April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Is Hope the home for "Hoosier?"

By HSJ Online [email protected]

A new theory on the origin of the word "Hoosier" suggests that Hope may be the source for the nickname of generations of Indiana residents.

Former Hope town manager Melina Fox, working with the Columbus Area Visitors Center, has set up a website with a video to promote the new idea that traces the first written documentation of the word back to Bartholomew County.

Fox uncovered extensive genealogical research by Randall Hooser which suggests the first documented use of Hoosier can be traced to Martin Hauser, founder of the town of Hope, Indiana in the 1830. When introducing himself, Martin would have pronounced the first syllable of his name "hoo", as opposed to, "how," in keeping with the old-world German dialect. 

Fox happened-upon the Hauser/Hooser/Hoosier connection while working on a family genealogy project.

"I was researching my Fogle and Crister lineages in the town of Hope when I noticed a last name 'Hooser' connected to Hauser," Fox said. "After reading the past work of Randall Hooser, I strongly felt that this theory made the most sense about our nickname Hoosier; especially when one examines the time frame that it appeared."

Fox has worked with partners at the Columbus Area Visitors Center to develop www.hoosier-debate.com, a website devoted to the new theory. The center's executive director, Karen Niverson says, "When Mel approached us, we were excited to help her get the theory out there and bring attention to the town of Hope, here in Bartholomew County".

The site walks readers, step-by-step, through the Hauser family's migration from Alsace, France on the German border to North Carolina and eventually to Indiana and documents the usage of the term Hoosier from its very beginnings.

The website also features a section that outlines seven additional theories as to the origin of Hoosier and provides users the opportunity to vote on which theory they believe to be the most plausible. "We know that Hoosiers may never agree about where our nickname comes from", says Fox, "but we thought it would be fun and interesting to see where the public stands in this debate".