Fred Hess. On the roster of the energetic men who are discharging the duties connected with public positions in Champaign County is found the name of Fred Hess, whose incumbency of the office of county clerk goes back over a period of more than six and one-half years. The county clerkship is an office which carries with it some of the heaviest responsibilities and most onerous duties, the important character of which demand the presence and labor of a man of strong intellect, who can combine accuracy with industry and fidelity. The fact that Mr. Hess has retained the office during the long period that he has should be sufficient proof that he is possessed of the qualities mentioned, or at least that he has satisfied the people in this respect. He is one of the native sons of the county who have made excellent records in public life.
Fred Hess was born in the city of Champaign, Illinois, May 19, 1871, and is a son of Isaiah H. and Sarah A. (Hardin) Hess, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Pennsylvania. His father was still a young man when, in 1857, he left his native state and came to Illinois. As a youth he had learned the trade of plasterer, and after following this occupation as a journeyman for a number of years developed into a contractor in the same line, and for a long period carried on a large and successful business at Champaign. His death occurred October 12, 1875, when he had reached only a little past middle age. Among the older residents of Champaign are a number who remember him as a man of his word, an excellent workman and a good citizen. Mrs. Hess survived her husband until August 16, 1889, and also passed away at Champaign. They were the parents of nine children, of whom five passed away before the birth of Fred, the others being: William H., deceased; Amelia M., who is a resident of Champaign; Jessie A., who is deceased; and Fred.
Fred Hess was only a little more than four years of age at the time his father died, but the mother managed to give her children satisfactory educational advantages, and lived long enough to see her youngest son graduate from the Champaign High School, with the class of 1888. He was an ambitious and enterprising youth, and as soon as he had completed his education started in search of employment. His first business experience was with a grocery at Champaign, but after one year he decided his talents and tastes did not lie in this direction, and he transferred his services to the office of the Wilcox Abstract Company, where he remained some eight years. Here he gained valuable experience that fitted him for the next position that opened for him, that of deputy clerk in the Champaign County clerk’s office, a position which he retained during two administrations. His advancement up to this time had been sure and steady, and he was now ready to take a further step, which he made when, in November, 1910, he was the successful candidate for the office of county clerk. He accordingly took Tip the reins of office in December of the same year, and since that time has continued as the incumbent of the office. The work of this department in the county administration entails a comprehensive amount of detail labor, including the issuance of marriage licenses, the keeping of records of births and deaths, assisting at tax sales, and making redemptions from same; receiving all tax levies and computing county, state and all city, village, district and other municipal taxes. As clerk of the County Court, the county clerk keeps a record of insane, pauper support, feeble-minded, inheritance tax and other cases. Nearly all special assessment cases are recorded in this office. The foregoing by no means entirely covers the duties of the clerk in full, but is sufficient to show that the incumbent needs to be a man of ability, and that when he is retained in office for six years that he has carried on his duties in a capable manner.
Mr. Hess was married June 11, 1904, to Miss Maud Lloyd, a native of Ohio. They have no children. Mr. Hess is a Republican in his political views. He is fraternally connected with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the Masons, and in the latter belongs to the Blue Lodge and Chapter and to Danville Consistory. He has numerous friends in all these orders, as well as in political and official life.