By the year 1833, Martin Hauser had been the minister of the town for three years. Many new settlers were moving into Goshen, since it was no longer a closed community. The church had decided to sell the lots of the town to anyone who would like to live there instead of leasing them only to Moravians. This decision was quite a concern for Hauser who longed for the opportunity to continue his Congregational Town without the influence of others.
Hauser was always looking for ways to improve his town and he applied for a post office that year. The nearby town of St. Louis (Old St. Louis, as it is now known) had also applied for a post office for its Methodist community. Goshen was chosen to receive the post office; however, Hauser was informed that the town's name would need to be changed since there was already a Goshen, Indiana. After much consideration, the town members agreed to call the town Hope after the town in North Carolina that had been home to many.The post office was actually started in 1834 in John Hager's general store, which sat on the northeast corner of the town square. Hauser purchased the store from Hager and added the jobs of merchant and postmaster to his roles of farmer and minister for the next 11 years.
It is said that the lack of a post office caused St. Louis to dwindle in size as people moved to Hope. St. Louis had been formed by a group of Methodists in 1829, just months before Martin Hauser came to begin the town of Goshen.
In the 1890's, more than half of the U.S's population lived in rural areas. They were isolated from others, with no radio or newspaper and their only access to mail involved traveling to the nearest town post office- which could be miles away! These visits might have been only once or twice a week and were generally combined with the necessity of other errands. Home mail delivery was limited to the cities but farmers had to pay the same amount for postage as the city dwellers paid! In October 1896, with Congress approval, testing for Rural Free Delivery began. This was to be tested in Charles Town, WV., Westminster, MD., Cario, MO., Elba, NY., and Hope, IN. Early drivers began to deliver mail on 25 mile routes, mostly in poor conditions. Due to harsh weather, routes in WV were temporarily stopped. Rural delivery in Hope still continues to this day and is the longest, continuously running rural mail delivery route in the United States. A museum was errected inside the Hope Town Square to celebrate and educate people about Hope's long history with rural mail routes. However, due to remodeling of the town square and maintenance, the building was torn down. Currently some of the artifacts that were housed in the Rural Mail Carrier's museum are being displayed in the Yellow Trail Museum until another building can be bought for them.
By: Barb Johnson