EDWARD R. HESS. One of the newer towns where ample illustration or history in the making is found is Kismet in Seward County, and one could not go far into an examination and enterprise of that village without coming upon Edward R. Hess, the directing head of the Kismet Mill and Elevator Company and a community factor in many of the activities which concern the welfare of his locality, though his home was established there only in 1915.
Mr. Hess is a native Kansan, born near Halstead in Harvey County, June 1, 1881. His immediate ancestry is of Pennsylvania stock, his father, John B. Hess, having been born in one of the western counties of the Keystone commonwealth of parents native to the Fatherland and who moved on westward to Adams County, Illinois, when John B. was still a child. The issue of the old heads of this adopted American family were Adam, Gus, Chris, William, John B. and Julia, and of these numerous sons only "Dutch John," as he came to be universally known, served his country under arms in our contest with the Confederate states during the Civil War.
John B. Hess enlisted in Adams County, Illinois, in Company B of the Fiftieth Infantry, and much of his war history was made serving under the famous warrior and statesman Gen. John A. Logan. He was in engagements at Shiloh, Stone River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain and in the Atlanta campaign and march to the sea under Gen. William T. Sherman. He took a furlough home after three years of service and then re-enlisted as a veteran and continued his military service until the end of the war and the country was saved and reunited under the Stars and Stripes. He escaped wounds or capture at the hands of the enemy and did his patriotic duty as a private soldier. The historian of his regiment makes special mention of him as the "big-footed, good-natured Dutchman."
John B. Hess engaged in farming in Adams County, Illinois, after the rebellion was put down until 1871, when he joined the great throng of settlers westward bound and came out to Kansas. His first settlement was in Jewell County but was driven from there by the grasshopper scourge and returned to his old Illinois home. But once subjected to the cooling and bracing air of Kansas he could not content himself elsewhere and he returned hither after a brief sojourn about his boyhood haunts and settled in Harvey County. Many years of his later life were spent in Halstead where for a time, he was a coal dealer, but losing his property by fire he was reduced to the necessity of doing manual labor for the sustenance of his family, and he died in the harness September 29, 1903, when just past sixty-one.
John B. Hess married Lizzie Kuntz, whose parents had migrated from Western Pennsylvania to Adams County, Illinois, and were native to the sub-district of Ortenburg, District of Nidda in the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Besides Mrs. Hess the children of this pioneer Kuntz family were Fred, Andrew, Charles, Henry and Sophie. Charles and Henry were Union soldiers in the Civil war and the former died in the service. Mrs. Hess is a resident of Halstead, Kansas, at the age of seventy years, and is the mother of Amelia, wife of P. F. Kauder, of Halstead; Carrie, who died as Mrs. William Hutton; Anna, wife of J. H. Santee, of Goltry, Oklahoma; Albert L., of Thomas, Oklahoma; Malinda, wife of M. E. Cheatum, of Halstead; Edward R.; Homer F., of Hutchinson, Kansas; Nettie who is Mrs. A. A. Rickert, of Hutchinson, and Miss Elizabeth, of Halstead.
Edward R. Hess grew up in Harvey County, attended the common schools of Halstead and subsequently took a course in the business college at Hutchinson. Being unable to depend much upon his parents as an aid to a higher education, he was compelled to provide the way and the moans of acquiring it himself and he passed through the commercial school upon the profits of a paper route in Hutchinson and selling papers on the street. Having secured technical training for business he entered the employ of the grain firm of Cooper and Dinsmore at Lyons, Kansas. He subsequently returned to Hutchinson and became a bookkeeper for the E. M. Traylor Grain Company for a year. He spent another year with the Rock Mill and Elevator Company and for two years he was manager of the Farmers Grain and Elevator Company at Saxman, Kansas. He next went into the grain business for himself at Wherry, Kansas, and two years later he engaged in merchandise at Lyndon, Kansas.
After a considerable experience as a grain man and a merchant Mr. Hess entered the field of banking at Mullinville as cashier of the Citizens State Bank there. After a service of five years there he disposed of his stock, came to Kismet and was one of the original stockholders and organizers of the Kismet State Bank and was chosen its cashier and was with the institution two years. In March, 1917, he joined a movement for the promotion of a mill and elevator, joining a company of fifteen local men for the erection of the plant of the Kismet Mill and Elevator Company and was chosen treasurer and manager of the industry. The Kismet Mill and elevator is an institution of much importance to that locality and is one of which the company and the community is justly proud. The plant is equipped with the roller process, has a capacity of twenty-five barrels of flour daily, is a manufacturer also of much other food product and supplies a limited territoy[sic] in all directions from Kismet with food for man and beast.
A few points, especially, should not be everlooked in connecting Mr. Hess with the pioneer enterprise and upbuilding of the Village of Kismet. He erected his own home, a generous seven-room frame standing upon a low hill commanding the village and station, and he has acquired other property here. He was appointed the agent for the Railroad Building and Loan Association at Kismet and the energetic prosecution of its affairs here was one of the factors in the rapid growth of the town, and indirectly stimulated growth and development in the country about. He was associated with H. S. Mooney in the establishment of the Klipper, a weekly newspaper, and he is one of the editors of that infant in the field of journalism. He is one of the trustees of the United Brethren Church, which recently erected a house of worship in Kismet, and is treasurer of Fargo Township. He is a republican and cast his first national ballot for Theodore Roosevelt for President.
At Arlington, Kansas, June 22, 1904, Mr. Hess married Miss Florence Eikleberry, a daughter of William F. and Belle (Harmon) Eikleberry. Mrs. Hess' grandfather was the son of a pioneer of Illinois, Jonathan Eikleberry who acquired a tract of the public domain in Wayne County, that state, which land descended to his children and until a recent date remained among his posterity. William F. Eikelberry was born in Wayne County, Illinois, and migrated to Kansas first in 1874. He subsequently returned to Illinois, married in Evansville, Indiana, and when he returned to the West he settled in Woods County, Oklahoma, whence he subsequently moved to Arlington, Kansas. Mrs. Hess was born in Jeffersonville, Illinois, March 4, 1882, and is the oldest of six children of her parents, the others being Charles Clyde, Harry Melvin, Jesse Lee, Ezra B., and Alta May, wife of Roy Culley, of Kismet, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Hess' family comprise the following children, Elma Ruth, Ralph Edward, Lula Nettie, Howard Lloyd and Ona May.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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