Hess Ranch

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Lander County

As stated elsewhere on this website, Meade's (my paternal namesake) built the first iron foundry in Nevada. It was located at Johntown on the Comstock. In both Storey and Lander counties, Hess's (my maternal namesake) were very prominent in both places. The Hess Ranch is one of the more photographed abandoned ranches in Nevada. Other websites that I really like (Forgotten Nevada, nvexpeditions) make reference to Jacob Hess living in Nye County in the 1875 Nevada Census. I was able to confirm that the document exists, but I couldn't look at it without a site membership and another fee. I have too many fees already associated with these historical websites. I was able to locate the 1880 Census which lists a 25 year-old farmer named Jacob Hess as a Lander County resident. His wife Loena (23 YOA) (maybe a misspelling of Helena), daughter Rosa (3 YOA) and son Chas. (1 YOA) are also listed. I figured that I would try to find a few personal details about the life of my mother's namesake, so I went to the Nevada newspaper archives. An 1890 article from The Central Nevadan stated that Governor Stevenson had appointed Hess to the District 6 Board of Agriculture Commissioners for Lander County. In 1893, the Elko Weekly Independent wrote that Hess had returned from San Francisco, where he sold a car load of horses for $65.00 a head. He also brought back other good livestock with him. In 1898, The Central Nevadan (Battle Mountain) stated: "J.E. Hess, one of Reese River's most prominent ranchers and stockmen, was in town yesterday." In 1899, The Silver State (Winnemucca) wrote an article titled: "Fine Ranches Which Produce Hay and Grain in Abundance--- An Ample Water Supply. A LAND OF PROMISE. Thousands of Cattle Raised." This article featured the big ranches of the Reese River Valley. To include the Wallace, Walsh, Ahlers, McMahon, Watt, Dunsdon, Duffy, Steiner and Hess ranches. In March of 1900, newspapers reported that Hess's wife Helena had died in San Francisco on February 23rd. It was reported that she had received a bad foot injury and traveled to San Francisco for medical procedures. After having the leg amputated below the knee, she was not able to recover. She is buried in the Austin Calvary Cemetery. Her obituary stated that she left behind a husband, three sons and a daughter. Her maiden name was Merten. In the 1900 Census dated June 12th, no wife is listed for Jacob Hess. Others listed were Charles (son- born in 1879), Fred (son- born in 1881), Jacob (son- born in 1883) and Rose (daughter- born in 1877). It also listed a sister-in-law with a last name of Baker and a boarder named James Dulin? (SP). A month after the death of Helena, it was reported that Hess sold five carloads of steers to the firm of Allen & Blackburn of South San Francisco. They were freighted via the Nevada Central Railroad. On January of 1903, The Silver State and The Central Nevadan both reported that J.R. Wilson had purchased two ranches from Jacob Hess. These were the Hess and Coney ranches located at Dutch Flat in the Reese River Valley. The Hess's retained 10 head of saddle and buggy horses. I have located the death certificate for Jacob Ernest Hess. It appears that he died of Arteriosclerosis in Ripon, San Joaquin County, California on January 16th, 1932. All the details of this death certificate would confirm that it is the same Jacob Hess of Reese River. The death certificate listed the following details about him. He was a retired farmer. He had a deceased wife named Helena. He was born in New York. His parents were Valentine Hess and Elizabeth Sylis, both born in Germany. It also stated that he had been residing in California for the last 23 years. This would add up with him selling his ranches in Nevada in the early 1900's and dying in California in 1932. The 1900 Lander County Census also listed him as a farmer who was 48 years of age, with a birth year of 1852. This would coincide exactly with the age on the death certificate. The 1900 Census also lists both parents as being born in Germany, which coincides with the death certificate.

Last Trip/Road Conditions: The photographs are from May 2018. The ranch is located about 23 miles south of Austin. The road is dirt, but it is wide and well maintained.

Sources: Forgetten Nevada (Website); nvexpeditions (Website); 1880 U.S. Census; 1900 U.S. Census; The Central Nevadan (Newspaper); Elko Weekly Independent (Newspaper); Reese River Reveille (Newspaper); Eureka Sentinel (Newspaper); The Silver State (Newspaper); State of California, Department of Public Health- Standard Certificate of Death for Jacob Ernest Hess in 1932.