Biography of Michael E. Hess
Clarion County, PA Biographies

HESS, MICHAEL EDIC, the subject of this sketch, was born in South Columbia, Herkimer county, N. Y., September 25, 1826. He is descended from John Hess, who, with others, called Palatinates, came from Hesse Cassel, Germany, in 1710, and settled on the Mohawk River in Montgomery county, N. Y. The locality taking its name from the settlers was called Palatine. Subsequently the family of John Hess moved farther up the river, and became one of the first settlers of Herkimer county, N.Y. The surrounding vicinity was then inhabited by the Mohawk Indians, and Fort Herkimer was built as a refuge for the settlers. In an Indian raid on the fort in 1782, Augusdennis Hess, son of John Hess was killed while driving cattle into the enclosure. Hanyost Hess, son of Augusdennis Hess, enlisted in the War of the Revolution in 1776, and served to the close, being under Alexander Hamilton in the battle of Yorktown.

George Hess, son of Hanyost, and father of the subject of this sketch, was born and reared in Herkimer county, and moved to Cortland county, N.Y., about 1830, thence to Dewitt Center near Syracuse, and about 1842 to Cattaraugus county, N. Y., where he died in 1857. He served in the War of 1812, was a farmer by occupation, and reared a family of nine children, the other three dying in infancy. Of the twelve the last three were triplets, named respectively George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren, thus plainly indicating his political proclivities. M. E. Hess drove a team on the Erie Canal in 1840-1-2. The summer of 1843 he worked on a farm near Syracuse, N. Y., and the following winter attended district school, doing chores for his board. In March, 1843, under the preaching of Rev. Cleveland, he received the "word" which gave bent to his after life. He afterwards worked for Joseph, his elder brother, at Fayetteville, N. Y., and attended the Fayettville Academy, being a school mate of William Cleveland, elder brother of President Cleveland. Grover, then a lad of nine or ten years, was attending a district school near by, and was often at the academy in company with his brother William. Mr. Hess afterwards taught district school, and in 1847 came to the lumber country in Cattaraugus county, N. Y., where he took a saw mill to run by the thousand. He subsequently bought the mill, and continued in the lumber business for ten years.

In 1849 he married Caroline Shaver, of Jamestown, N. Y. He enlisted in the One Hundred and Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in August, 1862, and fought in the battle of Perryville, Ky., October 8th. Soon afterwards he became disabled by an attack of typhoid fever, and at the suggestion of his attending physician was discharged in order to regain his health. In the fall of 1863 he was elected drill master in the Ohio National Guard, at Camp Cleveland. He received from Governor Tod, of Ohio, two commissions, the first for lieutenant, and the second for major.

In the spring of 1861 Mr. Hess engaged in the oil business at Mecca, Ohio. In the summer of 1864 he came to Oil Creek, and operated for oil on Cherry Run, at Pithole, Petroleum Center, Shamburg, and McClintockville. In 1872 he moved to Franklin, Venango county, thence to Shippenville in 1874, and in 1877 to Edenburg, Clarion county, where he lives at present. He commenced operating for oil in Clarion county in 1873, putting down the first well on the David Shoup farm, also the first one on Daniel Knight's farm. In 1874 he drilled the first well on the Moon farm in Ashland township, the first successful well on the R. J. Dahle farm, in Elk township, in 1875; one of the first wells on the J. I. Best farm at Edenburg, and in 1876 the first well on the Camp Ridge and David Whitehil farm. The same year, he, in company with E. C. Bradly, esq., put down the first wells on Egypt farm in Beaver township. At the assignment of Mr. Bradly, Hess became liquidating partner, and settled all the claims against Hess & Bradley. Mr. Hess brought with him to Clarion county $60,000, but testing so extensively for oil, and in consequence of endorsements he became financially embarrassed. However, he was afterwards able to make satisfactory settlements. He in company with others in 1887 secured extensive leases in Monroe township, and struck the first successful well in the Reidsburg field. In Edenburg he has been elected burgess twice, and has filled various other borough offices.

He had a family of three boys and three girls. The eldest son, Eugene, is West; the younger, Frank and Earnest, are minors at home. The eldest of the girls, Ida, married F. G. Sacket, the next, Bell, married G. S. Hamm, and the youngest, Mary, died in Franklin at the age of nine years. His wife and mother of his children died of cancer at Edenburg. In September, 1878, he married Margaret E. Klotz, widow of Dr. Charles Klotz, of Richland township.

Mr. Hess has superintended the Methodist Sunday schools of Petroleum Center, Franklin, Shippenville, and for the last ten years at Edenburg.

At the age of twelve years the subject of this sketch had two hairbreadth escapes from death. The first was while sitting partly concealed under the bank beside the canal. A boat passing by had on deck a hunter looking for game. Seeing only the top of the oy's muskrat cap, and supposing it to be a genuine rat took aim and fired at it, just grazing the crown of Michael's head. The second was on board a canal boat in entering a lock near Syracuse. As the boat approached the foot of the lock the gates were opened in order to empty it. The sudden gush of water moved rapidly the tiller by which he was standing, and pitched him overboard, and the rapidly discharging waters swept him under the boat After passing under it for near its entire length he got his foot on the gravel, pushed himself out, and unaided waded ashore.

In the fall of 1886 he edited the Prohibition column of the Clarion County National and in 1887 wrote "The Early Recollections of Edenburg," published in the same paper.

History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its prominent pioneers.
EDITED BY: A. J. Davis
D. Mason & Co., Publishers

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