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, October 10, 2010

Prairie Darkness and the S.S. Union

Last week, there was a recorded phone message saying that the power company needed to turn off power to St Joe for 4 hours during the night, for maintenance.  No biggie--I expected to sleep thru it and reset clocks in the morning.
 Very early Friday morning (no idea when--the power was off ☺), I got up to pee, and MAN, it was dark in here...a DUH situation, for  But there was no moon. (And usually in a power outage we have the benefit of lightning).  This was incredibly total darkness.  Outside, I saw they'd installed a temporary flood light on the Kay's Kitchen corner, but otherwise it was dark, dark, dark.
When I told Larry about it online, he said it sounded like "prairie darkness"--just think: homesteaders would have normally lived with such total darkness every night.  Wow. No wonder families were so big.
OUR Heschs arrived in NYC on the S.S. Union May 28, 1870.  It was a fairly new ship, first launched in 1867.  Its capacity of 700 steerage passengers and 150 cabin passengers was almost met with 682 passengers this trip.  Looking at the ships list, there were clusters of people from the same area traveling together, and four different groups of "Bohemians".
We questioned Anton's age when we first saw this page last year--how could he claim to be 11?  Well, if you look at the stewards' handwriting, you'll see he sometimes missed the bottom stroke of his 6s, as in 463 and 465 there, see?  We knew Anton had to be 16 at the time, and he WAS!
(BTW, that group included Popps and Fidlers, familiar central Minnesota names to this day).

Larry was researching the boat to see if there was more info and possibly a picture of it.  Here's what he found:

Between the 29th of November and the 8th of December (1870), the Union 'ran aground' and broke up at Rattray, Scotland.

Hmm.  You could say the boat was in business just long enough to get our ancestors over here.  But also, we realized that Paul would have been 24 in 1870.  Larry asked if there were any "coming over early" stories re: Paul in the Hesch family?  I don't think so, only the story of Paul as a stowaway in an apple barrel.  We did find a Mathias Hesch from Bohemia (at 21, working as a hired man) in the 1870 census.  If Paul and Mathias left Europe earlier than their parents, and if Paul actually was 21 when they sailed, we should be scouring the 1867 ships lists.
BTW, if you want to look at the whole list from  May 28, 1870, click here. ☺


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