In 1832, two scouts, F. H. Schroeder and A. F. Windeler were sent by a company of 33 investors gathered in Cincinnati to select a suitable place to build a new settlement. The scouts thoroughly explored Ohio and parts of Indiana before agreeing on a site.
The site was quite desirable on the south edge of the fertile Great Black Swamp, atop the Loramie Summit, a dividing ridge that separates water drainage to the Ohio River in the south and Lake Erie to the north. The Native Americans had long used the area for camping, on a portage route between the rivers of present day Piqua (The Miami) and St. Marys (The St. Marys River and the Auglaize River). There may have been knowledge of a great canal being built, linking Cincinnati and Toledo. The scouts had their site surveyed into a 10 acre purchase at a dollar an acre and divided into 102 lots measuring 66 X 300 feet. After each of the original company selected their lots, the remainder were sold at $25 apiece. The plat was recorded in St. Marys, Mercer County, Ohio on June 11, 1833.
Schroeder stayed at the site, and Windeler returned to the Bremen Company in Cincinnati to give a report. Six families returned to “Bremen” with Windeler, taking two weeks to travel the 120 miles. When they arrived, Schroeder had built a 12’ X 14’ cabin, where they stayed until they had erected their own shelters. Other families soon followed. Early arrivals bought farms outside of town from the government at $1.25 an acre. By 1835, the government established a Post Office, and the name was changed to “New Bremen” in deference to an earlier Ohio settlement named “Bremen”. Public buildings, churches, schools, meeting rooms and homes were constructed. The settlement prospered with work on the canal and agriculture. On March 23, 1837, New Bremen was incorporated as a village.
The significance of the Miami Erie Canal’s influence has been well documented. The engineering feat accomplished what only railroads could replace - a reliable efficient way to transport goods and encourage commerce. The canal connected Toledo at Lake Erie to Cincinnati at the Ohio River and shortened the trip from the five weeks needed to travel over land through discouraging woods and swamps to a quick five days on a canal boat.
In 1849, cholera claimed 40% of the town, and St. Paul Church, the grandmother of New Bremen churches, buried 122 people. A community south of New Bremen, Amsterdam, was decimated, and never rebuilt.
Names associated with early New Bremen settlers from an eloquent essay by C. A. Schrage in the New Bremen Centennial Book published in 1933 are:
Read the Chronology of New Bremen's first 100 years by Walter Grothaus