After the end of the Civil War, a group of Swiss and German-speaking immigrants formed in Brooklyn, New York. The members agreed that they would all emigrate to another section of the country together. One member surveyed the eastern West Virginia mountains and reported back on the richness of the country.
A committee of six men assembled and left Brooklyn by rail on October 15, 1869. They arrived in Clarksburg, West Virginia and began the difficult trek by foot over the mountains.
On October 20th, they reached the plot that was for sale and were overwhelmed by the extreme thickness of the wilderness and began to settle in the rugged country.
In addition to farmers and herdsmen, many craftsmen and professionals were among the original settlers: stonemasons; carpenters; painters; wagon, shoe, watch, hat, and cheese makers; musicians; teachers; ministers; and doctors.
One year after settling, thirty-two people lived in the Helvetia. By 1874 the community’s population had grown to 308. Many of their descendants remain, but the population size is only about sixty people today.
The Helvetia Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Today, the village is known for maintaining Swiss traditions, festivals, food, and folkways.