Our great-great grandfather, Hiram Hess, was born September 16, 1822, in Independence County, Arkansas, the son of Solomon Hess and Nancy (last name unknown).
Hiram appears on the 1830 Independence County census, Ruddell Township, as a male age 5-10 years. The 1840 Izard County census, Washington Township, shows him as a male age 15-20 years.
Hiram's father died about November 1840. He willed his property to his wife and his children. Hiram, being a minor, was not mentioned by name in his father's will.
Hiram married our great-great grandmother, Sarah (last name unknown), about 1845, probably in Izard County, Arkansas. Sarah was born about 1824, in Tennessee, according to census.
In 1849, Hiram signed an agreement with his siblings concerning the property left them by their father. In the agreement he was mentioned as a son of Solomon Hess.
Hiram and Sarah appear on the 1850 Independence County census in Wallace Township. They were living next door to his cousin Isaac Brookfield Hess, son of Samuel Hess. The census shows Hiram Hess, 26, a farmer; Sarah, 26; Christina, 3; and William, 2 years of age.
Hiram was a farmer and a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church by the Methodist Episcopal Church show that Hiram was mentioned in the conference records beginning in 1851. Hiram was a circuit rider or circuit preacher. He traveled throughout his assigned district, preaching the word of God and serving church members throughout his assigned district. Hiram was first assigned to a mission district in his own Independence County. He was mentioned in Batesville Mission District in October 1853. Hiram was ordained by Bishop Morris and admitted into the Arkansas Conference November 9, 1856. Records indicate he "labored faithfully in that stormy field in the face of bitter persecution and great hardships".
Prior to 1860, Hiram was reassigned to the Jasper district and moved his family to Newton County, Arkansas. Hiram assessed personal property in Newton County for taxation in 1859.
The family appears on the 1860 Newton County census, in Van Buren Township, south of Boxley. The census shows Hiram, 35, a minister; Sarah, 36; Christina, 12; Julia A., 7; Virginia, 5; and Sarah M., 3 years old. Hiram's real estate was valued at $250 and his personal property at $50. Their son, William, died prior to the 1860 census.
Hiram bought 10 acres of land in Section 21, Township 15, Range 23 of Newton County about 1861. Newton County tax records show that Hiram assessed 10 acres of land and one horse that was over two years old in 1862. Sarah and the children remained on the farm while Hiram did his circuit rider preaching.
Being a circuit rider, Hiram was often away from his family for long periods of time. This created hardships and dangers for his family, especially during the war years. Southwestern Methodism: a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Southwest by Charles Elliot and Leroy M. Vernon, 1868, relates how Hiram had to "leave his family" and how the family "carried grain upon their own shoulders 2 miles to the mill, and often before they could carry it home, the guerrillas seized it", and how the "oldest daughter near 17 years of age, cut and carried all the wood they used, which hardship brought on a distressing rheumatism."
According to Minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hiram was persecuted for his affiliation with the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church, which was opposed to slavery and to secession of states from the Union. He and his family suffered greatly during the Civil War. Southwestern Methodism: a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Southwest by Charles Elliot and Leroy M. Vernon, 1868, indicates that the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church was of Missouri, with mission districts in Arkansas. The Missouri and Arkansas conference of 1861 appointed five preachers to Arkansas, Hiram Hess being one of those appointed. When nothing was heard from the preachers in 1863-1864, it was supposed they had fallen victim to the fury of rebels. The report implies that the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church was eventually driven from both Arkansas and Texas by mob violence.
A letter written August 8, 1864, by Rev. Leroy M. Vernon, presiding elder of the Springfield, Missouri District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and published in the Central Christian Advocate of August 31, 1864, states that "in the spring of 1861, Mr. Hess labored on the North Fork circuit, lying between the White River, the North Fork River, and Gainesville, in Missouri. This charge had eighty members, and was without missionary appropriation. By the time he made one round on his circuit, the State seceded. On his second round he was met by three different mobs, who threatened him with death should he return." The same source states that Hiram "next went to Jasper circuit, which he formerly traveled, and where his family still lived, the preacher appointed not having come. A band of guerrillas, driven from Missouri, came into his vicinity, and commenced plundering and murdering. After this he remained quietly at home." The letter also relates that in January 1863, Hiram Hess and his family were robbed of all furniture, horses, money and clothing at their home in Arkansas, and in 1864, a large group of armed men went to Rev. Hiram Hess' home in Arkansas and threatened him because he was a Northern Methodist preacher and an Abolitionist. The letter reported that Hiram and his family were finally able to escape to Springfield, Missouri in August 1864, with the help of the Union Army. They arrived destitute, with only the clothes they were wearing, where they were met by Rev. Leroy Vernon.
Hiram Hess died November 30, 1866, at Springfield, Missouri.
Sarah Hess and the children returned to Arkansas prior to 1871 and settled in Izard County (now Stone County). Sarah's daughter, Julia Ann, married on July 6, 1871, in Izard County, Arkansas.
Sarah Hess applied for and received relief from Stone County on January 8, 1875, and on at least four other occasions before July 1877. She was also listed on the county pauper list during that time. Apparently things got better for Sarah and her children after that time, as we did not find where she applied for or received relief from the county after July 1877.
Sarah's daughter, Julia Ann, who married in 1871, died in 1876, leaving two small children. One of those children appeared on the 1880 census with her grandmother, Sarah. The 1880 Stone County, Richwood Township, census shows Sarah Hess, age 63, head of household; Christiana Meadows, daughter, age 32; Martha Hess, daughter, age 22; and Eliza J. Jones, granddaughter, age 4 years.
Sarah Hess died prior to 1900, probably in Stone County, Arkansas.
Children of Hiram Hess and Sarah
1. Christina Hess was born 1847, in Independence Co, AR. She married _____ Meadows prior to 1880. She is listed as Christina Meadows on the 1880 Stone Co, AR census living with her widowed mother. Christina married Crawford P. Casey on Mar 10, 1885, in Stone Co, AR. Crawford Casey appears on the 1880 Sharp Co, AR census, as 33, single, a farmer, boarding with David and Rhoda Morrow in Richwoods Twp. The 1910 Van Buren Co, AR census shows Crawford, 63, married 2 times, married 4 years, boarding with Levi J. and Caroline Lewis in Grove Twp. We believe Christina died around 1900. We do not believe she had children.
2. William Hess was born 1848, in Independence Co, AR. He was listed as two years old on the 1850 Independence Co census. William died between prior to 1859.
3. Julia Ann Hess was born Nov 7, 1853, in Independence Co, AR. She married Dockery Berry Giddens Jones on July 6, 1871, in Izard Co, AR. (our line)
4. Rola Virginia Hess was born 1855, in Independence Co, AR.
5. Sarah Martha Hess was born 1858, probably in Independence Co, AR.