Where is/was the Dukedom of Hessia?

I got a copy of my ggg grandfather’s citizenship papers. It states that he was a native of Hessia. Actually, it says he is a native of “Hefsia:, the “f” looks kind of like a lower case, cursive “F”. I was able to determine this because another word on the document, Missouri, is spelled similarly, Mifsouri. The document (dated 1848) also states: “upon oath, he (ggg grandfather) will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he doth entirely and absolutely renounce and abjure, forever, all allegiance and fidelity to every Power, Prince, State, and Sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to the King of Hessia of whom he was heretofore a subject….”

Where in the heck is Hessia? I’ve done several searches and although “Hessia” is mentioned several times, I can’t find any historical information. I gather that it was a region of Germany? I thought that maybe is was an old name for Hesse, but can’t find anything to support that.

Any help appreciated


Prussia, it appears.

It’s a state in Germany. Remember the Hessians from the Revolutionary War?

Hesse was the name of two “landgraviates” (i.e., independent ‘Counties’ – lands held by a sovereign Count) in west central Germany, straddling the Rhine about opposite the “corner” at the northeast edge of France. There was a landgraviate of Hesse prior to 1867, which was divided into Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Kassel. In 1866, Prussia absorbed Hesse-Kassel, and Hesse-Darmstadt reverted to the old usage of Hesse, retaining that title after the formation of the German Empire, in which it was a constituent autonomous part. Hesse is today a Land (i.e., “state” in the sense that Kansas is a U.S. state) of Germany. “Hessia” is merely the Latin for Hesse, used in formal legal documents. (The final E in Hesse is sounded and short: “HESS-eh”)

As this old encyclopedia article notes, Hessia is the Latin form of the German Hessen, usually anglicized to Hesse, and the name of several German states, several of which were in turn eventually annexed as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. The area is now a state of the Federal Republic of Germany; as to where it is: it’s the one colored red, of course. Here is its relative position in Europe.

As the others already mentioned there were several states of Hesse, changing over the centuries.
The one you are interested in is Hessen-Darmstadt, formed by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (nice word, isn’t it?) in 1803 as a dukedom and promoted to grand dukedom in 1806.
In the relevant period around 1848 it was an indendent country, because the old Holy Roman Empire had ceased to exist in 1806.
After the German War of 1866 it was the part not annexed by Prussia and at least officially remained independent up to the creation of the (second) German Empire in 1871.