Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1692


Adam W. Hiester, a well-known jeweler of Strausstown, Pa., was born Dec. 13, 1868, in Upper Tulpehocken township, not far from where he now resides. Mr. Hiester is a son of Moses Hiester, and grandson of Gabriel, great grandson of Daniel and Barbara (Kaufman) and great-great-grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth (Strunk), the former of whom came to America with his father Johannes from Germany early in the eighteenth century.

Gabriel Hiester was born in Bern township in 1798, and died in Bethel township in 1872. He followed farming throughout his lifetime, in the winter also working at his trade of tailor. His farm of 200 acres lay in what is now called Bethel township. He married Catherine Emerich, a daughter of John Emerich, and six children were born to this union: (1) Joseph, who is buried at Blue Mountain church, was a cooper and blacksmith by trade; he m. Marie Miller, and their children were, Malinda, Isabella, Sarah, Kate, Maria and Alice. (2) Benjamin, who was also buried at Blue Mountain church, m. Catherine Degler; their children were; William, Levi and Henry. (3) Michael now lying in the same churchyard, m. Leah Christ, and to them were born ten children: William, Emanuel, Lizzie, Sally, Cyrus, Rebecca, Amelia, Mary, James W. and Monroe. (4) Moses is referred to later. (5) Hannah m. John Zerbe, and their children are Kate, Joseph, Daniel, Henry, Lizzie, Amelia. (6) John is living at Xenia, Ohio. (7) David, of Dayton, Ohio, married Sarah Lindermuth, and their children were Belle, Frank and Harry. (8) Henry, living at Orwigsburg, Schuylkill county, was twice married, first to Mary Stupp, by whom there were six children, Willoughby, Cyrenius, Adeline, Benjamin, Miranda and Charles; his second wife was Emma Dieffenbach, by whom he had one child Alma.

Moses Hiester, father of Adam W., was born in Bethel township May 24, 1827. For many years he was in the milling business, having learned the trade of Joseph Seyfert. Some years later in 1855, he and his father-in-law, George Degler, bought a mill from Joseph Seyfert, located at Strausstown. The mill was owned and operated by them until 1870, when it was sold to Jacob E. Hiester, and it later was bought by W. B. Anthony, who is the present owner and operator. After disposing of his milling interests, Mr. Hiester bought some farming land about one half mile west from Strausstown, where he followed the occupation of farming until 1894. Then he retired from active life and moved to Strausstown, where he died March 25, 1900. He was well and favorably known throughout the county, and was noted as a man of good habits. He is buried at Blue Mountain Church.

He married Maria Degler, born 1830, and still living, daughter of George and Elizabeth (Zerbe) Degler. They had children as follows: (1) James M. died at the age of thirty-eight. (2) George A., a grocer of Paulding, Ohio, m. Mary Viebach, of Defiance, Ohio, and they have Florinda, Emma and Edwin. (3) Benjamin Franklin, living at Glendo, Wyoming, is a carpenter by trade and also a ranchman, owning one of the largest ranches in the State and having been a "rancher" since 1893; he is unmarried. (4) Selisa, who died in 1884, was the wife of John M. Hassler, and had one daughter, Sallie. (5) Devilla D. died young. (6) Charles H., living at South Bethlehem, an employee in the Physical Laboratory, Lehigh University of that city, m. Hannah Dierwechter, and they have J. Robert and M. Minerva. (7) Adam W. is mentioned below. (8) Hettie D. married Charles H. Miller and died in 1904, leaving a daughter, Lizzie.

Adam W. Hiester remained at home until twenty years of age, assisting his father in the farming business. His education was acquired in the public schools of the township. He afterward learned the trade of cigarmaking, which he followed for six years. In 1892 he went to Reading, where he learned the jeweler's trade with J. C. Luden. Four years later he returned to Strausstown, where he engaged in the jewelry business. He follows all lines of the business, and is considered one of the successful men of the place. At times he works in the Electrical Engineering Laboratory at the Lehigh University South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mr. Hiester is well known in the county and prominent in his home town. He is an active member of the P. O. S. of A., No. 664, past officer, and since 1902 treasurer of his camp, a member of Camp No. 38 P. O. of A. and the present financial secretary. As a member of the Reformed church he is active in its management, being one of the trustees of that organization, a teacher in the Sunday School, and a member of the choir. He is a member of Zion's Union Aid Society, being its secretary for nine successive years. He is unmarried. He has a large circle of friends, and is held in high esteem by his fellow citizens.


p. 977


Daniel F. Hiester, who carries on business as a carpenter and joiner at Reading, is also a surviving soldier of the Civil war, and belongs to one of the old families of Berks county. Mr. Hiester was born Nov. 30, 1843, in Spring township, Berks county, not far from Van Reed's paper mill, son of Benneville and Sarah (Brown) Hiester.

John Hiester, grandfather of Daniel F., passed his whole life in Berks county, where Benneville Hiester was born and reared. He married Sarah Brown, and they had six children, Daniel F. being second in order of birth. Daniel F. Hiester was educated in the schools of Spring, Ruscombmanor and Heidelberg townships, attending until he was eighteen years old, when he learned the cabinet maker's trade. He continued to work at this trade until Feb. 6, 1865, when he enlisted for service in the Civil war, entering Company F, 192d Pa. V. I., in which he faithfully served until Aug. 24, 1865, when he was mustered out at Harper's Ferry, and honorably discharged at Harrisburg. The officers of this Company were Capt. John Teed and Lieut. Samuel Snyder. Company F was mainly utilized for provost duty. Upon his return from the army he engaged in carpenter work, and has continued in this line ever since, for seventeen and one-half years being connected with the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as foreman bridge builder, and for nineteen years has been foreman for the firm of L. H. Focht & Son, which is the largest building and contracting firm in the city of Reading.

In 1866 Mr. Hiester married Sylvia Beiber (died Sept. 20, 1908), daughter of Benjamin Beiber, of Rockland township, and they have had eight children, of whom one son died in infancy. The others are as follows: (1) Charles, deceased, married Linnie Huber, who now lives at Harrisburg, and they had six children-Leroy (who is married and has a daughter, Katherine), Harry (a private in Co. 88, C. A. C., Fort Mansfield, R. I.), Howard (deceased), Charles, Sylvia and Ivy. (2) Sally married Charles E. Miller, and had two children, Helen E. and Edith F., the latter deceased. (3) George A. married Sallie Levan, and has seven children-Pauline, George, Emma, Daniel, Elizabeth, Lydia and Samuel. (4) Lydia and (5) Corinna M. are both deceased. (6) Emma J. is a graduate nurse from the Reading Hospital, class of 1901. (7) Daniel married Bernie Gregory, and has two sons, Edward F. and James Gregory. In religious belief Mr. Hiester is a member of the Reformed Church, as was also his wife. He belongs to the Carpenters' Union.


p. 1403


Rev. Eli E. Hiester, a retired minister of Strausstown, Berks county, Pa., was born near Belleman's Church, in Centre township, January 14, 1830. He is a son of Thomas and a grandson of Daniel Hiester. The latter, who was born November 5, 1761, died April 16, 1827, at the age of sixty-five years, and is buried at Zion's Blue Mountain Church. His occupation was that of farming, and for many years he resided in Upper Tulpehocken township, where the name is well known and highly respected. Three times he was married, his last wife being Susanne Ammon, whose birth occurred May 4, 1782. She died October 17, 1862, at the advance age of eighty.

Thomas Hiester, the father of Eli, was born July 10, 1803. He grew to manhood on his father's farm and besides acquiring the usual knowledge of farm work, he learned the trade of wheelwright, which he followed during his long residence near Strausstown, in Upper Tulpehocken township.

He married Christiana Ebling, the daughter of Jacob Ebling. She was born at Upper Tulpehocken township, July 5, 1802, and died January 13, 1878, at the age of seventy-five years, five months, and eight days. On June 19, 1882, the husband, having lived to the advanced age of seventy-eight, was laid to rest beside his wife in the old cemetery at Zion's Blue Mountain Church. Their children were: Jonathan, who became a minister of the Reformed Church, and whose death occurred in Lebanon county, Pa., in 1900; Jacob, born in 1827, died in 1874 (he married Susanne Snyder, who was born in 1823, and died in 1875); Sarah, born in 1828, married Michael Klahr, her death occurring in 1861; and Eli E. Eli E. Hiester, being the youngest son, was privileged to receive greater educational advantages than his older brothers, in the pay schools of Upper Tulpehocken township, and the Boyertown Mount Pleasant Seminary, both of which he attended. After that he studied with his brother Rev. Jonathan to prepare for Franklin and Marshall College at Lancaster which he entered in 1855, graduating in 1859. After graduating he went to the Theological Seminary, at Mercersburg, Pa., to study Theology. He was ordained in 1865 at Pine Grove, Schuylkill county. He began his work in the ministry at Grantville, afterwards taking charge of the church at Friedensburg, Schuylkill county, where he remained six years. Later he came to Strausstown, Pa., where he has since resided. His ministerial career covered a period of fifteen years and though retired from active work, he occasionally fills the pulpit of the local church. A trade acquired in his younger days, that of watch and clock repairing, supplies occupation for many otherwise unemployed, hours. This, together with a half interest held in a fine farm of seventy-three acres, near Strausstown, brings a good income, which, at his age is something unusual for one who has given his best efforts in the service of the church. Rev. Hiester never married, finding the religious life all-sufficient for his happiness. He is one of the oldest residents of Strausstown, and held in the highest regards, not only by his fellow-citizens, but by all who have the privilege of knowing him.


p. 352


One of the old and important families of Berks county is that of Hiester, and the ancestry can be clearly traced to Johannes and Catherine Hiester, who spelled their name in German Huster. They had three sons who came to America, John, Joseph and Daniel by name. John, born in 1701, in 1750 married Mary Barbara Epler, and died in 1757. Joseph, born in 1710, married Elizabeth Strunk, and died in 1777. Daniel, born in 1713, in 1742 married Catherine Schuler, and died in 1795. They were natives of the town of Elsoff, in the Grafschaft of Witgenstein, Westphalia, Germany. These brothers settled in Pennsylvania early in the eighteenth century, and their descendants have been more or less prominent in the various walks of life in the same section ever since.

Joseph Hiester came to America in 1738 and first went to live in Goshenhoppen, then Philadelphia (now Montgomery) county. Several years afterward Joseph and his brothers, John and Daniel, united in purchasing from the Proprietary government between two thousand and three thousand acres of land in Bern township, Berks county. Here Joseph and John settled, while Daniel remained at the old homestead in Goshenhoppen. Joseph and his wife Elizabeth had the following children: John, born in 1754, died in 1826; John Christian married Susan Reber; Catherine, born in 1758, died in 1813, married Nicholas Lieb; Daniel, born in 1761, died in 1827, married Magdalena Albright; one son married Barbara Kauffman; another son married Susan Anman; Ann Eliza, born April 8, 1766, married Jacob Van Reed; Joseph, born in 1768, died in 1830, married Elizabeth Beck; and William, born in 1770, died in 1828, married Anna Maria Bentz.

Daniel Hiester had several sons who were distinguished: John, born in 1746, was a member of Congress in 1807-08, resigned, and was succeeded by his son Daniel, who served in 1809-10; Daniel of Montgomery county, born in 1747, was a representative in Congress from Pennsylvania from 1789 to 1797, and from Maryland from 1801 to 1805; Gabriel, of Berks county, served thirty years in the State Legislature; William, the youngest son, for a short time served in the Continental army (his son William, born 1791, of Lancaster, was a member of Congress in 1833-35, and died Oct. 15, 1853).

The first named John Hiester had a son Joseph, who was a member of the convention to ratify the Constitution of the United States; was repeatedly elected to the State Senate and House; was a member of Congress in 1797-1807, and from 1815-1821, resigning to assume the governorship of Pennsylvania. He died June 10, 1832.

John Hiester, grandfather of John K. Hiester of Reading, was a son of the Joseph Hiester who was born in Germany in 1710. John was born in Bern township, Berks county, Sept. 25, 1754, and died Sept. 17, 1826. He is buried at Bern Church, which he helped to erect. He owned a tract of 200 acres, which was divided after his death into five shares. This was all woodland when he secured it. His wife was Catherine Albright, and they had the following children: John died unmarried; Ann Eliza married Jacob Gieding; William died unmarried; Daniel died unmarried; Catharine married David Bohn; Daniel died unmarried; John Christian married Catherine Kramer; Yost married Rebecca Reber, and Jacob.

Jacob Hiester, father of John K. Hiester, was born in Bern township July 1, 1801, and died in March, 1873. He was a lifelong farmer, and died on the farm on which he was born and on which he had spent his whole life. His portion of the old Hiester farm was some sixty-six acres, to which he had added twenty acres. In politics he was a Democrat, but he held no office except that of school director, a position he filled for six years. He and his family were members of the Bern Church, of which he was one of the leading elders. For many years he served as lieutenant in the State militia, and he made a fine appearance, as he was a man of commanding presence.

He married Susanna Kramer, daughter of John and Catherine (Ruhl) Kramer, of Bern township, and they had the following children: Adam, a farmer on the old homestead, married Rebecca Gring; Lydia married John Moyer, a farmer of Heidelberg township; Gabriel died young; John K. is residing at Reading; Catherine died unmarried. John K. Hiester was born in Bern township, on one of the old Hiester stands, Nov. 2, 1848. His education was obtained in the township schools, at a Reading academy, and at the Keystone State Normal School, at Kutztown. In the fall of 1866 he began teaching at Hiester's school in Bern township, and during the winter of 1868-69 he taught in Maiden-creek township; later taught one year in Bern township; three terms in Ruscombmanor township; three terms in Exeter township; one term in Jefferson; one term in Ontelaunee; two terms in Birdsboro; three terms in Cumru; two terms in Robeson, and then thirteen terms in Bern township, in all thirty-two terms, his services being given all over the county, with fifteen terms in his native township. He thus became widely known, and is held in high esteem, and he constantly meets his former pupils, many of whom never received other instruction than that he gave them. During the summer months, until 1890, Mr. Hiester worked upon the farm in his native township, but in that year he came to Reading and in the following year he purchased his comfortable home at No. 314 South Thirteenth street, where he has resided ever since. After establishing his home at Reading he continued to follow his profession during the winter months until 1898-1899, when he taught for the last time. For five summer seasons he was in the employ of Alderman Griesemer and subsequently worked as labor boss and shipping clerk in the Johnson Foundry & Machine Company, where he continued for seven years; when that firm went out of business he went to the American Iron & Steel Company, where he has remained until the present.

On Oct. 30, 1890, Mr. Hiester married Hettie A. Deisher, born Oct. 30, 1857, a daughter of William and Sarah (Stayer) Deisher, the former of whom is a farmer and business man of Berks county. To Mr. and Mrs. Hiester have been born three children, namely: S. Adella, born Feb. 21, 1892; Morris W., born in August, 1893, who died in October, 1893; and William L., born June 17, 1895. Mr. Hiester has spent almost all of his life in Berks county, but in January, 1869, he went to Lee county, Iowa, where he worked on a farm until his return to Berks county in the following October. Politically he is a Democrat. He is a member of Bern Union Church and the Reformed denomination. His wife worships in Grace Lutheran Church.

Thomas K. Hiester, one of the prominent farmers of Bern township and a representative member of an old and leading family, was born where he now resided, Dec. 16, 1861. He is a son of Harrison K. Hiester and a grandson of John Christian Hiester (son of Joseph, born in 1710). The grandfather was a man of ample fortune owning two farms near the well-known Bern Church, and he was noted both for his fine personal appearance and for his good judgment and foresight. He and his wife lie buried at Bern Church.

He married Catherine Kramer, a native of Bern township. They had five children: Benneville; Jared; Harrison K.; Washington, twin of Harrison, now residing on North Queen street, Lancaster, the oldest surviving member of this family; and Maria, who married John Eyrich.

Harrison K. Hiester, father of Thomas K., was born in Bern township Aug. 6, 1832, and died April 27, 1904; he was laid to rest in Bern churchyard. He was the owner of the old homestead, consisting of 134 acres, and later he bought an adjoining farm of 107 acres from his brother Benneville, the transaction taking place in 1876. He was an enterprising farmer and a man of progress in his community. At the time of his death he was serving as school director. In politics he was a Democrat. He was a liberal supporter of the Reformed faith and of the Bern Church.

He married Rosabella Kischner, born Sept. 16, 1834, who died Feb. 24, 1878, aged forty-three years, five months, eight days. They had issue as follows: Kate, widow of Aaron Bohn, lives at Mt. Pleasant; Ellen married J. F. Yeager; Thomas K. is mentioned below; Mary married Jonathan Ohlinger, of Penn township; Rosa married Adam Gruber; Sallie, deceased, married to Cyrus Bohn; Annie married Henry Stamm, of Penn township; Jemima, unmarried, resides at Reading; Edward K. lives in Bern township; Harry lives in Penn township; Lizzie, residing in Bern township, is married to Grant Hartman.

Thomas K. Hiester was educated in the township schools and the Kutztown State Normal School, and in 1879 he taught school in Bern township. Then he was employed by his father until 1888, when he began to farm the homestead for himself; he bought the property in 1905. His farm contains 134 acres of very valuable land, which, under Mr. Hiester's excellent management, is very productive. Like the other members of his family he is identified with the Democratic party and is sound on all its doctrines. He has served on the township election board and in 1896 he was made a member of the school board, of which he has been president ever since, having twelve schools under his supervision. He is a leading member of the Bern Reformed Church and on of its deacons.

Thomas K. Hiester married (first) Eva Bohn, a daughter of Emanuel and Elvina (Krick) Bohn. She died Dec. 31, 1891, aged twenty-three years, seven months, nine days, and was buried at the Bern Church. She was survived by two children, William and Edna, the former of whom resides at home; the latter married Daniel Gicker, a well-known young man of this community. Mr. Hiester married (second) Ruth Fisher, daughter of James and Elizabeth Fisher, and they have had two children: Walter, who attends school; and Mabel, who died aged ten months, June 9, 1902.

Edward K. Hiester, a well-known young farmer of Bern township and a member of the old Hiester family of this section, was born on the Hiester homestead May, 1, 1871, son of Harrison K. and Rosabella (Kischner) Hiester. He attended the public schools of his native township and during 1888-89 was a student for two sessions at the Kutztown State Normal School, after which he worked for his father on the farm. In 1898 he began to farm for himself and bought one of the Hiester homesteads. It is valuable land, and Mr. Hiester has improved it by erecting fine buildings and modernizing his residence to a large degree, putting in a system of water pressure. His land adjoins the Bern Church property.

In 1892 he married Sallie Schwoyer, daughter of Cornelius and Sarah (Looser) Schwoyer, of Centreport, Berks county, and they have the following children: Abner, Harry, Earl, Bertha, Edward J. and John. Politically Mr. Hiester is a Democrat, and he has served as township assessor. He is serving in his third term in this office and is a popular public official. For two years he served as a deacon of the Bern Reformed Church.


p. 755


Hiester Family. [Taken from Rupp's History of Berks County (1844) pp. 295-297.] The name of Hiester is so extensively connected with the general and State governments, that a brief sketch of the family may not be uninteresting.

Their remote ancestors were of Silesian origin. From that country they were distributed throughout Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Switzerland and the countries bordering on the river Rhine. The immediate ancestors of the present race of that name in this country emigrated from Wittgenstein in Westphalia, and arrived in America in the early part of the 18th century. They consisted of three brothers, Daniel, John and Joseph, who took up their residence in the first place at Goshenhoppen, then in Philadelphia, now in Montgomery, county. Here Daniel at once purchased a farm which was somewhat improved. After exploring and becoming better acquainted with the country, they united in purchasing from the Proprietary government upward of two thousand acres of land in Bern township, now Berks county. Here John and Joseph settled, while Daniel remained at the homestead. Having thus, with the characteristic prudence of those primitive days, first secured the means of supporting families, they next, in due time, formed matrimonial alliances with American women, and "set themselves down each under his own vine and fig tree," to enjoy, in the pursuit of agriculture, the fruits of their virtuous enterprise.

As they had been induced to leave their own native country by the vassalage of an oppressive government, which exacted, not only onerous taxes, but also a portion of the time and labor of its subjects, they naturally cherished in the minds of their descendants, a lofty spirit of freedom. Accordingly, when the Revolutionary war broke out, they were among the first to enroll themselves in the list of Associates. The efficient services of this class of citizen soldiers (which were organized by electing two Brigadier Generals at Lancaster on the 4th of July, 1776), afterward rendered in the campaigns of New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and the lower part of Pennsylvania, is a well known matter of history. Daniel (of Montgomery), John (of Chester), and Gabriel (of Berks), the three eldest sons of Daniel, entered the service as field officers, the two former with the rank of Colonel, and the latter with that of Major. William, the fourth and youngest son of Daniel, although also enrolled, did not, on account of his extreme youth and the infirmity of his aged parents, serve more than one campaign. [He was the great-grandfather of Isaac Hiester, Esq., whose sketch follows.]

Joseph Hiester, afterward Governor of Pennsylvania, the only son of John, entered the service as a captain in the "Flying Camp," and having been made a prisoner at the battle of Long Island, and confined on board the notorious Jersey Prison Ship, "New Jersey," he was, after his exchange promoted to the rank of Colonel. After the war, he and his two cousins, Daniel and John, were elected to the rank of Majors General of the militia in their respective districts. The popularity these men gained by their devotion to country, and the public spirit during the eventful struggles of the Revolutionary war, never forsook them. After the declaration of peace, they all enjoyed, by the suffrages of the people, a large share in the councils of the State, and general Government.

General Daniel Hiester was the first representative in Congress under the present constitution, from Berks county, of which he had in the meantime become a citizen. In 1796 he removed to Maryland, where he was again repeatedly elected to the same office, from the district composed of Washington, Frederick, and Allegheny counties, until the time of his decease, at Washington city, in the Session of 1801-02.

Joseph Hiester was elected a member of the convention which met in Philadelphia, in November, 1787, to consider and ratify, or reject, the first constitution of the United States; and in 1789, he was a member of the convention which formed the second constitution of this State. Under that constitution, he and Gabriel Hiester (who had also been a member of the convention which formed the first State constitution), were repeatedly elected to the Legislature, the latter continuing either in the Senate or House of Representatives, uninterruptedly, for nearly thirty years. General Joseph Hiester, after the removal of Daniel to Maryland, represented his district, composed in part of Berks county, in Congress, and about the same time General John Hiester was also chosen a member of the same body from Chester county. Both were re-elected for a series of years-the former until he resigned in 1820 and he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania, and the latter until he declined a re-election and retired to private life.

GABRIEL HEISTER. [Taken from Montgomery's Berks County in the Revolution (1894) p. 232.] Gabriel Heister, a son of Daniel Hiester (native of Wittgenstein, Westphalia), and Catherine Schuler, was born in Bern township June 17, 1749. He was brought up as a farmer and given such an education as the neighborhood afforded at the school connected with the Bern Church. In 1776, he was selected as one of the representatives from Berks county to the Provincial Convention for the formation of a constitution. In 7178, he received the appointment of justice of the Common Pleas Court of the county, which he held for four years. He was afterward elected to the Assembly, and represented the county for eight years, 1782, 1787-89, 1791, and 1802-04. He was in the Assembly when the question of framing a new constitution was discussed but he voted against the propriety of calling a convention for this purpose. He was a sentry from the district which comprised Berks and Dauphin counties for ten years, 1795-96 and 1 805-12. This continued selection by his fellow-citizens indicates their confidence in him as a man of ability and integrity. He was a brother of Col. Daniel Hiester, of Montgomery county; of Col. John Hiester, of Chester county, and a cousin of Col. Joseph Hiester of Berks county.

He died on his farm, in Bern township, Sept. 1, 1824. His wife was Elizabeth Bausman, who survived him eight years, dying in the 81st year of her age. He had four sons, Gabriel, Jonathan, William and Jacob, and two daughters, Mary (m. to Frederick A. Shulze), and Elizabeth. The family name was commonly written Hiester, but he wrote it Heister.

Isaac Hiester, attorney-at-law at Reading, and president of the Second National Bank, was born at Reading Jan. 8, 1856. He was educated in the local schools, and after graduating from the high school in 1871, entered Trinity College, at Hartford, Conn., from which he was graduated in 1876. He then studied law in the office of George F. Baer, Esq., for two years, and was admitted to the Bar of Berks county Aug. 13, 1878. Since then he has been actively and successfully engaged in the practice of his profession, not only in the County courts, but also before the Superior and Supreme Courts of the State, as indicated by the published reports of cases. He has been prominently identified with the Berks County Bar Association, having served as vice-president for nine years until 1906, and since then as president. He has also been a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for a number of years.

Mr. Hiester has officiated as a director and the counsel for the Reading Trust Company since its organization in 1886; also as the president of the Second National Bank of Reading since 1890, having been one of its organizers in 1881. He is also connected with the management of the Charles Evans Cemetery Company, the Reading Library, the East Penn Railroad Company, the Reading Gas Company, and the Reading Electric Light & Power Company as trustee or director.

On Dec. 4, 1905, Mr. Hiester was married to Mary Kimmel Baer, daughter of George F. Baer, Esq. They are members of Christ Episcopal Church. He has been a vestryman since 1879. He took an active part in the Sunday-school for many years, officiating as superintendent from 1880 to 1889.

William Muhlenberg Hiester, (father of Isaac); was born at Reading, May 15, 1818, and after receiving his preparatory education in the West Nottingham Academy, Maryland, entered Bristol College, from which he was graduated in 1837. He then studied law in the office of Hon. John Banks, at Reading, attended a course of law lectures at Harvard College, and was admitted to the Bar at Reading in 1840. In 1843, the honorary degree of A. M. was conferred upon him by Harvard College. Soon after his admission to the Bar, he went to Erie, Pa., for the purpose of engaging in the practice of the law at that place, but after remaining there four years he returned to Reading to form a law-partnership with Henry A. Muhlenberg, Esq., and they together established a large and successful practice. Both of them took an active interest in Democratic politics, and their ability and devotion were so highly appreciated that they were elected to the State Senate, the former serving form 1850 to 1853, and the latter from 1853 to 1856. Mr. Hiester, during his last year in the Senate, officiated as Speaker.

Upon the election of Hon. William F. Packer as governor of the State, he selected Mr. Hiester as secretary of the Commonwealth, and Mr. Hiester filled this important office with great success from 1858 to 1861. During the exciting presidential campaign of 1860, he supported Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, but when the Civil war broke out he encouraged the Lincoln Administration in the earnest prosecution of the war to the utmost of his ability. In 1863, Governor Curtin, in appreciation of Mr. Hiester's patriotic spirit appointed him as one of the mustering officers, with the rank of major, and during this year he mustered into the service eight regiments of volunteers who had answered the Governor's call for 60, 000 men to repel the invasion of the Rebels. These regiments were assembled in the Fair Grounds at the head of Penn street, and the encampment was called "Camp Hiester," after Mr. Hiester. His adherence to the Republican party led to his nomination for Congress by the Republicans of this district in 1864. After the Civil war he lived practically in retirement until his decease Aug. 16, 1878. He was identified for many years with the management of the Charles Evans Cemetery, the Reading Gas Company, and the Reading Library as a director; and he contributed liberally toward the support of local charity. He was married to Julia F. Roland, daughter of Henry Roland, and they had one son, Isaac (above). His wife died Oct. 27, 1904.

DR. ISAAC HIESTER, a distinguished physician for nearly fifty years at Reading, was the grandfather of Isaac Hiester, Esq. He was born in Bern township, near the Bern Church, about eight miles form Reading, June 22, 1785. He was given a thorough education at the University of Pennsylvania for the practice of medicine, and after serving as an attending physician in the Pennsylvania Hospital at Philadelphia for five years, located at Reading, where he practised his profession in a most successful manner until his death in 1855. During his practice he prepared a number of articles on medical subjects which received much favorable comment.

Dr. Hiester manifested great interest in local affairs, whether of a medical or of a financial, industrial, literary and scientific nature, and his superior character exerted a powerful influence in the successful development of Reading during its really formative period for forty years from the close of our war with England (1812 to 1815). When the Berks County Medical Society was organized in 1824, he was chosen its first president, and upon assuming the duties of the office, delivered a most interesting address. [The proceedings of the meeting and a copy of the address are published in Rupp's History of Berks County (1844), pages 290-294.] He co-operated heartily with other enterprising men of Reading in establishing railroad communication with Philadelphia on the south, and with Pottsville on the north; in supplying the townspeople with spring water for drinking purposes and gas for lighting purposes; and in founding the Reading Academy for increasing the facilities of higher education at home; and when Charles Evans, Esq., came to appoint the first board of trustees at Reading, he selected Dr. Hiester as one of them.

In 1810, Dr. Hiester was married to Esther Muhlenberg (daughter of Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, who distinguished himself by patriotic service during the Revolution), and they had four children: William M. (above); Peter M.; Anna M. (m. Hon. J. Pringle Jones, judge of Berks county from 1851 to 1861); and Frank M.


p. 326

Surnames: HIESTER, OTTO, BIOREN, SCHULZE Gabriel Heister, (son of Hon. Gabriel Hiester, a prominent representative man of Berks county) was born in Bern township Jan. 5, 1779. He was given a good English and German education, and his youth was spent on his father's farm. His father having taken an active and successful part in local politics, he naturally exhibited the same spirit at an early age. By appointment from the Governor, he was prothonotary of the county from 1809 to 1817; clerk of the Quarter Sessions from 1809 to 1812, and 1814 to 1817; and associate judge from 1819 to 1823. During the War of 1812-15 he served as brigade-major in the campaign at Washington and Baltimore. He served as a Presidential elector in 1817 and in 1821, casting his ballot upon both occasions for James Monroe. Governor Shulze appointed him surveyor-general of the State in 1824, when he removed to Harrisburg, and he officiated in that position for six years. While at Harrisburg he became interested in the iron business, and he erected the first rolling-mill in that vicinity, continuing actively engaged in it till his decease there in 1834. He married Mary Otto (daughter of Dr. John Otto, of Reading), and she died in 1853. They had the following children: Louisa, Harriet (m. C. B. Bioren), as Augustus O., Gabriel and Catharine.




Harry K. Hiester, farmer of Penn township, was born on the old Hiester homestead in Bern township, this county, July 27, 1874, son of Harrison K. Hiester, and grandson of John Christian Hiester.

John Christian Hiester was a man of ample means, owning two farms near the well-known Bern Church, and he was noted for his fine personal appearance as well as for his good judgment and foresight. He and his wife are buried at Bern Church. He married Catherine Kramer, a native of Bern township, and they had five children: Benneville, Jared, Harrison K., Washington and Maria (who married John Eyrich).

The oldest surviving member of this family, Washington Hiester (a twin of Harrison), is now residing on North Queen street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Harrison K. Hiester, son of John Christian, was born in Bern township, Aug. 6, 1832, and died April 27, 1904; he was laid to rest in Bern churchyard. He was the owner of the old homestead, consisting of 134 acres, and later he bought an adjoining farm of 107 acres, from his brother Benneville, the transaction taking place in 1876. He was an enterprising farmer and a man of progress in his community. In politics he was a Democrat. In religious matters he was a liberal supporter of the Reformed faith and of Bern Church.

He married Rosabella Kerschner, born Sept. 16, 1834, who died Feb. 24, 1878, aged forty-three years, five months, eight days. They had children as follows: Kate, widow of Aaron Bohn, lives at Mt. Pleasant; Ellen is the wife of J. F. Yeager; Thomas K. is a farmer of Bern township; Mary is the wife of Jonathan Ohlinger, of Penn township; Rosa is the wife of Adam Gruber; Sallie (deceased) was the wife of Cyrus Bohn; Annie is the wife of Henry Stamm, of Penn township; Jennie unmarried, resides at Reading; Edward K. lives in Bern township; Harry K. is a farmer of Penn township; Lizzie, residing in Bern township, is the wife of Grant Hartman.

Harry K. Hiester received his early education in the schools of Bern township and later pursued his studies at the Keystone State Normal School, at Kutztown, Berks county. Remaining at home with his father until he was nineteen years old, he made his home with his sister, Mrs. Kate Bohn, for the next four years, at the end of that time commencing farming on his own account. He first lived on Joseph Reber's farm in Bern township, for one year, and then moved to the William Dundore farm, in the same township, for three years, after which he was on James T. Reber's farm, in Lower Heidelberg township, for two years. In October, 1904, he bought a place in Penn township from his father's estate, and there he has ever resided, carrying on general agricultural pursuits. He has 118 acres of fine land, upon which he is continually making improvements, and he attends the reading market once a week, having a steady demand for his products.

In 1895 Mr. Hiester married Miss Kate Mengel, daughter of William and Annie (Keim) Mengle, of Bern township, and granddaughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Snyder) Keim. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hiester, Lester, Charles and Carrie. Mr. Hiester is a member of Bern Reformed Church and, in fraternal connection, of the K. G. E. at Leesport. He is a Democrat in political opinion.


p. 510


John A. Hiester, alderman of the Sixth ward, Reading, and one of that city's most prominent and influential citizens, is descended from the Hiesters who have been prominent in Pennsylvania affairs for so many years.

John Hiester, grandfather of John A., was a farmer of Berks county, as was also his son, Benneville, the father of the alderman. Benneville Hiester died in 1857, aged forty-two years. His wife was Sarah Brown, daughter of Daniel Brown, a well known farmer of Berks county. They had six children: Henry died in 1866, aged nineteen years; Daniel F. is a carpenter; Amanda married Isaac Menviller, a farmer of Berks county; Sarah m. James Keller, of Kansas; Emma m. Joshua A. Schlegel, of Topeka Kans.; and John A.

John A. Hiester was born in Cumru (now Spring) township, Berks county, Sept. 21, 1846, and was educated in the public schools. When nearly twelve years old his father died, and, after working on a farm for a time, young Hiester went to Monroe county, where he had charge of a sawmill. Tiring of this he located in North Heidelberg and became a farmer. His friends elected him judge of election as well as a member of the school board. In 1882 Mr. Hiester removed to Reading and established a livery and boarding stable, and this business, still owned and managed by him has grown to large proportions. Mr. Hiester served efficiently as a director of the poor for nine years, so efficiently, indeed, that he was elected alderman of the Sixth ward of Reading, on the Democratic ticket (although the ward was largely Republican) in February 1903. While a resident of Bernville, in 1876, Mr. Hiester was elected chief burgess of the place although only thirty years old at the time.

Mr. Hiester was married in 1872 to Catherine E. Weber, daughter of Z. Weber, a carpenter of Bernville. Ten children have been born to this union; Charles, who died at the age of three years; Mary M. has been employed in the U.S. Mint Service at Philadelphia since 1894; Martha m. Edwin Larum, a clerk at the Philadelphia and Reading freight station at Reading; John C. is a carpenter of Reading; Vernon was mustered out of the army in the summer of 1904, after serving three years, two years of which were spent in the Philippine Islands, where he was made provost sergeant; James D. and Herbert are at Reading; Eleanor is at home; and Arthur and Catherine are at school. Alderman Hiester belongs to Mt. Penn Lodge No. 65, K. of P.; K.G.E., No. 49; the Home Circle; the Literary Society; Schuylkill Fire Company, No. 12, and to the uniformed rank of this company. In his religious affiliations he is connected with the Reformed Church. The alderman has two offices, one being at No. 10 North Third street, and the other at No. 20, the same street.




Capt. John A Hiester, of Reading, enjoys the distinction of being the only boat-builder on the Schuylkill canal. He has been running excursion boats since 1869, at present owning the two pleasure steamers "Rosie" and "Carrie," and he has been regularly in the employ of the Schuylkill Navigation Company since 1869. He had previously been engaged on work for that company from 1864, working with his father until the latter's death. The business interests of father and son have been closely associated with the history of the canal and navigation company.

Captain Hiester was born in Berks county in 1844, and he has lived in Reading since he was six months old, his parents, William an Elizabeth (Adams) Hiester, having moved hither at this time. His mother was a daughter of Isaac Adams, who owned an oil mill on the Tulpehocken creek. William Hiester was engaged as a boat-builder in the early days of the Schuylkill canal and did work for the Schuylkill Navigation Company for many years, carrying on an independent business. He built craft for boatmen as far north as Troy, N. Y., and was considered one of the most reliable boatbuilders in this part of the country. One of his masterpieces was the famous "Regulator," which he built for the Philadelphia & Reading Company, and he constructed a number of pleasure boats which gave him a reputation along the Schuylkill. He was the first owner of a steamboat on that river, the "J. L. Stichter," which plied between Reading and High's Woods. Mr. Hiester was killed in 1878, and was survived by his wife and two children. Three children were born to them: John A.; Julia, who died aged thirteen years; and Sarah, unmarried, who makes her home with her brother. The father was a member of the Reformed Church, a Republican in politics, and a Mason and Odd Fellow in fraternal connection.

John A. Hiester was educated in the common schools of Reading, and early began to learn boatbuilding under his father, who trained him thoroughly in his life work. In 1864 he began work for the Schuylkill Navigation Company, and regularly entered the employ of that Company in 1869, and he has built and repaired many canal boats during his long career in this line, often handling as many as five hundred boats in one season. The first boat owned by the Captain was the "J. L. Stichter," formerly owned by his father, which he rebuilt and renamed the "Escort;" her length was 55 feet, beam 14 feet, 4 inches; his next boat, the "Gazelle," also built by his father, was 65 feet long, 14 feet, 4 inches across the beam; later he owned the "Pearl," 62 feet long, beam 14 feet, 4 inches; all these boats drew 3-1/2 feet of water. Captain Hiester built the "Valley Forge" (for a Mr. Shaw of Valley Forge), length 65 feet, beam 13 feet, draw 3-1/2 feet; the "Atlantic," length 65 feet, beam 13 feet, draw 3-1/2 feet; the "Martha Washington" (for Caleb, Ruth and Robert Hanna, of Conshohocken), length 65 feet, beam 14 feet, 4 inches, draw 3-1/2 feet; the "Golden Eagle," length 73 feet, beam 16 feet, 10 inches, draw 3-1/2 feet; the "Mayflower," length 26 feet, beam 7 feet, draw 2-1/2 feet; and the "Iowa," length 47 feet, beam 10 feet, draw 4 feet. Since 1903 the Captain has limited his operations to the repairing of canal boats for the Schuylkill Navigation Company. Captain Hiester has a reputation on the river and canal which for many years has insured him steady and remunerative patronage. Having following his work from boyhood he is familiar with all its phases, ready for any emergency, and always the capable and reliable workman, able to do any of the varied tasks which are in the course of his work. He is well known in Reading, where he affiliates with the Masons and Odd Fellows, belonging to Chandler Lodge, No. 227; Excelsior Chapter, R. A. M.; Reading Commandery, No. 42, K. T.; and Vigilance Lodge, No. 193, I. O. O. F. He is a Republican in political opinion.

In 1863 Captain Hiester married Elizabeth Wagner, daughter of Valentine and Rebecca (McKinney) Wagner, and to them have been born ten children, seven sons and three daughters: William Henry Wagner, who is a boatbuilder and framer, working with his father; Charles Franklin, a boatbuilder in the employ of the Schuylkill Navigation Company; George Washington and Jonathan G. G., both of whom are boatbuilders; Julia M., who married Philip Tumney (both are deceased); John Harrison, a boatbuilder; Carrie, wife of Irvin Peacock; James A. Garfield; Albert Arthur; and Rosa, married to Harry Markley. All of this family are members of the Reformed Church.




Joseph Hiester, Governor of Pennsylvania, was born in Bern township, Berks county, Nov. 18, 1752.

His father, John Hiester, emigrated to this country in 1732, from the village of Elsoff, in the province of Westphalia, Germany. Some years afterward, he settled in Bern township, where he was married to Mary Barbara Epler, a daughter of one of the first settlers in that section of the county. He and his two brothers, Joseph and Daniel (who had emigrated in 1738), took up large tracts of land comprising several thousand acres, which extended from the Bern church to the Tulpehocken creek. He died in 1757, aged fifty years. His wife was born in 1732; and she died in 1809.

Joseph Hiester grew to manhood on a farm. In the intervals of farm labor, he attended the school which was conducted at the Bern church, and there he acquired the rudiments of an English and German education. The homestead was situated about a mile north from the church. He removed to Reading before he was of age, and entered the general store of Adam Witman. While there he became acquainted with Witman's daughter, Elizabeth, and he was married to her in 1771. He continued with his father-in-law till the breaking out of the Revolution; then he raised a company of eighty men in July, 1776, which became a part of the "Flying Camp," and participated in the battle of Long Island. He was taken prisoner in the engagement, and he and the other prisoners endured many hardships for several months before they were exchanged. He then remained at home only a short time, sufficient to regain his health and strength, when he again joined the army, near Philadelphia, returning in time to participate in the battle of Germantown. He continued in active service till the close of the war.

Upon his return from the Revolution, he entered into partnership with his father-in-law, and some years afterward became sole proprietor of the store. He conducted his business operations very successfully for a number of years. Public affairs also received much of his attention, not only relating to political government, but also to the development of Reading and the county by internal improvements. He served in the General Assembly from 1787 to 1790, being there when that body ratified the Constitution of the United States. He was one of the delegates to the Constitution of Pennsylvania in 1789, and assisted in framing the Constitution of 1790. He was the first State Senator from Berks county from 1790 to 1794. In 1797 he was elected to represent the county in Congress, and he was continued as the representative from 1797 to 1807. After an intermission of eight years, which he devoted entirely to business at Reading, he was again sent to Congress in 1815, and reelected twice. While holding this office he was prominently identified with the political affairs of Pennsylvania, so much so that in 1817 he became the nominee of the Federal party for Governor, though not elected the. The party selected him in 1820 as the most available candidate, and he was elected. This was a great victory for him, but especially for his party, inasmuch as he was the first successful candidate which the Federalists had placed in the field against the Democrats.

The administration of Governor Hiester was characterized by great activity in promoting the growth of the Commonwealth, especially through internal improvements. He suggested that the sessions of the Legislature might be shortened without detriment to the public good, that public improvements could be made advantageously and domestic manufactures encouraged with success, and that there existed an imperative duty to introduce and support a liberal system of education connected with general religious instruction. While he occupied the gubernatorial chair, the State capital was removed from Lancaster to Harrisburg. The building was begun in 1819 and finished in 1821, and the General Assembly convened in it for the first time on Jan. 3, 1822. The capital had been at Lancaster since 1799, and previously at Philadelphia.

Upon the expiration of his term as governor he lived in retirement at Reading. His residence was situated on the northern side of Penn street (No. 437) midway between Fourth and Fifth streets. He owned a number of farms in Alsace (now Muhlenberg), Cumru and Bern townships, tracts of woodland on Mount Penn (altogether numbering nearly two thousand acres), seven prominent business stands and dwellings in Reading, and also out-lots. He occupied and farmed the out-lots for his own use -- a custom then carried on by the more prominent inhabitants in order to supply their families with vegetables-and kept horses and cows.

Governor Hiester was a man of commanding presence and pleasing address. He was about six feet tall and weighted about 200 pounds. He was a member of the Reformed Church. His wife died in 1825, aged seventy-five years. He died in 1832, aged seventy-nine years. His surviving children and grandchildren were: a son, John S. Hiester; two daughters, Catharine (widow of Hon. John Spayd), and Rebecca (married to Rev. Henry A. Muhlenberg); a granddaughter, Mary E. Muhlenberg (daughter of Mary Hiester, who had married Rev. Henry A. Muhlenberg), and the children of Elizabeth Hiester (who married Levi Pauling), Joseph, Henry, Elizabeth (married Thomas Ross), James, Rebecca, Ellen and Mary. Governor Hiester's autograph is shown herewith.




William Muhlenberg Hiester, son of the celebrated physician, Dr. Isaac Hiester, was born in Reading, May 15, 1818. His maternal grandfather was Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, of Revolutionary fame. His mother, Hetty Muhlenberg, died in 1872, at the advanced age of eight-eight years. He received a preparatory training at the West Nottingham Academy in Maryland, and subsequently entered Bristol College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1837, in the second and last class of graduates from that institution. He read law in the office of Judge Banks, attended a course of lectures in the Law Department of Harvard College, and was admitted to the Bar at Reading, Jan. 7, 1840. The honorary degree of A. M. was conferred upon him in 1843 by Harvard College. He practised his profession four years in Erie, Pa., in 1845 returning to Reading, and associating himself with the Hon. Henry A. Muhlenberg, and soon acquired a large practice. In 1852 he was elected by the Democratic party as a member of the State Senate, and served until 1855, taking foremost rank among the Democratic members. At the opening of the session of 1855, after an exciting contest, he was elected speaker of the Senate on the twenty-seventh ballot. His career as speaker was dignified, firm and impartial.

In January, 1858, he was appointed secretary of the Commonwealth by Gov. William F. Packer, and continued in that office during the administration of three years. He supported Stephen A. Douglas for President of the United States in the campaign of 1860, but subsequently earnestly advocated the administration of Abraham Lincoln and was a warm friend of the Union. In the summer of 1863, when Pennsylvania was being invaded by General Lee, Mr. Hiester was appointed by Gov. Curtin one of the mustering officers, with the rank of major, to muster in troops that volunteered for ninety days' service, in response to the Governor's proclamation of June 26, 1863, calling for sixty thousand men. He was assigned to duty at the temporary rendezvous on the Agricultural Fair Grounds at Reading, which, in compliment to him, was designated Camp Hiester. In the execution of his military commission he mustered into the State service eight full regiments of volunteers, comprising an aggregate force of eight thousand men.

After the war he supported the Republican party, and in 1864 was the Republican candidate for Congress in the Berks county District. After this event, he retired from participating in public affairs, and devoted his attention to the benevolent and business interests of his native city. He was a director in the Reading Library Company, in the Charles Evans Cemetery Company and the Reading Gas Company, and a liberal supporter of the public and private charities of the city. He died in Reading Aug. 16, 1878, leaving a widow and a son Isaac, who is a practising attorney at Reading.

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