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, December 18, 2010

Minneapolis Moline, Camp Ripley and the Jeep

It's amazing to follow a tangent that strikes us as interesting and to find even MORE:

Last week, the story about war games in Pierz in 1940 brought us to Camp Ripley.  It's a "background" place for Morrison County--we all know a few men who trained there over the years. It's "always" been there, along the river, home of the National Guard in Minnesota.

With that, Larry asked how far Pierz was from Camp Ripley...did I know the name Minneapolis Moline and did I know there was a connection between it, Camp Ripley, and the Jeep military vehicle?  (He's always a few pages ahead of me in the research book ☺).

 Well, I knew Minneapolis Moline (MM) made farm tractors...and ya know,  farm stuff.  Turns out that before the U.S. got into WWII, there was a sort of competition among manufacturers to build the newest kinds of military equipment.  One 'need' was a sort of all purpose vehicle.  That summer of 1940, MM had a prototype ready, and displayed it at Camp Ripley.  (No, you're right--it doesn't look anything like a Jeep.  More like a.... manure spreader?)

The MM-UTX Jeep
"The next version of the Jeep takes us to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, home of the 109th Ordnance Company, Minnesota National Guard. Captain Martin Schiska commanded the 109th, as well as being an employee of the Minneapolis Moline Power Implement Company, builder of farm tractors. In the mid 1930s, the Army was still using ancient, hulking 1917 Holt 5- ton tractors to pull its larger field pieces. Schiska, a World War I veteran, realized the need for new equipment and impressed this upon Minneapolis Moline. As early as 1938 (some sources say 1937) MM was building and testing prototype prime movers, and in August of 1940, during testing at Camp Ripley, Sergeant James T. O'Brien is quoted by several sources to have applied the name "Jeep" to the MM prime mover. In a letter to Minneapolis Moline dated March 31,1943, O'Brien explained how the name came about. "One evening," he wrote, "in a gathering of enlisted men, it was suggested that a short descriptive name be found for these vehicles, such names as 'alligator' and 'swamp rabbit.' I brought forth the name 'Jeep' as a result of reading Popeye in which Eugene the Jeep appears as a character, and the fact that these vehicles would go where you would least expect them to go. The name was unanimously accepted and subsequently painted on the vehicles, which have since become familiarly known." The MM Model UTX was a real piece of hardware. Basically a converted farm tractor, the MM Jeep featured four wheel drive and a 425cid, 70hp (at 1,275 rpm) six cylinder gasoline engine. It could pull a 5-ton 155mm howitzer at 28 mph, with occasional spurts up to 40 mph, and had a fording depth of over three feet. The MM Jeep prototypes came in open and closed cab models. Two of the four tested at Camp Ripley mounted .30 cal machine guns. All models featured a roller device in place of a front bumper, enabling it to cross large obstacles. Some also mounted winches. During testing at the Fourth Army maneuvers in August 1940, the MM Jeep was photographed climbing six feet up an oak tree. (The tree gave up at that point, and the tractor crushed it into matchsticks. So much for Treading Lightly!) The tractor was also said to have "walked" through a forest of 5inch trees. These photos appeared in the Army Times (Sept. 14, 1940) in an article entitled "Army Likes Jeep." The MM Jeep performed well in a succession of tests, but the Army's requirements seemed to change by the day. Before the UTX ever went into production, the evolution towards larger and larger field pieces and the requirement for a relatively high road speed ultimately overwhelmed the UTX's capacities. A total of six were built, and one survives in a private collection". 


There's a lot more history of the actual Jeep at the link, but isn't it cool to know Minnesota played a part in it's development?

Oh, by the way, the cartoon Jeep ate only orchids--watch:

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