West Salem, Illinois

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West Salem is a village in Edwards County, Illinois, United States. The population was 1,001 at the 2000 census.



West Salem is within the Wabash Valley seismic zone. On April 18, 2008 at 09:36:56 UTC (04:36:56 Central) a moderate earthquake of 5.2 magnitude was centered near the village. It was felt widespread across southern Illinois, Central Indiana and eastern portions of Missouri including St. Louis, 123 miles (198 km) away[1][2][3]


According to tradition, in 1830 a man named Walser traveled through the area where the town later was located. When he returned home to Salem, North Carolina, he told of the beautiful forests, prairies, streams, and wild game he had seen. A number of Moravian families, hearing these reports, moved from North Carolina to take up land in this area. The earliest of these settlers was Adam Hedrick, who purchased his land on August 25, 1830. Second was Peter Hinkle, who claimed his land on May 30, 1831.

From 1841 to 1846 the new Moravian settlers were working with the headquarters of the southern province of the Moravian Church in Salem (Old Salem) , North Carolina, in establishing a congregation. William Eberman, the Moravian pastor at Hope, Indiana, was sent to visit and preach for them in the fall of 1841. Many other settlers followed, until by 1843, more than 80 families lived within a three-mile (5 km) radius of what was to become West Salem, most of them Moravians. But in 1843, it was Martin Hauser, a Moravian home missionary also from Hope, Indiana who would be instrumental not only in starting a Moravian Church, but also in helping to establish the town. On Saturday, May 25, 1844, a meeting was held in Peter Hinkle's barn, where heads of 15 families came forward and signed the Brotherly Agreement and Constitution that formed the new Moravian congregation. On his way home to Hope, Indiana, in 1845 Hauser stopped at the federal land Office in Palestine, Illinois, to buy, in the name of the church, 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land on which West Salem is presently located. He was acting as attorney-in-fact for Rev. Charles Kluge, President of the Synod of the Southern Provincial Conference of the Moravian Church of North America.

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