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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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why they left Bohemia when they did...

There's a fascinating book called "They Chose Minnesota-A survey of the State's Ethnic Groups".  It's not as dry as a text book but just as crammed with information.  "Our" chapters are pretty useful: #8, The Germans, #9, The Low Countries-Belgians, Netherlanders, and Luxembourgers, #17, The Czechs and # 19, The Poles. Of course the chapters were written by different researchers and authors for each group.

The chapter on the Czech Republic (Bohemia) would have been clearer if the author'd acknowledged the German/Czech situation before 1850, but maybe they assumed readers would know that. What I'd like to share with you is this, from page 336, top.  It describes the position Johann & Marya Hesch and their 3 sons were in:
"At the bottom of the complex class structure were the day laborers, who worked for others and had no land of their own.  Forced labor ended in 1848, but not until 1867 could a peasant leave without the estate owner's permission".
 And later on the same page:
"The number of people departing from the Czech provinces in the 1850s was small, ranging from 287 in 1850 to 6,573 in 1854, with an almost even ratio of males and females.  Although some scholars believe these figures are much too low, various factors "mitigated against emigration on a larger scale" during that period.  Passports were costly and difficult to obtain, and borders were closely patrolled.  Steamship companies were not allowed to maintain agents or to advertise within the Austrian Empire.  After 1859, most of these restrictions were gradually removed.  Transportation companies and American states then actively encouraged emigration from the ports of Hamburg, Havre, Antwerp and Bremen.  By the 1860s pamphlets in German extolling the virtues of Minnesota appeared in Bohemia.  In the 1870s, Northern Pacific Railway literature, also in German, called attention to the availability of Minnesota land; at the beginning of that decade, the fare from Prague to St Paul was $61.80."
We think that Paul and Mathias left earlier, but Johann, Marya and Anton left in 1859.  We think they spent some time in Prague earning money for the trip and left as soon as they had it.  Cool, huh?


  1. Very interesting. So you two sleuths are deducing that they did get permission from the landowners to leave? What happened to the peeps diorama competition? Only reason you would not win is the relative historical insignificance of the event. For cuteness alone, you rock!

  2. We don't know that they had permission, but the dates seem to fit. We can all deduce like crazy here.
    YES, the diorama won FIRST PRIZE, but there were only three entries, so...we all won ☺ They'll be on display at the Weyerhaeuser for the month of May, in case you're roamin' the state. Thanks for the nice words--ILY

    1. Also, "only three entries" is why I didn't do a FABULOUS POST about

    2. Why be so modest? You don't have to tell have an adoring and suspense-filled audience waiting to see if you won or were fined for showing buffalo privates. Don't leave your fans hanging! Brag it up!

  3. What will you do with your prize money?