The Thiebaud Farmstead offers visitors an educational visit to the 1850s Greek Revival home of Justi and Mary Banta Thiebaud, which has been beautifully restored, and a Mormon haypress that operates during special events.
Justi was the youngest son of Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud, who emigrated from Switzerland with their family in 1817. The elder Thiebauds were part of the early group of Swiss settlers to Switzerland County and acquainted with John DuFour, founder of Vevay. It is unclear if the Thiebauds participated in DuFour’s vision of establishing the art of viticulture (growing of wine grapes) in the United States but some terracing work evident on the site indicates this may have been the case. By the late 1840s however viticulture had died out in Switzerland County and the Thiebauds were active participants in southeast Indiana’s hay culture. The Thiebaud farm was likely the site of a river landing. This facilitated loading and shipping of the 300 – 400 pound hay bales created in the farm’s Mormon hay press to markets along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
What later became known as the Mormon hay press is a three story animal-powered machine invented in Switzerland County in 1843 by Allensville resident Samuel Hewitt. Powered by horses or mules, the machine used a pulley system to turn a massive iron screw, pressing the large bales. Once numbering over 200, there are only four remaining hay press barns in Switzerland County.