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 11, 2010

War games in Pierz

In August 1940, the United States was not in the war in Europe, but we were certainly watching what was happening there, and we were preparing "just in case".
Sure, everybody who lives around Little Falls or spends time there knows the thuds in the distance are from Camp Ripley and the National Guard training going on there. But the training in 1940 was quite a bit different.  Read this article from the Lawrence, Kansas newspaper.  It explains better than I can....

Amazing that they were practicing maneuvers in and around local towns--"Stationed on Pierz sidewalks were 37 MN anti-tank guns and 50 caliber machine guns".  WHEW!  And, it was 1940 after all--some of the game used horses, while observation planes pretended to be bombers.

This story's fascinated Larry and me for  But since we don't know that any locals were involved, we just talk about it now and then--"Can you imagine an ARMY tearing past your farm and across your fields?"  And Larry found an account of some boys who found live ordnance in a ditch and proceeded to put it in dad's vise, and hit it with a hammer. Oops.

Anyway, the story's come back around because Larry found this wonderful photo in the Spokane (Washington) newspaper, via Google News.  It's August 15, 1940, and there are four Pierz boys "helping" three guardsmen.
The boys have their BB guns and cap pistols trained on the enemy, just like the soldiers.  It's an AP wire service photo that most likely was published around here.  But, maybe not.  Who knows?

I'm really curious to know if anyone recognizes the kids, or heard stories from relatives who were 10-12 that summer.

BTW, here's the full front page it appeared on.  Click to enlarge and see how neutral we were.

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