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Manuscript Group 72
HIESTER FAMILY PAPERS
1750-1865
1 cu. ft.


These papers represent three generations of a Pennsylvania German family descending from the pioneer Daniel Hiester (b. 1713, d. 1795), a family which participated with considerable distinction in the life of the Commonwealth, particularly in the counties of Berks and Dauphin.

Gabriel Hiester (b. 1749, d. 1824), a well educated farmer of Bern Township, Berks County, was a member of the provincial convention which in 1776 framed the first constitution of the State of Pennsylvania. 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. His son, Gabriel Hiester, Jr. (b. 1779, d. 1831), was appointed clerk of courts of Berks County by Governor Simon Snyder in 1809 and served as prothonotary of Berks County, 1811-18. Appointed brigade major of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the Pennsylvania Militia in 1809, he saw action in the War of 1812 in the campaign at Baltimore and Washington. A presidential elector for James Monroe in 1817 and again in 1821, he was appointed surveyor general of Pennsylvania by Governor J. Andrew Shulze in 1824. After assuming the surveyor generalship, which he held until 1830, he removed his residence to Harrisburg, where he died in 1831.

Augustus O. Hiester (b. 1808, d. 1895), son of Gabriel Hiester, Jr., was graduated from Dickinson College in 1828. He became a partner in the rolling mills of Hiester and Callender at Fairview on the Susquehanna at the mouth of the Conodoguinet and was active until 1836 in the manufacture of bar iron and boiler plate. Subsequently, taking up residence at Estherton on the east bank of the river above Harrisburg, he devoted himself to farming interests. He became a director first in the Harrisburg Bank, then in he Harrisburg National Bank. In 1851 Governor Johnston appointed him an associate judge in Dauphin County, and afterwards he was twice elected to that office. During the Civil War, on the appointment by Governor Curtin, Hiester became one of the three commissioners for investigating the damages inflicted by Confederate raids in Fulton, Franklin, and Adams counties, and at Chambersburg. He was one of the five commissioners designated to select a site for the Pennsylvania Agricultural College (now Pennsylvania State University). He was for many years a trustee both of that college and of Dickinson College. Business interests led to his holding stock and participating actively in the Harrisburg Cotton Factory, the Harrisburg Car Works, Fort Hunter Road, and the Harrisburg Street Passenger Railroad.

Included here are Pennsylvania Militia records and other papers of Thomas Elder (b. 1767, d. 1853), a son of the Reverend John Elder of the Paxton Presbyterian church and by 1799 lieutenant colonel and commandant of the 66th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia. Apparently after the 1810 death of his wife, Catharine Cox (daughter of Cornelius Cox), Elder left his regimental papers at Estherton, where, after the marriage of Augustus O. Hiester into the Cox family, they became part of the Hiester Papers.

In 1816 Thomas Elder became president of the Harrisburg Bank, a capacity in which he served until his death. A lawyer by training, he was appointed attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1820 by Governor Joseph Hiester, a gentleman with whom he had had occasional cordial correspondence since 1796.

The papers contain the following: 1 folder of miscellaneous business receipts to Gabriel Hiester; 1 folder of accounts and receipts of Gabriel Hiester, Jr., including receipts for direct taxes levied on his carriages and receipts from schoolmasters and schoolmistresses for the education of his children; 1 folder of deeds and patents, 1751-1810; 1 folder of lottery tickets and "Lottery Schemes," including a "Scheme for building a Church in Harrisburg" (the English Presbyterian Church, afterwards the market Square Presbyterian Church), 1802; 1 folder of printed broadsides announcing sheriff's sales, public vendues, etc., 1791-1830; 1 folder of broadsides for sheriff's sales issued by Sheriff Samuel Elder of Dauphin County, 1801-03; 8 folders of the papers of Gabriel Hiester, Jr., reflecting his duties in the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the Pennsylvania Militia, 1809-15, and as clerk of courts and prothonotary of Berks county, 1809-18, and revealing his attitudes and correspondence in political campaigns, particularly in the William Findlay-Joseph Hiester contest for the governor of Pennsylvania in 1817, in which Gabriel Hiester, Jr., supported Findlay rather than his father's cousin and during which he received letters from such political workers as Alexander Ogle, William Petriken, David Rittenhouse Porter, G. B. Porter, George Ryan, and J. Andrew Shulze.

Other papers include 1 folder of correspondence relating to the Hiester (Augustus O.) and Callender partnership in the Fairview rolling mills, 1831-35; 1 folder of papers showing Augustus O. Hiester's participation, 1863-64, in the investigation of the amounts of damages done in the Chambersburg area by Confederate forces during the Civil War; Augustus O. Hiester's copies of letters, 1864, to Colonel J. V. Rumford pertaining to the Civil War obligations of Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County; 1 folder of company officer elections of the Dauphin County Militia, Colonel Thomas Forster, commandant, 1793; 1 folder of officer elections in the Harrisburg Light Infantry, 1793; 1 folder relating to subscribers to rifle companies in the 66th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia, 1800-01; 1 folder of brigade and company officer elections, 1st Brigade, 66th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia, 1800; 7 folders of the regimental papers of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Elder, commandant of the 1st Brigade, 66th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia, including records and certifications of the elections of officers, letters between Elder and his officers, 1799-1804, and the procedure of a court martial in the brigade in 1800. Also featured are Thomas Elder letters with James Buchanan, Joseph Hiester, William Norris, and Thomas Pollock, 1796-1831; letters directed to Hiester and Callender (Fairview Mills) from John Harris, 1832, and from William and John Norris, 1833; and James Buchanan letters to Augustus O. Hiester, 1835, and to Hiester, Bioren and Company, 1835.




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