Tag Archives: Swiss Immigrants

Grandma Badertscher’s Raisin Pie with Nuts

I’m still thinking about picnics and camping, and it just occurred to me that raisin pie would be a good picnic dessert.

Swiss raisin nut pie

Single piece of Swiss raisin nut pie.

Swiss Recipe

Move over, ancestors, Ken’s ancestors are joining us in the kitchen. In reading a family history of my husband Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s family, I came across an interesting clue to the popularity of raisin pie among Swiss Mennonite immigrants.

Raisin Pie's Ida Badertscher

Ida Badertscher

Ken’s grandmother Ida Badertscher’s father, Abraham Amstutz emigrated from the Jura Mountains of Switzerland in May 1871. He married “Lizzie” Steiner in Sonnenberg in Wayne County, Ohio in 1874. Ida was born the next year.

Ida had four great uncles.  One of those uncles, Ben Amstutz,  who had also come from Switzerland with their parents, was a cheese maker of some renown. His farm became known as “Benville.”  When Ben’s youngest daughter, Elma married Reuben Hofstetter in 1913, the details of the celebration were featured in the Dalton (Ohio) Gazette.

About 100 guests were invited to the dinner at the bride’s home in Benville and about the same number, the younger ones, for supper.  Anyone who has ever been present at that place in any kind of gatherings will know that something was doing this time.

50 raisin pies besides other kinds were baked and cake–well not quite as plenty as the silver at the building of Solomon’s temple, but a plenty.  Tropical fruits as oranges, bananas, California grapes, etc., in profusion.  The happy couple were the recipients of so many presents that two beds were completely covered.

A Family Recipe

recipe for raisin pie

Ida Badertscher recipe for Raisin-Nut Pie as written by Gertrude Badertscher about 1961

I was delighted to find this reference to raisin pie, as one of Ken’s mothers, Gertrude Badertscher (married to his uncle Monroe) gave me a recipe for raisin pie when Ken and I attended a Badertscher reunion shortly after we were married in the early 1960’s.

Ida Badertscher and Gertie Badertscher

Ida Badertscher and Gertie Badertscher, 1946

Gertie is also the source of the Badertscher banana bread recipe that Kay Badertscher wrote about earlier. But what is most exciting about this recipe is that it goes back to Ken’s grandmother–and probably to Switzerland where fresh fruit would have been hard to come by in the winter time.  Since Ida was a cousin of the bride in the story above, she might have baked a couple of those pies. Gertie wrote the recipe out for me and said:

P.S. This recipe must be at least 50 years old [making it now at least 100 years old] Grandma Badertscher was using this long before Monroe and I were married.



Other Recipes for Raisin Pie

I have found a few recipes for raisin pie, but not many, which prompted me to ask on Facebook if people grew up with raisin pie, in order to see if it had a single origin or was a regional thing. Obviously (50 pies at a wedding) it was popular among Swiss Mennonite immigrants in northern Ohio.  Most replies indicated it is generally a mid-western thing, and generally in regions with Germanic roots. To some, it is known as a funeral pie, because it was one of the traditional foods shared with a grieving family.

One person mentioned that their mother made the pie with meringue, and sure enough, I found a recipe for raisin pie with meringue in  Joy of Cooking. Another person had a recipe that is made with sour cream.  Sounds delicious, and although I can find it on the Internet, the cookbooks I own didn’t have that variety. Nor did any of them have the version of Ida Badertscher–half nuts and half raisins in a pie very similar to pecan pie–without the corn syrup.

raisin nut pie

Ida Badertscher RaisinNut Pie from top. Although many recipes call for a top crust, Ida’s did not.

Of course I never make this raisin nut pie without thinking of Gertie Badertscher and her handsome square red brick house with its huge grassy lawn at the far end of Main Street in Killbuck. And I also wonder what Ida Amstutz Badertscher would think of her pie still being baked in a 21st century kitchen.

So please join the conversation and tell us–did you grow up with raisin pie? Where from?

NOTE:  I made some revisions to my Perfect Pie Crust Recipe in January 2019. One involves folding the dough.  See the many layers in this close up the crust?

Raisin Nut Pie

Raisin pie single piece showing layers in pastry.

Grandma Badertscher’s Raisin Nut Pie

Allergy Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Region American


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups nuts (chopped coarsely)
  • 3/4 cups raisins (cooked, or soaked in hot water for 15 minutes.)
  • 9" pie shell (unbaked)


  • whipped topping


1. Beat eggs well. Slowly add sugar and flour.
2. Beat in milk and vanilla and melted butter
3. Stir in nuts and raisins
4. Pour into unbaked pie shell
5. Bake raisin nut pie at 350 degrees about 45 minutes, or until custard is set. If nuts brown too quickly, put piece of foil over pie for last 15 minutes.
6. Serve raisin nut pie with whipped topping.


Gertrude Badertscher added on the recipe card: This recipe must be at least 50 years old.  Grandma Badertscher was using this long before Monroe and I were married.

Swiss Immigrants Invade Wayne County, Ohio

Whenever I shop for cheese, cook with cheese, eat cheese–I think of Switzerland and that makes me think of the Swiss immigrants of northeastern Ohio.

My husband, Kenneth Ross Badertscher is 100% Swiss.[Update–since I wrote this, I learned it is not true. See the series on the Manbeck and Bair families.]  If you were born in Wayne County, Ohio, before 1960, odds are good you descended from Swiss immigrants. Even now, the Swiss names predominate, as does the culture brought by immigrants in the 19th century.

Today I’ll focus on Ken’s grandparents, Swiss immigrants Frederick Badertscher (1871-1950) and Ida Amstutz Badertscher (1875-1949), who were among the children of that 19th century immigrant wave. Frederick came to Ohio with his parents, Frederick Sr.(1833 to 1909) and Mary( 1834-1926) when he was 9 or 10 years old.

Swiss Immigrants Frederick and Mary Badertscher

Frederick Badertscher Sr and wife Mary. Photo From Ancestry.com

Ida’s father came from Switzerland to Sonnenberg in Wayne County, Ohio. Her mother was born in Ohio, as was Ida, who was the oldest of ten children.

I don’t have a picture of Frederick when he was young, but found a family picture of Ida Amstutz (far left in this family portrait) on Ancestry.com

Swiss Immigrant Father of Ida Amstutz and family

Ida Amstutz and family from AncestryCom Her father was born in Switzerland and her mother and Ida and the other children were born in OhioIda and Frederick were married in 1896. and we have this family picture, which must have been taken nearly 40 years after Frederick’s arrival (in the 1870s) in America.

Swiss Immigrants Badertscher

Frederick and Ida Badertscher and family about 1918

The seven children gathered around Frederick and Ida are: (smallest boy on left beside his father) Paul Theodore Badertscher, Ken’s father; then in the back,Monroe Badertscher; Amos Badertscher; Elma (Moser) –the oldest child, and then Edwin Badertscher; and the two younger girls in front,Mollie (McGregor) and Mildred (Wead)  .

Why Did Swiss Immigrants Come to Ohio?

When Ken and I visited the gorgeous countryside around Sigerswill where the Amstutz family originally came from, we couldn’t help wonder why anyone would want to leave.

Swiss Immigrants came from Sigriswil

Sigriswil, Canton of Berne, Switzerland, photo by Wayne Gamborski

The earliest immigrants probably were motivated by their pacifism and freedom of religion. Most Mennonites today are still pacifist and conscientious objectors. During the early 19th century, Switzerland went through some traumatic times, and enacted laws that forced every male to take part in the military. That caused the first wave of emigration by the Mennonites from their homeland.

However, the wave that brought the Amstutz and Badertscher family in this line, probably were motivated by economics.  Hard times for the farmers in the lowlands of the Canton of Berne, made the stories they were hearing from Swiss who had settled in America sound very attractive.  Northeastern Ohio, the location of Wayne County and Holmes County, as well as lands in other midwestern states with rolling hills and fertile farmland looked much like their home. But it was less crowded and the economy of the United States was booming. Finally, there were friends and family there, who had already established churches and schools that would be friendly to their culture.

A sprinkling of Swiss settlers came to the United States in the 18th century, including 4,000 Swiss Mennonites who settled in Pennsylvania. You’ve no doubt heard of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish communities in southern Pennsylvania.  The Amish there and in great numbers in Holmes County Ohio are an offshoot of the Mennonites, who in turn have many variations of belief.

In the first half of the 19th century, a large number of Mennonites settled in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.  By 1930, their were 7,000 Swiss listed in the Ohio census.

In 1819 a group of 27 Swiss Mennonites  from the Sonnenberg Valley in Switzerland (Canton of Bern) traveled to Ohio and established the farming community of Sonnenberg.  . The community was thriving, with a population of 300 by 1860. Ida Amstutz’ family and Frederick Badertscher settled in Sonnenberg when they came to Ohio in the 1870’s. 

What the Swiss Immigrants Brought to Ohio

When Ida and Frederick married, they lived on a farm between Sonnenberg and Kidron, two unincorporated communities. The old farm house still stands. Frederick was a farmer, the common occupation for Swiss immigrants–dairy farming and cheese making still predominates in the area.

Amish farmer at Kidron Auction

Amish farmer at Kidron Auction. Photo by Sofie Dittman

The Mennonite religion and the offshoot the Amish is the most common. Huge livestoock auctions in Kidron feature every kind of farmer’s need. Once a year there is a home-made quilt sale. A commercial claim to fame of Kidron is Lehman‘s a unique hardware store at which you can get both modern gadgets and vintage farm and home appliances and equipment. Need something for canning? An oil lamp? A Wood burner stove? You can lose yourself for hours in Lehman’s on-line catalogue.

And another tradition the Swiss immigrants brought with them is a love of music.  Churches, schools and community musical groups draw members from every family and turnouts for events like the annual Messiah in Orrville, Ohio draws enormous crowds. Ken’s father Paul sang in the Messiah chorus for fifty years straight. Musical competitions in schools were nearly as competitive as basketball, and both Ken and his sister Kay excelled in music.

Although I have concentrated here on Ken’s paternal line, his maternal line also ran to dairy farming, and as a boy Ken loved working on his Grandfather Bair’s farm, later worked by his mother’s brother Adam and their half-brother Richard Kohler.  Ken’s sister Kay Bass wrote about Richard Kohler’s Dari-ette here earlier. The heroine of the children’s book, Heidi’s grandfather may have raised goats in Switzerland, but in Ohio, the Swiss were all about cows.

Salem Mennonite Church

Salem Mennonite Church, Kidron Ohio, photo from Ancestry.com. Site of grave of Frederick Badertscher Sr.

Today in Kidron/Sonnenberg

The Kidron Community Historical Center is working to recreate Mennonite life in the 1800’s at Sonnenberg Village near Apple Creek, Ohio. Historic buildings, including the Sonnenberg Mennonite Church (actually the third one built on the site) are being moved to a 5-acre park. Anyone with ancestors in the region who wants to trace their roots can use resources at the Kidron Sonnenberg Heritage Center .

When Ken was in high school, his family lived on Kidron Road (Kidron being the newer name of the original Sonnenberg) attended the Salem Mennonite church, pictured above.

You can get the best Swiss cheese outside of Switzerland in Wayne and Holmes Counties, Ohio–Mennonite and Amish country.  Check  Guggisberg  just outside of Millersburg (Holmes), or Shisler’s Cheese House on the Kidron Road (Wayne) for two sources.

Now, be warned, these are not MY relatives, so I’m relying on research rather than family legends and passed down documents and pictures (except for the 2 family pictures that belong to Ken). So, please, if you’re a Badertscher or an Amstutz and have corrections to what I’ve written here–have at it.  Tell me in the comments what I left out or got wrong.