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, December 6, 2012

The school burned down. Big deal.

Added November, 2013:  I just found this postcard online (at St Cloud Remembered, on Facebook).  It has to be the school in the articles below.  Wow.  Stunning that a pic still exists.
~~Thanks to Kim Avenson~~

 Here's an article from the Pierz Journal, published  February 12th, 1914, on the front page....  

The parochial school house, at an estimated value of $10,000, was destroyed by fire at an early hour Tuesday morning.  The fire was discovered by 10 year old Nick Sehr, who called Joseph P. Meyer.  Joseph immediately spread the alarm.  Both the upper town and the lower town fire halls summoned the firemen, who forced four streams of water into the burning building incessantly for two hours without any appreciable effect on the progress of the flames.  The framework was totally destroyed and only the partly collapsed brick walls remained as shocking reminders when daylight came.

A menace to the safety of a number of children, who came to take a look at the smoking ruins and the ashes of their schoolbooks, the walls and chimneys were brought down by means of dynamite explosions.  The loss in furniture, books, etc, is estimated at $5,000, making a total loss of $15,000, covered by $6,000 insurance.  The origin of the fire is unknown.  It started in the northwest room of the second floor, while the heating plant in the basement was cold.  Electricity could hardly have caused it, as the light wires entered the building on the east side.

We started looking for an article after we saw the fire mentioned in an account of early Morrison county churches.  Larry and I have been closely perusing the online issues of the Pierz Journal, and neither of us remembered seeing any articles about a school burning, especially the Catholic school in downtown Pierz!

Ok, we were both skeptical, just like you are ☺.  The first article doesn't sound 'upset', and Larry pointed out that by dynamiting the "menacing" chimney and walls, they pretty much destroyed any evidence of possible arson.  
Another corollary is that Pierz, in 1914, was still battling the Catholic/public school issue, so those citizens who thought two schools in town were excessive now had to deal with all the kids attending the one small public school.  Hmm....

I found this next article in the February 19th issue of the PJ.  Wow, in ONE WEEK, they already had specific plans for the new building?


At a meeting held by the members of St Joseph's congregation last Sunday, it was decided to build a new parochial school to take the place of the one destroyed by fire last week.  Fr Stiegler exhibited plans for the new structure which will be of solid brick, two stories high, 76 feet wide, 80 feet long, with full basement, and will contain eight rooms.  The site for the building has not yet been definitely selected, but it is more than likely  that it will be built upon the church grounds southwest of the parsonage and facing the east add west street.  Work will begin as soon as the condition of the ground and weather permit.

But, back to how they obtained plans for the new school so soon--Larry found this entry in the 35th edition of a contractors record book online.  It was published in January, 1914.
Pierz, Minn.--Parochial School: 2 sty. & bas. 76 x 79. Pierz.  Archt. E.J.Donohue, 600 Gilfillan bldg., St Paul, Minn.  Owner St Joseph Parish, Rev. J.L. Stiegler, Pierz.  Contracts let; see St Paul.

How small towns worked then--the building was inadequate and they needed it gone.  Everyone sorta "knew", and this was a good way to deal with it.  
Still, in the same issue of the paper on the 19th, there was a blurb that one family had lost $15.00 worth of schoolbooks in the fire.  Proof, I suppose, that not everyone knew.