Our History

Nearly a century of faith, compassion and outreach

Our humble beginnings

In the early 1920s, the Rev. August “Dad” Hoeger worked as a parish pastor in North Dakota. When a fellow minister’s plea for donations to help a young boy with polio exceeded its goal by $2,000, the Rev. Hoeger suggested the extra money be used to help other individuals with disabilities. To that end, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society was incorporated under the laws of the state of North Dakota on September 29, 1922, as a religious, charitable, not-for-profit corporation.

The first Good Samaritan Society center opened in a rented six-room house in Arthur, N.D., in March 1923, commonly referred to as The Arthur House (read more below). Though it began primarily as a center for people with physical and mental disabilities, the Society soon expanded the scope of services it offered. Shortly after the home opened, an elderly man on crutches came to Dad Hoeger and asked to be admitted. It was later discovered that he did not need crutches, but had pretended to need them so he could secure a place to stay. This incident demonstrated to the Rev. Hoeger and others a need for services for the elderly, as well as for those with disabilities.

Our humble beginnings

The first Good Samaritan center

The first Good Samaritan Society center opened in a rented six-room house in Arthur, N.D., in March 1923, commonly referred to as The Arthur House (read more below). Though it began primarily as a center for people with physical and mental disabilities, the Society soon expanded the scope of services it offered. Shortly after the home opened, an elderly man on crutches came to Dad Hoeger and asked to be admitted. It was later discovered that he did not need crutches, but had pretended to need them so he could secure a place to stay. This incident demonstrated to the Rev. Hoeger and others a need for services for the elderly, as well as for those with disabilities.

The first Good Samaritan center

The Arthur House

The Arthur House was the first center for the Good Samaritan Society. It was a little house for the enormous amount of work that needed to be done and was rented for $20 a month. There was nothing in the house, and water was always in short supply. It was a challenging place to live and work, but with faith and acts of compassion and kindness, God’s love in Christ became real in each head and heart.

A Little Old House

This little old house with its odd assortment of strangers became home — became family. Although the Good Samaritan Society soon outgrew the Arthur house, what happened here almost a century ago continues to profoundly influence the Society. In 2008, the Good Samaritan Society bought the house, and it was moved from its original location across town to a site on our Arthur campus — just behind the basic care center and next to its prayer garden.

Schedule a tour today

In honor of all those who lived and worked here to establish a foundation of sharing God’s love, the house is now open to visitors for special occasions and by appointment.

To schedule a tour, please call
(701) 967-8316

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Hardships threaten the organization

The Great Depression

Although it provided the Society with significant growth opportunities, the Great Depression created serious financial challenges as well. By 1940, financial difficulties prompted the Society’s Board of Directors to split the organization into two bodies - Lutheran Hospitals and Homes, which held 24 of the 28 institutions, and The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society was left with the remaining homes. Burdened with the debts of the entire Society, it seemed doomed to bankruptcy.

But the Rev. Hoeger and a few loyal co-workers set about rebuilding the organization. By 1952, the Society was serving seven states with 32 centers. As communities sought services for seniors and others in need, the Society’s growth continued.

The Great Depression

Our History

Augie and August “Dad” Hoeger at the Good Samaritan Society’s Central Office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — circa 1970

Maria (Hoeflinger) Hoeger and her sons: Johann, Henry, John, Adolph, August and Martin — 1886

Good Samaritan Society Articles of Incorporation — September 29, 1922

A Good Samaritan Society newsletter, Sunshine, Volume II, Number 3 — May–June 1924

Good Samaritan Bible and Training School calendar — 1940–1941

Leading the way to the future

Partnering with Sanford Health

The Good Samaritan Society continues to evolve to meet the needs and desires of the residents, staff members and communities it serves.

In 2019, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan officially combined with Sanford Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in the nation.

As a combined organization, Sanford Health now employs nearly 50,000 people, offering health services spanning the continuum of life, including clinics, hospitals, health insurance and senior care services, in 26 states.

Partnering with Sanford Health

Focus remains on mission

As in the first days of the organization’s founding, there is a continued focus on mission outreach, both through Society-sponsored projects in other countries and through a continued emphasis on encouraging our locations to reach out and help meet the needs of their communities.

Each Good Samaritan Society location across the country finds unique ways to create an environment where people feel loved, valued and at peace—where it is seen, believed and known that “In Christ’s Love, Everyone Is Someone.”

Focus remains on mission

Archives

The Good Samaritan Society Archives exists to identify, acquire and preserve archival materials that document the cultural history of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan. We make these materials available to the Society’s employees and the public online and physically through requests.

The Archives collects historical materials of any medium including (but not limited to):

  • Textual documents
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Audio recordings
  • Digital material
  • Publications by or about the Society
Learn more about August "Dad" Hoeger, founder of The Good Samaritan Society
Learn more about Dr. Agnes Hoeger, the oldest child of Dad and Mom Hoeger
A video montage of early photos of the Good Samaritan Society and actors portraying Dad Hoeger, staff and some of the residents of that first home in Arthur, North Dakota
Col. Pete and the Boschs
John and Augie Hoeger
The missionary spirit of the Society

Share your stories with us!

For more information regarding The Arthur House, our Archives, or to share a story or photos of historical significance to the Good Samaritan Society, we'd like to hear from you!

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