Hall, Henry, ed. America's Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography. vol. 1. New York, NY: New York Printing Co., 1895. page 311
SELMAR HESS, publisher, a native of Bernburg, Germany, was born Nov. 26, 1847, the son of Maurice Hess, a manufacturer of furniture. The family had lived in the town for generations and its men had served as soldiers with honor and been otherwise prominent in affairs. Rosalie, mother of Selmar Hess, was the daughter of David Fabian, a man distinguished for learning and piety. The lad received a high school education, became at the age of fourteen a dry goods apprentice, and emigrated to New York, six years later, arriving in November, 1867. He visited Cincinnati and then went to Omaha to engage in the dry goods business, found the climate injurious to his health, removed farther West and dealt in camp supplies along The Union Pacific Railroad for a year, and then, being stricken with typhoid fever in Omaha, was ill for many months and found himself penniless. Next he joined with fifty others in preempting land in northern Nebraska, taking 300 acres for his share, but after a few months of hard labor, found himself without the means to stock the farm and abandoned a rural career. Coming East, he found in Buffalo his vocation in life upon obtaining a place in the branch house there of Virtue & Co., publishers. Having thoroughly learned this trade, he became a partner in McMenamy, Hess & Co., of Philadelphia, in 1870, solely upon his merits, without capital. That concern continued to exist until Aug. 8, 1873, when it was changed to Hess & McDavitt. Meanwhile, at the urging of Mr. Hess, a branch store had been opened in New York city, under his charge, and in 1871, the headquarters were removed hither. May 12, 1877, Mr. Hess succeeded that firm and has continued the business with phenomenal success. He has made a specialty of subscription books and papers and intaglio plate printing, and operates branches in twenty of the largest cities of the country as well as his own printing house on Dey street here. In 1873, he married Josephine, daughter of Joseph Solomon, and has three children, Gertrude Rosalie, Alfred Fabian and Ruth Josephine Hess.