The Wisdom of Crowds – Pierz, MN

On Thursday, April 10, the evening of that massive, wet snowstorm, I spoke to a small group of members from the Morrison County Genealogists, those who were crazy enough to brave the weather with me.  The focus of my talk was Pierz, Minnesota.  As I told those assembled, I could have stood in front of them and rattled off what I knew about Pierz, but I was certain that there were people in the audience who knew something about Pierz that I didn’t know.

With that in mind, I did a little introduction about “the wisdom of crowds” and handed out a sheet of paper to attendees with one question printed at the top:  “What do you know about Pierz, Minnesota?”  Everyone had time to write down whatever they could come up with.  Here are some of the answers to that question

– “Pierz Bacon”  My family would stop at Thielen’s Meat Market in Pierz on their way from the Twin Cities to ice fishing on Mille Lacs or other points north.

– A person can see many Bald Eagles in the fields north and west of town.  The reason, because of the chicken & turkey barns.  They feed off the dead birds put in the fields by farmers.

– Was called Rich Prairie first

– Many German ancestry as well as Polish

– 1st settler was Herman Billig – 1865

– St. Joseph’s Church built in 1888.

– East of Little Falls

– Has a strong Catholic/German population, named after Father Pierz who was instrumental in bringing immigrants to Pierz – Large farming community

– Fr. Pierz sent letter to Austria [to urge people to settle in Pierz].

– The residents in town do not have mail delivery – They have a P.O. Box & pick their mail up.

– Much interest in the hunting and sportsman type activities.

– Thielen Meets was once part of a furniture store and the couches, mattresses smelled like smoked meats for a long time after you brought them home.

– Old Bank Restaurant.  Family restaurant.  Been there.

– Meyer Meat Market sold best bologna

– Newspaper was the “Pierz Journal.

– Murder at Pierz high school – late 1960’s – in the media room in library – somone strangled with a necktie.

– Octoberfest – celebration in the fall

– They have a great celebration in late August – parade, games, dance, food, exhibits at the park.  [This is Octoberfest.]

– I know that there is an uptown & downtown.

– Upper & lower Pierz existed – Two fire departments, etc.

– It was divided at one time – the North & the South, but I can’t remember why.

– Many arguments about the education of their students.

– Rich, black soil suited for farming.

– Frank Sinatra bought bacon from Thielen’s Meats.  Paul Newman stopped at Thielen Meats on way to BIR [Brainerd International Raceway].

– Small town flavor: everyone know everything – everyone’s related to each other.

– Father Pierz encouraged people from his home area to come to the area after he couldn’t get the French Canadians who were living along the Mississippi to move there to farm.

– My grandfather ran a blacksmith shop in Genola and made corn whisky.

– The Pierz Fun House was a popular dance place – bowling also.

– Lots of bars in Pierz & Genola.

– Hartmann’s store has been there forever – used to be a general store.

– Was a grasshopper plague – so many the train wheels would spin on the track.

– Pierz Villa

– Horizon Health

– Shots fired on priest at turn of century concerning education / parochial vs. public.

– My grandfather & grandmother were the 1st couple married in St. Joseph’s Church.

– I have been told that in the old days the German people would celebrate weddings or funerals for 3 days.

– Their H.S. [high school] team is called the Pioneers.

– Phil Thielen of Pierz got hit by lightening 3 times & lived.

– 3 Catholic churches joined together to form the parochial system called Holy Trinity.

As you can see, the wisdom of crowds garnered a lot of information about Pierz, and that just scratches the surface.

5 Replies to “The Wisdom of Crowds – Pierz, MN”

  1. Folks,
    I am doing genealogy on my grandmother Anna(Schaefer)Braun’s family. Anna’s mother Gertrude Zilz married John Schaefer and they are buried in St Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery(Pierz). My grandmother Anna married Casper Braun in Adams, MN. Both families moved from Adams to Pierz(Little Falls) later. Some of the last names of John and Gertrude Schaefer were; Brust, Grell, Faust, Schneppenheim, and Meyer. I am looking for someone that might know these names. Two of the Grell family were Nuns, one of them became President of St. Benedict College. Thank you.

    1. Hi Dennis!

      If you’re interested in having a staff member look into this for you, feel free to send us an email at Our staff research fee is $25 an hour (1-hour minimum) plus additional small fees for copies and shipping. If you’re interested in pursuing this, please make sure to include a physical mailing address where we could send the research upon its completion.

      Thanks so much for reaching out to us!

      Grace Duxbury
      Museum Assistant

    2. Hello—I am a granddaughter of Anna’s sister Elisbeth. She married Frank Schneppenheim. They had 13 children. One of which was my mother Lucy Schneppenheim who married Redford W Baker. I remember going to Little Falls to visit my great aunt Terese. ( pronounced Ta-race.) She lived next to the Nun’s big home; I believe had a big iron fence around?
      I had no idea that one of the Grell’s was President of St Benedict’s—that’s St. Benz college in Minneapolis/St. Paul correct?
      Keep in touch—I’m in Apple Valley Mn. Also have family tree on Ancestry.
      Rosemary Baker

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