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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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who was Bernard Richter?

A quote from a book by Maurice Faust of Pierz, about St Michael's church in Buckman:
"Architecture of the church is beautiful and unique in many ways.  Many of the furnishings are truly from another world.  A 40 X 90 foot oil painting [actually 4X9 feet] of St Michael was procured from Bernard Richter in St. Annaberg, Schleisen, Germany.  The Sacred Heart statue came from the Tyrol area in Austria.  The fourteen highly detailed Stations of the Cross are carved from wood and incredibly beautiful".
Last May, when we discovered that mention of the person responsible for the painting of St Michael in the church in Buckman, Minnesota, we figured  'Bernard Richter' was the artist.  Sure, Bernard Richter was probably a relatively common name in German speaking parts of Europe.  Richter means judge, so whenever we encountered the word in an old German book, we couldn't tell if it referred to a Herr Richter or a local judge.
Anyway, our unbelievably SKILLED researcher Larry tried seeing if this person was mentioned either here in the US or there, in Poland/Germany/Bohemia--at that time, or since.

He found Bernard Richter on, buried in Melrose, Minnesota in the priests section!

The following is from History of Stearns County Minnesota, written by William Bell Mitchell in 1915.
"Right Rev. Monsignor Bernard Richter, of Melrose, was born in the Province of Westphalia, Prussia, Germany, September 28, 1863, and after attending the common schools passed through the high school into the University of Muenster. 

In December, 1884, he came to America, and continued his studies at St. Francis' Seminary, near Milwaukee, Wis. Here he was ordained to the priesthood, June 24, 1887. His first parish was at White Lake, South Dakota. 

His pious devotion and energetic work attracted the attention of the Right Rev. Bishop Otto Zardetti who made him pastor of the Cathedral at St. Cloud. 

On June 7, 1894, he came to Melrose as pastor of the Church of St. Boniface. His work here has been notable, and has resulted, by the grace of God, in the largest Catholic Church in Stearns county. The parish consists of 300 families, all Germans, and all devoted to the cause of the church. 

Under the direction of Father Richter, the magnificent church edifice was erected in 1899, at a cost including fixtures, of $75,000; the rectory in 1907 at a cost of $18,000 ; the convent in 1908 at a cost of about $7,000 ; and a sightly parochial school in 1910 at a cost of $50,000. 

In 1912, Father Richter was elevated by His Holiness, Pope Pius X, to the dignity of Domestic Prelate, thus investing him with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor". 
Right Rev Bernard Richter, OSB, died on December 18, 1921 and is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery (now St. Mary's Cemetery) in Melrose, MN.

Larry also discovered this passport application for Rev Bernard Richter in 1905.  He went to Europe and returned home after a couple months.  It's entirely possible that Rev Richter was asked by Polish parishioners in Buckman to purchase a painting of St Michael for the church....tho it seems like a painting would be a poor choice for display in a church, you know?

When Larry and I discuss the painting, we always go back to its anomalies...were they in-jokes by an artist who knew the Otrembas or Mischkes or Schmolkes?  Or were they a "dig" of some kind?  Whoever painted it was a classically skilled artist, so why mess with the symbolism like that?  

{Wow, sometimes we only need OTHER opinions: I mentioned the painting and odd object in Michael's hand to a client this morning--she suggested it might have been a scalp!  By the turn of the century, America's Indian wars were mostly over, but the aura of the "wild west" was well known in Europe.  Wow...We may never know for sure, but that might be IT}.

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