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, February 13, 2011

The "Grasshopper Plagues"

Central Minnesota Catholic grade schools in the 50s and 60s: every school year had a springtime unit on the Stearns county Plague of Grasshoppers.  Not that the grasshoppers hit ONLY Stearns county (even Laura Ingalls Wilder told about the grasshoppers), but evidently only Stearns Catholics had had the good grace to build a chapel of thanks to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (The connection never made sense to me--how did bugs and the BVM relate?) But, it was worth extra points with the nuns if you could talk your parents into trekking to Cold Spring on April 26th, for mass at the Grasshopper Chapel.  HERE's the story of the Cold Spring Chapel.

But, didn't Morrison county experience the same clouds of grasshoppers?   Sure they did.  The swarms came in 1856-57, and again in 1873, but it looks like things could have been much worse.  This excerpt is from the History of the Upper Mississippi Valley (1881)...I wonder what "teaming and other work in abundance" was that made grasshoppers eating your crops ok?

Grasshopper damage
on a soybean leaf
Great grandpa Paul Hesch was here by 1873, and so were the Otrembas.  There were no legends in the family of how devastating the grasshoppers were, but then, they might have been busy clearing trees 
to make fields before they could grow anything.

Added much later:  Here's something I found in the St Cloud Journal newspaper from  May, 1875.  Evidently, the writer/editor (and a few locals) didn't think all that much about prayer as a solution to the grasshopper problem.

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