The Tucson Swiss Club’s raison d’être is to celebrate & share our Swiss heritage with our families & friends. One of the ways we do this is via our “Spotlights”. Some of us were born in Switzerland, some trace their roots to Switzerland, and others simply share an interest in Switzerland. There are a number of towns in the US who boast of their Swiss origin and we thought that it would be fun to introduce you to some of them in our “Spotlights”. As a start we’ll visit Berne, Indiana.
Unlike New Bern, North Carolina, and Bernstadt, Kentucky, Berne, Indiana, was founded by the Amish. This religious group who grew out of the Protestant Reformation was named after Jakob Amman. The religious sect split from the Swiss Mennonites, migrating to the U.S. in the early 1700s to escape persecution. They initially migrated to Pennsylvania. The Berne Amish, on the other hand, for the most part came directly from Switzerland & Alsace to Indiana via Ohio. They speak “Bärndütsch” rather than German
The Bernese Amishs’ faith dictates that they follow a simple way of life foregoing modern amenities such as electricity & automobiles. Men & women dress simply with clothing made of solid colors, generally in shades of blue for adults while young girls can wear pastel colored dresses. The Amish do not serve in the military as their faith forbids violence. They do pay state, federal & county taxes, however refuse Social Security benefits. They are an agrarian society. Their lives are centered around their families and their faith.
Although the area around this northeast-Indiana town is dotted with farms and that country roads have special lanes for the horse-drawn buggies used by the Amish, Berne is a modern town. Its citizens are proud of their heritage and have invested a million dollars to erect a monument to symbolize their relationship with the Swiss Capital. Modeled on the Zytglogge in Bern, Switzerland, the Muensterberg Clock Tower stands 160 ft from its base, has a Glockenspiel with twelve 5 ½ feet tall figures, and a 7 ft tall bell ringer in the belfry. For details on the planning of this project and some neat pictures, click on this link: Berne’s Zytglogge & Muensterberg Plaza. A great time to visit the town is on the last Friday & Saturday of each July for Berne’s Swiss Days celebration.
Check out the Videos by clicking on the highlighted link above.