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Great-grandson looking for photos of Switz City founderPosted Friday, June 25, 2010, at 3:57 PM
Does anyone have any photos of John Switz, Sr. -- the distinguished founder of the small Greene County community of Switz City?
I received an interesting e-mail this week from a California man, who is searching for photographs and information about his great-grandfather, who is none other than John Switz, Sr.
Tony Switz, of Corona, Cal., wrote, "I have been looking for years to find some photos of my ancestors, but haven't had any luck. I'm just amazed that the town he founded doesn't have a photo anywhere. Or do they?"
That's a very good question Tony and we hope some of our readers might be able to help you out.
Tony is also eager to get his hands on some early photos from the once booming community.
Today, Switz City boasts a population of just over 300, according to clerk-treasurer Carla Porter, and life in the town has slowed down considerably from its heyday.
Porter isn't sure where the younger Switz can find some photos, but she suggested a good place to start looking might be the post office or with long-time resident Harley Haskett.
"So many of the old folks (in town) are gone now," Porter commented when I called her.
Tony explained that he has always known about his family's connection to Switz City. His father and two uncles were all born and raised there.
"My grandfather was Henry Bud Switz and my grandmother was Lucille Moses Switz. They lived on Fletcher Street. My father actually got me started into looking into my heritage when he told me that our ancestors came from Prussia," according to Tony. "I have found a few small articles about how they immigrated from Prussia to settle in, what is now, Switz City. I was also told that the original house burnt down many years ago. I would like to know exactly where the old house used to be so I can go stand on the actual ground. I have been to Switz City many times as a child until we moved in 1971 to California."
His grandfather died in 1975 and not long after his grandmother moved to Florida to live until she passed away in 1990.
Tony came back to Switz City in 1990 and 2000 to visit family and friends.
"I actually took my son there in 2000 to see where his family history is from. I always make sure when I go back to visit Indiana to take a trip down there," the California man told the Greene County Daily World.
Tony admits it's a real good feeling to know one of his ancestors helped start the town.
"I know it makes me proud to have, even a small town like Switz City, named after one of my ancestors. And, I'm not just an descendant, but a direct descendant of the founder," he stated.
According to his great-grandson, John Switz was one of the prominent German residents of the town, who was born at Hoch Emerich, Rhine, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany, in March, 1816.
He was the son of John and Sibilla (Kueppers) Switz.
The town's founder was liberally educated in the schools of his native country, and while a young man worked as a farm laborer and at the weaver's trade.
In February 1846, he was married to Charlotte Bovenschen, who was born at Bergheim-on-the-Rhine, in August 1819, and together they embarked at Antwerp, Belgium, in 1849, for the purpose of finding homes in the United States.
They ended up at New Orleans, La., and then traveled to Greene County, where he purchased a large tract of land in Grant and Fairplay Townships.
The land had been put up on the market as "canal land."
The property he bought is situated at the present day site of Switz City, which was surveyed and platted in 1870, and named in his honor.
Switz was the owner of more than 200 acres of "good land" and farmed and operated a first-class hotel.
One report I read also said he opened a general store with a large stock in 1874.
He also erected the Odd Fellows building in town for a store room with a dwelling attached.
In politics, he was Democratic, and is the father of three sons -- John, Harmon, Henry -- and one daughter, Mary, Tony, the proud great-grandson would be thrilled to get his hands on some photos and more information about the father of Switz City.
Tony's address is 13708 Palomino Creek Drive, Corona, Calif., 92883 or he can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
You can also contact me at the addresses below.
It's a shame some of this rich heritage wasn't preserved in some manner so Tony Switz and those of the current generation could readily share in it.
When history is gone, it is really tough to recover.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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