This locality was settled about 1849 by pioneers from Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Cotton and corn plantations thrived. A school was opened in the 1850s, but closed during the Civil War (1861-65). A site on the centrally-situated Manning land grant became a public burial ground. Earliest documented grave is that of J. W. Darden, who died in 1869. The Little Hope Baptist Church was organized in the community in Aug. 1872, by a Freestone County missionary, the Rev. J. M. Gambrell, who served as the first pastor, with R. B. Anderson as church clerk. In 1875 a schoolhouse was built near the burial ground on the Manning grant. The school was called St. Elmo, probably for a popular 19th century novel. The Baptist held services in the schoolhouse until 1886; then they adopted New Hope as the church name, bought a 6-acre tract that included the cemetery and school grounds, and built a church. Present sanctuary, which replaced that original building, was remodeled in 1954. St. Elmo Cemetery Association administers the affairs of the cemetery, which now (1974) contains about 850 graves.
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