Above: The Risser-Hess Farm on Google Maps Street View.
Mennonite preacher John Hess (1768-1830) purchased this farm from Christian Risser (1767-1826) in 1812. Preacher Hess then sold the 127-acre tract to his son, John Hess (1791-1831), who married Elizabeth Risser of Mt. Joy, PA.
Jacob Risser Hess (1816-1877) later owned this farm, and married Mary Shenk in 1843. Their nine children were born here. In 1882 Jacob Hess sold the property to his oldest son Samuel Shenk Hess (1852-1946). Samuel married Mary Francis Carpenter in 1882. Their youngest son, Howard Carpenter Hess, then bought this farm in 1900, with his wife Elva (Brubaker) Hess.
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The 1812 Deed for the Risser-Hess Farm:
(Preacher Risser and Preacher Hess are both great-great-great-great grandfathers of Clarke Hess.)
Above: This is the 1812 deed for the Risser-Hess Farm. The 131-farm was sold by Preacher Christian Risser (1767-1826) and wife Catherine (Huber) Risser (1766-1826) to Preacher John Hess (1768-1830). It is signed by Christian Risser, in German script. Wife Catherine Risser signed the deed with her x mark, presumably because she didn't know how to write her name. The deed is lettered on vellum, and has red-wax seals. Clarke Hess Collection.
1816 Land Draft for this Risser-Hess Farm:
By Mennonite Surveyor David Kaufman
Above: An 1816 land draft of this Risser-Hess farm, drafted in preparation for transferring the farm from the ownership of Preacher John Hess to his son John Hess. The document is penned by Mennonite surveyor David Kaufman, who lived in Penn Township south of Manheim, on the farm now owned by Kauffman's Mennonite Church.
The land draft also shows portions of the farms of three neighboring Mennonite farmers: Daniel Erb, Jacob Wissler, and Peter Eby. Also shown is a section of land owned by Michael Klein, who was not Mennonite.
The land draft shows the Hammer Creek at the top of the page. North is to the right on this draft. Clay Road is the horizontal road, and Hackman Road crosses the creek. Clarke Hess Collection.
Two Grain-Bag Stamps from the Risser-Hess Farm:
Above: A hand-carved wooden stamp for marking grain bags, made ca. 1810, used by John Hess (1791-1831). With a tin grain-bag stencil of his son Jacob R. Hess (1816-1877). These stamps were used on this farm when taking grain to the grist mill to be ground to flour. (The two "s" letters on the wood stamp are mistakenly carved in reverse, and would be incorrectly printed on the bags.) Clarke Hess Collection.
Maria Hess Stitches a Decorated Towel Here at the Risser-Hess Farm in 1834:
Above: Maria Hess (1815-1888) created this decorated towel in 1834. She made it by adding a fanciful top panel to her mother's pattern-woven, undecorated towel. Maria's mother, Elizabeth (Risser) Hess had previously stitched her own initial "E - R" onto the towel, and those intitials remain there today. The mother stitched her initials there sometime prior to her 1813 marriage to John Hess.
Maria was born on this Risser-Hess farm, perhaps in an earlier house than the brick house which stands here now. In 1833 she married Mennonite farmer Daniel Erb (1814-1898). The towel is dated 1834, one year after Maria's marriage, suggesting that perhaps Maria was working on this towel before and after her wedding. After her marriage, Maria added her new initials to this towel: "M - E", Maria Erb.
Maria's father, John Hess, had died in 1831, when Maria was only 16 years old. Maria's uncle Henry Hess was then appointed to be her guardian. Henry and wife Catherine Hess lived at the 1740s Hess Homestead. Perhaps Maria moved in with her Hess guardians, at that time, as whe would have been old enough to be working outside her first home. In that case she would have made this towel at the Hess Homestead. (Clarke Hess Collection).
Maria's Younger Sister, Magdalena, Stitches a Decorated Towel at this Farm in 1840:
Above: Magdalena Hess (1820-1875) was a younger sister of Maria Hess, who created the first towel on this page. Magdalena made her own decorated towel in 1840, seven years after her older sister had made hers.
Magdalena's nickname was "Matta", so she stitched that name on this linen towel. She imitated her older sister's towel design by fastening a plain-weave panel to the top of an undecorated, pattern-woven towel. This towel-construction technique was typical of this region of northern Lancaster County.
Magdalena was not yet married when she made this towel. She later married Mennonite farmer Abraham Huber (1817-1886).
Magdalena Hess spelled her last name "Hessin" using the Germanic feminine ending "in." She also stitched her mother's initials on the towel: "E - H" for Elizabeth Risser Hess. (Clarke Hess Collection).
Maria Hess Stitches a Tablecloth Here at the Risser-Hess Farm in 1834,
The Same Year she Stitched the Towel Shown Above:
Above: 1834 was a busy year for Maria Hess, here at the Risser-Hess Farm. The previous year, 1833, she had married Mennonite farmer Daniel Erb (1814-1898). She dated this tablecloth, and her towel above, with the date 1834, one year after Maria's marriage. This date suggests that perhaps Maria was working on these textiles before and after her wedding. She added her married initials "M E". While some of her lettering has faded, as has the date, her "M E" initials remain bright.
The tablecloth is hand-loomed, in a pattern woven design. Maria created the drawn-work panel in the center of the tablecloth, and she made fringes at both ends.
The linen texiles on this page were made from flax which was probably grown on this same farm. The flax would have been spun into thread on spinning wheels, for weaving linen textiles. This flax-and-linen tradition was an important part of daily work on Lancaster County farms during this era.