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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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 ☺.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Purpose of Pilgrimages

Every weekday morning, I get an email about something interesting from a site called Delancy Place.  The articles are most often excerpts from books, and once in awhile, it's something we've explored or questioned here on HH. (Yes, I have quoted them before ☺).
Since great great grandpa Anton Otremba made a pilgrimage before leaving Poland for America (that we know so little about), here's some historic background from this morning:
Today's selection -- from Medieval Christianity by Kevin Madigan. Holy pilgrimages have been central to many religions, from Muslims traveling to Mecca to Hindus traveling to the Ganges. In the middle ages, thousands upon thousands of European Christians traveled to shrines in Rome, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. One observer claimed to have seen sixty thousand on the banks of the River Jordan alone. Most traveled to be healed, with the hope that the closer they were to the shrine the greater their chance for restored health. Some traveled for devotional reasons. Others traveled as penance for crimes:
"Almost all of the aspects of devotion to saints -- miracles, cures, relics, shrine accounts -- come together in the practice of pilgrimage. Pilgrimages can be considered in terms of graduated distances from the pilgrim's town to the shrine. Thus we can say that there were local, regional, and international pilgrimage shrines. As always, a pilgrimage could be undertaken to honor and venerate a saint. Yet at local shrines especially, many pilgrims hobbled, stumbled, lurched, or crawled to a saint's shrine in a quest, often anguished, for the alleviation of agony; others were carried in carts. ... The closer to the shrine a pilgrim could get, the better the chances for a cure. ...
Christian Pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem
"Some pilgrims traveled not because they were ill or even because they wished to do so but to satisfy for a penance imposed by either ecclesiastical or secular authorities. For very serious sins, such as murder, bestiality, or sacrilege, pilgrimage to a distant, international shrine was prescribed as fitting penance. Those guilty of serious crimes could be identified: they were barefoot and fettered with chains. Murderers were required to attach their weapons to their fetters. The very worst crimes were occasionally punished with a sentence of perpetual pilgrimage. Many of these pilgrims simply wandered from shrine to shrine in the hope that a saint full of pity might miraculously break their chains, a sign that a murderer had been forgiven. Usually the chains were left at shrines in gratitude and as a sign of the power of the saint who had secured the forgiveness of God. ...
"Pilgrimage caused physical suffering, as much travel does, and the rigors of a long journey were imagined as an imitation of Christ; such rigors were thus thought to bring pilgrims closer to Christ and to have intrinsic religious value. Pilgrims to Jerusalem would interpret the intercessory act of a saint as a fresh beginning to be celebrated ritually by bathing in the Jordan. This was imagined as a second baptism, one that made the twenty-mile walk from Jerusalem to the Jordan well worthwhile. So many travelers to the Holy Land made the walk that one twelfth-century observer claimed to have counted no fewer than sixty thousand pilgrims on the banks of the Jordan. A similar ritual was practiced in a stream near Santiago de Compostela, one of the three great pilgrimage shrines in the Middle Ages.
"The earliest and most meritorious of pilgrimage destinations was of course Jerusalem. ... So many pilgrims flooded Jerusalem and environs that it was said, as early as the fifth century, that some two hundred monasteries or hostels were built to accommodate them [but] Rome was the most important pilgrimage destination in the West. The reason, of course, has to do with the city's status as capital of the ancient empire and the church's unparalleled collection of relics. The bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul were housed in basilicas dedicated to the founding saints of Rome's church. Their heads rested in the church of St. John Lateran. The remains of more than one hundred martyrs were housed in dozens of churches across the city. The remains had originally been placed in catacombs outside the city walls, but barbarian attacks encouraged Christians to bring them within the walls and to spread them across many churches."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

John Ferschweiler, Mike Sand's Buddy

We've written before of LeSauk resident and neighbor of Peter and Angelique Sand, John Ferschweiler.  If you're interested (or you forgot), type Ferschweiler into the search box above, left ☺. Looks like when Larry and I were researching him, we didn't think to check the partly definitive "History of Stearns County, Minnesota" since you had to pay to be included in the book.  Our folks didn't pay, but hooray, John did. Also, another member of the Ferschweiler family, John's sister Magdalena, married J P Sand, our GGrandpa Mike's oldest brother.  That's a whole 'nother story.

To clarify, the Peter & Margaret Ferschweiler family and the Peter & Angelique Sand family were neighbors in Sartell, LeSauk township, Stearns county, MN before and during and after the Civil War.  There are houses, a strip mall and gas station/convenience store on that land now.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Stearns County, Minnesota

Oh, the joy of local history!

Lately, I've been purposely working less (it's hard to say "retire"), and using some of those spare hours volunteering at the Stearns History Museum in St Cloud. This is all Larry's fault ☺.  When you click the link, you'll see on the right side: "Research Center Online Catalog, Click Here"  (Ok, click there, too). If you type something into the search box, say SAND, you'll get a list of photo descriptions, but only a few photos are actually attached.  This drives me crazy--over 500,000 photos in the collection?  Someone needs to devote herself to scanning.  And that, my friends, is ME.  I've done about 260 of em so far, starting with the "other" towns by choice (not St Cloud).  So, Albany and Avon folders called "General", "Businesses" and "Families" are done, and Belgrade is started.  It's fascinating!  One's curiosity gets involved:
One of the long-ago businesses in Belgrade was a general & dry goods store owned by T J Anderson (See the Wilmar Tribune of May 28, 1895).  If the top left corner ad was T J s, then he was a moralist as well as a store owner. Belgrade News is in the next column.

To see more, click
Stearns County
When I first tried Chronicling America this morning, the search term "Belgrade" in Minnesota newspapers got over four thousand hits.  "Belgrade, Servia" was very much in the news in 1914-1915 because of WWI, and also in 1903, with the assassinations of King Alexander and Queen Draga of Servia.  Most of the news from "our" Belgrade shows up as endless descriptions of ballgames and a few paragraphs of local news, mostly in the 1890s and the 1920s. It tickles me that I already recognize the names Mikkelson, and R J Skimland (a blacksmith), and the Christianson Hotel, from the scary accident account in this article from July 10, 1901.
Something else I learned from the Wilmar newspaper: the plethora of towns they reported on, like Arctander, Burbank, Sven, Ringville, Roseland, Salem, Colfax.  Some might still be towns that I just never heard of, right?