John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Berks County - Governor Heister

The following is reproduced from the 1876 Atlas of Berks County, Pennsylvania

The Hiester family has been a prominent one both in the history of the county and of the State. Their remote ancestors were of Silesian origin. The first of that name in this country were three brothers. Daniel, John and Joseph, who came from Westphalia, in the early part of the 18th century. For some time they resided in Montgomery county, where Daniel remained on a firm which he had purchased. The brothers together bought a large tract of land in Berks and John and Joseph settled here. When the Revolutionary broke out, they all took up arms in defense of freedom. Joseph Hiester, then an influential young male, called together a number of the people of Reading, and by appealing to the patriotism of his hearers, succeeded in enrolling eighty men in ten days. Afterwards a regiment was formed, and it was understood that Joseph Hiester would be commander. But learning that others desired the positions of Colonel and Major, he cheerfully gave his influence in their behalf, and himself served as Captain. When the force arrived at Elizabethtown, some of the men refused to proceed further, but were persuaded to do so by the entreaties of Captain Hiester. Having reached Long Island, they were captured by the enemy, after several engagements. Captain Hiester was closely confined, and badly treated by the British. After several months, he was released, having recovered his strength, he again entered the army, where he remained, serving with distinction, till the close of the war.

Soon after, he was elected to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, of which he remained an active and influential member for many years. He was a member of the convention which framed the first Constitution of the State. He was frequently chosen a member of the College of Electors of President, and Vice-President. For fourteen years he served his country in Congress. Reluctantly accepting a nomination for Governor he was elected to that office in 1820. At the end of three years, he retired from public life, and returned to the Borough of Reading, where he spent the remainder of his days. On the 10th day of June, 1832. he died in the 80th year of his age. His remains were interred in the German Reformed burial ground. His funeral was attended by a numerous concourse of his fellow citizens, who all bore witness to the usefulness of his long and honorable career in the service of the State and nation.