Photo of Steffisburg
Steffisburg, Switzerland (above) is the ancestral home of several Pennsylvania Dutch families, including Yoder and Zook. This website presents a historically oriented tour of Steffisburg, the nearby castle-town of Thun, and the surrounding area. The site is currently undergoing major reorganization as a result of my latest visit to Switzerland. Over the coming months, watch for more photos, and additional features.

John William Bieber
Claymont, Delaware

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Thun Lake, or Thuner See as the Swiss call it, lies in the west central part of Switzerland, in Bern Province. It is a large lake of 19 square miles. The ancient village of Thun lies at its northwestern end, where the lake spills into the Aare River. The Aare flows on to the Swiss capital of Bern some 16 miles downstream, and eventually joins the Rhine.

The church in Steffisburg is a mile and a half due north of Thun Castle, an easy 45 minute walk along mostly level ground. The outskirts of Thun and Steffisburg blend into one another these days. The Zulg River flows through Steffisburg and into the Aare a short distance downstream.

The countryside to the north of the Aare valley is hilly. The elevation at Steffisburg is about 1900 feet above sea level, but the nearby hills rise to 3600 ft. To the south and east are the high Alps. From Steffisburg and Thun, the 7185 ft Stockhorn, only 7 miles distant, is a dramatic landmark.

Twenty miles to the southeast are such famous Alpen peaks as the Eiger (13,000 ft) and the Jungfrau (13,600 ft). On a clear day in Steffisburg and Thun, the permanently snow-capped Alpen peaks are breathtaking. They have been a part of everyday life for generations of Swiss Yoders.

Look for the village of Erlenbach about 8 miles south southwest of Steffisburg. It was the home of Jakob Amman, founder of the Amish Mennonites. Today there are no Amish in Switzerland, but their descendents, including some members of the Yoder family, are numerous in America.

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Last modified: 1999 May 12