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How Is ‘Switzer Road’ Really Pronounced? curiousKC Investigates An Age-Old Name

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Above image credit: In the late 1800s, the Switzer family settled in the Kansas City area. (Contributed | Johnson County History)
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2 minute read

Sometimes recurring themes emerge from the cacophony of curiousKC questions from readers. In recent months, this has been among the most popular. How do you correctly say “Switzer Road”? 

Let’s start with a quick trip down history lane.

The story begins with a man by the name of A.J. Switzer who was a “farmer and stockraiser,” according to the 1902 Atlas Map of Johnson County. The date next to his name in the Patrons Reference Directory suggests that the family settled in the Overland Park area in 1870. 

A.J. Switzer is listed here on the right column as a “farmer and stockraiser.” (Johnson County Museum)

“It is likely the street was named for him, or rather for his property, which the northern portion of the road ran directly along,” Andrew Gustafson said in an email. Gustafson is the curator of interpretation at the Johnson County Museum

Today, Switzer is a larger road in the central and southern portions of the county, Gustafson explained. The intersection of 75th Street and Nieman Road would be right in the heart of section 23 on the map below, which was once the Switzer property.

Map of Johnson County
The white circle indicates where the A.J. Switzer plot was located. (Johnson County Museum)

Because he was a farmer, A.J. Switzer also may have been involved in the Shawnee Grange, an organization formed to educate and connect area farmers. 

The Switzer family’s property was close to another well-known family, the Breyfogles, who settled in Johnson County in 1866. The Breyfogles were among the families responsible for the early development of what is now Overland Park. (Overland Park celebrates the 60th year anniversary of its incorporation this year.) The original Breyfogle homestead is at 7108 W. 86th St., built around 1890, according to the Johnson County Museum blog.

Here’s where it gets interesting. 

Two streets were named after the Breyfogle family and noted in a 1922 Atlas Map. But, as luck would have it, those streets would later be renamed Switzer Road. That twist in the story brought us back to the original question about how to correctly pronounce the road.

“It is Sw-Eye-tzer – long i,” Gustafson said. “The office here all agrees on that.”

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