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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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Niedermuhl and Oberschlagles in 1828

Chances are good that only Larry and I are excited about this right now, but let me explain.  (Your job is to act interested).

A couple years ago, Larry found a list of plat maps of almost every little village that existed in Bohemia.  The drawings were/are very clear, very precise, and all the houses are numbered as they were when our Heschs lived there.  The problem was that OUR villages weren't there--but now, they are!  (And no, it wasn't me who kept checking back--gawd, we owe Larry!)

A quick digression here:  I read something lately that really seems true: it was the idea that in Europe, it's always been very important that things stay the same--buildings are preserved even if the ceilings are low; professions and homes are handed down from father to son; businesses and farms stay the same size; traditions are venerated and observed; OLD equals GOOD.  
By contrast, America seems to need change--everything has to be faster, and bigger and better; you can be anything you want except what your dad was; buildings can be built or razed with impunity and the next new idea. A "tradition" in America might be only a generation old.  NEW & BIGGER equals GOOD.

So, what does that have to do with the plat maps?  We were struck with how unchanged Niedermuhl and Oberschlagles are physically.  Of course, no one uses the German names now--they are Dolni Zdar and Horni Lhota--but there's no question which villages you're looking at when you compare the plat map from 183 years ago with aerial photographs from today.  Take for instance, the mill on the river in each town:

The maps are especially interesting because they show exactly how a mill worked.  A boom was built in the river to divert most of the water into the mill race.  Niedermuhl had an island (or a ditch was dug around that chunk of land).  Hmm, looks like there was an island in Oberschlag too, but it looks more man-made on the map. 

The mill in Dolni Zdar (Niedermuhl) is being restored, maybe like it'll be a museum or tourist attraction.  It's interesting to me that so much of the "works" are still there, in the river.  
(America had thousands of mills, but there's little evidence of them in rivers any longer.  Many of them burned, or were washed away when flooding brought water AND logs.  Most were never re-built).

BTW, here's how close these two villages were/are.  See the bridge in Horni Lhota?  Johann and Marya Hesch lived just south of it, facing the river.  That's the house they left in 1860 to go to America.


  1. I am VERY interested in this posting since my husbands family came from Rosshaput (Rozadov) Bohemia. Could you share the link for those old plat maps? I would appreciate it greatly.

    His gggrandfather, Christof Sperl and his wife Margarethe Buchl were born in 1832 and 1829.

  2. Hi, Claudia--The link is highlighted there in the first paragraph. It'll get you to the map of Niedermuhl, but there's a little graph at the top.
    BOHEMIA--0000-0999 and 1000-1999, etc? Those are alphabetical listings of villages and towns all over the country.
    Good luck!

  3. just stumbled across this post. I have a relatives from Niedermühl and Oberschlagles. Peter Matauschek, Eva Matauschek, Helene Pruisel, Josef Haslauer , Andreas Zwicker, and Johann Pruisel, all around mid 19th century

    1. Hi, Kassis! Most of those names are definitely familiar from the digitized Bohemian/Czech church books we found online. You've seen them, right?

    2. no, never heard of this one, Im a newbie in this... thanks!! I'll definitely will check this out.

    3. Here's a post that explains more: The useful links are high in the left column, called "Ineresting links"... Good luck! ☺

    4. wow, you really have researched this!
      I actually found 2 of my relatives on that site so far, now I'm trying to read the entries. I speak German, but the handwriting is a bit challenging. But this is exciting, Thank you so much for the info! This is such a small place, who knows, maybe we are related :)