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About Us

The Past and Governor Hiester

Berks Heim faces south on a gently rolling slope near the center of the 875-acre welfare farm. It overlooks lush green countryside and is located just seven miles from Penn Square in Reading. Regular bus schedules link the home with the heart of the city.

On this same plot of land, on November 18, 1752, a man was born who was to become governor of Pennsylvania—Joseph Hiester. The Hiester family farmed the tract of land extending from the Bern Church to the Tulpehocken Creek in Bern Township. Essick Acres today is part of that original plot.

Hiester took an active part in public affairs and in the development of Reading and Berks County. He sat with the General Assembly when it ratified the Constitution, and helped frame the Pennsylvania constitution in 1790. That same year Hiester became the first state senator from Berks County. Then after serving in Congress, he was elected governor of the Commonwealth in 1820. During his greatest prominence, Hiester was regarded as the richest man in Berks County. His farms in Cumru, Bern, and Muhlenberg Townships and holdings elsewhere totaled nearly 2,000 acres.

Learn more about Berks Heim's history, read Mr. Essick Makes A Gift.