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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Henry Gau, Pierz Ford Dealer

We first started exploring Pierz (Mn) history when the topic of parochial v. public schools came up.  I'd heard about the controversy as a kid, but talking about it wasn't encouraged.  Now, with being able to search online, we could find out more without asking testy relatives or wishing we'd asked dead testy relatives.
That's when we encountered Henry Gau.  He was a main player/antagonist re the schools who was,in fact, excommunicated from the Catholic church as a result.  That alone was pretty interesting for Larry and me so whenever we encountered his name, we took note.

Here he is, in the 1900 Federal census as a 12 year old.  His parents, Peter Joseph Gau and Katharina Dietrich Gau, had more kids than this because I found an article in the Pierz Journal about a photo taken in 1914.  Seven sons!
 Henry grew up, married Mary Phillipi, and had kids of his own in spite of the church controversy. Eventually, we found ads in the PJ about his Ford dealership there in town.  Look--early on, you had to go to the cities to pick up new cars and drive them home--woohoo!

The ad below from late WWI fascinated both of us because it links the dealer with HENRY FORD so smoothly.  It's a skillful come-on that sounds modern AND pull-the-wool at the same time.  Did many of our grandfathers buy a Ford tractor thru this offer?  Did they appreciate both Henrys' selflessness?

BTW, we know Henry Gau hosted a film crew from the Ford Motor Co and that there's a film out there featuring Pierz and Henry.  (Larry's been looking for it for ages, and eventually, he'll find it and we'll post it here ☺).

 Well, look at this!  In March 2016, Larry was checking central Minnesota newspapers and found THIS, in the Brainerd Dispatch, from 1968.  Now we know what Henru Gau looked like as a businessman, later in his life.
He was born in 1888, and died in 1975.  What an amazing life he lived, thru such major changes in the world.  He embraced motor vehicles early on, and he realized that the church could be wrong in a time when most didn't question.  He sold insurance after the secret societies were loosing influence, because people still needed to be insured.  I think  about the doubts he lived with, as well as the unfairness and anger, but also how he embraced the stunning progress happening around him.
Thank you, Henry Gau.
(And thanks to Larry for finding this ad ☺)

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