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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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"To kill a priest" 1903

Compare the school buildings in these old pictures--the postcard of St Josephs Church in Pierz (right) shows two buildings to the north and south.  They were both schools--honest! To the north, it was this ◄ school, the public school.

If you enlarge the collage below, you'll see the Catholic school middle bottom is the same as the one to the south of the church above.

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, because Larry found more newspaper articles from this period, one of which tells us that the first public school burned to the ground in 1902, and was promptly rebuilt.  I think the "Public School, Pierz" pic is the new school.
A little history here:  Pierz was one of the towns in Minnesota that was embroiled in a dispute over schools.  Benedictine nuns taught in many of these towns, but all children were welcome.  The local Catholic church supported the school, more or less, but it was a burden.  Of course, prayers were said during the school day, and there were crucifixes in every room....but did nuns and icons make it a Catholic school?  The state supported public schools, but not parochial schools.  The question, then, was fairness.  Pierz had a particularly bitter fight over the issue, and it raged for at least 50 years....including dynamite left on the priests' front porch at least twice--in 1902 and in 1951.... 

These two articles were published on October 2nd, 1902, one in the Globe, and the other in Minneapolis Journal--yeah, most likely written by the same stringer. The situation was not pretty in Pierz in 1902.

It didn't get better.  Fr Pfiffer sounds like a hothead, and he's still in the thick of the fight eight months later, and people are pissed:

22 August 1929 Sauk Centre Herald

Here's the next time it happened:  The controversy was still simmering, but if the priest was "at a loss to understand the motives for placing the bomb", then what WAS happening?  The problem was still very much alive in 1929, and even in 1953, when a Mr Gau was excommunicated for taking a straw-poll among the parishioners (see the above link).

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