The men and women who tamed the wilderness that became 21 Country departed this earth 150 years ago or more. And though there's not much left of what they built besides their final resting places, evidence of their strength and their resolve is everywhere.
“They saw new opportunities,” says Antioch Church pastor David Taylor, “charging forward with their faith with their belief with their ability to say 'we're gonna try it'”.
The pioneer spirit survives in places like Antioch Lutheran Church in Hoagland, Indiana. We first visited Hoagland not long ago, learned much about the town that grew up along the historic Wayne Trace, an ancient Native American thoroughfare. Those mostly German settlers built their first church, Antioch Lutheran, in the early 1800's and in 1905 their descendants reaffirmed their faith in brick, erecting the sanctuary that stands today. And it is a treasure. Humble like the people who built it but lit by stained glass windows among the most beautiful we've ever seen...stunning glass storybooks that spell out Biblical teachings in reds and blues and greens. Antioch Lutheran has been the social and spiritual anchor of this town for 165 years and though the faces have changed often, the pioneer spirit that overcame breathtaking obstacles and hardship has not. If you're frightened by the pandemic now ravaging our country, fearful for your family and your friends, you'll find comfort among the brave souls who built this church.
“To see and hear their spirit and their willingness to take on whatever challenge,” says Taylor. “And I think they would look at this virus challenge and say 'ain't nothin' but a thing'. That would be powerful for all of us to hear that.”
Antioch Cemetery lies just west of the church for which it was named, final resting place for those fearless men and woman who tamed this land and passed it on to us for safe keeping. Fading stone markers that remind us of a generation whose shadow still stretches across this and every other corner of 21 Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.