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, January 13, 2010

"Reverend Dr" Burton W. Brannen and J. A. Dowie

 In the 1900 census, Burton Brannen was a salesman in a Royalton general store. He lived with his wife and six young children, and his in-laws, the Gallaghers. He was born in 1862 in Maine, and was 38 years old.

Burton Brannen went to Chicago, evidently in the late 1890s, and became a follower of John Alexander Dowie, who'd made quite a splash at the 1893 Chicago Exposition by setting up a "Tabernacle" near the entrance, whose stage was adorned with discarded crutches and braces.

The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, was a landmark event in American history and culture. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the Fair was a means of celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World and promoting the progress of man in science, industry, and culture since that historic event.

Dowie's life and times, on the occasion of his death, 1907 (Click to enlarge)

I suppose there was a feeling in the country during and after the Expo that 'old ways' should be re-examined and possibly discarded. This was a vibrant new country, with amazing new ideas entering a new century...and one "old idea" Dowie railed about was that medical doctors were quacks, and NOT to be trusted. His alternative was total Faith in the Lord through  J.A.Dowie...

We're researching HOW Dowie was able to get peoples' interest.  There are stunning similarities to the way  P.T.Barnum and Houdini were able to get people talking, too: Here's a column from the St Paul GLOBE newspaper, September 1, 1890:

You'll maybe recognize Westminster Presbyterian Church--it's host to WESTMINSTER TOWN HALL FORUM in downtown Minneapolis. 

Evidently, Dowie would arrive in a new town and create some sort of controversy, this time with a well known local Presbyterian pastor, Rev Burrell.  Soon, people were incensed, and taking sides, which meant they'd attend speeches arranged to "clear the air", but which only served to fuel their fire. 

Interesting, too, was the fact that Minneapolis was host to an 'Exposition' in 1890.  On the same page as that article, directly below it, was this:

...and more: Edisons phonographs were on display...

Was Brannen a gifted speaker?  Did he pastor a church in Royalton?  Or, was he just tired of being a clerk?  He may have used some of Dowie's techniques because he caused quite a stir in town, according to the Globe.  Eventually, tho, this article appeared in the November 13, 1900 Winona Newspaper:

Lotta snotty quotation marks there.  We know Brannen later moved with his family to Illinois (1910 census) and that he pastored a church, but we're still investigating... Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. "Rev Dr" Burton W Brannen was my great grandfather. I have no recollections of him, but have learned stories and innuendos from the family. He pursued his religious commitments throughout his life. Approximately 1900 he apparently moved to Zion, Illinois. He dies in 1947. In addition to his 7 children he has many descendants and the name carries on. He is buried in Chicago with his wife Catherine Gallagher, his son George L Brannen, Grandson Robert K Brannen and his great granddaughter Jennifer Brannen Tirjer/Henriksson.