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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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hoffman's Chow Mein Parlor

Sometimes, looking for family names online brings us to sites with many other interesting bits of info, and even some totally irrelevant stuff that's STILL cool.
Aren't you thrilled we can share it with YOU?

Uncle Tony's wife (Marlene) is looking for information on her grandmother, so she called me. She knew her name and that she'd died 3-4 years before Marlene was born. I asked about where they'd settled, and all the names involved--who did she marry, where's she buried, was she Catholic, what country was her family from, etc.

Evidently, the family settled in Cottonwood and Watonwan counties in southern Minnesota, so Larry started searching for the name Meine, cuz that was Marlene's mom's name (you start with what you know, and discover what you don't know...)

To us, "southern Minnesota" means "try the Winona papers", cuz they're online and very searchable, and they covered a wide area.

Problem is, we get off on tangents so EASILY...LOL

Larry said wow, he'd found a stunning example of cultural assimilation: a man named Hoffman who lived in Winona in the 1930s and owned a place to eat....Hoffman's Chow Mein Parlor....where he sold Hot Tamales, too.

Looking at the address, at 119 1/2 Center Street, we realized the Parlor was upstairs. Hm.

In fact, it was above the Telegraph office, in Winona's "Chinatown"...? Who knew? But Hoffman was a true entrepreneur, he knew his clientele, and we were appreciating his sense of humor:

As Larry observed, since when is it a lot more work to strain the meat out of the broth? LOL

Oh-oh, some local politics here: evidently, the city used the steps to deny Hoffman a liquor license, but he used that too!
He knew eye-catching ads worked:
Do you think he played on the notion that nobody in Winona really knew what a tamale was, let alone "real" chow mein?

Hoffman wasn't above playing on words either--and the fact that he also sold menswear*:

We had a few good laughs over those ads, and they sent Larry looking for Hoffman's obit. Here it is, from makes his ads even MORE fun when you realize how he *combined businesses.
Thinking about it, Winona was a 'port city' on the Mississippi, with a good mix of ethnic groups. Does anyone know if it ever had a Chinatown area? Is the building still there?

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