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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Friday, May 13, 2011

Pictures of the Horni Pena Cemetery

Our friend in Austria, Heinz Binder, took the time to go to the village of Horni Pena, which was Oberbaumgarten when our ancestors lived, and died, in the next village.  That bit of land was already a cemetery in the mid 1800s for sure, and accommodated the Catholics in all the neighboring villages.  We know of three Heschs buried there for sure (Paul's brother Bartholomaus and his cousin Franz died as young children of scarlet fever, and a Maria Hesch, who died in old age).

I asked Heinz what sort of monument a tenant farmer would have purchased for a family member, and he said it would have been a cast iron cross with an inscription in white on the plate (like this first photo, left).  


Now, here's some world history that affected the cemetery as well as the Hesch's who stayed in Bohemia:  For centuries, German people and Czech people lived in very separate villages in what was called Bohemia. The two nationalities disliked each other, but they tolerated one another as well....until the second world war, when suddenly, any German was viewed as a Nazi.  
"In 1945, Hitler’s troops retreated. Czech mobs set upon Germans, murdering thousands. Over the course of two years, Czechs often used methods that bore a striking resemblance to those employed by the Nazis against the Jews.  By the end of 1947 Czechoslovakia had been “cleansed” of its three million Germans".  VIA  


Part of that hatred took the form of destroying anything that was 'German', including grave markers with German names. So, even tho we know they were buried in this cemetery, all the markers left there are Czech.  It was a truly horrible time in the history of humanity.

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Still, this bit of land was someplace our ancestors actually walked, and where they mourned the loss of their little son.  It was a place Marya must have thought about when they decided to emigrate--did she go visit the metal cross that marked the grave of the son who could not accompany them to America?


(Remember, clicking a photo will enlarge it, ok?)




Thank you, Heinz, for these serene photos...

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting these pictures. My family, Forster, was also from Oberbaumgarten. So sad to hear about the grave desecrations.

    Also a special thanks to you for posting the Czech Archive church records. A few years ago after seeing your postings I pored over them and found many family listings--although Latin and old German language and handwriting are a challenge!
    Best,
    Barbara Davis
    barbaradavis@verizon.net

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  2. You're welcome, Barbara. This is exactly what we hoped for--that people would find the blog and then, find their people in Bohemia. Even if the old records are hard to read, it's such a thrill to realize 'Hey, it's them!'

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