The Hess Homestead in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a historic Mennonite farmstead near the town of Lititz. The property is an ancestral home of the Hess family, who purchased the land from William Penn's sons in 1735. The log farmhouse is the earliest house in Pennsylvania associated with the Hess family.
The primary buildings at this site were constructed by the Hess family in the 18th century, including a 1740s log farmhouse, a 1778 stone farmhouse, and a 1769 oil mill. Both houses served as church meeting houses for the local Mennonite community until 1856, when the first Hess Mennonite church building was constructed nearby. The homestead structures survive today on several adjoining properties. These farm buildings are iconic examples of the vernacular architecture of rural Pennsylvania Germans.
Author's note: It has been easy to tell this story of the Hess Homestead. All I needed to do was to write really fast while Clarke Hess told me hours of history of this farm.
This homestead was first settled in the 1730s by Clarke's great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, Jacob and Feronica Hess. Jacob's parents, Hans and Magdalena Hess, were the first Hesses known to arrive in America.
Clarke's memory is filled to overflowing with his family's historical facts, figures, birth dates, marriage dates, death dates, and more. He can explain hundreds of years of his family's Mennonite history without using cheat sheets or notes.
So all I had to do was condense Clarke's information, write the text, add my photographs, and build this website. It was a piece of cake.
Lee J. Stoltzfus
Above: The log farmhouse and the summer kitchen, circa 1910.
The logs are covered with weatherboarding. A windmill pumps water from the well.
Above: Barn and pigsty behind the log farmhouse, ca. 1910.
The barn burned in 1922, sparked by cinders from a Reading Railroad locomotive.
Above: A ca. 1785 Germanic log house, rescued and relocated to the homestead from near Hanover, PA.
The Hess Homestead:
Photo by Donald Reese :