This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Judy Simpson. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Dr. Thomas M. Hess

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


DR. THOMAS M. HESS. Among the physicians of the county, the name of Dr. Hess, of Homer, is one of those most deserving mention in this work. He is now the oldest practicing physician in that part of the county. He has borne an excellent reputation for professional skill, and a spotless name as a Christian gentleman. His great-grandfather, with his three brothers, emigrated to America in the eighteenth century, and from them are descended all the members of the Hess family in America. One settled in Virginia, one further south, one in New York, and one in Pennsylvania. His great-grandfather was the one who settled in Virginia. He was killed by the Indians in Greenbrier county, Virginia, previous to the revolutionary war. Part of his family were killed, and part taken prisoners. Among the latter was his son, the grandfather of Doctor Hess, then about twenty-two years of age. He gradually gained the confidence of the Indians, and they allowed him to go on hunting excursions, every day granting him a little more liberty, till at last he seized an opportunity of securing a rifle and ammunition, and while absent from the camp hunting, he struck off, through the wilderness, for the white settlements, which he reached in safety.

In the year 1790, his grandfather emigrated from Virginia, and settled in Shelby county, Kentucky. His father, Apollos HESS, was born in Virginia. He subsequently married Catharine WRIGHT, whose family came to Kentucky, from Maryland, at an early period. She was raised in Shelby county. By this marriage there were twelve children of whom the next to the youngest was Thomas M. Hess. His father, Apollos Hess, was a physician, who practiced medicine at various points in Indiana, dying in Clay county, of that State, in the year 1853.

Dr. Thos. M. Hess was born at New Albany, Indiana, September 22d, 1819. About a year after his birth, his father removed to Jefferson county, Kentucky, where the Doctor first attended school. Most of his education he acquired, however, in the common schools of Indiana, to which State his father returned about the year 1829. For some time he attended a seminary at Charlestown, Clark county, Indiana.

January 24th, 1839, he married Nancy BUTTON, who was born in Preble county, Ohio, Nov. 4th, 1818. Her father, James BUTTON, and her mother, whose maiden name was Ally LOWE, were both born and raised in Kentucky, and belonged to families which were early settlers there. Her parents were married in Kentucky, and removed to Ohio. Her father died in Ohio, and her mother, having married again when Mrs. Hess was eight years old, moved to Indiana, in Parke county, in which State she was principally raised.

He was engaged in the mercantile business and other pursuits, in Indiana, till the year 1840, and then removed to Westfield, Clark county, Illinois. He began the study of medicine, at that place, in 1850. The winter of 1852-3, he attended the Starling Medical College, at Columbus, Ohio, and in the spring of 1853 came to the old town of Homer, in this county, to practice medicine. There were some physicians living there at the time, and some came soon after, but Doctor Hess has now practiced medicine longer than any other physician in that part of the county.

At the time he began practice, long rides and rough roads made the life of a physician one of hard work and discomfort, but Doctor Hess is a man who has tried to discharge his professional duties in a faithful and conscientious manner, and has made for himself an enviable record as a physician, and has enjoyed a large practice in Champaign and Vermillion counties. He has a diploma from the Rush Medical College, of Chicago. His natural adaptation and qualifications for the successful practice of medicine seems to have been transmitted to his children. Three of his sons are physicians. His oldest son, Doctor Apollos HESS, is practicing at Sydney, and is a graduate of the Ohio Medical College, at Cincinnati.

Doctor William H. HESS, the next son, is a graduate of the Rush Medical College, and is practicing at Chicago. Dr. Smith M. HESS is also a graduate of Rush Medical College, and of the Bellevue Medical College, New York city, and is practicing at Quincy.

Marriman T. HESS, the next son, is now in the State of New York.

Isabelle, the only daughter, is the wife of Joseph PORTER, of Milford, Ill. His youngest son, Theophilus M. HESS, is living with his father.

Since the age of seventeen, Dr. Hess has been connected with the Christian Church, and for thirty-three years has been a preacher in that denomination, devoting to the work of the ministry as much time as he could spare from his professional engagements. There was no Church of his denomination in existence at Homer, at the time of his coming to the county, and he exerted himself to gather together a congregation of Christians, and in 1856 had the satisfaction of seeing a Church, by that name, founded.

In politics, he has been a Democrat, and is as earnestly attached as ever to the general principles of that party.

In local matters, however, he has felt himself free to support candidates irrespective of their political affiliations. He was a Union Democrat through the war, and supported the efforts which were made to suppress the rebellion. His three oldest sons served in the Union army, his second son, Dr. William H. Hess, holding a position as surgeon.

Dr. and Mrs. Hess have spent together now nearly forty years of married life, and can look back, with satisfaction, on a career of honorable usefulness.

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