Our first visit was the old mission compound where the schools and the church still stand. Though the original church literally collapsed one day and a new one was built next to the old foundation.
Ferdinand and Doris moved to Lohardaga in 1878. Primarily because it is higher elevation than Chaibassa where they had been stationed for 3-4 years. Years that had hit the mission hard with a cholora epidemic. Ferdinand had become so ill that he almost died, so it was agreed that a milder climate would help him regain his health.
While Lohardaga had been one of the Gossner Missions earliest centers, it really had dminished over the years. There was however a congregation of about 700 souls. The leadership of the church had been a little neglected so at that time there was a leader named ManmasihDas Birsa who was setting himself up as the new Raja of the Oraons. Lohardaga is a dominantly Oraon area and were rapidaly losing their land and power to the outsider landlords called zamindars. Some how Ferdinand Hahn, who was just learning the language of the Oraon, was able to win over the hearts of the people and the church rapidly grew during his tenure. During these years Ferdinand Hahn got to know the people well. He wrote down their language and published a dictionary and grammar book that are still used today. He came to know the people well enough that they shared with him their oral stories, which he also wrote down. This work is remembered with much gratitude and it is for this reason that we were received with such honor. What he accomplished in Lohardaga alone is an important part of the history of the original people's of the land, the Adivasi.
After visiting the schools, church, old bungalow and graveyard, we went to the Mayor's house and was told that after lunch we would go to the town hall. It was then that I learned that he had been the founder of the town council and its first president in 1888. I had seen this picture of Ferdinand Hahn sitting with the town council, but did not know he was the leader of this group. I am curious to find out if the formation of this city council, which like most governing structures in India has not changed since India gained its Independence from the British, is unique in that it was started by a German person and may have used a different model then the British used. Or was Ferdinand simply the first to be placed in charge of this district. How it seems to be remembered is that Hahn organized the natural leaders of the region to create their own civil government. Hahn, I learned, is remembered for being a fair and just advocate for the concerns of the citizens, so that even when he was not the president the citizens of the area would turn to him for advise or request his assistance.
We were also shown a safe that was in the floor and told that it hasn't been open for a long time. No one knows how long. The key has not been available.
I told the people there, jokingly, that when I go to Germany to do more research on the family will see if I can find the key there.