Switzerland County

Welcome to Switzerland County, Indiana!

Switzerland County is located in southeastern Indiana on the Ohio River and was first opened to settlement by terms of the Greenville Treaty of 1795. Heathcoat Pickett was in Jefferson Township as early as 1790 and built a cabin near the mouth of Plum Creek in 1795.

George Ash had been a captive of the Shawnee Indians until his release in 1795. Under the terms of the Greenville Treaty, the Indians granted Ash land in Indiana opposite the mouth of the Kentucky River, which was the southern end of the treaty line. The grant was not recognized by the government, but George was eventually allowed to purchase as much of the designated land as he could afford, and he built the first brick house there in 1798. Ash later operated a ferry across the river to Kentucky and he and his family continued to do so for 103 years.

The Cotton and Dickason families settled on Indian Creek in 1798. Robert Gullion settled on the Ohio River bottom, above the mouth of Log Lick Creek in 1799; and in 1800, Louis Jones settled on Bryant's Creek.

The first sizeable settlement in the area was the "Swiss Colony" established by the arrival of the Dufour families in 1803. The Dufours were vine dressers by trade and in 1796, John James Dufour traveled from Switzerland to Philadelphia on a mission to find suitable land for a vineyard. He journeyed as far west as the Mississippi River before choosing the fertile bottom land on the big bend of the Kentucky River as ideal. His first batch of vines planted in 1799 grew rapidly, and when they received this report, his extended family emigrated in 1801.

For some time, Congress had been eager to establish a native wine industry and upon his petition, in 1802 they granted John James Dufour and his associates (the Vineyard Association) the privilege of selecting four sections of land on the Ohio River, on a credit of twelve years, in order "to plant the vine and make their principal business its cultivation." New Switzerland was the first commercial winery in the United States, producing 1200 gallons of "good quality" wine in 1809.

Switzerland County TownshipsFormally organized from Dearborn and Jefferson Counties (Indiana Territory) on October 1, 1814, Switzerland County is now divided into 6 Civil Townships: Cotton, Craig, Jefferson, Pleasant, Posey and York.

Vevay is the County Seat. It was laid out in 1813 by the Dufour brothers, John James, John. F., and Daniel, on the land sold to them in 1802. It was named for a town close to their Swiss home.

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Pat Asher, County Coordinator

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