Boglar During the Settlement Period

On the Esterhazy Domains in the Hungarian Highlands




Dr. Anton Tafferner


  In the last few years new light has been shed on the research on the history of the early settlement period of Boglar in the Hungarian Highands (Feher County) my place of birth and hometown.  When I wrote my dissertation in 1940 there were many individual factors that were unknown to me at the time.  With the beginning of Danube Swabian genealogical research during the last decade significant light has been shed on the matter.  In addition to Atschau and Lauschbrünn (along with Nadap-Kaltenberg)  Boglar was also  established as a private settlement and most importantly was the earliest Danube Swabian settlement in the Hungarian Highlands.  The question of why the founding of Boglar occurred at such a late date cannot be answered that clearly but some conjectures can be offered.  The owner of the domain and estates was the much occupied Generalissimo, Count Joseph Esterhazy (1682-1748) who was constantly on the move carrying out various undertakings.  His only son, Count Joseph Esterhazy, junior, managed and took control of the Domain of his father but due to his early death he did so for a relatively short period from 1748 to 1762.  At the time of  his death in 1762, Boglar was still in the process of development.  Because he died without any children of his own, the Totis Domain reverted to his cousin, Count Nicholas Esterhazy.  The Esterhazys bore the noble title of Galantha and Frankno; the Count of Forchenstein with the first located in southern Slovakia and the latter in the Burgenland.


  Count Joseph Esterhazy, the elder, was designated for the priesthood by his parents and served as a priest for eleven years and named to the position of prior at Rathold in Feher County.  The priestly calling did not suit him because he always felt drawn to a military career.  Only a few incidental details of his life are known to us and are as follows.  In the last phase of Kurruz Uprising he successfully defended his castle at Sempte (Schintau) in Neutra County against his own brother Anton who sided with the Kurruz rebels.  1710:  he served as a counsellor in the Royal Chamber.  1711:  the governor of Komorn County and Boschod as well as serving as the Ban of Croatia.  1723:  Comptroller of the Royal Household.  1733:  Privy Counsellor.  1741:  Superior Court Judge.  Meanwhile in 1728 he fell out of favour with Emperor Charles VI but it was only of short duration.  The contract and agreement between the Royal Chamber representative Baron Joseph von Krapff and Count Joseph Esterhazy would be of fundamental importance for Danube Swabian colonization in Hungary.  In 1727 the Count purchased the Domain of Totis from the above named official for the sum of 343,524 Gulden which was given royal assent with the guarantee that the noble rights of his family would be respected in the future in terms of inheritance.


  Julius Szekfü dealt with the life and career of this Magnate in the fourth volume of his “History of Hungary”.  The Latin biography written by the Jesuit, Gabriel Kolinovics and entitled, “A Posthumous Memorial of Count Joseph Esterhazy 1754,” served as the basis for Szekfü’s work.   He designated him as Viceroy and leading spokesman of the Hungarian nobility at the Landtag (parliament consisting of nobles, higher clergy and royal free city representatives) of 1728-1729.  He embellished his flourishing estates with Baroque castles.  Szekfü identified him as a major defender of the rights and privileges of the nobles.  In addition, Szekfü occupied himself with the colonization efforts of Count Joseph Esterhazy.  For all intents and purposes the Count was the leader of the so-called Catholic Party in the Landtag.  The Count began to settle his estates in the Hungarian Highlands in 1730 with German Catholics from the Holy Roman Empire and Catholic Slovaks from Upper Hungary.  The Puszta (prairie) of Boglar was at the southernmost point of the Esterhazy Domain from the Danube to Atschau.  Count Joseph Esterhazy’s reputation suffered from the brutal measures he took in carrying out the Counter Reformation on his estates by expelling the Calvinists living there at least from the viewpoint of modern day researchers while from his own perspective at the time he was simply carrying out  the decision of the Landtag of Ődenburg (present day Sopron) held  in 1681.  This  event does  not lessen his contribution to Danube Swabian colonization.


  Boglar is included among the oldest villages in Feher County.  With regard to the origin and meaning of its name there is no agreement among linguists.  The prefix Bog and the syllable –lar have been joined to form the word.  Both are common in Hungarian usage throughout the country in terms of place names.  (Bogdany appears seven times in the older parts of Hungary; Bogad, Bogard as well as the Slavic linked Bogolaz, Bogojevo, Bodanac, etc. all have the same derivation.  For that reason it can be said that the term has a common connection and is derived from the Slavic designation for “God”.  The ending –lar is not only from ancient Magyar but it is also spread abroad in German speaking areas and raises all kinds of linguistic problems, for example, the German place names of Wetzlar, Goslar, Buttlar, Dinklar, Fritzlar, etc.  In all cases the development of place names go back to pre-Magyar times.  The name first comes to light in a document from the reign of King Bela (Adalbert) III in the year 1193.  In this voluminous document the King awarded the flourishing estate to the Knights of St. John of Stuhlweissenberg ( today Szekésfehervár and the ancient capital of Hungary) stationed in Transdanubia which included Boglar and its “five large ploughed sections of land.”  In later documents there are the variations “Bogkard”, “Boklar” etc.


  In contrast to the neighbouring villages, with the exception of Csakvar, no Roman artefacts have ever been found in Boglar nor that of any other former inhabitants even though it is located on the Roman Road-Aquincum (Buda)-Floriana (Csakvar)-Cimbria (Feher)-Sabaria (Steinamanger which later became Szombathely).  During the Middle Ages this stretch of the road served as the Post Road and a military highway.  Following the capture of Stuhlweissenburg (Szekésfehervár) by the Turks in 1543 all Transdanubia fell under the sway of the Turkish Crescent.  Boglar belonged to the Turkish taxation district of Buda and was on the private domain of the resident Pasha in Buda.  According to a Turkish land assessment compiled in 1580-1581 there were two Magyar peasants residing in Boglar.  Shortly afterwards or the 17th Century at the latest, Boglar was uninhabited.  In the autumn of 1696 the Imperial assessors were in the area compiling the taxation list and remarked that the prairie known as Puszta Boglar consisted of firewood and meadows of green grass.  In total the entire Puszta Boglar was assessed at a value of 45 Gulden.  For sixty-four years Boglar remained an undeveloped Puszta without any inhabitants which comparatively speaking made its repopulation during the Danube Swabian colonization rather late.  This central area was a region in which there were two simultaneous owners, namely a Turkish and Hungarian one which was often the case throughout all of Hungary during the Turkish occupation.  The neighbouring village of Csakvar came into the possession of the Esterhazys in 1629 who later took over the entire estates in the area following the expulsion of the Turks and were officially awarded to them later.  According to the County assessment records of 1702 made public in a monograph by Johann Karoly the Puszta Boglar belonged to Count Anton Esterhazy, the landlord of Csakvar who joined forces with the Kurruz rebels in 1703 and lost his estates as a result and was declared an outlaw.  His estates were divided between his brothers Francis and Joseph.  Boglar came into the possession of Joseph.  On October 22, 1704 the Imperial Chancellery informed the Royal Hungarian Chancellery that the estates of their rebel turncoat brother, Count Anton Esterhazy, were to be divided between his two brothers Francis and Joseph.  In the decree it is indicated that the brothers had requested that the Viennese Chancellery take such official action.  The decree was agreed upon by both parties.  As a result in 1704 Puszta Boglar was legally in the possession of Count Joseph Esterhazy.


  In the years 1715 and 1720 land conscriptions were compiled and assessments carried out.  At the time of the first, the assessor simply lay the matter of the Puszta Boglar aside without indicating the reason why.  That was not to be the case during the second in 1720.  The two assessors took a close look at the unpopulated Puszta and remarked that it was only a meadow used to pasture livestock by the inhabitants of Csakvar who leased it for that purpose and it yielded 80 Gulden (the Latin text then follows).  This situation would not change until the Danube Swabian colonization.  In fact, conditions had worsened by then because Count Esterhazy in Csakvar grazed his sheep in the meadow even though the Puszta Boglar did not belong to him but was owned by his uncle in Totis.


  An eight page land grant from the Viennese Court Chancellery sheds light on the situation with regard to the order of the Royal Hungarian Chancellery dealing with the division of the estates of Count Anton Esterhazy by his brothers Francis and Joseph.  In it there is reference to a recent transfer of the confiscated estates to the two brothers in the years 1709 and 1719.  The transfer of the confiscated property would also apply to the descendants of the two brothers.  Further the document indicates that both brothers had sought after the division of their brother’s estates.  The Court Chancellery in Vienna had granted the request of both brothers, Joseph the eldest and Francis the younger for their services to the state.  In the document Joseph’s services performed during the war are especially highlighted and the various battles are also mentioned and hardly less important were his actions at the Pressburg Landtag and how he stepped into the breach for the sake of the Fatherland and sacrificed his house and home.  During his service to the Fatherland his estates were laid to waste.


  What then follows is a long enumeration of the various estates granted to Joseph including Bolgar olim Bodgar.  This is an error for even though the name of the place is written in various ways elsewhere, the core or basic word “Bog” was always retained.  This is simply a mistake in spelling or transcription on the part of the writer.  The Court Chancellery in Vienna was not familiar with the spelling of the Puszta, but it notes correctly that it was located in Feher County.  At the conclusion of the document it makes clear that in the enumeration of the estates there are probably some errors that the brothers will be responsible for working out between themselves.  The document was prepared on behalf of the Royal Chancellery by Gabriel Gyӧngyӧs and witnessed by the President of the Court Chancellery, Count John Jacob von Lӧwenberg and dated April 16, 1727 (Reference is made to the appropriate folios in the archives of the Court Chancellery in Vienna).


  On September 6, 1730, King Charles III (and German Emperor Charles VI) enacted the decree to carry out the negotiations related to settling the issues around the ownership of the estates in Feher County through the Neoaquistica Commission set up for that purpose.  (History of Feher County by John Karoly, Volume 3, Page 12-ff).  Boglar is included and is spelled properly.  For the next sixty-four years there is total silence about the Puszta.  It existed as a single sheepfold.  Year in and year out shepherds drove their flocks to pasture on the site of the present day rectory while at the same time Danube Swabian villages located on the northern and southern borders of the estate were already pulsating with farming life and had done so for several decades.


  The villagers in Atschau and Saar avoided this wilderness area and were certainly not interested in taking it over but they made use of the bordering pasturage and meadows.  There is evidence that the inhabitants of Atschau infringed beyond the borders of the pasturage of Boglar as late as the 19th Century.  From the time of their settlement they were quite satisfied with the fertile valley to which they were assigned and demonstrated no desire to settle on the Puszta Boglar.  This was not true of the settlers in Saar.  Towards the end of the 1740s they experienced the limitations their new home offered to them and cast their eyes on the Puszta Boglar.  Evidently several of the inhabitants of Saar settled on the Puszta as early as 1749 and built their thatch roofed houses there.  By and by their numbers increased.  It appears that this spontaneous settlement on the Puszta was not met with any interference on the part of the Count’s officials who were in charge of the running of his Domain.  It would only seem appropriate to them if eventually an ordered community, that is, a village would be established because the noble landlord of Saar and Boglar were one and the same.  On the other hand we must not forget that year in and year out, groups of colonists were enticed or coerced to settle throughout the Hungarian Highlands and never reached their goal:  the Promised Land of the Banat.  Some of them grew tired of the long journey to the Banat and settled on the Puszta and remained there for several years until they realized they were not suited and did not have the skills associated with the hard work of clearing the forested woodlands in order to cultivate the virgin soil and for that reason moved on to the southerly regions of Hungary.  The successive departures of colonists found in the church records of Boglar are mentioned in entries dealing with births, marriages and deaths.  One can assume that the number of those that settled in Boglar and moved on but who did not appear in the church records were just as numerous as those mentioned in the matriculation records.


  Let us next take a look at what the inhabitants of Boglar knew about their forebears about one hundred years after the settlement took place there which their Notary recorded from what was dictated to him.  It deals with the investigations of Frederick Pesty a Banat historian in the 1860’s who carried out his research right on the scene.  The record of these proceedings that took place were written by the Notary John Tӧgel and were certified as accurate by the local Village Council on May 10, 1864.  (It can be found in my dissertation page 25; recently published in the Historical Year Book of Feher County.  Volume 2.  Page 186.  Published in Szekésfehervár 1977).  In my translation which follows I only provide the answers given by the Richter (mayor) Joseph Stadler and the Village Council representative Francis Novak.  There was the question and I provide their answers.  Answer #1:  Boglar is a community in Feher County and is located in the Csakvar District.  #2:  The community is only known as Boglar.  #3:  Since its founding it has only been known by this name.  #4:  The earliest it was first mentioned was in 1750.  #5:  The inhabitants are German whose forebears came from Württemberg and settled here.  Their excellencies, the Counts of the Esterhazy family, brought them here from Württemberg at that time and they cleared the wild growth and wilderness and made the land fruitful.  Despite clearing the land the first years’ crops failed and could not provide the necessities of life and many dug posts to form walls and covered them with a straw thatched roof as their first houses and managed to eek out a living.  #6:  (The question with regard to the written sources about the origins of the community and their availability remained unanswered.)  #7:  The lay of the land is hilly.  The top soil of the land under cultivation is loam and beneath it there is sandstone, clay and gravel.  The variety of trees includes Zerreiche, oak, linden and acacia (locust tree).  There are few fruit trees.  The total acreage is 5,272 Joch (1.4 acres).  The Domain keeps 1,717 Joch in its own possession.  The community is left with 3,555 Joch.  Of that 2,577 Joch are cultivated fields.  There are 422 Joch of meadows; 117 Joch of vineyards; 937 Joch of pasture; 1,131 Joch of forest and 145 Joch of undeveloped land.  There are seventy-two farmers with half a session of land and sixty-one cotters with their homesteads.  In the forest owned by the Domain there are stags, deer and wild boar.


  Given in Boglar, the tenth of May,m 1864 (Signatures by those named above.)



  To a great extent the two community representatives and the Notary present an accurate picture of the situation in the village.  Their reminiscence of the founding of the village is striking because citing the year 1750 is totally accurate.  This is all the more striking since the Danube Swabian colonists had only a basic education in their mother tongue but had no understanding of historical documents or sources.  The public education provided at that time, some one hundred years later, was totally focussed on Hungarian and a patriotic framework in terms of history.  The memory of their place of origin remained as part of family and household lore and was in sharp contrast with the emphasis in the school that was becoming more and more pronounced.  Their place of origin in Württemberg was correct but only up to a point.  The first colonists whether they migrated elsewhere or remained along with those too ill to go on were in fact from Württemberg and were actually Swabians.  The County Monographs and later publications right up to the present day continue to tell the fairytale about the settlement of the Swabians.  John Karoly places their arrival in the 1740’s  and as a result comes fairly close to their actual settlement.  (History of Feher County.  Volume 5.  Page 530-ff)  In the same breath he acknowledges that the community was already a recognized parish in 1761.  He could have drawn some important conclusions from that.  During the time of the Dual Monarchy his kind of analysis was the type to be published in the Crown Prince’s Productions (The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Word and Pictures.  Volume 4.  Page 562.  Vienna 1896)  Alexander Wekerle, whose origins were in Mor, and served as Hungarian Prime Minister on three occasions was also an important author who wrote about Feher County.  He commented, “From Csakvar one comes to VertesBoglar a flourishing community established by colonists from Württemberg who were settled there along with those in Bicske by Count Esterhazy with over 6,000 inhabitants making it the third largest community in the County.”


  During the Trianon period (refers to the Peace Treaty of Trianon after World War One) also known as the Horthy Era the series entitled “General Review and Directory” first appeared and dated the time of settlement of Boglar in the years 1720-1730 and on other occasions even failed to give one.  Following an inquiry I made I received the following as an answer from the Community Archives  (Nr. 1437/1945):  “The present day German population are descendants of those who settled there in the 1740’s.  Where they originally came from is unknown.”  This demonstrates the influence of the County Monographs penned by John Karoly whose multi-volume works can be found in every community.  The origins of the colonists on the Puszta Boglar first brought the Banat migration to light, that is, some of the colonists who first settled in Puszta Boglar migrated from there to the southern reaches of Hungary.  As one and then another died in the Banat or married there the priests made notations in the parish register to the effect that “Olim in Hungariam Boglar.”  “Earlier in Hungary, in Boglar.”  On the basis of the number of years they spent in Boglar we can determine when it was first settled.


  In general we can establish two approximate periods of settlement:  1750-1760 and 1760-1770.  It was only after 1770 that the situation in Boglar stabilized along with the population.  In the first phase it served as a temporary stop for those headed for the Banat which Frederick Pesty also indicates.  Even though I was unaware of the full implications of the Banat migration from Boglar in my dissertation I wrote, “The departing migrating Swabians did not return to their old homeland but in all likelihood left via the highway of the German colonists down the Danube River farther to the south.  Some of them reached the Banat.”  I wrote that under the influence of a chance discovery, namely an article by Karl Dӧrner entitled, “The Places of Origin of Some Settlers in the Community of Marienfeld in the Banat.”  (The source:  Pages for Southeast German Genealogical Research.  Vienna.  December 1937 and January 1938).  In Marienfeld, “Pering Joseph, formerly from Hungary and Polgar,” died in 1790.  The same was true in 1792.  “Loch Maria, formerly from Hungary and formerly from Polgar.”  New light was shed on the question of the migrants from Bolgar who left for the Banat as a result of the huge interest in genealogy following the Second World War.  Dr. Helmut Zwirner, a dermatologist, now living in Homburg whose family roots are in the Banat has provided accurate data on the migration.  He compiled all of his findings in a book entitled, “The Settlement of Lazarfeld:  Studies in the Settlement History of a Community in the Banat.  Homburg 1978, 495 pages.  Published by Saarland Cultural Studies.  Volume 10.)  In this book you will find a dozen migrants from Bolgar who had left for the Banat.


  Even more striking is the fact that Boglar served as a kind of transit point and birthplace of many colonist families in Kathreinfeld.  On November 30, 1770 Rosa Binder aged twelve years died in Heufeld “nata in Hungaria in pago Boglar“.  She was born in Boglar in 1758.  Some time between 1752-1757 the Klecker family from Moravia spent time in Boglar before going to Mastort.  Theresia Klecker died in Nakadorf at the age of thirty-one years and was born in Boglar in 1763.  At the time of Johannes Klecker’s death in Mastort in 1831, at the age of seventy-four, the following remark is made:  “Ex Boglar in Hungaria Superiori orlundus” where he was born in 1757.  Anna Maria Kotsal was born in Boglar in 1751.  Elisabeth Wiener who married in Heufeld was also born in Boglar in the same year.  At the beginning of the 1750’s Puszta Boglar was already well settled by families from nearby Saar and migrating German colonists.  There are two examples of migrating colonists settling in Boglar in 1749 in church records in the Banat.  George Walter died in Heufeld in 1829 at the age of eighty and it was noted, “Ex Hungaria in loco Boglar oriundus.”   In this case oriundus means natus which means he was born in Boglar in 1749.  John George Zengler, son of Joseph and Rosalia Zengler, was born around 1749 in Boglar (Marriage Register of Hatzfeld 1770).  The places of origin of the inhabitants of Boglar and Saar are dealt with in their respective Heimatbücher (Homeland Books) and are contained in these publications.  They prove that Boglar along with its neighbouring communities and also the new settlement at Kosmau all functioned as a kind of temporary transit stop for migrants on their way to the Banat.  Following extensive examination of the evidence in the Boglar church records the following places of origin can be determined:  the Platinate, Franconia, Moravia and parts of Western Hungary now in the Burgenland of Austria.  In its earliest beginnings of Puszta Boglar appears to be have been a settlement of people from the Platinate (Pfalz).  Their place of origin is described in general terms as “ex Platinatu“.  These settlers from the Platinate formed the largest traceable group.  Following this first identifiable group that took up land in Boglar that Pesty recognizes, the Austrians came next, but only those from the Burgenland can be identified and together the two groups put the community on its feet.  Here the Bavarian-Austrian dialect gained ascendancy and in general the pronunciation was Austrian and could perhaps point to an area of origin around Vienna as their place of origin.  Three of the places named are St. Georgen, Sickingen and the Hungarian Kerestur (Kreuzdorf) but their locales cannot be determined.  There were close family ties between Saar and Boglar in the early settler years.  Barbara Allbecker (Allbeker) the daughter of Bernhard Allbecker was born in Boglar on September 26, 1761.  Bernhard Albecker was in Turwall in Vis County in 1747.


  The steady increase in population at Puszta Boglar in the first ten years made it clear that there was a need for a more formal arrangement and contract with the Domain of Totis to govern their affairs and relationships from the perspective of their landlord.  To meet that objective a proposal was presented on February 19, 1760 that would serve as the basis for a settlement contract.  The draft proposal consisted of 24 Articles.  Boglar was intended to consist of one hundred and fifty sessions of land and fifty cotters (landless farm labourers)…this was Article 5 in the proposal.  The individual articles dealt with specific details with regard to the building of houses and the performance of work that would be required and the duties of the tenants.  Article 11 appears to be of special significance because of the wording used as follows:  Only those with three or four draught animals would be accepted for settlement on Puszta Boglar because two of the fields allotted to them would have to be totally cleared of forest and the third field had to have one third of it cleared as well.  The colonists were exempted from providing a share of their crops to the landlord for the first three years of the contract and seven years in terms of the vineyards, (the first vineyards were planted in 1768).  It was hoped that the County would allow an exemption from paying taxes for at least ten years.  In the same way the obligations of the tenants toward the village notables:  the priest, schoolmaster, notary and the Domain itself were outlined in detail.    The above mentioned 24 Articles were to last “until the end of time.”  If anyone became dissatisfied with their situation in Boglar he was free to leave after paying a departure fee to the landlord and was free to seek his fortune elsewhere.  The colonists were assigned to their house lots in their order of arrival.  The individual Articles were endorsed by Count Joseph Esterhazy, junior, and Franz von Balogh who handled the matter on his behalf.


  The actual settlement contract dated in Totis on March 28, 1760 consisted of 27 Articles and belongs to the most detailed of those pertaining to the Danube Swabians.  In my dissertation I transcribed the original Gothic Script into the Latin alphabet, word for word.  It is a true rendition of the draft proposal.  The one hundred and fifty sessions of land that were planned by the officials of the Domain were not actually settled at the time because there were not that many settlers on the scene.  At the most there were only thirty-five sessions occupied by farmers and twenty-two cotters who had settled there by then.  These fifty-seven colonists were actually the founders of Boglar.  That leaves open the question as to why only active farmers were allowed to take sessions.  We find the answer in Article 11 in the above mentioned draft proposal and later contract in which the cotters could not meet the requirements lacking enough money, necessary livestock and farming equipment to secure a session of land.  For that reason they had to be satisfied with house lots in the upper and lower parts of Boglar.  The new settlement as was true of all the communities was subsequently not spared from the natural catastrophes that were part of settlement in the wilderness but they overcame them and Boglar developed into a thriving community.  My great-grandfather, Christian Tafferner, was born in Schambeck in the Buda Highlands and came to Boglar in the 1830’s as a journeyman blacksmith apprentice and settled there.  But on my grandmother’s side, my ancestors, the Heinemanns who were farmers were already present in 1760.


  Munich 1994

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