezewski, An Archaeological Survey of the Thiebaud Property, Switzerland County, Indiana, Reports of Investigations 305 (February 2004), IPFW Archaeological Survey, Indiana University – Purdue University at Fort Wayne; Christopher Baas and Darrin Rubino, “The Most Successful Press in This or Any Other Country: The Material Culture of 19th-Century Beater Hay Presses in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Material Culture 45, no. 1 (2013): 2-3, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24396730; “Highlighting Hoosier Archaeological Sites: Southeast,” November 5, 2021, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

From the 1840s to the 1870s, the counties along the Ohio River prospered through a system of growing, pressing, and exporting timothy hay via waterways to meet the demands of growing horse populations in urban markets. The Thiebaud farmstead is an example of a family who participated in the economic system of hay production. They began using a hay press in the 1850s, with production peaking in the 1870s.

Justi Thiebaud produced six tons of hay in 1850, 39 tons in 1860, and 80 tons in 1870. By the late 1870s, hay production was no longer profitable for Ohio River area farmers because there was too much competition, railroads added new producers, more efficient and portable hay presses were invented, and the soil was depleted by production. In 1880, Justi Thiebaud produced only 10 tons of hay and retired to Vevay in 1882.

The type of press that the Thiebauds employed is unknown, though currently at the site there is a Mormon press which was moved there from another location by the Switzerland County Historical Society. An 1854 advertisement for a different kind of hay press cited “Mssrs. Thiebaud” as having endorsed this product, suggesting the Thiebauds might not have used a Hewitt press.

[9] Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr, The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 130-136; Christopher Baas and Darrin Rubino, “The Most Successful Press in This or Any Other Country: The Material Culture of 19th-Century Beater Hay Presses in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Material Culture 45, no. 1 (2013): 2-3, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24396730; Ariel Ron, “King Hay: Energy History and Economic Nationalism in the American Civil War Era,” August 2019, [Draft], Yale University Department of Economics, accessed Economics.Yale.edu.

Keywords

Agriculture; Immigration & Ethnic Group