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HESS Family History

The most obvious derivation of this ancient name is the region of Hesse in Germany.  The surname occurs as Hess and Hesse etc.  The modern spelling of the region is Hessen, with its capital as Wiesbaden. Its meaning is so ancient as to be uncertain.  Other derivations of the surname have been cited over the years, including a truncated form of the personal name Matthäus. 
The region of Hesse or Hessen in West-Central Germany was occupied in ancient times by the Chatti, a Frankish tribe. The early Hessians were often at war with the neighbouring states, and developed a reputation as efficient soldiers; a tradition which the German King Georges of 18th century England maintained in hiring their services in the American and Canadian wars, where they earned a fearsome reputation.
In Germany the surname Hess ranks as 214th with approximately 14, 865 bearers.  It is to be found in concentrations in Hessen and surrounding areas, and in Sachsen (Saxony) in East Germany.  Hesse ranks as 187th with 16, 695 bearers approximately, and is most commonly found in clusters in Sachsen-Anhalt and Nidersachsen.
Those bearers from the earliest times would carry the name as a habitation type surname; and it spread to other German speaking regions in Switzerland and Poland, for example.  The surname is found likewise in Holland and Denmark.  It is also a Jewish (Ashkenazic) surname.
Several of the name arrived in New York in the early 18th century; and during the 19th century settlement was most prominent in the state of Pennsylvania.
In the United States Hess is by far the most popular spelling;  it ranks as 518th with a population of 57, 822.  Whereas Hesse is at 5,406th place with a population of 5, 929. (Source: United States Census Bureau).
The region?s famous arms bear a red and silver hooped lion rampant on a blue shield, surmounted by an antique crown.  One German family coat of arms bears the sun in splendor on a blue shield, with the sun between two wings as the crest:  radiance and power are the message!
Walter Rudolf Hess (1881-1973): born in Switzerland, a physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1949, together with another scientist, for discovering the role played by parts of the brain in the functioning of vital organs.  His classic text, entitled ?The Physiology of the Mind? was published in 1964.
Moses Hess (1812-1875): originally Moritz Hess, a journalist, was born in Bonn.  As a socialist commentator, he  greatly influenced the earlier writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, although Marx later rejected Hess?s socialist ideas as ?utopian?.  He was also a pioneer of Zionism, and in his later years devoted himself to the publication of Zionist ideas.
Hermann Hesse (1877-1962): born in Calw in Germany, Hesse became one of the cult figures of 20th century literature.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.  He struck a chord with the disenchanted and restive war generations, with his message of spiritual liberation and escape from the destructive and negative forces of so-called western civilization.  He denounced militarism and nationalism during World War 1, from neutral Switzerland.  Works such as ?Siddhartha? (1922) and ?Steppenwolf? (1927) were profound influences on a whole generation: a radiant spirit indeed.  

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Areas of Origin for HESS

, Germany

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