In 1800 a hunter named Phillip Delaney from Pennsylvania, who swam the Ohio River with his clothes on his head, bought a section of Green Township from the Northwest Territory Land Office in Steubenville. The settlement was called "Green". Good springs, rich soil and timber were the attractions to settlers moving west. Delaney sold 205 acres to Cyrus McNeely, a resident of Beech Spring. Cyrus McNeely, born near Beech Spring, platted the Village in 1849. It became Hopedale officially in 1851 and became incorporated on April 1,1860. Many homes built in the 1800's still stand.
Mr. McNeely changed the name to "Hopedale" because he had high hopes for his schools and they did materialize. McNeely's wife was interested in founding a school for teachers, having noted the unfavorable comparison small town schools have to their metropolitan counterparts. Mr. McNeely dedicated 10 acres of land to help start the "McNeely Normal School", which later became the first co-educational college in Eastern Ohio under the name of "Hopedale Normal College". By 1889, nearly ten thousand students had graduated. Horace Mann once taught at the school and General George Armstrong Custer graduated and was given a teacher's certificate. Professor Brinkeroff, a pioneer in the field of stenography, taught here. Soon, however, as with other small colleges in Harrison County, competitive pressures from larger schools resulted in mergers. Although no research has been found, it was generally believed that "Hopedale Normal College" merged with Bethany College in West Virginia. Harrison Hopedale Elementary School presently stands on the old site.
Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, February 1, 1901, but after his mother became ill, he and his mother were taken back to Pennsylvania in August, 1901, where she died. In the late summer of 1902, his father William, an oil well driller from Pennsylvania, worked the fields of the Scio oil boom. Oil was also discovered near Hopedale. Mr. Gable contracted to drill a well near the town and boarded at the home of the Dunlaps. In June 1903, William married Jennie Dunlap and he left for Pennsylvania to bring Clark back to his new home in Hopedale. William had purchased land in 1904 and more in 1907 and finished the home in 1910. Presently, the home is a private residence on Mill Street. Clark attended Hopedale Schools and played in the school band. Gable is best known for his movie role as Rhett Butler in the classic, "Gone With The Wind" and won an Academy Award for his role in "It Happened One Night".
While the economy was boosted by the discovery of oil in 1902, it wasn't the factor that coal became. Most of Harrison County had rich Pittsburgh No. 8 coal not far below the land surface. The surface mining, better known as "stripping", was more profitable than "deep" mining. Much land in Green Township surrounding Hopedale has now been strip and deep mined. Coal became an economic factor after the railroads were built. The first major one in the County was conceived by A.B. Paul, a Hopedale farmer, who persisted with the railroad idea until local folks finally believed in him. In 1870-71, he organized a railroad that would be from Wheeling to Sandusky and Toledo. The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad was born. His vision was to haul coal that was "under every Harrison County farm", with Hopedale to become a railroad center to haul coal and other local products such as wool. Coal is not longer the main industry in the County but small industries, that thrive in small town environments, are the modem thrust of Hopedale, as well as other small towns in the County. A good environment with houses not jammed together, a good school system consolidated for economic growth, a good labor market not tied to any industry rate, a good road system, inexpensive living and reasonable taxes; all of these are factors that small industry finds favorable.
There was another "Railroad" system in Hopedale and other Eastern Ohio towns, operated a few year earlier. The "Underground Railroad", organized about 1860, operated steadily here. During and following the Civil War, Franklin College in New Athens, founded by Reverend John Walker, was a strong abolitionist influence in all of Harrison County. A series of homes of the abolitionists helped slaves to escape from the South to Canada at considerable risk. There was a $1,000 fine and a prison term for those caught. Even Cyrus McNeely and Hopedale neighbors, who felt strongly about this cause, joined the "Railroad".
Hopedale has grown since those early years. We are now know as the fastest growing Village in this area, partly due to the annexation on the east end of the Village. Hopedale's population increased over 43% since the 1990 Census. Come and visit our Village and enjoy the small town atmosphere.
Historical Resources: "HOPEDALE THEN 1849 AND NOW 1976", Hopedale Bicentennial Committee, 1976 "AT HOME WHERE THE HELP IS", Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce, Harrison News-Herald, 1988