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, February 27, 2013

Joseph H Grell, Merchant

It surprises me that there was a small, consistent cadre of merchants who advertised every week in the Pierz Journal during the first 10 years of publication (1909-1919).  Names like  Hartmann, Blake, Neisius, Macho, Bentfeld, Burton, Schmolke, and Faust had ads in most issues (and sometimes multiple ads). Most of them seemed to stick with one line of merchandise--grocery, dry goods, clothing, farm implements--but Joe Grell tried them all, seems like. 
Who was Joseph H. Grell?  The son of William Grell and Gertrude (Virnig) Grell, he was born in 1867 and lived in Pierz til he died in 1944. The portrait appeared in his ad in 1912, centered on top of a full page listing of merchandise for sale.  (We're incredulous that every ad in those years promised "below cost", "bargain prices", "wholesale!"--as tho customers weren't very bright and businessmen weren't in it for the money.  Can't you hear grandpa mumble "bullshit!"?)

Back to Joe Grell: In the 1900 census, he's married to Josephina (Wolke) Grell.  She was 20 and he was 33.  In the 1905 Minnesota census they had two children, Mary and Anton. Josephina died in 1908, and Joe married Elizabeth Donek sometime after the 1910 census.  
In the 1920 census, he's 52 and she's 32.  They had six sons together: John, Victor, Melvin, Anthony, Joseph and Clarence. 

What got us interested in Joe Grell was this tongue-in-cheek write-up from 1914.  At first reading, I wondered how he managed to piss off the writer and stay in business.  But sounds like schputt (spott) after all.

"Buy Your Coffins at Home.  
Joseph H. Grell tells about a fellow in Morgan, Minn., who was stung by buying from a mail order house.  It all came about this way: When mother became suddenly ill and the family physician gave a "grave" prognosis--that she could not possibly live more than two weeks--the son turned to the pages of Sears & Roebuck's catalogue and ordered a coffin.  In due time the coffin came; --but the mother got well.  For the past three years the coffin has been stored under the hay as dead capital, awaiting the opportunity to bring the owner returns on his investment.
"If you don't believe it," says Joe, "ask P. M. Koll, the new owner of the Henry Schulte farm.  He moved here from Morgan."
(The only reason one might have for doubting the story is that doctors never make mistakes)".  {The editor of the PJ at the time was Dr. Ed Kerkhoff ☺}

 "A Versatile Grafter.  Joseph H. Grell is a good man in the follow up game.  Once in his clutches, he is sure to get all that is in it.  He sells the victim the land, then sells him the farm implements, and if the fellow starves to death, he sells him the coffin.  Besides he sells the nails to fasten down the box, and sells the spade to cover him with, and then sells the mourning widow a tombstone to decorate the grave".

 A few ads from those years...Joseph, John and Frank Grell all owned businesses in Pierz.  The obit was Joseph's daughter Mary, in 1918.

 I think it might have been fun to know the Grells ☺!

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