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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Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't they look familiar?

A good part of the thrill of researching and writing this blog is the connections made with people we'd otherwise never even know about.  Case in point: 

Sibs Deb and Sandra are descendants of family we wrote about HERE and HERE.  Sandra emailed in May 2013 to say the wedding picture on that second link is of their parents, Edward & Elenore Scherman ☺. Edward's mom was Mamie Otremba Sherman, who's dad was Karl Otremba, son of Johann Otremba, brother of our Anton Karl was dad's grandma's cousin.  Got that? (For the Genealogical Purists among us, the "common ancestor" we share with Deb and Sandra is Johann Georg Otremba (& Susanne Preussner) from Groditz, Tillowitz, Schleisen, Prussia).

Even cooler is that I met them in Little Falls this week, and we drove over to Pierz, strolled the cemetery behind the church, and then went for pie, coffee and talk.  It was great fun, and they're every bit as nice as they look.  We sat and traded facts and stories for quite awhile, and I left feeling like we've known each other always.  We come from good people, ya know?  

Whoopie John ☺

I made a CD of polkas, and this one happened to be the last one playing on my way home last night.  It stayed in a corner of my brain all night, and I woke up singing "Don't drop those tears in my beer, dear".  Yah, yah, I'm willing to share...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Duluth Zoo train, 1955

I've been looking for this photo for YEARS; I knew I had it, and whew! I finally found it this morning in a box of slides from the 1980s.  It makes me smile ☺

Thursday, September 11, 2014

John Peter Sand, a life

Mike Sand's older brother, John Peter Sand, had a colorful life to say the least. Born in Luxembourg three days after his parents' wedding, he crossed an ocean when he was 10 (with his parents and 3 sibs).  They settled in Iowa long enough for 2 more sibs to be born, and then moved permanently to LeSauk township in Stearns co. Minnesota. 

 John Peter was a kid when the Civil War began, and 16 when he decided to join the army.  The war ended soon after, and John Peter came home a veteran.  We assume that he became a deputy sheriff in Little Falls because veterans often get govt jobs when they return.  Besides, JP bought the gun he used in the war, so he was already armed.
Eventually, JP married a woman named Helena, and by the 1875 Minnesota census, they have a son, named Peter (of course), and two other children who aren't mentioned after the 1880 census.  Helena died around 1880, because in the 1885 Minnesota census, JP is married to Magdalena (Ferschweiler), and they have Peter (10), Margaret (4) and Frank (4 months).

There's lots about JP here on HH so far; if you're interested, there's a search box above the blog title, on the left.  What we have in this post are news items from the last 12 years of his life--what happened after Lena released a prisoner (1889) and destroyed both their reputations.

Evidently, John continued working for the city as a deputy, and later was a juror and interpreter (at least once).  Here's the Little Falls Transcript page of county expenses for 1889 and for 1892.  In 1893, the accountant lists money paid to Peter Sand and John P Sand for "street work", and to JP as a juror.  Young Peter would have been 19 then, but earlier, in 1891, two things happened: JP's grandmother, Angelique (Mohimont) Stoltz, back in Luxembourg, died, and young Peter was "given his time", meaning his freedom as an adult, as in the notice below. Why it was dated March but published in May, we don't know. He was 17 in 1891.

Evidently, the Little Falls Transcript newspaper had a fairly snarky writer on staff--someone who knew the towns' backstories, you might say.  (Apologies for the blur here, but that's the way it was on the Library of Congress site).  "John P. Sand, ex-pound master, had a strange, wild and improbable dream last night and today his hand is wrapped up.  John dreamed that he was having a fight with some fellow, and struck out with his right and hit the wall. He awoke to find the wall doing business at the old stand, and quite a lot of skin removed from his hand".

We don't know what an "ex-pound master" was; maybe the 'dream' was just another way of reporting on a local fistfight, but it's not near as snotty as these next two clips from October of 1893 and 1894.  Maybe Little Falls was feeling a bit sore at JP by then, but the allusions in the clip on the left were doubtless well known to local people, while all we can do is speculate.

  JP's father, Peter Sand Sr, died in late December 1894, and since we don't know about their relationship, it could have affected JP either way.  Definitely, JPs road was getting rougher and more full of pitfalls.  Was this article from 1900 just more snark, or did they actually try to patch things up?  In the 1900 census, John listed himself as "divorced", and I think he drank some in his last two years, so this reconciliation didn't last.  (Did they really stay married after 1889? Whew). He died at St Gabes in 1902, at 54 years old.  What a short, epic life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dirty Thievin' Horse Thieves Part II

(BTW, here's Dirty Thieven' Horse Thieves Part I). 
Sorry we made you wait a whole year for this.  It's worth it just to see who JP Sand was.

I started to transcribe the article but figured anyone who's followed this story so far is incredibly patient and will ask if they really need it transcribed.  Those who are mildly interested probably already read English.  

We found out some previously unknown (to us) facts with this letter.  For one, the train didn't stop in Little Falls in 1883?  JP says he boarded at Rices (Rice, Mn--18 miles south of LF) and the telegram from Fargo came to him there. Ok, a little research tells me that the Great Northern depot in LF wasn't built till they didn't stop unless there was a water tank, a building and a telegraph link, I suppose.

Another fact we've wondered about was whether the J.P.Sand in Buckman was the same as deputy J.P.Sand in Little Falls.  They were, and here JP says he's busy stacking grain (on his farm) in Buckman.  (He showed up in the 1885 census there).

Evidently, JP and Sheriff Rasicot weren't best buddies.  The problem had to be more than this, but still,  it was less than politic to call your boss a liar and a boasting beer-swilling saloon loud-mouth in the paper.  Whew. How did JP expect no retaliation over this?  But it sounds like he'd already had his reputation besmirched and his ego wounded--that'd piss off just about anybody.

I expect people were hollering about nepotism, too, since this whole episode had to do with a matched team of JP's brothers' horses (belonging to Mike Sand, our great grandfather).  Even if he would have proceeded the very same way for any other citizens' horses, people can be awfully small-minded.

This kerfluffle took place well before the Bulow trial (five years in the future), but JP and Henry Rasicot were still working together as sheriff and deputy then.  Must have had some kind of truce, but it had to be galling for both.

At the time, there were two newspapers in LF, as JP mentions here: The Sun and the Transcript.  The Sun isn't online, so we have to trust JP's version of events ☺. 

Later:  Wow, Larry found some intriguing news clips from the late 1880s.  Watch for another post ☺

Friday, September 5, 2014

Your Tenth Great Grandparents

I've been working with a client on tracing his family tree, and the contrast with our Hesch tree is stunning.  Practically all of his family, and his wife's family, came to America around 1620, and so were here for major historic events like settling the eastern seaboard, the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, the War of 1812, etc.  Some of his family lived in Plymouth and some in Salem, Massachusetts then emigrated to Kentucky and points west.  We found his family name among the passengers on the Mayflower (Browne), but can't prove a connection to that fellow, only to a Henry Brown who died in the War of !812.  There were something like 27 Henry Browns in that war, so it's a brickwall, probably insurmountable.  
By contrast, reliable Hesch records go back to only about 1760 in the Bohemian Church books. The earliest Hesch immigrants arrived about 1869, much later than the Browns.  (His family was able to leave, ours was not).

Anyway, yesterday, we were talking about his 10th great grandfather, who we'd found by following his mothers' fathers' line back on Ancestry.  (Actually, we'd only found one of his 10th generation great grandfathers, ya know?  By 10 generations ago, we each have 1024 grandparents to pick from (512 couples) because you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grands....etc) So to say "direct line ancestors", it's not just your fathers fathers fathers line, it's amazingly diverse.  

As we discover the parents of each generation, we try to put them and their lives in historic context, just like Larry and I do with the Hesch ancestors.  We research what was happening in Europe during their lifetimes.  We've found quite a few collateral families who were close enough to the English court to have been granted estates by Henry VIII after he dispossessed the Catholics and established the Church of England.  Those families had extra sons, of course, sons who wouldn't inherit and were never chosen to be a sheriff or mayor or bailiff and didn't marry above themselves, but a few embraced the Reformation, and eventually Puritanism...and America.

Where am I going with this?  Only that so MUCH of human history involves invasion and war--useless fighting over philosophies or land, but so often over religion.  Incredibly, what was invented as a path for good people to follow became a reason for bloodshed, an excuse to kill, to making heros of the killers and the killed.    Has it changed over the centuries? Not at all.  We advance in medicine, technology, transportation, farming, aviation....but we also invent more horrible ways to kill each other.  Sigh.  
Maybe....the current fascination with tracing our ancestors could wake enough of us up to change history, huh?

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I know--that sounds like someone's playing Clue, but it was actually a headline in a Pennsylvania newspaper in June, 1927 (below).  If you're from Minnesota, you'll probably recognize that "Lindy" refers to our states' reluctant hero, Charles Lindbergh, and a-ha! 1927 as the year he flew non-stop to yes, that's what this post is about ☺.
If you think about it, there would have been no advanced publicity planning around the flight, because a whole field of aviators were trying to prove transatlantic flight was possible. Charles Lindbergh just happened to accomplish it that May, and Little Falls became a center of the worlds' attention overnight.  So, how could the city fathers cash in on it?  
Possibly knickers and knee sox were one way, especially with matching jackets and hats, and a nice new Nash Special Six in the bargain. Read these clippings and see how four local guys got a free trip to Washington, DC because they knew Lindy way back when.  They were Mayor Austin Grimes, Kenneth Martin, C. H. Longley, and J. Sherman Levis (none of whom are familiar to me).

Here's something else Larry discovered:  the 1927 prototype use of Photoshop!  The "Real Photo" postcard on the right is for sale on ebay, and Larry noticed the lack of shadows and slight fake-iness in the outline of the two figures.  In looking around more, he found the original news photo (a-ha!) they were taken from.  I'm pretty sure that by 1927 the house on the river was no longer in good repair and surely wouldn't have served as "home" for Chuck to greet dignitaries in front of.  But look--what a good picture of Mayor Grimes ☺!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Even the anchor was special

I spent a major chunk of my life completely oblivious to the fact there was a  ship called the Olympic. I knew about the Titanic (who didn't?) but here was her sister ship, which happened to carry great uncles Math & Theo to Europe on the trip of their lives in 1914.   Funny how once you're aware of something, any other mention of it catches your eye.  Yesterday, I was flipping thru the pages of the September, 1911 issue of Popular Science magazine, as you do, and, woohoo, I found this: 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mischkes, Schmolkes, Otrembas and Kapsners

Here's an article that was published in the Buckman News column of the LFH a whole month after St Michael's church was dedicated.  There are some interesting facts in the article, as well as some major goofs.  There'd been a wonderful front page article the month before, but evidently some of the "local color" was left out.  If that pissed people off, this article didn't do much to make up for it.
BUT, there are interesting incidentals listed, too.  For instance, there are the origins of four movers and shakers in town (Frank Mischke, Math Zenner, John Kapsner and John Schmolke), and the fact that three of the four came from the same area the Otrembas came from (within 6 miles of Opole, Poland). Also, look who con-celebrated the mass at the dedication:  Bishop Trobec, of course, and about twenty five priests showed up to help, not to mention three local bands.  A priest we've mentioned before,  Fr. Bernard Richter, gave the sermon, so we know he did have an actual connection to St Michael's (see previous post, for one ☺).  I imagine there were another couple dozen townsfolk who "should have been mentioned"...
BTW, I corrected many of the typos and wrong info, but you can click the article to read it yourself, or go to the original copy on the Library of Congress website:


"Sept 304--Tuesday was the greatest day in Buckman's history.
In spite of a very disagreeable and
heavy wind, which stirred up the dust
all day, several thousand people atten-­
ded the dedicatory services of the new
St. Michael's church. Bishop Trobec,
assisted by about twenty-five priests,
officiated. Father Richter of Melrose
preached the sermon, which was a
 scholarly and interesting address.

Visitors were present from all the
neighboring parishes and many from
Stearns and Benton counties. The
bands of Buckman, Pierz and Agram
rendered music throughout the day.
In the old church the ladies of the
parish served dinner, and for hours
the hungry throngs filled the tables.
The good things were plenty, how­
ever, and all were satisfied.

Bishop Trobec and several of the
clergy made short addresses, in all of
which the good work of the people
and their good pastor was highly com­
mended. The visitors expressed great
admiration at the sight of the immense
edifice the people of Buckman have
erected, a temple of God which will
stand long after the builders have
passed to their reward, and which will
be a lasting monument to the faith and
good will of the parish of Buckman,
and the energy and persistence of
their pastor. The day was a great one
for Father Lange and his people.

The earlier history of the settlement
of the village and town of Buckman,
is told by Frank Mischke, one of the
leading merchants of the village. Mr.
Mischke's father, Joseph Mischke,
was the first person to settle in the
town, going there in 1871.
Mr. Mischke Sr. was born in Shidlow, 
Falkenberg, Prussia. He was
married to Miss Mary Otremba on
September 15, 1861, and of that union
there were born six children, Frank,
John and Mary of whom are still
living. The Mischkes came to United
States soon after the Franco-Prussian
war and settled on the present home­
stead in the town of Buckman. At
that time there were no settlers be­
tween St. Cloud and the Mischke
homestead, except the Rices of the
present village of Rice. The family
endured great hardships during the
first few years they resided in Buckman
and for an entire year were un­able
to procure salt for any purpose.
About three years after C. B. Buckman, 
now member of congress, settled
on the present Brookdale farm.
The church building, which is re­
placed by the handsome edifice dedi­
cated Tuesday, was built in 1880. The
earlier history of the Buckman parish
is not clear, as in the earlier years of
life of the church the parish was or­
ganized as a mission and the records
are vague. Rev. Ignatius, O. S. B.,
who was in charge of the Pierz par­
ish, first ministered to the Buckman
organization and was succeeded by
Rev. Pankratz O. S. B. who was fol­
lowed by Rev. Maryhofer, who re­
mained eight years. Rev. Father
Lager, since deceased, followed, re­
maining one year, Rev. John Beck
was at the head of the parish two
years and was succeeded by Rev.
Father Lange, the present priest and
builder of the new church.
There are at present about one hun­
dred and fifty families connected with
the church, where only thirty-two
members existed at the time the old
church was built and the parish or­
Matthew Zenner, one of the direc­tors
 of the church, was born on April
25th, [1857] in Luxembourg, and came to
America with his parents in 1860,
who settled in St. Wendell in Stearns
county. Mr. Zenner worked on a
farm and saved his money until he
was able to purchase a farm of 200
acres in the town of Buckman where
he now resides. He was married on
November 28, 1882, to Miss Mary
Maus of Luxemberg, Stearns county.
John Kapsner, who is a member of the
directors, was born February 8, 1857, in
Dambrau, Prussia, the eldest of 18
children. His parents came to America­
 in 1874 and settled near the village
of Pierz. Mr. Kapsner was married ­
November 7, 1882, to Miss Maria Kopka.

John Schmolke, president of the
village and member of the board of
directors of the church, was born May
8, 1863, at Shidlow, Prussia. He
came to America in 1871 with his parents,
who settled in Buckman. At
that time there was no church or
school at which Mr. Schmolke could
receive the benefits of an education
and he attended a night school, con­
ducted by Mr. Hepperly, for one 
month. Mr Schmolke opened the village 
blacksmithy and later engaged in
the mercantile business. He was 
married in 1887 to Miss Mary Kalnabe" [actually, Hedwig Peschel].

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Integument means the top of the head...

If Larry and I don't obsess about this, who will?
Remember this from May 2011?  (With a follow-up post from the next January, too).  It's the painting that was purchased for St Michael's Church in Buckman when it was new, in 1903.  We believe parishioners who came from Silesia (Poland) ordered it from artists at St Annaburg, and that Fr Bernard Richter (from Melrose, Mn) brought it home from his trip to Europe in 1905.     I printed it off that spring and showed it to a few of my old German Catholic clients.  Given that the painting most likely hasn't been cleaned since its arrival, and that this is a terribly discolored photo taken at an angle and straightened with Photoshop, my clients still gave it a shot.  As to what Mike's holding up there, one looked at it and said, "Looks like a scalp to me"....and whew, you know, we think she was right.    (Why have YOU never seen it?  At first, I think it hung in the vestibule, and then spent years frightening kids in the crying room at St Michael's, now it hangs overhead in the stairwell of the new hall.  Look up and to the left as you enter).
We were/are wondering mostly about the object St Michael is holding in his raised right hand. Suggestions (fire, a rag, a fish) don't make sense even if the artist was trying to spoof those Auswanderers in Amerika.  Was he being clever, or was he trying to show the Otrembas that he kept up on the news? 
"Tu dźgnąć em, ale w Ameryce, to shoot em i odcięte włosy"  ("Here, we stab em, but in America, they shoot em and cut off their hair"..)?

  The illustrations below very likely made it to newspapers and books in Europe--people there had to be aware of what their departed family members were allegedly facing in the new world.    

Look at the classic stance of all four main figures, including Wild Bill Cody, practically yelling, "This'll teach em!"

And if St Michael's right hand was important in the painting, how come all three victors here are holding the fresh scalps in their left hands?  I doubt it's an accidental placement, but maybe it's just that you mostly wield a knife with your right hand.

Where do you hang a painting in a church? Especially if it's an embarrassing painting or poorly done, and the donor is a proud church member?  A place was found for it, and then it was forgotten till well after the donors death.  It's still St Michael, but gawd, it's still ugly...sigh.   

BTW, great pics found online by...yup, Larry ☺

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Most of the descendants of Frank & Catherine Sand

Man, I can hardly think of a better way to spend a summer Saturday than getting acquainted and re-acquainted with relatives.  The pot luck was great, the weather was breezy and below 80 mostly, the talk and laughter and hugs was practically constant.  It was a terrific day!
Frank Sand, you'll recall, was the baby of the Michael and Louisa Sand family (so grandma Lizzie's baby brother from the 1900 photo).

Here are many of the grandkids of Frank and Catherine...
(plus spouses and drop ins ☺...)

...and their kids, the great grands....

And the delightful next generations, 
the great great grandkids.  
With any luck, they'll remember being there today, 
possibly even into the 2100s, can you imagine?

 (A small portion of the paparazzi ☺)
Thanks for inviting me--it was great fun!