The source of the following information comes from a monograph published in 1975 under the title: Beiträge zur Volkskunde der Ungarn Deutsche and is my translation and summary of the contents.
There are five communities in the County with substantial German populations and include: Jula (Gyula), Elek, Mezöbereny, Almaskamaras and Gyoma.
In 1920 a total of 12,000 persons in these communities claimed German as their mother tongue. This accounts for 2 ½ % of the German population of
The dialect spoken is similar to that of the northern tip of the Banat in
An important factor after the end of the Turkish rule that would play a decisive role in the development of the County was the emergence of private estates and the return of land owners. The Habsburgs also gave land grants to foreign (mostly Austrian) landlord for services rendered to the Crown or in payment of their debts or for their military services. Most of
Harrucher was an enthusiastic supporter of the Royal Government and was among the leading economic figures in the Empire. He promoted mercantilism in terms of economic development and believed that his estates were only valuable if they were populated and developed. In the interest of repopulating his estates he began to organize a planned settlement with people from within
Because Hungarian peasants were not permitted to migrate without their estate owner’s permission, Harrucher sought additional settlers from south western
He began with focussing on settling Germans in what would become Deutsch (German) Gyula, Elek and Mezöbereny.
The first Germans to respond did so in 1723 and arrived in Gyula in the autumn having reached an agreement with Harrucher. They were followed by another group in 1724. In all they numbered one hundred families. They were Roman Catholics. The contract they signed was significantly better than the ones the Slovak Lutherans in Szarvas and Mezöberney signed in 1722 and 1723 or the one the Hungarians already living in Gyula were offered. As a result the Germans were not well received by the Hungarians among whom they settled. In order to avoid conflict, Harrucher moved the Germans onto an island in the river bordering the Hungarian community and gave it its own administration and named it Nemet (German) Gyula. It was totally separated from Hungarian Gyula by the river and only one bridge connected them. The Hungarians outnumbered the Germans three to one in terms of population.
The Conscription Tax List of 1735 reports that there were forty-one families living in Nemet Gyula. Some of the original German settlers had moved elsewhere. The growth in population was set back when the plague broke out all over
There were also two streams of settlers who arrived in Elek. The first was part of the organized migration that Harrucher set in motion in 1724. He established them in the uninhabited ruined town that had flourished in the Middle Ages. Their number is not known. In 1732 there were fifty families residing there. In 1735 there were 55 families. It was established as a strictly German settlement. The plague struck in 1739 and there were 148 recorded deaths. The second stream of settlers numbered sixty families. Although no copy of the settlement contract exists it is assumed it reflected the same terms as the Gyula agreement including the right to migrate. The places of origin of these two groups of settlers can be determined as follows. The first group came from 90 different villages and the second group from 47 identified places. They came from northern
Part of Harrucher’s planned settlement included the ruined
Mezöbereny was re-established by Slovaks in 1723. The first known German family moved into the settlement from Guyla in the same year. The first organized migration of German families into the community took place in 1725 consisting of eighteen families. These families received an additional three year exemption from paying taxes unlike the Slovaks who were living there. By 1760 only six of these original German families remained in Mezöbereny. But in 1740 another twenty-one families had arrived who were joined by an additional twenty-seven families in 1750. In documents related to the settlement written in 1760 the records indicate that thirty-two of the German families came from
The settlement taking place in
In the last quarter of the 18th century organized settlement programmes were carried on by the Imperial government along with private landlords. The Germans in Mezöbereny participated in this ongoing migration. In 1788, thirty families from the village migrated to Liebling in the Banat in
In 1830 the financier Samuel Wodianer of Pest and
Landless German families in Elek founded a new village in the nearby Puszta in 1840 and called it Almaskamaras. They contracted their land with Wodianer and the eighty families raised tobacco. The eighty German families continued to be part of the Roman Catholic parish of Elek until 1847. In 1852 the total population of the village was 1,022. German families in Elek also moved to Ottlaka in 1860 and lived in their own quarter.
In Mezöbereny from the beginning of the German settlement among the Hungarians and Slovaks they attempted to maintain their independence and identity. The Slovaks were the largest group and accounted for 49% of the population in 1760; were reduced to 47% by 1805; 40% in 1864 and remained at 40% in 1880. The Germans were second in number and the Hungarians were the smallest group. They lived in different sections of the community and shared in the administrative council with equal representation for all three groups at all levels of governance.
The Protestant churches played a leading role in the history of Mezöbereny. Between 1725 and 1745 the Slovaks and Germans formed a single congregation, built a church together and were served by the same pastor. In 1745 the Germans called their own pastor but continued to worship in the same church building with the Slovaks. In 1788 the Germans built a church of their own. The two Lutheran congregations maintained close relations with the Hungarian Reformed congregation. The massive persecutions that had been unleashed against the Protestants in
According to the Tax Conscription List of 1840 there were twenty-nine German Lutheran families living in Gyoma living alongside of one another on two streets of the village. They had a representative on the community administrative council. A Lutheran congregation was founded in 1840 which was soon followed by the building of a church and the opening of a school.