Berne, Indiana Residents Travel to Bern, Switzerland to Learn about Heritage

Berne, Indiana Residents Travel to Bern, Switzerland to Learn about Heritage

About an hour south of Fort Wayne, there's a town called Berne, named after Bern, Switzerland. The original settlers came from Switzerland, fleeing the country because of their faith. WFFT's Brooke Welch spoke with some of the travelers and has more on how you can experience Swiss heritage close to home.
"I always wanted to go back, and see more of our ancestry, and where we came from, who we are." Floyd Liechty
Over the past 12 days, 39 people from Berne, Indiana traveled to Bern, Switzerland to learn more about their heritage.  Even though Berne is a small town in Indiana, there is a big connection to the country of Switzerland. 
"I always wanted to go back, and see more of our ancestry, and where we came from, who we are," Berne resident Floyd Liechty said. 

Liechty went on to say that the world is a smaller place than you think. "There was a hitchhiker last sumemr that hitchhiked to Berne because he wanted to see the clock tower. We were able to meet him again and his family."

Berne, Indiana Mayor Bill McKean traded flags with the Mayor of Bern, Switzerland.  "We gave them a flag of the city of Berne, and this is the Swiss flag, that will fly here at the clock tower when the new pavilion is finished in August."

Berne resident Sue Shoaf was excited when she had a local tie to a restaurant they were eating at in Switzerland. "We were up in the mountains eating at a restaurant in Moosegg, and we saw a painting that my aunt from Berne, Indiana Alda Neuenschwander had painted. It was right on the wall of this restaurant on this high windy road up in the mountains."

Berne, Indiana is a town of 3900 people, many of them with Swiss ancestors. Ninety businesses in Berne have Swiss storefronts, and Mckean explains why the trip was so important to the people that went.  "They just kind of seemed like people we were definitely related to. Very happy to see us, we were happy to see them, it was very special."

If you want to experience a little bit of Swiss heritage close to home, you can visit Berne Swiss Days.  The festival takes place July 24 to 26, and you can get more information here: http://www.bernein.com/swiss-days

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