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, February 21, 2009

Theresa Hesch (Sr. Laura OSB) 1882-1972

Here's an image we all know well--The Little Flower Mission Church north of Onamia, Minnesota. The one 'famous' person in the family was Sr. Laura, grandpa Anton's sister Theresa. The church was her own design: one side made of brick (the white American influence) and the other side of wood in the form of a teepee (the Ojibwa /Anishinabe influence). She hoped for assimilation between the two cultures, starting with her missionary work.
Here's a quote from MINNESOTA REFLECTIONS about Sr Laura:
"In 1930 Bishop Peter Bartholme of the Diocese of St. Cloud asked Sister Laura Hesch, OSB, to set up a mission to serve the Ojibwe on the Mille Lacs Reservation". In 1930, she was already 48 years old, and by the time construction on the church began, she was 67.
Click "Minnesota Reflections"'ll find pictures of her and the mission.

Sr. Laura pushed vocations among us girls EVERY time we saw her, remember? The implication was that, in lieu of joining the convent, at least we could send nickels and dimes! (Not the first time guilt was used on

These photos are closer-ups from some of those pics, except for the last one--that's her grave in the graveyard behind the mission. These days, the Mille Lacs Casino is where the Community Center was, just north of the church. The Church and Inn are abandoned, but (thank you, Anon)  The cemetery seems to be kept up. You just have to know where it is.
The church is in use, and is well kept.  The other buildings we knew when we were kids are gone.


Evidently, the Anishinabe wanted her to be buried at the mission, so by special dispensation, she is. But there's still a grave in St Joseph, at St Benedicts, marked with her name.


  1. The church is not abandoned. I went there today and have for several years. There is discussion going on right now about her burial, she wanted to be buried at the mission, was one of her requests.So was moved back here. Now the nuns want her moved back to st. Joseph, we don't want her moved again.

  2. Sr Laura was very proud of that church. Thank you for attending mass there, and for letting us know that tribal members know and are involved. We've discussed this here too, and again last night because of your comments. I sincerely hope you've emailed Sr. Kara. I don't know if that'll help either, but she needs to know how you feel.
    Larry said it's interesting that Sr Laura is STILL controversial 40 years after her death, "...but then again her bones are not "her"...if they want to honor her.. keep her memory alive.. don't get attached to the least important part of her..her remains"....which really applies to both the convent and the tribe.

    (It's interesting, too, that most of my family doesn't remember where she was finally buried. They remember a controversy in 1972, but life went on).

  3. My grandfather, Louis T. Gottwalt built all three buildings. The "gymnasium" and parish house have been torn down, but the church remains. I've learned that there is a book about Sister Laura by one of the nuns at St. Benedicts, I believe. I am trying to obtain a copy, but they told me that they've all been sold. My mother (Linnea Gottwalt) and I were also still wondering if her body remained at the mission.

  4. Hi, Shelley,
    Yes, Sr Laura's remains are still buried in the Little Flower Mission cemetery behind the church. The book about her is linked in the sidebar here on Hesch History--it's called "So Far, So Good" ☺ If you can't get a copy at St Bens, you can borrow mine. Email me--marlysky at I live in St Joe. Thanks for commenting!