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, May 31, 2009

Center Valley, Minnesota--1920's and yesterday!

I finally MET Sue yesterday--she's as nice as a Hesch gets ☺. She drove up from the cities and we went to see Buckman/Pierz/cemeteries/farms/houses/buildings/Aunt Jeanette. All that and MORE!

Keep an eye on this gas pump in the following pictures. Someone had captioned it "The lonely gas pump", so it must have been installed first, before the buildings.

If you recall, Sue's descended from Grandpa Anton's brother John.
This is part of his obituary from 1926..."the Centre Valley store"...
Sue remembered going to see what was left of it when she was a kid, so we went to find it again, yesterday. It was SO MUCH FUN!! We felt like archaeologists, because her mom had pics which Aunt Jeanette positively identified as the Centre (Center) Valley store.
See the false front on top? It's in the next picture, too....

See where the gas pump is in this pic? It's still shiny and new, and they're building the store.

The picture doesn't really show how much of a valley it is, but the road dips substantially there. The store used to be just beyond the triangle sign ahead to Sue's right...
I expected a bit of grown-over rubble along the road, but no! We found the foundations of at least four buildings there, in someones' pasture...look:
(I know the composite is bad, but this is sorta what it looks like. 'Course there's more, but I couldn't get it all in).

Oh, man...THIS had to be the front of the creamery's foundation! Looked like there were footings behind it, too, but not solid concrete like this part.
That four strand wire fence might have been electric, so we didn't try going closer.

This had to be the stores' foundation. Aunt Jeanette grew up within a few miles of Center Valley, so she remembered it well. Coming down the hill from the south, you crossed the Soo Line tracks, and in a bit there was the creamery, an ice house, and the store, before the creek at the bottom. Without walking back there, we couldn't tell what the other buildings might have been, but a shed or garage makes sense, too.
( See the gas pump on the left? The store had to be just beyond it).

That sturdy foundation would have been the loading dock--you'd drive alongside it and muscle milk cans inside thru that lower opening in the middle, and get empties back thru it too.
This little diagram is speculation, but probably close to what was there:
So, what happened? How come it's no longer there, even as empty relics of buildings? Our amazing MASTER REASEARCHER LARRY found this report from the Winona newspaper in May, 1955.
Was the store operating then? Center Valley was still a long way (7 miles) from Pierz in '55, but without a creamery out there, you'd have to take the milk into town now. Maybe the store was damaged by the fire...or maybe it wasn't open any longer anyway...we don't know. But with Larry on the case, we STILL might find out more!


  1. Hi!
    The store existed yet in the 1970's although it had been moved to the top of they hill. It was named Medek's Store and was part of the Medek's Sawmill on the corner about 1/2 north of where it originally stood. The building is still there. Although it has been significantly modified into a house the last couple of months. Charlotte Kastanek, Center Valley, Minnesota.

  2. Another of the residences of village of Center Valley still exists as well. That particular house was later moved about a mile south of center valley and is currently a farmhouse on the left side of the road.--Charlotte Kastanek, Center Valley

  3. Our family really enjoyed coming across this web site. We purchased the Center Valley farm in 1990. Throughout the years we have learned much about the history of this special place. We have left the foundations alone, enjoying their historical value. It has been great learning more about Center Valley and its rich history.

    1. Thank you for honoring the history of Centre Valley by leaving the foundations in place. It is like a gift to the area.

  4. Thank you so much for commenting, and for leaving those foundations. When we started exploring Hesch genealogy, I'd never heard of Center Valley. After Sue wrote and Larry researched and we went looking, the thrill of actually finding concrete and stone at the site made us feel like archaeologists ☺☺☺. The place's changed a lot, but we could easily imagine the tracks and the creamery and the store on a cleared hillside. (Hard to believe that that narrow little stream was ever deep enough to float logs tho, huh?)

    So, is the fence electric?

  5. For some reason I decided to look up Center Valley. I grew up a few miles from there past the tracks and over the big hill. I wasn't around till after it burned. It was a store/3.2 bar when I was a kid and there was also a sawmill next to it. I loved going here when I was young dad would take us when he had to go to the mill. I just remember always getting a pack of orange gum and Gertie ("who most of us called Dirty Gertie") was so nice! She also lived in the back of the store. I believe that it didn't close till the early to mid 90's. And it's since been remodeled into a house. Kind of sad things can't last forever:(

  6. Hi, C, Try typing "Hoheisel" in the search this blog box, top left ☺ Or, the search box top right, on this page: ?
    Thanks for commenting, BTW ☺ We didn't realize there was ever a sawmill in Center Valley!