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Carroll County Biographies


From the Goodly Heritage Volume 2

The Hess family role in Lanark's history drew toward a close with the sale of the personal property and family home at 205 East Pearl Street.

Miss Leona M. Hess, whose grandfather, John, was one of the community's first settlers, was 95 on October 4, 1972. She fell in her home September 19, 1971, breaking her hip. Following her stay in the Sterling Community General Hospital, she had been at North Rockford Convalescent Home in Rockford. She used a cane to get about, a relative reported.

She was valedictorian of the 1893 Lanark High School class and had a degree from the American Conservatory of Music, Chicago. She also graduated from Francis Shimer College, Mount Carroll, in 1901. She studied piano in Leipzig, Germany, in 1901 and 1902.

Besides teaching many private students, she taught piano at State Teachers' College, Pittsburg, Kansas, and Emporia, Kansas.

Her parents were William H. Hess and Abigal (Merriman) Hess. William and his father, John, who came to Lanark with the railroad, built a frame house (rest is unreadable)..

With bricks made in Lanark, they built the present Hess building on Main Street in 1882. William built the family home on Pearl Street for his bride in 1876. He was one of the men to buy the land for the Lanark Cemetery and helped lay out the lanes and plant shrubbery.

A neighbor recalled that William kept a diary for years. Each day at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. he would record the temperature and weather. He was called into court with his diary to establish weather conditions on a number of occasions, the neighbor said.

John Hess, son of Felix Hess, came from Southern Germany to Mount Carroll. When Lanark was started, he came to town and built the house at 128 East Locust Street.

At the Hess personal property sale in July, 1972, two hand-painted portraits of Mr. and Mrs. John Hess sold for $550 each.

Miss Leona Hess had one brother, Charles, who died at the age of 21. Her sister, Florence, married Royal D. Bray. They had four children, Don of Detroit, Michigan; Charles of San Angelos, Texas; Royal, Jr., of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Mrs. Loyal (Truanna) Randecker of Belvidere.

This article contributed by Mrs. Hal Francke who apparently took Piano Lessons from Miss Hess.

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