Lower Debrö: A Forgotten German Village in Heves County                                                                                                                       

  Count Anton Grassalkovich purchased the castle of Debrö along with the surrounding Debrö Domain in 1740.  Among the first actions he took was the settlement of the region within geographical proximity to his estates.  As a result the village of Lower Debrö came into existence on April 24, 1743 according to the official documents he filed for his Domain and situated it below his castle and gave it the name Al Döbrö.

 

  The location of the new village was the Csal-puszta as it was designated in the Middle Ages.  “The newly established village already had German settlers who had arrived well before the official documentation was submitted.  When the first settlers actually arrived there is difficult to determine.  Only one thing is certain, that is, they were already here on April 24, 1724 and that Grassalkovich identifies them as Swabians according to the usage of the term at that time.”  Their landlord gave the Germans a house lot on which they could build clay brick houses.  In addition he provided them with a full or half Session of land (about 40 acres in a full session).  Which meant that those who could work larger pieces of land also had access to meadows and woodlands.  They were allowed to cut wood for both building and heating purposes but they were forbidden to sell wood then or in the future, which indicates that they had to clear their land.  The first task of the settlers was to uproot the various forms of vegetation and cultivate the land.  Land was assigned to them for the development of vineyards.  Grassalkovich promised them that they would not have to give him any share of their crops for the first six years.  In addition they were exempt from providing a tithe or free labour (robot) for three years.  When the period of their freedom from paying taxes took effect they had to deliver one seventh of their winter and summer grain crops.  Most of the promises he made he did not keep but the colonists remained in the village.  The cottagers, both those with and without land busied themselves with working the land and growing tobacco crops.

 

  The settlers came from various regions of the German speaking areas of the Empire.  After 1743, additional German colonists arrived.  But by 1760 there were no more forthcoming.  In 1746 the village had a population of 166 inhabitants according to the canonical visitation by the bishop.  Very few of these early settlers had any knowledge of Hungarian.  In 1767 the village population had increased to 707 inhabitants.  This represented 141 families.  The inhabitants were Germans but there were some Hungarians living among them.  The registration of the Erlau Diocese in 1821 indicates that the villagers were conversant in both German and Hungarian.  Where did the German settlers come from?  The answer to this question is of interest to most people.  It can be stated with certainty that Antonius Hinhort who died on January 3, 1798 in Debrö was an Austrian.  While the 85 year old Margareta Pauscher the widow of Antoni Stockler who died on September 8, 1827 as well as Margareta Mattz the widow of Johannes Fuchs who died on November 10, 1827 both came from Upper Austria.  Margaret Kessler the widow of Peter Kirsch who died on August 19, 1827 at the age of 87 years originated in Hessen/Kassel.  The widow of Antoni Heilsmann who died at the age of 78 on December 13, 1822 came from Friesenheim in Hessen.  Jacob Hienerwadel left for Hungary on March 27, 1761 and according to the researcher Nemes he came from Fürstenberg, Bavaria and migrated to Donauseschingen where he married Christine Widamann from nearby Hessen.  Christine Widamann died on September 13, 1795 in Debrö.  The master carpenter Mathias Ziener came from Augsburg in Bavaria and died on July 23, 1823 in Debrö.  Johannes Konits who died on June 18, 1808 in Debrö came from Prussia from the region of Konits (Kaunitz).

 

  The Conscription Lists for 1752/1753 the name of Michael Elsässer appears as Elczejer.  While in the Urbarium of 1771 he is identified as Elszaszer and then later referred to as Elzászi.  In the register of births for 1753 one can find a Chrisopher Svájczer (Schweizer) whose name also appears in the Conscription Lists for 1771.  The family name of Sváb (Schwabe) is also mentioned quite often.  All three names point to the places of origin of the families from Alsace, Switzerland and Swabia.  The same applies to the name Trier, which refers to the city on the Mosel river from where the family originated. Nemes, the researcher, identifies many other families in the same way in terms of their origins.  The Herbstein family came from a community in Hessen with the same name.  The names of the following settlers he identifies as coming from the vicinity of Koblenz in the Rhine Palatinate (Pfalz): Stebach, Pohl, Holler, Alken, Kall, Kretz, Kaiser, Karl, Schilling while Hermesbert another researcher identifies them as coming from the area between Koblenz and Trier.  These names of the early settlers had a history of several centuries before in Germany prior to their migration to Hungary.  During that time families moved to other communities and so we cannot identify precisely where the families came from prior to migrating to Hungary.  During the 19th and 20th century the inhabitants of Debrö were totally Magyarized and no longer spoke German.  But the German family names or later Hungarian variations of their names continue to exist.  In the old cemetery of old Debrö there are still some gravestones with German inscriptions.

One Response to “ Lower Debro in Heves County ”

  1. Bohumil Molak says:

    Hello, thanks for an interesting info. Recently I received my DNA record which shows that I may have relatives in Aldebro. My closest relative from there may have been my grandmother Johanna,who was born in 1981 and passed away on January 19, 1969 in Svaty Jur (Szent Gyorgy)near Bratislava (Pozsony). I vaguely remember her saying that her maiden name was Metzner; but in this article I see the family name Mattz, which appears to be close to what I remember. It may have been her maiden name.
    I am very pleased to read this article that gets closer to my dear grandmom in my thoughts. I loved her very much and cherish the memory of her in my heart.

    Johanna’s grandson Bohumil

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