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Pioneer Settlement Area

Explore life in Ohio from the 1830s ​through the 1870s.

Pioneer Settlement

Experience the lives of the pioneers who lived in Ohio’s Great Black Swamp while visiting Pioneer Settlement. The second stop of our Walk Through Time, this area shares stories of life in Northwest Ohio from 1834 to 1890 — the journey of the first European immigrants to this region, draining the swamp, establishing a new community and making advancements in agriculture.

At Pioneer Settlement, you’ll visit with costumed guides at the Lauber Settlement, Witmer-Roth Home, Log School, Eicher Cabin, Jail, Peter Stuckey Farm and the Holdeman Church. There's an old-time Sawmill (open for special events) as well as a depot where the Erie Express Train makes regular stops for guests to load and unload.

Discover how the pioneers worked together through tough times to build a community in the wilderness based on ingenuity, creativity, hard work and perseverance. Hear stories, watch engaging demonstrations and get involved in fun activities to learn how these early settlers not only survived but thrived (activities vary by day and season)!

  • Help carry water using the yoke and buckets.
  • Make butter or help roll out a pie crust.
  • Explore our gardens filled with heirloom vegetables and flowers.
  • Help wash clothes on a scrub board or string “leather britches.”
  • Sing a hymn in the church.
  • Meet some of our favorite farm animals — pigs, calves, sheep and geese.

The Buildings of Pioneer Settlement:

Lauber Settlement: The Lauber party, a group of 27 adults and children from Alsace Lorain, arrived here in fall of 1834. As you walk along the corduroy road, look into the covered wagon and visit the roughly built shelter, you’ll learn more about the immigrants who struggled to make a home in the unforgiving Great Black Swamp.

Log School: Follow in the footsteps of the early students who attended a log school in the 1840s as you sit on the puncheon benches and learn about the “3 Rs” from our schoolhouse teacher. Since children helped on the farm in the spring and fall, many students in the 1842 only came to school during the winter.

Witmer-Roth Home: The 1844 era home of Anna Sauder Witmer Roth and her family is a favorite stop at Pioneer Settlement. In this home, you'll learn more about the woman’s role in the mid-19th century. On most days, our costumed guides will be preparing a meal at the stone hearth or outdoor bake oven. Depending on the day and season, guests can often help prepare foods gathered from the garden, help churn butter or make homemade noodles.
Follow this link to learn more about Anna Sauder Witmer-Roth.

Eicher Cabin: The activities and gardens of this homestead reflect life of the 1850s in northwest Ohio. You’ll see the cook stove and other furnishings reflect the conveniences of the time. Take time to learn about Jacob Eicher and his wife Barbara who lived here as grandparents with grown children.
Follow this link to learn more about the Eicher Family.

Jail: Jails were common fixtures in communities large and small and are often the sources of many fun tales of the "notorious" criminals and bad guys who may or may not have slept there. Step into our 1860s jail to see the two cells, each with a plank to serve as a bed. (Interesting fact: The unusual construction of 2 x 6 blocks stacked on top of each other and nailed together helped prevent a craft criminal from sawing his way to freedom.)

Stuckey Farm & Barn: This is a recreation of the 1870s farm where Peter and Catherine (Yoder) Stuckey lived and worked. As you visit the clapboard sided log house, summer kitchen, wagon shop and barn, you’ll learn more about Peter’s time on the farm, his wagon-making business and how their farm prospered as the result of the drainage of the Great Black Swamp.
Follow this link to learn more about Peter Stuckey.

Holdeman Church: This is an original church of the Church of God in Christ Mennonites (also called the Holdeman Church after founder John Holdeman). As you visit this quiet building, you can learn more about the Mennonite faith. (Interesting Fact: Many of the earliest settlers to present day German Township Ohio were from the area of Europe known as the Alsace and were Amish, a branch of the Anabaptist faith who followed the teachings of minister Jacob Amman. Over time, many of those who settled here became more closely aligned with the Mennonite church, who followed the teachings of Menno Simon. The Church of God in Christ Mennonite was a branch of the Mennonite church begun in the 1850s by John Holdeman.)

Sawmill: The Sawmill runs occasionally on special event days, weather permitting.

Depot: Ride the Erie Express Train to this stop in Pioneer Settlement. Guests can board or unload as the train makes regular stops at this depot located behind the Stuckey Farm. The building also includes restrooms and vending machines.

Cooking Witmer Roth Home Pioneer Settlement
Corduroy Road Conestoga Wagon Pioneer Settlement
 Costumed Guide Making Noodles Eicher Cabin at Pioneer Settlement

Country Getaway

Plan a memorable getaway with great food, admission to Historic Village, and a relaxing stay at the Heritage Inn.

Learn More!