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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Thursday, July 7, 2016


Mr Research® has been especially industrious this week.  He found, online, the Last Will And Testaments of some of our key relatives.  They were written (copied) in long-hand into ledger books and kept in Morrison county, I assume.  (Part of the fun of doing genealogy with Larry is that I often don't know his sources till much later ☺) He emailed screen captures of Paul Hesch, our great grandfather, who died in 1900; his wife Mary Otremba Hesch, who died in 1917; and Paul's brother Anton Hesch, who died in 1911, in Agram township.   Yes, we have a rough copy of Paul's will here on HH, and some info about Anton's probate hearing, but these are the official records.  Funny, I always thought wills were kept in envelopes in lawyers' safes, and read dramatically to the potential heirs in an elegant library somewhere, like on Perry Mason...but no, I guess not.

Anyway, Larry said he found more family wills, so we'll see those soon.  In the meantime, here's the book copy of Paul's dictated original:
Paul Hesch's Will, dictated on his death bed
in August 1900.

 Great uncle Anton's Will (left) and probate, settled in January, 1912.

The Will and probate of Mary (Otremba) Hesch,
who died in 1917.

I don't understand the probate process, but wait, lets check the internet:
"Probate is the court-supervised process of gathering a deceased person's assets and distributing them to creditors and inheritors".
Ok, Anton's Will and Mary's Will were probated, but not Paul's?

The whole legal-death system was still being built in 1900, so that's probably it ☺

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Even more about John Peter Sand...

 We've devoted a lot of virtual ink here  to Grandma Lizzie's uncle John Peter Sand.  JP was Mike Sand's brother, a Civil War vet, deputy sheriff of Morrison Co, and husband of the woman who released prisoners from the Little Falls jail and ran away with one of em.

As Hesch relatives go, this couple was pretty sensational, being part of the only legal hanging ever in Morrison Co.
We found articles in the St Paul papers in 1888-89 about the trial, and then figured out if & how J P was related.  Here he is in the 1875 Minnesota census, and the 1880 Federal census.

J P's wife is listed as Helena or Helen, but in the 1885 Minnesota census, below, she's listed as Magdalena, so we assumed these were two different women.
Turns out John Peter Sand married Magdalena Ferschweiler in 1871 in Stearns Co--Larry found their marriage license today. Probably Lena just didn't particularly like the name Magdalena, so she called herself Helena--Lena for short.

In the first 9 years of their marriage, JP and Lena had 3 kids, Peter, Angelica and Kate, then in 1883, two daughters died of diphtheria (see yesterday's post)...Angelica and Kate/Ann.  Going by the ages listed on the census pages, their five kids were Peter b 1873, Angelica b 1877, Kate b 1878, Margaret b 1881, and Frank b 1885.    The 1890 census was lost in a fire in 1921, so we don't know more, except that a great grandson of Frank's contacted me a couple years ago.  He had no idea about any of this...

So, here's the marriage record for JP & Lena:

                                                       Pretty amazing, huh?                                              

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The 1883 Buckman Diphtheria Epidemic

Our good friend John was at the Morrison County Courthouse this week, looking at the record books stored there from the year 1883.  He was checking the cause of death of members of his family back then, when he realized that page 235 recorded TWELVE children in five families in Buckman who had died that year, of diphtheria. Doubtless, there were other kids who died of diphtheria in Buckman in those years, but two of the families John found were "ours":
  • Joseph, the 4 year old son of Robert and Veronica HANISCH died in July, 1883;
  • Anna (6) and Louisa (5), daughters of John And Amelia HODORFF died in November and December, 1883;
  • Frances (6 months), and August (5), children of John and Marie JANSON died in November, 1883;
  • Anna (5) and Angelica (6), daughters of JP and Magdalena SAND died in October that year;
  • Henry (5), Herman (6), Charles (12), Daniel (3) and Caroline (1)--children of Jacob and Caroline KOWITZ died between the 4th and 20th of October that year. 
Oh my, five kids in one family had to break the Kowitz' hearts, and spirits.  According to the 1885 census, 3 Kowitz children survived (Julius, Louisa and Mary), and happily, another child, Christina, was born in 1885.

According to an article in Minnesota History Magazine that Larry found, a family named Hanson lost five children in Sleepy Eye four years earlier: " It was a sad sight to see Hanson driving up the road every day or two on his way to the cemetery, alone with his dead. The children died between August 26 and September 5. There were no funeral services or processions for the little ones—just simple interments with little or no ceremony".  This would be true all over the state--and it's why there are no monuments in the cemetery with their names.

The John Jansons, above, had just arrived from Germany that spring.  They'd traveled with the Joseph Janson family, my great-grandparents. The baby who died, Frances, was born in Buckman, but little August had made it all the way across the ocean, only to die of a horrible disease over here.

JP Sand was great-grandpa Michael's brother.  We've written about him on HH because he became a Morrison Co sheriff's deputy.  We knew he was married to a woman named Helena according to the 1880 federal census, and they had 3 kids, but she must have died, perhaps in childbirth, because by 1885, JP was married to Magdalena (Ferschweiler).  I think Angelica was 6 months old, not 6 years.  Peter and Margaret survived, and by the 1885 census, little Frank had been born.

There are no family stories about the devastation of having children die so young.  I suspect it had something to do with the "scientific" attitude at the time: some authorities thought diphtheria was caused by unsanitary conditions. That article from the St Paul Globe newspaper, February 1881, uses words like filth and squalor, so besides loosing beloved babies and children, there would have been a pall cast on their home and its housekeeping. But then, as Larry added, maybe it was too horrible to remember, and simply couldn't be..

The first few Minnesota newspapers reporting diphtheria deaths were in 1879 or so.  By 1882, newspaper articles were definite about isolating and quarantining anyone with diphtheria.  Schools and churches were closed, and public funerals could not be held, meaning mourners couldn't come to the house of the victim, where they would traditionally have been laid out.  Early on, a paper would report local deaths, but later, it seemed only deaths in towns 50 miles away were mentioned.  I didn't find mention of any of the Buckman deaths, but the Library of Congress doesn't have every newspaper.
Next day: Larry found an article from the Fergus Falls Daily Journal, dated August 20, 1969 (Google has newspapers, too!) about a forgotten cemetery where a few diphtheria epidemic victims were buried in 1883. Such a sorrowful place...I hope it's been restored.
BTW, other stats I found in my research--Minnesota recorded 460 deaths from Diphtheria in 1879 alone, and Princeton closed all schools because there was one case in town. If only other towns had done the same.

Thank you to John L from Larry & me!

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?