The children of Conrad and Ada Hess, ca 1903. Back row, from left to right: Ada, Anna, Abram, Alice; middle row: Ruth, Martha, Avery, Emma; front row: Zeigler, Pauline, Beula
On August 12, 1899, a little girl was born to Conrad Z. and Ada Sue Keen Hess. They decided to name this little one Beula. We were a large family, 12 in number, and we lived in beautiful Lancaster County on a 98-acre farm in Pequea Township. Dad dy was a good farmer and a good manag er. There were three boys and nine girls in the family and there was work for all as we grew to maturity. We girls even worked in the fields. When Daddy was short of help, two girls would help with the threshing in place of one man. We also had a herd of Jersey cows; I think it numbered in the 20s. If they didn’t produce a high butter fat, they left the farm. We milked with hand power in those days. We separated the milk and turned the cream into but- ter. We would have from 125-150 pounds of butter a week. The skim milk was made into various kinds of cheese—ball cheese, cup cheese, cottage cheese, and sometimes Mother would make egg cheese. We took our produce to a market in Lancaster City. It may be interesting to note that butter sold for 45 cents then, the balls of cheese were 10 cents and cup cheese was 10 cents a cup. Much different than the prices today!
We didn’t receive a weekly allowance back then like children do today but there was opportunity to earn by work- ing. We had a little garden plot where we grew and sold vegetables and we collected cast-off materials to sell to a little old man who came around in an old spring wagon through the neighborhood calling, “Rags, bones, and old iron.” I can still hear his voice.
Being a large family, there was much work but we had to have time for fun too. I was one of the younger ones so we had more time to play than some of our older brothers and sisters….
Daddy was a deacon in the Pequea [Brethren in Christ] Church near our home. Morning services were held there every four weeks and these services were a special time at our home. Mother would open a large table in the dining room on Saturday and a great deal of preparation was done because a number of folks would come upon invitation for dinner after church on Sunday. Usually the table was filled with a large platter of meat, potatoes, a couple of dishes of garden vegetables, pickles of various kinds, cakes, pies, and homemade ice cream, as well as butter, homemade cheese, and other good things. We youngsters always looked forward to the evening of visiting. The folks would tell of interesting things happening in the community and sometimes family affairs.
Young adult years
After I finished the eighth grade in a one-room country school, I spent the next two years helping my parents. They were leaving the farmhouse and moving to another house on the edge of the property. After the farm sale, there was considerable repairing and changes to be made in the house and I was needed there. This house is now the parsonage of the Pequea Brethren in Christ Church.
I then chose to go to Pennsylvania Busi- ness College in Lancaster. For the first several months I walked three miles twice a day to the trolley on Willow St. for the ride to Lancaster. When I completed this course, I was employed by Armstrong Cork Company in their accounting depart- ment for three and a half years.
During this time Henry and I were part of a group of young people from the rural churches who helped with Sunday school and youth activities at the Lancaster Mission on Sunday afternoons. In the morning we worshiped in our own home churches. When we decided to marry and announced our engagement, company policy did not permit women to continue working in their offices after marriage. The office manager called me aside and offered me higher wages if I would decide to stay instead of marrying. I decided, though, not to change our plans.
We were married January 19, 1924 by Henry’s father, Bishop C. N. Hostetter, Sr., at my parent’s home, with only family members in attendance. Our wedding trip was a one-week trip by train to visit Philadelphia, New York City, and Niagara Falls.
For our first two years of marriage we worked with my brother, Zeigler Hess, on the Hess homestead. This farm had been deeded to my ancestors by William Penn and even today it remains in the Hess family. During this time we attended the Pequea church where Henry was Sunday school superintendent and I was a Sunday school teacher for a class of young girls. This congregation was small and needed us.
On October 8, 1926 our daughter, Alice Grace, was born. Her delivery was difficult and she would be our only child. She was a wonderful asset to our family. That same year there was another change in the Hostetter family: C.N., Sr. was leaving the farm, and older brother Harris was going into the agri-business. Younger brothers, Henry and John, then became co-farmers. The two farmhouses on the property offered separate living quarters. Henry and John worked together for three years when John felt a call to go to Clarence Center. From then on, Henry managed the farm alone with the assistance of hired hands who lived in the adjoining house.