Rabbi Julius Hesselson Hess


Rabbi Julius "Hesselson" Hess

Death 22 Jun 1940 (aged 74)
Saint Charles, St. Charles County, Missouri, USA
Burial University City, St. Louis County, Missouri, USA
Plot Section F, Center
Memorial ID 106150029 View Source
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Rabbi Hess served congregations in the midwest and travelled in Ohio and the Dakotas. He never held a pulpit in St. Louis although his entire family lived in the St. Louis area and those who are deceased are buried here. He is listed along with other rabbis who served St. Louis congregations. The full list can be found at SAINT LOUIS RABBIS.

Rabbi Hess died at age 74 from a perforated stomach ulcer.

In the American Jewish Year Book (ca 1920) he was listed as affiliated with Beth Joseph and B'nai Isaac in Ashley and Wishek, North Dakota.

He also traveled a circuit as a cantor and rabbi which included the upper Midwest along with visits to North Dakota and South Dakota Jewish communities. During Rabbi Hess's time in Ashley, North Dakota, he established the Beth Itzchock Cemetery outside Ashley...Ashley Jewish Cemetery Association. Historic records document that local successful businessmen Louis Rubin donated the ground to establish the cemetery although, strangely, he is not buried there.

Daughter Gertrude "Goody" Hess Becker lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota as a young girl before moving to St. Louis.

Feist family text was compiled by Chanan Feist. He died at the age of 90 in recent years.

"Franziska was born at 1. June 1869. She was raised in the house of her aunt, the sister of Johanna, and her uncle Oppenheimer in Heiligenstadt. The family Oppenheimer was quite wealthy. They owned a big department store, which was in the hands of the family for over 100 years. At the age of 19 Franziska moved, by the advice of her parents, to Braunschweig to get a better education. In 1899 she married Cantor Julius Hesselson. After a year and a half their son Rudi was born. A few months after the birth of Rudi their happiness was shattered. Julius who was born in Russia and being a Jew, could never have been naturalized and become a German citizen. He lived in Germany already for years, studied at the University in Marburg, but he always needed a permit, which was valid for one year only. This time, as he asked to renew his permit, he got a negative answer and was ordered to leave Germany in 24 hours. He succeeded to emigrate to the U.S.A., and after he got settled there Franziska joined him. They settled in St. Charles. After Rudi (we don't have any information about him) eight children were born: Gretchen, Fluffy, Goodey, Abe, Helen, Henri, Ruth, Mel." END

"Proving Up and Moving Up"
by Janet E. Schulte, Brandeis University
(excepts p. 11)


Much of the burden of cultural maintenance fell to women. Pius Jewish homesteading women faced significant obstacles to their role of transmitting Jewish tradition to the next generation. North Dakota offered "no synagogues, no rabbi, no kosher butcher, and no cheder (Jewish elementary school) for the children." Without the traditional institutions of the shtetl available to her, a Jewish woman had to find other ways to keep the faith alive in her children. Burleigh County homesteaders, responding to the insistence of Jewish women, made arrangements for Rabbi Julius Hess from Bismarck to live among them on a rotating basis to teach Hebrew to the children, do the ritual slaughtering of animals, and perform other Jewish rites.

Urban Jews also recognized the importance of transmitting culture and traditions to the next generation of Jewish farm children. Rabbi Ben Papermeister of Grand Forks traveled as far as two-hundred miles away with a horse and wagon to visit Jewish families throughout the state. The Rabbi "was also a mohel (circumciser) and would serve the Jewish farm families in this function when he went out to visit them. "The JAIAS (Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society) subsidized the work of the Jewish Chautauqua Sociey to keep the spark of Judaism alive on North Dakota homesteads. The latter group sent North Dakota Farm families reading materials in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English on Jewish history and religion and monitored the work of such traveling rabbis as Rabbi Ben Papermeister from Grand Forks and Rabbi Julius Hess from Bismarck."

Jewish Wing
Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Jewish observance of Passover begins today at sundown. During early migrations of Jewish settlers into ND, most special celebrations were celebrated in farm homes. Rabbi Julius Hess often traveled from Ashley to provide services and instruction for Judaic immigrants northeast of Bismarck. Residents of Wing planned to build a synagogue in 1915, but it didn't happen.

The Jews who settled this region arrived with NP railroad construction crews around 1910. Along with Jewish merchants, they were among the original founders of both Wing and Regan. The first store, meat market, shoe shop and harness shop in Wing had Jewish proprietors, as did the first cream station in Regan. Even the first baby born in Wing was Jewish.

Source: William C. Sherman et al, Plains Folk: North Dakota's Ethnic History

Jewish Chautauqua
March 27, 1912

The final meeting of the season of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Chautauqua Society was held the past week. The reports show interest is daily growing in the development of the Correspondence School, and many teachers will continue their studies during the summer. The report of the work in the Colonies of South Jersey was presented giving an account of a most interesting meeting in the form of an Inter-Colonial gathering, which was held in Rosenhayn, N. J. The children of all five colonies were in attendance, 650. The Board of Directors of the Society attended the meeting, and they had as guests, representatives of some of the Philadelphia and New York Organizations. The Society has inaugurated similar activity in the colonies of North Dakota. Rabbi Julius Hess of Chicago is in charge and writes most enthusiastically of the work in Ashley and Wing, ND.

Huron, South Dakota
May 5, 1930


Sioux Falls, May 5 -- After more than eight years in Sioux Falls, Rabbi Julius Hess, rabbi of the Sons of Israel Jewish Congregation**, has tendered his resignation to the local Jewish congregation, which accepted it, effective May 21, and he will eventually go to St. Louis, MO, to take charge of a Jewish congregation there.

Rabbi and Mrs. Hess will leave Sioux Falls on or about May 21 for an extended vacation trip. Rabbi Hess has been affiliated with synagogues in this country and various countries in Europe since 1885. He took charge of the local congregation in February, 1922. the Sons of Israel synagogue building was recently sold to the St. Johns Negro Baptist congregation and at the present time the Jewish congregation has no definite meeting place. A building committee of the congregation is investigating the situation and anticipates to have something definite to report in the near future.

** No longer in existence

February 9, 1956

Response to Rabbi Plaut by T. Papermaster, son of Rabbi Papermaster who served in the Dakotas at the same time as Rabbi Hess.
His letter was sent as clarification. Here are only a few excerpts which contain references to Rabbi Hess.

Dear Dr. Plaut:

I am pleased to have your letter of January 26th.

It is now 22 years since my father passed away and of his accumulated material, correspondence, records, library has been distributed, among members of the family,
gone astray or destroyed. Members of the family have migrated to all parts of the country. I shall get in touch with them for whatever material there still may be in
their possession but I know that I shall have to rely on my memories.

I am preparing notes covering some of the questions of interest to you.

By 1900, more than half of the original settlers had already left the colony,
settling in Grand Forks, Fargo, Minneapolis and St Paul. Among the remaining
families were two Greenberg families, two Meels, one Kronick, and I am sure there
were others but I cannot recall the names. My father took me along on one of his
trips there and I clearly recall that trip. There was not room enough for me on the
sulky seat, so I sat in front. The ox switched more flies off of me than he did of
himself. One can only imagine a thirty-mile ride over a country road by ox power.
I'll never forget it. My father made his first trip to the colony in the fall of
He spent several weeks there as each of the colonists wanted to put in his supply of
kosher meat and fowl for the winter. He made regular trips there each fall and
spring, besides the occasional special trip for a bris or a wedding. The fall trip
always required his bringing along supplies of vegetables, such as potatoes,
cabbages, beets, carrots, and other supplies the colonist either could not or would
not raise on their own land. These vegetables grew in super abundance in the Red
River Valley, particularly on the Minnesota side. At the turn of the century, Jews
had commenced to settle in all parts of North Dakota and western Minnesota, and up
to then Father was the only Rabbi in that entire area. Rabbi David Lesk came to
Fargo in 1900, which by that time had developed to a community of approximately 40
families that he served. Rabbi Julius Hess was the established as a rabbi in Wishek,
North Dakota, where another settlement of Jews had been established through the
Jewish Colonization Association and also provided for the Rabbi who served all the
settlers in and around the towns of Wishek, Ashley to the southeast of Bismarck as
well as to some of the requirements of Jewish people who lived in Bismarck. Rabbi
Hess later made his home at Aberdeen, South, Dakota.

T. Papermaster

June 25, 1940


Rabbi Julius Hess, 74, father of Mrs. Nath Auerbach of this city, died Saturday morning at St. Charles, MO, following an illness of two years. He was buried Sunday morning at 11 o'clock at B'nai Amoona in University City, MO.

Besides his daughter living in this city, Rabbi Hess is survived by his wife, three sons, and 4 other daughters. A brother, Rabbi M. R. Joelson, father of Al Jolson, stage and screen actor, also survives.

Rabbi Hess was born in Lithuania and was ordained in 1890. Mrs. Auerbach is in St. Charles, where she will remain until this Friday.


Yonkers, NY

Beth Israel Temple,
Plattsburgh, NY

Married Francesca Feist

Congregation Shaar Zedek
Pottsville, PA
(American Jewish Yearbook Vol.2 P.450 9/13/1901)

Bismarck, ND

Sons of Israel Jewish Congregation **
Sioux Falls, SD

**no longer in existence

The rabbi featured on this Find A Grave page is one of many included in a "Virtual Cemetery" of rabbis who've passed but who served on St. Louis pulpits during their rabbinate. The complete "Virtual Cemetery" list can be found at SAINT LOUIS RABBIS. Questions about this "Virtual Cemetery" project may be directed to:
Steven Weinreich


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