In 1817 William George and his brother left their Pennsylvania home to strike out for the new state of Indiana. Arriving by raft in Cincinnati, they continued west over the hills across the Ohio-Indiana border literally blazing the trail that took them to a site in the north bank of the East Harvey Branch creek.

Some twenty years later little had changed; a few hardy settlers had formed clearings and begun farming. But a new breed of people was on the way. From Germany, large numbers of immigrants landed in Cincinnati as the point from which they spread throughout Ohio and Indiana. Some of these immigrants settled near the clearings of William George and the others. And to these Germans, the area became fondly known as Neu Oldenburg. Father Joseph Ferneding (the traveling missionary) met boats coming down the Ohio River to Cincinnati or up the river to Lawrenceburg and invited the Germans settlers to come to Oldenburg. The clearing grew to a hamlet. In the platting of the town in 1837, land was reserved for the tiny log church known as St. Mary’s which was already under construction. But it was hardly yet the "Village of Spires."

The town proudly preserves its religious, cultural, and architectural heritage. The old stone and brick structures, clapboard houses, tin facades and cornices, bilingual street signs, and the combination of shops and residences attest to the Old World influence. The settlement rapidly took on a German flavor with the in-migration of German Catholics from Cincinnati. Incorporated in 1869, Oldenburg is called the "Village of Spires" because of its churches and religious educational institutions. The huge barn, seen on left when entering the outskirts of the town, is called the Sisters’ Cow Barn, referring to its former function when operated by members of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg. The barn is reported to be the largest in the county.

IND 229 becomes Indiana Ave. (Indiana Allee) and soon turns into Main St. (Haupt Strasse), which leads to the Immaculate Conception Convent on the right, the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, founded by Austrian-born Mother Theresa Hackelmeier in the 1851. The present convent building dates from 1901, and the next door Chapel of the Immaculate Conception dates from 1891. The Franciscan Sisters serve schools, hospitals, parishes, and missions. Their academy for girls in Oldenburg was founded in 1885. The Holy Family Church, across the street from the convent , at the southeast corner of Main and Pearl sts. (Perlen Strasse), was the third church built by the Alsatian-born Rev. Franz Joseph Rudolph (1813-1866), pastor of Oldenburg beginning in 1844. The present church with a steeple rising 187 ft. was constructed in 1861. Father Rudolph, who is buried beneath the Holy Family sanctuary also built a stone church in 1846 that later became part of the former Franciscan Monastery complex adjoining Holy Family Church to the south around the corner of Main and Pearl sts. The three-story brick monastery building, which was constructed in 1894, was closed in 1981 and demolished in 1986. At the north end of Pearl St. is the Holy Family Parish Cemetery and the Immaculate Conception Convent Cemetery and shrine. The convent cemetery is easily distinguished by its rows of simple white stone crosses and a fieldstone chapel. The parish cemetery is noted for its unusual iron grave markers. Return south on Pearl St., noting part of the convent complex on the left. At the northwest corner of Main and Pearl sts. stands Hackman’s General Store, erected in 1861-62. It features the town’s most ornate tin work, fashioned by the Prussian-born master tinsmith Casper Gaupel. Directly south on Pearl St., on the right is King’s Tavern. The taverns door lintel of tin, of which the word "Saloon" is and integral part, is a Guapel creation. The Town Hall, between King’s Tavern and Pigtail Alley (Schweineschwanz Gasse), was built in 1878 by the Eagle Fire Company, which later turned the building over to the town. A marker in front records the history of Oldenburg. Next to the Town Hall is the stone Huegal Tavern (c. 1845), which bears an eye-catching door lintel with a moon and sun. South one block to the left on Water St. (Wasser Strasse) stands the Waechter house embellished with and elaborately craved unsupported balcony. The Cradle Shop, across the street, erected in 1845, is where Eberhard Waechter handcrafted grain cradles and spinning wheels. Oldenburg is clearly a diamond in the rough. The community has rallied around its unique sense of history and individual effort to preserve her heritage are well underway. A trip to Oldenburg truly is a trip back in time. 


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