This article is based on “Tofü: The First German Settlement On the Eszterházy Domains” from: “Franken und Schwaben in Ungarn” by Heinrich Kéri and translated by Odis. A. Schlösser.
The circumstances around the settlement of the small village of Tofü in Baranya County by settlers from Germany and the time when it took place will be examined here. We do not know anything about a settlement contract but contracts from the years 1746 and 1764 are mentioned with the Urbarial Agreement of 1767. Both contracts, however, have not come to light, but the latter is an extension of three additional years of the contract for 1750, which is kept in the Hungarian State Archives and in the family archives of the Eszterházys.
Tofü had earlier been established in the Middle Ages, but was depopulated during the time of the Turks, or rather was only inhabited temporarily. It is mentioned several times in the Turkish tax registries. During a restructuring of boundaries old Serbian men claimed to remember that it was temporarily inhabited by Serbs during the time of the Turkish occupation and the Hungarian Kurutzen Guerrilla War against the Habsburgs. In 1692 it came into the possession of the Eszterházy family as an uninhabited prairie, but still belonged to the Ozora Domain at that time. At the beginning of the 18th century the property boundaries were not always clarified too closely, and were often contested by all means available up until the occupation by the Habsburgs. The prairies in particular were often considered to be spoils of war. The neighbouring populated villages around Tofü were the property of the Diocese of Pécs and partly the property of the Rinczmaul family, (later the Petrovszkys), while Kozár was owned by the Eszterházy family.
In the year, 1712 László Madárász, the Assistant Sheriff of the County who was also the Chief Steward of the Eszterházy Domains in Dombóvár, protested that the Bishop of the Diocese, Franz Wilhelm Count von Nesselrod was attempting to confiscate a major portion of the prairie of Tofü. These prairie lands were often leased, even developed or used as pastureland without the permission of the neighbouring municipality to such an extent that not even the one-ninth tithe was paid to them. Even though Nesselrod was the High Sheriff of the County, the County Assembly supported their Vice Sheriff. In 1714 and 1715 the administrator of the Dombóvár Domains, László Egry issued a warning to the surrounding municipalities because they were misusing the prairies of Tofü, Kozár and Mekéyes as pastureland, and for fattening their swine on acorns and gathering wood from the attached woodlands. He frequently issued written confirmations of these charges to offenders at this time. We know that by 1717 Kozár was colonized by Serbs, while Tofü to a large extent was simply at the mercy of incursions from the neighbouring municipalities. In 1720 the Supreme Court Judge of Pavits acted on the charges of Joseph Eszterházy against the subjects of the Rinczmaul family living in Maróc who were Serbs and were making use of the pasturelands of Tofü without permission. The complaint was acknowledged officially although one individual came out against it: one Christopher Wagner, the Commissioner of the County Treasury.
Wagner was the cause of numerous worries for the administrators of the Eszterházy’s Dombóvar Domains. In 1718 one of the Eszterházy officials, Gergely Berényi complained that Wagner disregarded the County’s decision and confiscated grain from Domain without any authorization to do so. On January 23rd there was a more serious incident that is treated in detail in a letter from Egry including a receipt from the County. A servant carried out the threshing of the tithe of the crop from the Domains’ prairie at Tofü, which was treaded out by horses according to local usage. Christopher Wagner had the horses led away by his armed ruffians accompanied by a further five men, in order to use them for threshing on his own estate and property near Pécs. Egry sent armed men to Wagner, who, however, did not give the horses back until after the conclusion of the threshing. The numerically superior crew of Egry was able to foil a second attempt by Wagner at kidnapping the horses a few days later.
In order to be on the safe side, Egry still had an investigation carried out, the records of which can be found in the Ozora Archives, raising the issue of whether the County Treasurer had any claim on the prairie of Tofü and since there was no protest on his part, the legal position was clear! Tofü belonged to he Eszterházys. Egry was also able to confirm this for the County through the examination of witnesses that took place on April 8th and 9th in 1723. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages who appeared as witnesses all maintained that Tofü was governed by the stewards and administrators of the Dombóvár Domains since living memory. All in all, it was the constant worry about the prairie of Tofü that became the impetus for Egry to proceed with its settlement. All of the Eszterházy villages were either populated by hereditary local subjects or colonized by Hungarian peasants under the guidance of a representative of the Domains. Kozár was an exception in this regard when it was granted to the Serbs who established themselves there in 1717. The Eszterházy estates and properties remained unaffected to a great extent with regard to the Great Swabian Migration because it was looked upon as temporary and self-contained. Open prairies became rare. Tofü was to be the first village in the Eszterházy Domains with a purely German population.
The village is situated on the border of Tolna and Baranya Counties, on the narrow strip of land that was claimed by both Counties. Since the close of the 17th century there had been ongoing unresolved quarrels over the matter. According to J. Holub, this dispute was never formally concluded. The decision of Paul Anton Eszterházy, can however, be considered as the official conclusion to the matter. As a result the County of Baranya came into the possession of several villages and open prairies, which it never possessed during its former history. The quarrels always flared up when it came to the settlement of the prairies in 1717 over Kozár, at the end of the 1720s with regard to Tofü, and after 1735 the matter of Mekényes.
Since the first years of settlement were tax-free the two Counties did not enter the names of the non-tax paying peasants in their tax conscriptions until 1728. According to the transcripts of Tolna County, Tofü is assessed for 44 Gulden and 64 Denari during the tax year of 1728. There are only a few pages to the transcript dealing with that, but Baranya declared that Tofü had to pay its taxes to the County of Baranya. The County Assembly requested information from Gaspar Nagy, the administrator of the Eszterházy Domains south of Lake Balaton, specifically requesting documents with regard to the Urbarium Regulation in terms of Tofü and the land grant documents the Eszterházys had to prove ownership in order to be able to direct a reply to the County of Baranya. They must not have complied with the request for there is no evidence of the existence of the Urbarial Regulation and they must have rejected the need to provide the land grant documents. The response of the administrator of the Domains has been lost but the reply by the authorities of the County of Baranya is well known. Tolna County was to abstain from collecting taxes because the village was part of the territory of Baranya County and incidentally was already incorporated into the land conscription records of that County a matter to which Tolna County had to abide. The Assistant Sheriff officially assured the village of six tax-free years at the time of the beginning of the settlement and he also promised to provide aid and assistance to avoid a possible tax collection by the County for which purpose a commission was established with a number of jurors and judges.
The tax collection failed to materialize because of that threat. Nevertheless, Tofü was taxed once again in the following year during the registration of taxes, this time in the amount of 20 Gulden and 82 Denari. In response, Gaspar Nagy reported that Tofü, Kozár, Mekényes and a few additional villages and open prairies were affiliated with the Domains of Dombóvár ever since April 2, 1729. He provided records from the Domain’s conscription from the same year indicating that Tofü (and also Kozár) were part of Tolna County according to the existing statutes. In order to put an end to the controversy, Nagy appealed to the representatives of all of the Eszterházy estates and Count Erdödy with the proposal that Tofü be conscripted annually by both Counties and even if Baranya County insisted that it was one of their possessions it should abstain from collecting taxes for now in order not to prolong the poverty of the villagers. Nagy’s opinion was that the Royal Council ought to take the position to award Tofü to the County to which it truly belonged according to the statutes, namely Tolna. But matters took another course. Prince Paul Anton Eszterházy received notification from Tolna County that Tofü and Kozár had been awarded to Baranya County. Tolna County agreed reluctantly. An explanation and clarification was provided to avoid such proceedings in the future as it affected Tofü. In years past the steward of the Dombóvár Domain, László Egry, requested certain privileges for the newly populated emerging villages. He was not satisfied with the three tax-free years that Tolna allowed the colonists when he discovered that in nearby Baranya County, nobles granted the foreign new arrivals six tax-free years. As a result he had the two villages (Tofü and Kozár) annexed and placed under the jurisdiction of that County. In the following year, the Royal Hungarian State Chancellery demanded further information on the matter of Tofü. The prince is also said to have communicated the kinds of privileges that the village possessed but there were no responses to these overtures made by the Eszterházys.
The County tax authorities still did not give up. In 1736 when the judge and his acting representative along with another individual came to the village, they found no one at home. The officials later remarked: “They were not at home and the judge did not intend to find out their names on the grounds he did not have that authority from the County.” With that reference Tofü vanishes from the records and tax conscriptions of Tolna County.
It can therefore be assumed that the settlement took place under the guidance of László Egry and he also made the agreements with the settlers in place of a settlement contract. This must have been in the year 1723 since Egry died sometime in the early summer of that year. The names of the settlers are first listed in the land conscription of 1728, which was done simultaneously by both Counties. The Tolna register lists ten names and of these six are said to have already been in Tofü in 1723, a further four would have come in the following years. The Baranya register indicates a different year of arrival for the same six settlers and puts it at 1725, and the further four are reported to have settled in the conscription year of 1728. These inconsistencies cannot be explained but have something to do with the interests of both the settlers and the Domain in terms of stretching out the tax free years by giving a later arrival date.
We will deal with the early conscriptions recorded for the year 1729. According to that conscription Johann Adam Pickelhaupt, Georg Bartel Rorbek, Adam Märcz, Petrus Theobald, Johann Heinrich Krill, Laurenz Reichert, Martin Karl, Johann Adam Kerber, Johann Leonhard Leen and Johann Leen arrived in the year 1724, Martin Jung, Johann Georg Perner and Elias Wick in 1725 from Germany.
Conscription list were also drawn up by the administrators of the Domains, frequently in the well-governed Eszterházy estates in dealing with the establishment of new villages the settler’s place of origin was also often cited. In this way they probably wanted to avoid taking on any subjects with a bad record and it was also intended to prevent quarrels with other Domains who might have a claim on them, especially when it dealt with Hungarian peasants who were not free to migrate. As a result, in the case of Tofü we have the names of the first fifteen settlers, their place of origin and the name of their former noble master’s estate in the records kept by Gaspar Nagy. In this way the basic development of the small village can be determined precisely from its origin. Some of the unconventional transcriptions and the orthography cause some difficulties in attempts at identifying the settlers precisely. Some of the dates and data are not great importance to us but we will follow the information to the letter realizing there are other possible versions and possibilities.
Possessio Tofeö ex qua Possessione ex quo Dominio
(Residing in Tofü) (Former place of residence) (Former Domain)
Petrus Schmitt Penthaim Hortenburg
Petrus Tewalt Nidrakren Ezenburg
Hendricus Rauss Pinstott Ezenburg
Georgius Portl* Penthaim Hortenburg
Johannes Georgius Perner Pholtz Hadlpergh
Johannes Mertz Pinstott Ezenburg
Nicolaus Hartmann Hempoch Ezenburg
Johannes Adamus Pikelambt Prompoch Lebestain
Martinus Jungh Mathiass Heszn
Johannes Henricus Krill Einstain Hanat
Johannes Georgius Tilk Ramholtz Teigefeld
Johannes Adamus Kerber Volttpulau Ezenburg
Hartmann Mertz Pinstott Ezenburg
Martinus Karll Naistott Caesareus
Adamus Mertz Pinstott Ezenburg
Johannes Leonhard Leen who was a miller and for whom there is no additional information.
*Also identified as George Bartl Rohrbeck
Despite the orthographic inaccuracies the places of origin of the colonists can be determined from the above details. The family researcher in Pécs, Georg Mueller has identified Pinstott as Bönstadt in the nearby vicinity of Frankfurt-an-Main and has been able to clarify the family connections of the emigrants there. If we still include the details from the Hungarian tax conscriptions, the development of the settlement of Tofü can be reconstructed to some extent. In 1724 Johann Adam Pickelhaupt and Johann Adam Kerber settled in Belac and were still registered there in 1728 and as of 1729 we find them in Tofü. Adam März, Laurenz Raighert (Reichert) and probably also Johann Heinrich Krill arrived in the country in 1722 at the latest. Reichert was first in Cikó, the three are then located in Naygmanyók in 1722. In 1724 (perhaps even in 1723) they moved into the desolate village of Tofü. Johann Heinrich Krill was still living in the village in 1731 but turns up again in Gyönk in 1733. The two brothers of Adam März, Johann and Hartmann, as well as Heinrich Rausch arrive from Bönstadt in 1728. In 1731 two further settlers from Bönstadt settled in the village, Johann Georg Falk and Johann Georg Meisinger who are related to one another by marriage; the latter of them moves into the house of Krill who had moved to Gyönk. In the 1730s Johann März left the village for a few years, and is once again present in the 1740s and then dies in his 63rd year of his life in 1749 but his wife survives him. After 1732 even Adam März vanishes from the conscriptions, people later mentioned his wife who was left behind but according to an entry in the Church Records in Bikal he is then buried in his 64th year of his life in 1755 but in Tofü. The four settlers from Bönstadt, Hartmann März, Falk, Meisinger and Rausch form part of the reliable work force in the village and are cited in all of the conscriptions until 1748. One ongoing member of the community was Johann Georg Tilk from Ramholz, an honest and just man, who served as the emergency Lutheran teacher in the village whose homestead the family researcher George Mueller visited and also clarified his family relations. About the local miller, named Leen and his son we know that they, like Adam Pickelhaupt came from Brombach as early as 1724 but like most of the millers, they did not have a permanent address and leased various mills after 1731. There were other families that came and then moved on until 1748 when the source of settlers dried up temporarily. So during the first twenty-five years there were constant changes in the number and mix of families living in the village. Twenty years later during the Urbarial Regulation we have a stable community with few new arrivals or departures except due to marriage up until the violent expulsion of 1948 that decimated the entire local population.
A letter from the General Assembly of the County of Baranya dated April 6th 1729 is filed in the County Archives in Szekszád in which the County protests against the fact that Tolna County included the village of Tofü in their tax conscription. As an outcome we find a second letter written in Hungarian that the acting High Sheriff and the most senior tax collector of the County of Baranya, Daniel Horváth wrote on the same day to the honourable judge and jurors in Tofü with the salutation, “God bless you, judge and jurors of Tofü.” In what follows the villagers are strictly ordered not to pay taxes to Tolna County whatsoever, to give no allegiance nor recognize the jurisdiction of Tolna, to resist the tax collectors, to afford them no accommodations. Only when their free years would run out would begin paying taxes to the County of Baranya.
How did this letter get to Szekszárd? Since the colonists did not understand Hungarian one will have to assume they needed someone to explain its contents to them. During a later tax conscription and collection that was undertaken by Tolna County, the tax collectors were avoided by the local population who upon their arrival in the village ran off and hid in the neighbouring forests with their families, cattle, oxen and horses. In the end this and other failed attempts at collecting taxes led to an abandonment of further tax conscriptions from Tolna County in 1736.