Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Memoir of Heinrich Hess, My German Immigrant Ancestor

Dear friends,

I've been posting about the Hess family reunion, and wanted to include this memoir from my great-great-grandfather Heinrich (Henry) Hess, who came over from Germany in 1849 and settled in northeastern Pennsylvania and became a coal miner. (See Coal Miner’s Great-Great-Granddaughter.)

I have a copy of his handwritten memoir written in German. This is the English translation. Note that the words in parentheses are explanations, and the dashes represent information that was illegible.

Henry is the one with the beard.
My great-grandfather Charles is seated at right.
(This is the right hand portion of the same picture.)

Memoir of Henry Hess

Scranton, July 3rd 1886       

      Henry Hess born the 30th of November 1826 in Harnheim on the Pfrem, Rheinbaiern.  My father was Henry Hess; my mother Barbara Gottler.

     As a young man of almost 23 years of age, I left the ancestral home on the 21st of August 1849 to immigrate to America.  Arrived in New York in September on a sailboat in which we had been on the ocean 24 days.  Stayed in New York a few days where I and three of my comrades decided to go to the state of Pennsylvania.  Since at that time where was no railroad there we had to travel partly by water and partly on foot through virgin land until we reached Hale on the Rainen and then came to Blekle on the Crafede Road.  From there we had to continue our trip on Shuster's Rabe (Shoemaker's black horses) to Schlokem Haller (now Scranton).  It wouldn't have suited us for we had heard of distant Pitston where the pigeons were already roasted and only has only to eat them.  However, we turned back disappointed to the renowned Backdon where we stopped and stayed with Ludwig Engle.  We spent a few days here and looked for work.  Went to Slaken Haller again where we finally got work as laborers for 75 cents per day.  On the 8th of October 1849, I found it (myself) in the Rest House with Carl Art (probably tuberculosis). In the first year, everything became so ill that there was no hope for my getting well.  However, the Lord decided otherwise; I became well again.  So it went good again.  I stayed in the above named Rest House a year; then I went to John Reob where I then met Elisabeth Simon, now my beloved wife.  We were married on the 5th of July 1852 in Wilks Bar (Wilkes-Barre) by Bredge Lasher with Henry Rebb and Micheil Helperch as witnesses.  My wife, identified above, was born in Ruhrhessen on Basken Singlis on ------.  Her father was Henry Simon; her mother ---------.  Eight children were given to us; 7 boys, 1 girl, of which one, a boy, went before us. 

     A review of almost 37 years -- so I must say the Lord has done great things, more than I can comprehend.

     "At my confirmation I selected this verse, Psalm 143, verse 10, "Lord, teach me to do thy will for thou art my God.  May your good spirit lead me on a smooth road."  The Lord has lead me up to this point and I know that He will also lead me further on if I will only believe in Him.  My wish and will is to make myself subordinate to Him and to be true to Him until my end."

What a heritage!  I need to remember that closing paragraph!  I am thankful for this testimony from the path as I continue to keep the heritage of faith.

I painted this about
years ago for
my grandparents.
It is still my prayer.

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