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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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who we are...

Somewhere back in time, after Adam and Eve but before today, a German ruler inherited a country known as Bohemia. It was a beautiful area, but it didn't have enough inhabitants, so he asked German people to move there.

Evidently, our line of HESCHs were among those who did. German people mostly settled in what today is called the SUDETENLAND, or the outside edges of Bohemia.

Bohemia is now part of the Czech Republic, and today, they're digitizing and posting, online, Catholic church record books from as early as 1650. These books are PURE history! (See the link at left).

The ethnic Czechs who already live in Bohemia were not happy with these newcomers. As it turned out, the German settlers pretty much set up their own villages, separate from the Czech villages nearby, and an uneasy peace was maintained. There doesn't seem to be much inter-marriage between the groups.

A PARISH, back then, consisted of a market town and the villages around it. By law, the church was the official record keeper, the whole population was about 90% Roman Catholic, and a parish often had both ethnic groups.

A VILLAGE was not what we think of was a cluster of homes with farmyards attached and the fields stretching away behind each one. Land (and villages) were not owned by our people. The term used for peasants was tenant-farmer, or just 'citizen'.

Births entered in the Church books were often mini-genealogies--the baby was named, along with his parents, their occupations, and who their parents were, what village they came from, who stood as godparents and who delivered the baby. (Same for marriages and deaths, minus the godparents and midwife).

What complicated all this were the languages involved. The market-town would have a priest or two at the main church, while each village had a simple chapel where baptisms, marriages and funerals were held.
The priest might be Czech or German, educated locally or in Germany, or even in Rome, so the records are in German, Czech and sometimes Latin. The script they used is called Suetterlin, which bears only some similarities to letters we'd recognize.

I'll be including links (scroll up, on the left) to these different elements if you're interested in delving further. Otherwise, this blog will just show you pictures!

If you happen to have old pictures you'd share with others in the family, please send them and I'll post them. Remember that YOU can capture copies right from this blog for your own Hesch Family History.

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