These papers represent three generations of a Pennsylvania German family descending from the pioneer Daniel Hiester (1713-1795), a family which played an important role in the political life of the Commonwealth and particularly in the counties of Berks and Dauphin. Gabriel Hiester (1749-1824), a well-educated farmer of Bern Township, Berks County, was a member of the Constitutional Convention which framed Pennsylvania’s Constitution in 1776. He sat in the General Assembly of Pennsylvania for many terms and served as state senator for Berks and Dauphin Counties, 1795-96, 1805-12.

Gabriel’s son, Gabriel Hiester Jr. (1779-1831), was appointed Berks County clerk of courts by Governor Simon Snyder in 1809 and served as prothonotary of Berks County, 1811-1818. As a member of the Pennsylvania Militia, he served in the campaign at Baltimore and Washington during the War of 1812, and he was subsequently appointed surveyor general of Pennsylvania by Governor J. Andrew Shulze.

Augustus O. Hiester (1808-1895), son of Gabriel Hiester Jr., graduated from Dickinson College in 1828 and became a partner in the rolling mills of Hiester and Callender that produced bar iron and boiler plate until 1836. In 1851, Governor William F. Johnston appointed him as associate judge in Dauphin County and he was afterwards twice elected to that office. During the Civil War, on the appointment by Governor Curtin, Hiester became one of three commissioners charged with investigating the damages inflicted by Confederate raids in south central Pennsylvania.

Among these papers is a copy of a declaration of the theft of services of a Negro slave that was filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, April-June 1769. The case concerned John Lesher and Conrad Reiff of Berks County. John Lesher took a male Negro slave "Joe," who was the property of Conrad Reiff, and illegally employed him for his own personal use from June 1, 1761 until May 1, 1766. Reiff requested a damage payment amounting to sixty pounds.

In a letter dated March 16, 1813, Jacob P. Kershner of Hagerstown, Maryland wrote: "Dear Sir, I shall write you these few lines to inform you that father on his arrival at Readingtown, is the bearer of a letter to you and your father which I expect he will do...about the conveyance of the Negro eunuch . . . These few lines is merely to let you know that he has a letter for you and your father."

An undated broadside entitled "Front Street Circus" includes in the listing of activities: "Comic Negro song . . . by Mr. Boyce, 'Settin on a Rail.’"

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