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History of Hope

By Barb Johnson

In April 2005, our town of Hope, Indiana, officially became 175 years old. The story of our town is unique. Our town is unique according to visitors. The normal small town life that we, as Hope's residents, have come to know is the result of situations, circumstances, and individuals from our past. In the next few weeks, I will attempt to relate some of the interesting stories about our history. But all good stories must have a beginning.

In the early 1800's, the United States was moving west. New states were being formed. Native Americans were being pushed farther west, and those who were looking for adventure or a fresh start were moving into areas that would include Indiana.

Into this setting came a poorly educated, self-taught "minister" of the Moravian Church with the dream of starting a Congregational Town in the wilderness where the purest form of the Moravian religion could be practiced. Martin Hauser was determined to move his religion into the frontier area of the state of Indiana. He had convinced Brother Lewis D. von Schweinitz of the Provincial Helpers Conference of the Moravian Church that he could succeed at starting a new church and a new Moravian town in Indiana. Hauser was to purchase 160 acres of land for the church at the cost of $1.25 an acre. The church provided the necessary $200 for the purchase once Hauser had established his own home in the area as proof that he was serious about the task.

On September 28, 1829, Martin Hauser left his home near Salem, North Carolina, with his wife, Susannah, their four small children, Susannah's brother and sister, Samuel Rominger, J. R. Rominger, and J. P. Blum. It took this small band a month to arrive at the home of Hauser's brother Jacob, who lived just north of Columbus, Indiana. By the time they arrived in late October, the weather had turned bitter.

Martin was determined to stake a claim to his own land and get on with the formation of a new town. The very next day he traveled about 10 miles to the spot he selected for his own. He purchased his own land just north of what is now our town of Hope on road 725 E. Because of the terrible weather, Martin fell quite ill and was not able to begin his own cabin until after Christmas. By March 1, 1830, the Hauser cabin was finished and the family moved in without as much as the comfort of a stove. But Hauser was quick to notify the church of his accomplishments and the money for the purchase of land for the town arrived in early April as promised. On April 5, 1830, Hauser sent a messenger to Indianapolis to purchase the 160 acres for the town of Goshen.

Let it be known that the log cabin that still stands within the walls of the present home of Irene Nading is thought to be the original cabin that Martin Hauser built.

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