USA – Neuchatel, Kansas

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In the foreground left : the school
Photo N. Junod - 2010


Around 1850, a few members of the Bonjour family of Lignières, NE, emigrated to the USA. They settled in Nemaha County, founded a township and, when time was ready to open a Post Office, named it Neuchatel, in memory of their home county.

The information on this family was sourced essentially from documents found in the State Archives of Neuchâtel, as well as from living descendants of this Branch in the USA.

In 1878, Neuchatel township had a population of 392, down to 117 at the 2000 Census!

Who lives where in Neuchatel, KS : see this map (2006).

As of 1876, a member of our family, Paul Aimé Junod (1846-1918) joined this community His departure is delayed by the sudden death of his first wife, Hortense Victoire Samson.

First Emigrated in 1876, he came back to Switzerland, married Sophie Bertha Bonjour (1850-1930) and together came to settle in Neuchatel, Nemaha, KS in 1877 with his three sons, from Paul Aimé's first marriage.

On this second voyage, he was accompanied by cousins Alexandre Junod (1843-1923), Alfred, Aimé and Zélim Bonjour.

Aimé (Paul-Aimé's father) had 4 daughters of a first marriage. One of them, Louise Aimée (1822-1877) married Ferdinand Auguste Bonjour (1823-1863) and one of their children was Zélim Auguste (1848-1913) who also settled in Neuchatel, KS.

Paul Aimé first lived a year in the house that was to become the one of Charles Bonjour, before buying the one that would later be the house of Zélim Bonjour.


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Paul Aimé Junod & Sophie Berthe Bonjour


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Old family farmhouse in Lignières, called "Les Broües" and purchased by Jean-Pierre Junod, the great-great grand father of Paul Aimé on the 12 February 1724, for 150 écus. (Photo N. Junod - 2013)


Initial events in Neuchatel, KS

  • First settlements in Neuchatel, KS : spring of 1857, Charles Adolphe, Ami E. Bonjour and D. S. Veale
  • First birth : Charles Ami Bonjour, September 20, 1857
  • First school house : a log house, built by the settlers, date not given, between 1857 and 1866
  • First marriage : 1863, Charles Auguste Bonjour and Louise Zürcher
  • First post office : Neuchatel, 8th August 1864, Alfred Bonjour, postmaster (closed 15 May 1901)
  • First business : General store, 1867, A. Bonjour & Co.
  • First church : 1871, Presbyterian
  • Neuchatel population in 1878 : 392
  • Neuchatel population in 2000 : 117 (density 1/km2)

For more on this... select this link !

Visiting our distant cousins...

I visited Neuchatel & Onaga in 1995, 1997, 2003 and in July, 2010.

The March 2003 trip gave me the opportunity to spend a day and a half in Des Moines, Iowa, where a branch of the Neuchatel Kansas Junod family settled back in 1947. Great time spent with real nice people: warmest Thanks Michelle, Stan, Steven, Sharon, Suzy and families ...

A special word of appreciation to Kirk Junod for his hospitality (2010), his family (Peggy, Logan, Mary, Matt); Merle & Lawrence Bonjour (the "Bonjour boys"); Wilbur & Norma Jeanneret; Joan Kolterman-Kuehl and her family; Walter "Buba" Junod of Soldier, KS and his tasty beefburgers; Bob Mars and Joe Harder of The Onaga Herald; not to forget Paula, Michelle and Jim Brand in Kearney as well as Francis and Doris Kuehl of Onaga, KS (2003) and their families for the friendship and great hospitality... meeting the Hallier family : time went all too fast....

During the 2010 trip, I took the opportunity to drop-by Leeton, MO, home of descendants of the Descombes and Gauchat families from Lignières who settled in the area around 1820, respectively 1870. Leeton is approximately 4 hours drive South-East of Neuchatel, KS.

Many thanks to Bob Wyatt, Junior Gauchat, Larry Descombes and their families for their warm welcome.


9th November 2014 - the documentary film on Neuchatel (KS) is presented to the public

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There was once a town in Kansas named ... Neuchatel !

Of the origin of Neuchâtel its earliest inhabitants, there remains only names: the "Bonjour", the "Junod", the "Jeanneret" ...
Considered a ghost town, Neuchatel (Kansas) knows today hardly any community life, other than in the cemetery ...

A fascinating documentary, at once tender and offbeat, on "very distant cousins".

A documentary film by REC Production, with first preview on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 10.30 AM, Cinema Scala in La Chaux-de-Fonds and at 3 PM, Cinema Bio in Neuchâtel

Read here (in French) the full page article on page 3 (!) by Mrs C. Favre, published December 12th, 2014 in the local main newspapers L'Express and L'Impartial for the launch of the film.

Le film a été projeté dans plusieurs cinémas romands ainsi que sur la TSR le 11 décembre 2016. Une projection publique a eu lieu le 25 janvier 2018 à Onaga, KS et une diffusion sur TV5 est prévue courant 2018.

Here a short 1'39" trailer of the film !