Discovering the village that raised me as a child


Someone told me the trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off. For me, in exploring this curious time of life, comes a feeling of satisfaction.

Here’s another way of looking at it.

You’ve watched the movie featuring an archeologist, who in his retirement, stumbles upon the apparent holy grail. When asked to explain his thoughts upon his discovery, a five-syllable noun comes from his lips: “illumination.”

Allow me to share some illuminating discoveries about our congregation, which I’ve uncovered in my retirement activities while posting local history on

• Did you know that the first services reported about the congregation now known as First Mennonite Church, Bluffton, were held in the Lutheran Church building. And, the congregation was in a real sense an outpost of the original Swiss congregation, meeting in rural Bluffton.

• Have you ever wondered how First Mennonite Church congregation came to select its building site at the corner of Jackson and what eventually was called Church Street? One answer is that a livery barn stood between the future church location and Main Street. It was a convenient place to keep horses, for members using a horse and buggy to attend church.

• Thinking of the wiring of our building, while under construction, who do you suppose were the original electricians hired for that task? They were brothers, R.L. and Cleon Triplett, later of the Triplett Corp. fame.

These three stories about our own congregation are part of the cannon of material posted on my Bluffton history website: My focus, while pointed in the past, enables me and, I hope, my website viewers, to discover everyone’s illumination of what Bluffton today is all about. So, for me, retirement permits my own enlightenment about all my questions concerning the village that it took to raise the child in me. I continue to be curious about what makes, or made this village tick in the first place.

The source for the information about our congregation is from “The First Seventy-Five Years,” written by Howard Raid in 1986.