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, July 17, 2013

St Marys and the swastika medallions

I remember, as a Catholic kid, drawing a cross, and then, wanting to fancy it up some, I added extra lines that sorta made it look like a pin wheel.  I threw it away cuz it wasn't as cool as I wanted it to be, but ya know--it was a simple and easy ideogram--a design I later found out was something bad called a swastika.
"The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used for over 3,000 years. (That even predates the ancient Egyptian symbol, the Ankh). Artifacts such as pottery and coins from ancient Troy show that the swastika was a commonly used symbol as far back as 1000 BCE.During the following thousand years, the image of the swastika was used by many cultures around the world, including in China, Japan, India, and southern Europe. By the Middle Ages , the swastika was a well known, if not commonly used, symbol but was called by many different names: China called it the wan, England called it  fylfot, in Germany it was Hakenkreuz, Greece called it tetraskelion or gammadion, and in India, the swastika.  Though it is not known for exactly how long, Native Americans also have long used the symbol of the swastika".  (
From things I'd read over the years, and from asking elder German people I know, the "common people" thought of that symbol as brotherhood, solidarity, and friendship...certainly nothing bad (until the Nazis began using it). 

Yesterday, cousin Deborah (Sand) in Alaska emailed because her dentist is from Minnesota, and his wife is from St Cloud.  (We all chat-up a dentist before an appointment, right? ☺)  She'd mentioned a church in St Cloud that actually had swastikas on it...and did I know what she meant?

Woohoo--something I actually know about! It's our traditional German church, the cathedral, St Mary's.  Built in the 20s and finished in 1933, it's modeled after a church in Rome, but homage was paid to its German ancestry...partly by the small carved medallions on the north and south outside walls.  They were only decorations, a way to pretty-up blank brick.
Yes there was a scandal about it when a Jewish professor at SCSU noticed them in the 1970s and insisted they be removed.  It's good they're gone, but it's sad because they were never meant to be hurtful to anyone, just a memory of the old country. 
See where they were? Not at all obvious, right under the lower roof line, at the junction of the gray trim and the vertical ridges.  The medallions were removed and replaced with carvings of the mysteries of the rosary.  Hmm...the pic on the left might be the new carving?  Below is the old.


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