Friday, August 28, 2015

A Garden of Loose Ends: The Hess Descendants

Our story, so far:
We've reached a point where, if I am going to avoid violating the privacy of living people, I will have to abandon the effort to weave a narrative. Because of that, and because I am still missing a lot of detailed records about these folks, this post will necessarily leave a lot of loose ends.

I'm also more likely to get caught making mistakes, since some of the people I am writing about were known and remembered by people who are still alive. I always make mistakes; some are minor, some frustratingly major. I will remind any new relatives that catch these mistakes that I am putting this out here to show what I have, and to ask for help fixing it before putting it in a book!

So, if you are one of the living relatives who recognizes these people I'm writing about, I'd love to hear from you; either to help me fix mistakes, or tell me to include stories about them that you want to remember.

Clara and Jacob's oldest daughter, Jessie Alverda Mohn, married Thomas William Hess 22 July 1897, and they had the first of their eight children, a daughter, in April 1898. The first six were listed in the Callin Family History.

1. Hattie Helen Hess is a mystery to me. Though she appears in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census records in her parents' home in Jackson township, Richland county, I have not been able to scratch out any other records that match her. There is another Helen Hess of precisely the same age living in Richland county at the same time, which stands as an example of why this kind of research is so challenging, why one has to be skeptical of the evidence, and why one can end up going down so many rabbit-holes.

The other Helen married Delbert Pittinger in 1914, so she is listed in his household in January 1920, while our Helen is listed in Jackson township in July 1920 - with a marital status of "widow" just to make things more tantalizing. But while I suspected that Mrs. Helen Pittinger was not the same person as Hattie Helen Hess, I couldn't find definite proof until I had spent a day on researching the Pittinger family. I finally found Mrs. Pittinger's obituary at, which named her mother, "Mrs. Hayden Hess," and a brother who was not related to our Hattie Helen. Between that obituary and the birth and census records that confirmed it, I could finally prove that her father's name was John Hayden Hess, not Thomas William - but that also means that I don't know any more about our Helen than I did before I started down the rabbit hole.

(Any further information about Hattie Helen's fate would be greatly appreciated. N.B.: Update: Hattie Hess)

2. William and Jessie's second daughter, Rhea Ruby Hess, came along in April 1899, and also appears on the same Census records as her older sister. In 1920, though, she is listed in her parents' home as Rhea Tucker, along with a musically named daughter born around 1919. (I will have to spare you the variety of spellings of her name, as she is still alive somewhere in the world!) I have found no marriage records or anything indicating the fate of Mr. Tucker; however, by 1924 Rhea was married to Howard Wirick (another surname that pops up in the Callin family tree later on - also with a variety of spellings). Howard and Rhea had a son, Clarence Dean, born 30 April 1924.

Clarence, who went by the nickname "Moe" left the planet in 2008 leaving behind five children who are currently about my parents' ages. According to his obituary, he "served with the United States Army Air Corps during World War Two as a crewmember on a B17 bomber. Clarence was the last surviving member of the flight crew."

3. Clayton Clifford Hess was born in November 1900 - and as a parent of closely spaced siblings, let me express some sympathy for Jessie at this point for the sleep deprivation she must have surely been experiencing! Clayton grew up in Richland county, married Blanche Gregg around 1924, and worked as a "heater" in the steel mill in Canton, Ohio, during the 1930s. It looks like after he retired, they moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Blanche died in 1965 and Clayton died in 1969.

They had four children who were all born within six years - two boys and two girls. Glenn Orlo (1924) was a World War II U.S. Navy veteran who died in 1983 in New Mexico. I have no records of him raising a family of his own. His brother, James Thomas (1926), also served in the Navy in WWII, and died in Huron county, Ohio, in 1993. He and his wife had nine children, including a son named James Jay (1954-1988) who worked in a printing shop, and a daughter, Pat Montgomery (b. 1955) who died unexpectedly in January 2015.

Clayton and Blanche's third child was Darlene (1928-2010) who married Noel "Buzz" Zimmerman (1925-2009); they have seven surviving children. Darlene worked in food services, retiring from KFC in 2009, and Buzz was a U.S. Navy veteran (like his brothers) who worked for Bill Harris Auto before his retirement. And the youngest of the four, Maxine Alice Hess, was born 15 February 1931. She had three sons, one of whom, Gregory "Tiny" Hess, passed away in 2013 at 63. Maxine died in 2004.

4. Esther Eleanor Hess was born 15 November 1904 and married Ray Carlton Oberlin in 1923. They had two sons, and she died relatively young in 1953; Ray followed in 1967.

5. Geraldine Hess, born 28 February 1908, married Lester Lee Keller when she was 16 years old, in 1924. They had a son, but soon they divorced, and Geraldine was listed in her parents household with her young son in 1930. Lester died in 1973; I don't know whether he remarried or had more children. Geraldine remarried George Williams in 1935, and they had a son, also. George died in 1946, and she remarried in 1948 - this time to Harold Doerr, and they were together until he died in 1982. Geraldine died in 1997 in Mansfield, Richland county.

6. William W. was the last of the Hess children listed in his mother's record in the Callin Family History. He was born 1 April 1910, and he married Bertha Pauline Deppe around 1935. They had one child, a little girl they named Shirley Ann who died in 1940 at the age of four. William enlisted to fight in the Second World War in 1943, and he died in Cleveland in 1976; Bertha lived until 1992 and died in Mansfield.

7. Byrl B Hess was born 30 December 1911 and married Herbert Zimmerman (1890-1968), who happened to be the father of Noel Zimmerman (1925-2009), the eventual husband of Byrl's niece, Darlene, mentioned above. Noel was one of four sons of Herbert's first wife, Clara Gleason, who died in 1936. Byrl and Herb had two sons together: Marty (b. 1930) and Herb, Jr. (b. 1933).

(Of course, all six of these young men were close in age and raised as brothers, and the records and obituaries made it hard to sort out which boy belonged to which mother - my apologies if I got any of this wrong!)

The Zimmermans operated a grocery store during the Depression, and Marty Zimmerman worked as a distributor for Pepsi-Cola until 1962, when he moved his family to Wooster and opened a Hammond Organ Studios. He and his wife, who survives him, had four daughters; he died in March 2015. His brother, Herb Jr., was a staff commander in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and worked in the automotive industry. When he died in 2011, he left a wife, a daughter, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

 8. Jessie and William's youngest child was Dean D Hess, born 22 December 1913. (If you were keeping track, that is 8 children in 15 years.) He and his first wife had one son and one daughter before 1940; after that, I have found very little information. He married his second wife, Doris Lindenbolt, in 1951, according to an unconfirmed detail on his Find-a-Grave profile; she died in 1972, and he followed a few years later in 1979.

A Guide For New Cousins

I know this gets complicated, but if you happen to be one of the living descendants of any of these folks, here is a guide to figuring out how we are related. Our common ancestor, of course, is James Callin, the Revolutionary War soldier who I believe to be the father of James and John Callin of Milton township.

Jessie Mohn is my 4th cousin, 2x removed; her children are my 5th cousins, 1x removed, and her grandchildren are my 6th cousins. Each generation after her grandchildren would also be 6th cousins, starting with her great-grandchildren, the "removed" part starts counting up from "1x removed." So, for one example, Marty Zimmerman was my 6th cousin; his daughters are my 6th cousines*, 1x removed; and their kids are my 6th cousins, 2x removed.

Of course, I can't keep all of that straight without the computer, so you're all simply "cousins" to me!

Hope you are all well, and hope to hear from you in the comments (or email...or Twitter... or... you get the idea).

*Yes, "cousines" is the feminine plural of "cousins". 

Updates: Refined some of the location information thanks to some helpful feedback.

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