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, May 8, 2011

A painting from Poland and a statue from Austria

A few (dozen) posts ago I wrote about the mystery painting in St Michaels Church in Buckman.  The story goes that it was "procured from Bernard Richter in St Annaberg, Schleisen, Germany".  Ahh, St Annaberg rings a bell with Larry and me--it's a place Math and Theo Hesch visited in 1914 and that Math talked about in his diary.  (This area was where the Rauschs and Otrembas came from).
Was "Bernard Richter" the painter, or did he just find an artist in St Annaberg? 
From what we've read and researched, the land in that part of Poland is pretty flat and featureless, if we understand the translations right.  I think the place dedicated to St Anna might originally have been just a monastery, but that a quarry or mine was begun nearby.  Before long the blasting started to undermine the church/monastery, so the mining was stopped...I think.  Still, there were piles of rock now, almost a mountain of it, not to mention the cave-like area down in the mine/quarry.  
We know that the shrine was being built in 1914 when Math and Theo Hesch were in Europe (see the above link).  Math said it looked old, but that they'd only been building it for two years so far.  

We know now that our Hesch folks were Austrian, living in Bohemia, before they move here to become Americans.  Even if they didn't know particular artists 'back home', they would have had contacts there who did.  Besides, where ELSE would good religious statues come from?  Our relative and friend in Austria, Heinz Binder, sent a video of the Tyrol region of the Austrian Alps, a place Johann Hesch would have known because it was close by and because relatives lived there.

So, ok...back to Buckman, Minnesota in 1902--St Michaels Church was being finished and parishioners were trying to find beautiful, awe-inspiring furnishings.  The natural thing for people who'd only been here 20 or 30 years was to send for them from 'home'.  Thus, a statue of the Sacred Heart  was purchased from the Tyrol in Austria, and the painting came from Poland.
BTW, the painting now has a place of honor in the new part of St Michaels.  Painted over 100 years ago in Poland, it hangs next to the stairs beside the elevator, and it's illuminated by an east window.  I couldn't get a better picture because of the steps and the window glare...☺
The Sacred Heart statue is in the sanctuary, to the left of the high altar.  It's approximately 3/4 life size and beautifully done.  The people of St Michaels have taken good care of the statue over the 109 years since it emigrated. 

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