This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Were there passenger ships arriving in Duluth?

I've wondered about that ever since I found this blurb by Great Uncle Math in the Buckman News column of the July 25, 1913 Little Falls Herald:
 Did they actually see passenger ships, or did Mary have to extrapolate?  We know Frank was a train engineer by then, and was working out of Duluth, so he would have known one way or the other.  But WE need to research it, since you're all so worried about knowing the answer.  Not to worry, keep reading ☺

I've been checking the DULUTH HARBOR CAMS lately cuz it's fun to see big ships glide into the canal and give a one-long-and-two-short blast on the horn that says "I'm HERE!", and the answering one-long-and-two-short from the bridge that says "Welcome!".  Click the link, and open the Canal one.  You'll see the view from the Marine Museum roof, looking east, out to the lake.  Then, if you close that and open the Bridge cam, it's the opposite direction from the same roof, looking toward the harbor itself.  Got that?

I wondered how long the cement sidewalks on the breakwaters of the shipping canal have been there--as in, where they already there in 1913?  Yes!  The official date is 1871, but the sidewalks were certainly there in July 1913, and so was an aerial bridge:

The Duluth ship canal, sans bridge, in 1898.
 Something more than a ferry across the canal was needed, as Minnesota Point (now Park Point) was becoming more populated with businesses and homes.  Plus, people were buying cars.  Here it is in 1910, with the solution pictured right below, the way Frank and his mom would have seen it.  

This was a suspended ferry of sorts.  The platform could hold 120,000 pounds, including people, horses, wagons and street cars.  The trip across took about a minute, and was efficient at leaving room for boats to enter. HERE'S A BETTER PHOTO.  I really hope Frank and his mom took a ride, just for fun.

So, you say, what makes me think that there were any passenger ships during that time?  Well, if you've clicked links above, you know some of the photos are from a website called | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s.
Another picture I found there was of the Lake Steamer North Land docked in Buffalo, NY, on it's way to Chicago and Duluth.  Hooray!

BTW, the Duluth ship canal lift bridge as we know it was re-fitted in 1929-1930 so the deck rises out of the way of passing ships, and lowers again for vehicular traffic.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Paul Bunyan (Hesch), Crosby

LOOK at the cool articles Larry found today in the Brainerd Dispatch from March and May, 1950.  Yes, we've featured him before, in 2010, but not with these two episodes.
(This Paul Hesch was dad's cousin, the son of Joseph L Hesch and Anna Heurung.  He was one of two of Joe's kids who stayed in Minnesota. He was 2 years younger than dad).
I think we met him at some point when we were kids, but I wouldn't put money on it ☺

So Paul went to St Louis to promote tourism--in 1950!  Seems pretty forward-thinking for lil' ol' Brainerd, doesn't it?  Of course, they were promoting the whole lakes and resorts area, the cool nights and excellent fishing, not so much the towns.

 This second clip speaks for itself, we think.  Larry and I decided we liked him better with the beard...and sideburns ☺.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Mom's short-lived collection

I often think about items from our culture that have quietly disappeared, almost without our being aware of them:  wall phones and pay phone banks, point & shoot cameras,  match books, wrist watches, pastures of Holsteins, cabooses, transistor radios, daily newspapers, packing a lunch or sewing clothes because it's economical, doing dishes in the sink, libraries...a thousand things that didn't always make life better, just familiar.

The process is genealogically useful, after all, as you can date a photo or movie by what's included or not.  I can usually tell what year a Buckman family photo was taken if it was before 1950 or so, but even 1980 or 1990 pics look dated these days ☺

In 1939, Orlinda Janson (my mom ☺) and some friends took a train trip to The Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.
It was an organized tour group, and cost each of them $200.
Mom always said it was held on "Mare Island", but it wasn't.  I suppose tours of Mare Island Naval Shipyard and LA's Santa Catalina Island were included, tho, and they got all vanvickled (verwickelt) in her head.  Anyway, we loved the stories, and she visited with those friends for years.

So, what's a matchbook?  Back then, practically everybody smoked cigarettes, anywhere, anytime.  In restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores, trains and buses, anywhere people were...and a book of 20 matches was handed to you with the pack of cigs at the store. Certainly free matches were available at tourist attractions. Most had advertising on the outside.

 Looks like Mom tired of matchbook collecting after only 15 books ☺

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Granite in the river

In one of our periodic posts of incredibly fascinating but un-Hesch-related articles from old newspapers, we posted this clip from the St Cloud Journal.  It was September 1896 and a block of granite had fallen THRU the St Germain Street bridge.  The idea interested me, and made me laugh--can you imagine?

Back then, how exactly do you retrieve a ten ton block from the muddy bottom of the Mississippi?  And, WHO pays for it?  It was about to be shipped, so some other project was held up, too.  Certainly, somebody needed to be sued, right?

(I know, I know--they were able to winch an even larger  chunk of stone out of the quarries in the first place, but that was with machines anchored to the sides of the pit.  This was down a steep wooded river bank and sunk in mud.  I would have liked to watch, and I expect loads of people did ☺)

The bridge in question, but are we looking east or west?  I think
"10 feet from the waters' edge" would have been fairly deep, either way.

On the day of the incident, the report mentions how planks gave way, and the stone made a 12 foot hole in the deck as it fell "thru the steel work to the river below".  Street car and wagon traffic would necessarily be held up for awhile, and the cost might be as high as $500.
Really, nobodies fault....but by 3 weeks later, the block itself had been damaged, not to mention the wagon it was on.  No wonder the city council rejected the demand.
I tried to follow up this afternoon to see if there actually was a law suit, but Chronicling America is down for maintenance.

I'll let you know ☺.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

More from the Pierz Journal

From the Pierz Journal (but not by Great Uncle Math, I think), comes this bit of teasing about the advisability and method of cutting a tree down.  I like that the writer admires Mr Dombovy for it, too, in a backhanded way.

 Being a florist for 38 years myself, I've looked for florist ads in the PJ or the Little Falls papers, but this is the only one I've found.  Drives me nuts that they don't say WHERE the flowers were coming from (Little Falls? St Cloud? Brainerd?).  There was no flower shop in Pierz in 1916.
We know flowers were a part of funerals then, but that wedding flowers were usually only fresh if they were in season in the garden; otherwise, they were millinery flowers and saved for future hats.

HOW did we stretch such limited supplies of gasoline out like this?
We were supposed to run out in 2014 according to the article, and that was using it at that "rate of consumption".  Wow, huh?

Friday, April 29, 2016

We won! We WON!!

 With much commentular encouragement about not going to hell if I brag about the Diorama, here it is ☺.  We won first prize ($75, a 2 year MCHS membership  and a wonderful book by Anton Treuer--because I already have the book about Nathan Richardson).  Woopee!  Just so you know, NO ONE mentioned the buffalo's equipment at ALL.  The prize money was split between us and I'll send Larry the book when I'm finished reading it.  I only wish there'd been lots more entries, but it was a hoot either way ☺!

YAY, US!! ☺

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why they left Bohemia when they did...

There's a fascinating book called "They Chose Minnesota-A survey of the State's Ethnic Groups".  It's not as dry as a text book but just as crammed with information.  "Our" chapters are pretty useful: #8, The Germans, #9, The Low Countries-Belgians, Netherlanders, and Luxembourgers, #17, The Czechs and # 19, The Poles. Of course the chapters were written by different researchers and authors for each group.

The chapter on the Czech Republic (Bohemia) would have been clearer if the author'd acknowledged the German/Czech situation before 1850, but maybe they assumed readers would know that. What I'd like to share with you is this, from page 336, top.  It describes the position Johann & Marya Hesch and their 3 sons were in:
"At the bottom of the complex class structure were the day laborers, who worked for others and had no land of their own.  Forced labor ended in 1848, but not until 1867 could a peasant leave without the estate owner's permission".
 And later on the same page:
"The number of people departing from the Czech provinces in the 1850s was small, ranging from 287 in 1850 to 6,573 in 1854, with an almost even ratio of males and females.  Although some scholars believe these figures are much too low, various factors "mitigated against emigration on a larger scale" during that period.  Passports were costly and difficult to obtain, and borders were closely patrolled.  Steamship companies were not allowed to maintain agents or to advertise within the Austrian Empire.  After 1859, most of these restrictions were gradually removed.  Transportation companies and American states then actively encouraged emigration from the ports of Hamburg, Havre, Antwerp and Bremen.  By the 1860s pamphlets in German extolling the virtues of Minnesota appeared in Bohemia.  In the 1870s, Northern Pacific Railway literature, also in German, called attention to the availability of Minnesota land; at the beginning of that decade, the fare from Prague to St Paul was $61.80."
We think that Paul and Mathias left earlier, but Johann, Marya and Anton left in 1859.  We think they spent some time in Prague earning money for the trip and left as soon as they had it.  Cool, huh?

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Have I mentioned how much I adore old photographs? ☺

Lately, I've been volunteering at the Stearns County History Museum (7 miles away, compared to 32 for the Weyerhaeuser).  My task is scanning historic photos so they're searchable online. I've started with the small towns, because St Cloud always seems to get favored, just like Little Falls does at the Weyerhaeuser--it can't be helped.  Scanning's really interesting, and I get to study any picture I want ☺.

'Course, this makes me think even more about photographs, and how delightful and important they are in recording our history.  It's only partly about who the early movers and shakers were.  It's often not the bigwigs whose photos are there--it totally depends on which family thought to donate Grammy's pictures to the museum, ya know?

The earliest photos I've scanned were taken in Europe or during the Civil War, so 1860s or so, and the latest are about 2007...only around 140 years of photo documentation.  The earliest settlers in this part of Minnesota arrived in the 1850s, and photographic studios were definitely part of early businesses on Main Street, Everytown by 1880 or so, when family portraits and buddy-pics became fashionable.

The thing is, there were no documentary photos before that, and now, people take hundreds of pictures with their phones, but they're never printed, so will never end up in a folder in a museum.  How odd to have tangible documentation of such a short period of our history.  It's so easy to forget what was there before....

I think we need a new campaign, asking people to send significant photos by email to museums, using tiff files (the latest in historians' opinions about what will last).

Or, perhaps there'll be another method that pops up to record our history.
It interests me that lately, someone will post a Q on social media, maybe about what the riverbank looked like in 1940, or what was there before Crossroads, or pics from last week's festival, and people respond by sending photos they took, but it's all color, clear and online.  Will that be enough in the future?

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Peeps Diorama Contest

Last month, the Weyerhaeuser Museum in Little Falls announced a year of "peep" themed exhibits. To that end, they're asking for things like microscopes, telescopes, and binoculars to use at the museum for a year..(and of course, peep is short for people.  Oughta be a fun year!)  The kick-off is a Peep Diorama Contest, with each entry depicting some event in Morrison County history. The rules are at the link, and the entries need to be at the museum by April 15, so you still have plenty of time.

Now, Larry and I have been perusing documents and especially local newspapers from Morrison Co for the last 6-7 years, and I have a few thousand photos and virtual clippings from the Pierz Journal and Little Falls Herald in files here on the computer.  We thought about depicting the Faust theater showing of Henry Gau's "Son of the Soil", but where would I get little theater seats, and how would we show the film?  (That'd be the best part ☺).

We might have done the front office of the Pierz Journal (would have been way COOL and required only 2 Peeps):
Or Peep Uncle Math on his Excelsior motorcycle with a side car full of peep kids:

Or Peep "Hat Ladies" attending a wedding in Buckman:

Or the 1925 Buckman Baseball team, or the Pierz Band, done in Peeps!

But what we settled on finally was to show this event:

We're pretty pleased with how it turned out ☺
Good luck to anyone who enters!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Who was P. J. Bollig?

I clipped this charming article from the Pierz Journal when we first realized the PJ was online, but then misplaced it for a couple years ☺.  It tickled me then (and still does) because I recognize the snark, but not the man, P J Bollig.
A little looking online fleshed him out some: FamilySearch and Find A Grave say Peter Joseph Bollig was born in Germany in 1860, and died in Morrison Co in August 1943, so in 1916 he was 56, old enough to sass like this in the paper.

It looks like PJ was fairly enterprising, too. There were years when it seemed like stud horses were the Next Big Thing--from about 1909 to 1915 or so. Here's the report of a group of locals who bought a percheron for $2,400, and also mentions who got cold feet and backed out.  It's interesting to see that it was the salesman who threatened to sue, not the other buyers. Wonder if deals like this were made under the influence...

But then, see, it looks like PJ was in on local jokes, too. He's not mentioned till the last sentence, but he IS the punch line ☺.