Page 35 - May Slippery Rock Gazette
P. 35

Slippery rock Gazette
Hope, NJ
Continued from page 29
The Decline
A fully functional town was now complete, but a series of problems arose and began to erode the popu- lation of 149 Moravians—the first being a competing mill that had been opened by local businessman Joseph Swayze.
The Moravian’s mill had always been the income “cornerstone” of the community, and with the Swayze mill in full operation, the profits of the Moravian mill came to a grinding halt. With 100 per- cent clarity of our historical hind- sight, this was the tipping point for the struggling community, and the failure of Hope was imminent.
Later that year, two separate fires had engulfed two of the local structures, further putting a damper on business as usual As economic conditions continued to deteriorate, malaria and disease had also taken a stranglehold on the community, and people were dying. As if these setbacks weren’t enough, the final blow to the weakened community was the responsibility they felt about the repayment of the debt they had acquired by the monetary subsidies they’d been receiving over the years from the Moravian mother church in Europe.
By 1802, the school as well as many houses had been abandoned as the population waned to a mere 84 as tradesmen and their families left for the thriving Bethlehem area where they could still earn a living.
On March 11, 1808 a deal was struck to sell the entire town, and on Easter Day, April 17, 1808, a final service was conducted at the
Many of the more beautifully preserved and restored buildings in Hope have found new life as offices and civic headquarters.
   Believed to have been a bridge toll house, this trim, restored building now serves as a combination realtors and law office.
Gemeinhous and the Cemetery, bringing the Moravian Hope mis- sion to a close. The few people who had remained loaded their wagons, locked the doors and set forth with great courage and resolve to neigh- boring Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It is plausible to say that truly the most valued posses- sion they took with them was not the cargo in their wagons; it was the “Nothing is impossible” and “If you need it, build it” philosophies they embodied. And while it may also be said that there was no single incident that caused their decline, it may also be said that there was no single incident that hadn’t led to it.
Unlike so many of the cul- tures that came to this land, the Moravians never behaved like an invading army. Greed and the urge to conquer was something that they had likely read about, but not something they were burdened with. All they knew was diligence,
persistence, faith, and the goodness of the earth. They were kind and compassionate and treated every- one with respect. They didn’t come to dominate; they came to pass on their beliefs, raise their children in a free society, and pursue their trades, and when they left Hope, it wasn’t the end of their story.
Actually, it was just the begin- ning of a new chapter. Strong minds, hard work and determina- tion are part of their legacy to us and the foundation of this country.
There are only a handful of stone structures built by the Moravians remaining in Bethlehem, Penn- sylvania. Unfortunately, most of them were torn down during the steel boom of the 1940s to 1950s. What saved the town of Hope, in part, was the fact that the railroad didn’t pass through there. Hope was largely bypassed by indus- try and progress, leaving one of the first planned communities in the country virtually untouched, a lasting legacy of sturdy limestone structures with a rustic appeal and charm beyond compare. But per- haps the greatest legacy of the Hope Moravians is the treasure trove of stories shared by their descendants, who have preserved their history and values and continue to pass them down by generations of histo- rians willing to give the most pre- cious gift of all — their time.
Our very sincere thanks to life- long Hope, New Jersey residents and historians Carol Kernoschak and Norman Beatty. This story would not have been possible without their knowledge of local history.
  May 2020|35
Below: this home and barn were the first of two farms built just a stone’s throw from the grist mill, now The Inn at Millrace Pond.
 The Inn at Millrace Pond hostess station second floor, showing the support beams running throughout the Interior of the old grist mill. Just down the stairs is the grinding room where the water race entered the mill.

   32   33   34   35   36