Samuel HESS, b. 1833

Samuel Hess, owning and operating a farm of three hundred acres on section 17, Richland township, was born in West Virginia, August 10, 1833. His parents, Jacob and Elizabeth (Dawson) Hess, were natives of the Old Dominion, and when their son was only six weeks old they removed to Champaign county, Ohio, where the father purchased a farm and made his home until his death, which occurred in 1838, when he was fifty years of age. His wife long survived him, passing away at the age of eighty-five years. In their family were seven children, of whom Samuel is the youngest. The record is as follows: George, who married and died in Ohio; John N., who died in Ohio about four years ago; Jacob, who died in Utah about six years ago; Susan, who became the wife of Thomas Middleton and died in Ohio; Margaret, who married Joseph Swisher and died in Ohio; and Ellen, who became the wife of Jefferson Bertner and passed away in the Buckeye state. Samuel Hess, the youngest and the only one now living, was but five years of age when his father died. He made his home with his mother until the age of fifteen years, when he went to work on a farm by the month. He had but very limited education, and from an early age was dependent upon his own resources and worked earnestly and persistently to gain a start in life. He was employed at farm labor until his marriage, which was celebrated September 15, 1859, Miss Elizabeth Swisher becoming his wife. She was born in Champaign county, Ohio, June 14, 1841, and is a daughter Joseph Swisher. Samuel Hess and O. G. Hess, although not related, married sisters. Soon after their marriage Samuel Hess and his wife, accompanied by Joseph Swisher and his family, started for Mabaska county. Mr. Hess had three horses and some harness, a bed and some bedding, which comprised his entire worldly possessions. After arriving in Richland township, Mahaska county, they remained for eleven days with a Mr. Milledge, an uncle of Mrs. Hess, at the end of which time Mr. Swisher purchased land, a part of which Mr. Hess rented. His first purchase of land comprised eighty acres an section 17, Richland township. About twenty acres had been broken which, together with an old log house, constituted the entire improvement. He soon afterward bought eighty acres adjoining the original tract from his father-in-law. This was partially broken and there was a small frame house upon it containing three rooms and a shed kitchen. There was little plastering and they often found in the morning that all liquids in their house had been frozen over night. The furnishings of their house comprised two beds, a three-legged stool and one chair until they could have chairs made at Peoria, Iowa. There was an old thatched roof stable upon the place. It seemed that the work of improvement had scarcely been begun. Mr. and Mrs. Hess experienced hard times if anybody did, and yet there was much pleasure and enjoyment in their work knowing that they were developing a good farm. Both worked earnestly, untiringly and indefatigably as the years went by, and they have certainly earned and deserved the rest which they are now enjoying. Today Mr. Hess owns three hundred acres of as good land as can be found in the state of Iowa, and in the midst of his farm stands a comfortable and commodious frame residence. There are also three large barns upon the place and good fences, eighty acres being enclosed within woven wire, hog-tight fences. He uses the latest improved machinery in carrying on the farm work, and has principally raised corn and hay, all of which he feeds to his stock. Their early experiences were not unlike those that fall to the lot of all pioneer settlers. They were poor people and had to manage as best they could, but their enterprise and labor has brought to them very gratifying success, and they are now numbered among the substantial citizens of the community. In the early days the house was lighted by grease lamps and heated by an open fireplace, yet they had a stove with which they did their cooking. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hess have been born seven children: John N., who died when but twenty-three months old; George, who was born June 7, 1862, and has resided for a time in Nebraska, but is now upon the home farm; Alonzo, who was born in 1864 and died at the age of seven years; Harrison, who was born September 27, 1866, and is now living in the state of Washington; Edward, who was born October 14, 1868, and married Janette Lenhart, living in Madison county, Iowa; Cyrus, who was born October 10, 1870, and married Tena Harris, their home being on eighty acres of land belonging to his father; and William, who was born July 11, 1874, and is still at home. The youngest son manages the place and works the land for his father, devoting his attention to general farming and making a specialty of the raising of Jersey red hogs and black polled cattle. Mr. and Mrs. Hess are very hospitable people, and Mrs. Hess has proven a most estimable helpmate and companion to her husband, largely assisting him in his work by her careful and able management of the household affairs. She belongs to the Christian church. Mr. Hess gives his political support to the democracy, but has never sought nor desired office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs, which have been capably directed, so that now he possesses a handsome competence. No longer does he find it necessary to live economically and frugally as in pioneer days, for his labor has brought him a good financial reward, and he is today the owner of one of the fine farms of Richland township.


from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

Home Page