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, June 26, 2014

What was a Chautauqua?

When I read a book or see a movie/TV series that takes place in the late 1800s, I often wonder what it was REALLY like.  What occupied great grandpa Paul's days besides taking care of animals and field work?  People are pretty much alike throughout history, you know--food, shelter, love, the families' welfare, learning, entertainment, business, feeling useful--human lives have always been concerned with similar things.  But even Pa and Ma Kettle movies didn't include time spent in the outhouse, and that unrecorded event would have taken part of their days too, right? ☺  The newspapers from Little Falls and Pierz  announced what was planned to get the farmers into town, like "market days" and sales, the county fair, circuses, plays and, one week a year, the tent Chautauqua.  This adult education event had to have been kind of amazing to people in small towns across the US. Take a minute to read thru the speakers, musicians and acts listed in this column from April 1918.  Attending had to feel like watching a TED talk today--current, advanced thought and entertainment right here in Little Falls. (1918 was midway thru WWI, and a lot of local men were over in Europe fighting and dying: part of the program was explaining our involvement, but the rest was aimed at enlightenment and entertaining).    
Times changed--the advent of cars made it easier to go find entertainment, and the radio eventually brought news, music and opinion right into homes, so Chautauquas died out, but oh, how I wish I could have attended even one.

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