The Settlement of the Liberated Danube Basin


  It was obvious to the commanders of the Austrian forces that the liberated areas were in a devastated condition.  It was almost deserted, because the local populations had fled to save their lives, the former cultivated fields were in ruins, and the low lying areas had turned into swamps during the floods.  The only local inhabitants they encountered lived in ramshackle huts, the agricultural lands were abandoned, had reverted to wilderness, were unfriendly and unproductive.


  The surviving population had endured countless forms of cruel atrocities, and they were without hope in terms of finding a safe and secure life for themselves, and as a result they became nomadic, traveled in groups and often resorted to plundering and robbing others.


  With the establishment of the Military Frontier District, the Austrians had begun to provide security for the region, but what was still missing was a stable population to develop it, who could be brought into the region to undertake the hard work to bring about new life in the area.


   Following consultation and planning and preparation, promoters to act as recruiters of colonists were sent into the various German principalities that made up the Holy Roman Empire to entice settlers to come to develop the new territories that had been added to the Hapsburg holdings.


  Three major streams of settlement followed under the various Hapsburg monarchs, later known as the Schwabenzug…Swabian Migration.  First under Emperor Charles (Karl)VI (1711-1740,  then his daughter, Maria Theresia (11740-1780) and her son Emperor Joseph II (1780-1790).


  These mass movements were known as the Karolinian Emigration 1722 to 1726, the Theresian Emigration from 1763 to 1771 and the Josephinian Migration from 1782 to 1787.  In between these major waves of settlement there were always individual and groups of settlers who entered Hungary on their own and settled in the Middle Danube areas of Hungary.


  In addition to the Hapsburg’s efforts at colonization, there were the private lords, nobles and large landholders who sought to gain settlers on their estates, who only allowed them to settle with the understanding that they would work on their domains.


  This was not an attempt on the part of the Hapsburgs to Germanize the former Hungarian territories.  The Emperor wanted people from various nationalities to participate in the economic development of their newly won empire.  The settlers included Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians, Hungarians, Croatians, Serbs, Italians, French and Germans.


  The Emperor ruled in a “Catholic” Empire, and for that reason he had no intention of settling Protestants in his realm.  The Hapsburgs sought to maintain their “Catholic” unity among all of the people who were their subjects.


(Translator’s note.  The author then digresses into an examination of Hapsburg policy in this regard, concluding with Joseph II’s repudiation of this policy during the final phase of the Schwabenzug which included Protestants, who settled mainly in the Batschka and the Banat.  His lengthy Immigration Patent begins on page 27 and is reviewed by the author but is not included in this translation.)

  The Emigration Process for the Would Be Settlers 

  Every would-be settler first had to report to his noble landlord and obtain from him his permission to leave as well as purchase his manumission.  (Literally: bought his freedom to serve his lord).  Following this, the would-be settler had to search out one of the settlement commissioners in Frankfurt-an-Main, in Koblenz or Rottenburg am Neckar and present his documentation.  Following his recruitment and compliance with the rules for emigration to Hungary, he received a passport, which he took with him as he and his family went on foot to Ulm on the Danube, or if he came from Hessen or Franconia , to Wurzburg and Nuremburg and then on to the riverport of Regensburg.  At one of these places he and his family took ship down the Danube on the so-called Ulmer Schachtel, (Literally: box), which in effect was an open raft.


  Reaching Vienna, the settler had to report to the Royal High Court, where he had to provide his name, place of origin, age and the amount of money he was carrying and pay a two Gulden traveling fare per person to the Royal Chamber in Buda in order for him to continue his journey down the Danube to the Hungarian capital.


  While they were there their destination for settlement was also identified, but many of the settlers changed their minds on the way.  Countless numbers of them responded to the invitations of the Hungarian nobles and their agents to leave the ships and settle on their estates.  While on their way there were many of the young single men and women who traveled with groups married as they passed through Ulm, Regensburg, Passau and Vienna.


  The length of the journey to the southern parts of Hungary, into what later became Yugoslavia was approximately 1,200 kilometres, covered both by ship and on foot when passing by the rapids and going overland to the settlements.  Most of the immigrant groups journeyed for six to seven weeks…


  (Translator’s Note.  The author deals with some general observations with regard to the development of the settlements)

  The Batschka and Southern Hungary in the 19th CenturySlavonia After the Turkish Occupation 

  For over a century after the liberation from the Turks, Slavonia which was to become the homeland of our ancestors,  remained undisturbed and undeveloped.  The land north of  the Sava was part of the Miltitary Frontier District and was ruled from Vienna, and the land south of the Drava, Croatia and Slavonia were ruled by the Ban in Agram (Zagreb). The liberated territories were returned to the nobles and landed gentry and estate owners if they could produce documents to substantiated their land claims.  But because so many nobles had gone into exile or had no heirs the Hapsburgs granted or sold estates to former  military commanders (sometimes as back pay).  Most of them did not live on their estates and showed little or no interest in them.  The aristocrats held all of the high offices.


  Following the French Revolution in 1789, and the wars of liberation to 1813, the various  nationalities were awakened by the idea of a national consciousness.  As part of this national rebirth, the “Illyric Movement” took place among the South Slavs.  This awakening expressed itself in the emphasis on national language and the upkeep and further development of it in all aspects of life and a call for self determination and independence from the Hapsburg Monarchy.


  As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, the Germans in their various states and principalities moved towards some form of national union and the Slavs too longed for a union of all Slavs.  Among the Croatians Ljudevit Faj and Louis Gay were the major advocates .  While among the Serbs, Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic played that leading role.  As part of the Illyrian Movement the differences between the various Slavic groups were downplayed.  There was Slavism, Neo-Slavism, Austro-Slavism, Pan-Slavism, both with and without Russian support…


(Translator”s Note.  The author provides additional information on the nationalist movements among the South Slavs).

  The Revolution of 1848 

  With the breakout of the Revolution of 1848 all across Europe, the relations between Hungary and Croatia were strained.  The Croatians did not want to be a satellite of Hungary, but an equal partner, with only a king in common.  They wanted to use the Croatian language in the Hungarian parliament and in all public institutions.  Because these demands were not accepted by Hungary, they separated from Hungary and declared war.  General Jelacic, the commander of the Military Frontier District hurried to Vienna with his troops to support the Hapsburgs against the Hungarian insurgents.


  In Vienna, the March uprising toppled Metternich from power, and after a second uprising, a parliament was called into being which declared the emancipation of the peasants in May and then during the third uprising in October, Field Marshall Prince zu Windischgratz attacked all troops that refused to fight against the Hungarians rebels.  Joseph Jelacic, the Ban of Croatia, besieged the Hungarian forces at Schwechat (Translator’s Note.  Today’s location of the Vienna Airport) while the Habsburg government fled to Olmutz.  Emperor Ferdinand abdicated, his successor, young  Francis Joseph attempted to placate the nationalities with a new constitution.


  Jelacic called for a new election for representatives to the Landtag (parliament) and at is first assembly had himself installed as Ban by Joseph Rajacic the Orthodox Metropolitan  and representative of the Serbs.  Jelacic helped the Austrians put down the Hungarian revolution.


  The Ban visited Emperor  Francis Joseph and hoped to achieve the full independence of Croatia from Hungary.  The Emperor was not prepared to go that far and that damaged the future relations with the Hapsbugs and the Croats and all Germans.


  When the Serbs, under the leadership of their Patriarch found refuge in Hapsburg territory during the reign of Leopold I in 1690-1691, they had the written promise that they would be free to return to Serbia after the liberation from the Turks.  They saw their settlement in the Batschka, Banat, Syrmien and Slavonia as only temporary.


  After a few generations, they declared this “haven” to be their “homeland”, and their own settlement area they desired to govern.  Austria granted them their cultural autonomy in church and school.  They were free to educate their preists and teachers and develop a national life of their own.  In all of these areas where they resided there were numerous non-Serbian populations.


  With the re-organization of the Hungarian government, the Serbs in 1859 achieved self government for the Vojwodina, Serbia and the Temesvar Banat, with their seat of government in Temesvar, a Crownland until 1860, under the control of Vienna.  The Emperor wanted to demonstrate to the Hungarians that he had the other nationalities  as his subjects and allies against them.

  The Swabian Petition of 1849 

  After the Hungarian Revolution was put down in 1849, twenty seven men, who were loyal subjects of the crown arrived in Vienna on October 2nd and presented a petition  to the young Emperor.  They were Danube Swabians from Bogarosch.


  The began by acknowledging their thanks and appreciation for their invitation to settle in the Hapsburg Empire.  They shared the difficulties the colonists contended with in the swamps and wilderness of the Banat, where with industriousness and skill they had planted a new society…culture.  So much so, that the Banat had become the granary of the Empire, the pearl of Hungary, a part of the Hapsburg Monarchy to whom the Swabians always looked to for help and direction.  They wrote, “We respect and honour all of the other nationalities among whom we live and we only desire what others have in terms of rights and equality and not to be treated as orphans in our own house, so we ask for the consideration for our 350,000 Danube Swabian people”.

  They pointed out that since the other nationalities had been given special recognition and freedoms and governmental structures, that the same should be granted to the Danube Swabians who desired to be loyal to the Emperor.  The Serbs had a Woidwoden, the Romanians a Captain, the Slovaks a Paladin, the Swabians asked for a German Count to act as their “head”, much like the Saxon Counts in Transylvania.  They did not seek national independence, and had no separatist tendencies.  They wanted to be subjects of the larger Empire, where “we are all proud to be Austrians not Hungarians, Serbs, Poles, etc.  We believe that is through a German count, who could act to defend our rights, and interpret government decrees, and allow the use of the German language in government and public life”.


  The petition was signed by representatives of twelve Swabian communities in the Banat.  The Swabian National Assembly, that had been elected met in Billed and had the priest, Novak write the petition on their behalf and later signed it at Bogarosch.


  This was the first political action ever taken by the Swabians and it demonstrated how forward looking the Swabian leaders were at the time.  But with the establishment of the Vojwodina (1849-1860), Austria upgraded the status of the Serbs, punished the Hungarians and due to a lack of understanding of the Swabian’s situation, simply ignored  their request.

  Joseph Georg Strossmayer 

  Joseph Juraj Stosmajer (1815-1905) now appeared on the scene.  He saw in the union of the South Slavs the possibility of union of the Orthodox Serbs and the Roman Catholic Croatians back into “the lap of mother Rome”, with himself at the head of this Slavic State Church.  Like Gay, Strosmajer was culturally German, who became a 200% Croat.  He saw that the “Greater Serbian Movement” under Nikola Paschitsch left little room for a partnership.  As a result he moved to a stronger Croatian nationalist position.


  He became the exponent of Croatian nationalism, culture, art and language.  The “father” of the Fatherland.  He was hated and loved like Bismark in Prussia.  He was the “awakener” of the Croatian people.  The power of the Croatian people was so great that it could give birth to a patriotic Croat like him made out of a “German” child.


  He was the son of a horse trader and his Croatian wife, and grew up in bilingual Essegg, and felt and thought in German.  Following his eduction in Djakowar, Budapest, and Vienna he was a royal chaplain and confessor at the Schonbrunn Palace.  He wanted to become the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg.  The Emperor, who had the right of appointment to the position, however, did not support his candidacy.  Distant Djakowar was perhaps, seen as a punishment.  But that would not hold him back.


  At the instigation of the Ban Jelacic in Vienna the Emperor named Strosmayer, bishop of Djakowar.  This very intelligent and sensitive man awakened the latent call for the liberation of the Croatians.  He was in favour of the use of the Croatian language as the language of instruction in all of the schools of the land.  He wanted to make everyone in the land a Croat.  He was an enemy of the German language.  He was successful and renowned in various fields, building churches and cathedrals, the intensification of agricultural use of the land on his Episcopal estates, patron of Croatian culture, a theologian and philosopher.  At the first Vatican Council in 1869-1870, he was one of the leading voices to oppose papal infallibility.


  Strosmayer made certain that the educational system for priests and teachers would produce patriotic Croatians.  He hindered the used German in worship and appointed Croatian priests to serve German majority parishes, and with time assimilation was almost complete.  That  people lost the right to use their mother tongue did not concern him a bit, but not everyone was prepared to do that.


  With the Turkish threat no longer real, the Croatians agitated for the elimination of the Military Frontier District and incorporating it into Croatia and Slavonia.  The region was underdeveloped and backward.  The representatives of the Croatian parliament knew that the tax income from the area and a strong economy would depend on building a railway and highway network in the land.  Even though the Croatian nationalists opposed the settlement of other nationalities in their midst, they believed it was necessary to bring in Germans to teach the population and set an example.


  The estate owners made a good living by selling lumber and timber.  Slavonian oak was world famous as an export.  What do you do about de-forestation?  There were countless swamps that needed to be dammed and drained with canals to make the land useable for agriculture.  There were also Croatian settlers who worked the land who were free from paying taxes, but when taxes were later imposed they left the area and took up tax free land somewhere else.  A Croat politician complained about the poor work ethic of the Croatians.  They saw work as something forced upon them and not as something that was necessary.  In 1848 most of them were shepherds, and a small number were cattle herders.  They were simply lazy.  (Translator’s Note.  That is an opinon).


  As a result there was a byword in Slavonia to the effect, “Svabo ore I sije, sokac sedi I pige”, which translated means:  The Swabian ploughs and eats, the Croatian sits and drinks”.


  Unfortunately, the result of all of this was envy out of which hatred would emerge.  In spite of that, the Swabians in the Military Frontier District and towns and cities attempted to make friends with their neighbours.

   The Compromise with Hungary – 1867 

  The Dual Monarchy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire emerged as a result of the Compromise of 1867.  The self government the Hungarians were able to achieve were what the Slavic people also wanted and hoped for.  Austria continued to have complete jurisdiction over Finance and Defence, but in terms of  foreign affairs, the Hungarians did manage to gain some influence.


  Each of the states, had their own home army.  In Hungary, it was the Honved.  Domestic, economic, school and church issues were dealt with by each state.  For the citizens of the Dual Monarchy there were two constitutions in effect and the capitals were Vienna and Budapest.  The Emperor was now crowned wit the crown of St. Stephen.  As a result, the following fell under the jurisdiction of Hungary: the Batschka, Syrmien, Banat, Croatia,  Slavonia and Slovenia and were now part of the Kingdom of Hungary.


  Those German speaking populations living in the former territory of Hungary were already exposed to Magyarization as early as 1830.  There was much more pressure after 1848, but now official Magyarization became official state policy.  (Translator’s Note.  The term Magyarization meant the forced assimilation of all other nationalities within  an expanded meaning of “Hungarian”, beginning with language and then family names and the national “culture”).


  The Slavic populations felt betrayed and their aspirations were put on hold, in spite of their loyalty to the Habsburgs against the Hungarians.

   The Compromise Between Hungary and Croatia – 1868 

  The Croatians were to unite in a Compromise between Austria and Hungary, because they were part of the Kingdom of Hungary for centuries.  The Croats wanted to be an equal partner with its own territory acknowledged within the Hapsburg Monarchy, and not to be put under the power and control of Hungary.  During this time, Strosmayer and the Serb minister Graschanin had dealings with one another.  Both dreamed of a South Slav State, Serbia and the tripart Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, independent of Austria and Turkey.


  Discussions took place, and various revisions were considered, but the Emperor broke off talks in June of 1868.  Hungary promised that representatives of Croatia could participate in dealings of special concern to them in discussions with Austria.  The agreement made certain, Croatia’s independence in terms of the courts and governing of its own territory.  The Banus, would be equal to a Prime Minister, but was responsible to the Hungarian Prime Minister in Budapest.  Croatia could be in charge of two ministries: the Interior Ministry and Education.  The flag of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia had the crown of St. Stephen imposed upon it.


  The Croats would have twenty nine members of parliament in the Lower House, and two in the Upper House of the Hungarian-Croatian parliament.  The trading city of Fiume was independent, but was united with the Hungarian crown.  Croatia, of course, was not content with the results and would rather have had an agreement with Austria.


  Austria became more and more concerned about the separatist movements among the South Slavs, but young Francis Joseph had his hands full with the Czechs, Moravians and Slovaks as it was, who sought a Triune Monarchy.


  An uprising in 1871 in Rakowitz was followed by a call for an independent state of Croatia under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Kwaternik.  He sought to achieve freedom from Hungary and Austria, and the independence of Dalmatia from Italy.  In three days the uprising was put down and Kwaternik and the other rebel leaders were shot.


  The occupation of Bosnia-Herzogovnia by Austria in 1878, pained Serbia and the annexation of the territory in 1908 only angered Serbia more.  This act also meant that men of military age had to serve in the forces of the Dual Monarchy.


  On June 28, 1914 Austrian military maneuvers were to conclude with a military parade in Sarajevo, Bosnia in which Arch Duke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Dual Monarchy and his wife were assassinated.  It was on the anniversary of the date of the defeat of Lazar and the Serbian nobles in 1389 at the hands of the Turks, and was seen as an affront by the Greater Serbia Movement, even though the Arch Duke was a friend of the Slavs and a proponent of the idea of a Triune Monarchy.


  Only in the mid-19th century, were Protestants permitted to settle in Croatia-Slavonia.  According to the constitution of 1850, religious freedom was granted in Austria, and all persons were equal before the law.  But only in September of 1859 was there a law put into effect that Protestants could purchase houses and land.  The Croatian parliament protested, echoing what the bishop of Djkovar in his letter to the Emperor had objected to in the Compromise of 1868 which made Roman Catholics and Protestants equal before the law.


  This news hit the settlements in the Batschka, Banat and Syrmien, and also on the estates in southern Hungary, with a big bang.  The reason for the response was economic stagnation and need.  Large families could not feed their children.  Land was neither available or too expensive.  The second son of a farmer who learned a trade and his sons after him were unable to take over from their parents and found it difficult to marry and support a family.  They hoped that by selling their properties they could buy more land in Slavonia.  They did not think of the difficulties that lay ahead of them.


  Most families arrived with horse and wagon.  Some found empty homes whose inhabitants had left for the cities.  They settled in numerous areas.  German minorities were swallowed up by assimilation, while others were able to maintain their identity, and some formed the majority of the population in their villages.


  A great interest in settlers was expressed by nobles and the clergy who had estates.  Among the bishops was the very rich bishop of Djakovar, the Serb Patriarch in Karlowitz (around Vukovar) and the Jesuits in Poschegg.  Nobles included Counts Eltz, Schonborn, Baron Trench, Prandau Ehrefels, Counts Palffy and Caraffa, Baron Turkowitz and Count Pejatschewitsch.  The noble family Pejatschewitsch was especially active on their large estates in the Ruma District:  Ruma, India, Putinzi and in the Essegg District: Retfalva and Kravitz and in the Naschetz District: Deutsch-Bresnitz and Seliste-Welimviowatz.  The Count is reputed to have paid 200 gulden to one Ivan Bukowatz for settlers on his estates at the rate of 5 kreuzer per head and was able to inhabit abandoned villages and had the wilderness lands cleared for cultivation.  There were also villages that had been developed by Serb refugees.  There were also Slovak settlers, as well as Czechs.  Most of them came by wagon from north of Pressburg (Bratislava), others on foot, who did seasonal work and then returned home again.  Only later did some of them actually settle in Slavonia.

   The Emigration of our Forebears into Hungary  

  The settlers who came to Klein Bastei had their origins in Swabian Turkey in south western Hungary.  (Translator’s Note. The Counties of Tolna, Baranya and Somogy)  The vast majority of these people’s ancestors had their origins in Hessen.  The dialect always remained south Hessian.  The reason for their emigration was the fact that their situation at home was unbearable.  Famine, military service, and heavy work dues and duties, the high taxes and various forms of injustice led to their leaving.  Added to that was the hunting duties owed to the princes and nobles.  The western borders were not secure against the French and the high birth rate, were all issues that added to the struggle for their daily bread.


  In light of this situation, it was not difficult for the agents of Count von Mercy to find willing emigrants.


  But the question for many remains, but where did our ancestors come from in Germany before they emigrated to Hungary?  From the research done by some of the families we know that the ancestors of the Knies family came from Sellnrod in Hessen, which today is 6315 Mucke.  The Krahling family came from 6479 Dauernheim-Ranstadt in Hessen, while the Heppenheimer family had its roots in Nieder-Ramstadt bei Darmstadt, also in Hessen.  The author would have liked to research the origins of all of the families in Klein Bastei, but time did not allow for that.  But it is obvious that the vast majority of them must have had their origins in Hessen.  His mother had remarked upon hearing the way the inhabitants of Seligenstadt spoke, “Now we are at home again”.  It is here in the southern portion of Hessen where words and grammatical usage are consistent with the dialect spoken in Klein Bastei.  The phrase “spillen gehn”, meaning to visit someone, is still in use in Seligenstadt.


  The author quotes another source from the Landsmannschaft aus Ungarn for the following information of the German settlement of Hungary:


  “During the 150 year occupation of Hungary by the Turks (1526-1686), a vast number of communities were destroyed.  The local population was taken off to slavery, many were massacred and others fled to other areas beyond their reach.  In the 15th century there were 900 inhabited communities in Somogy County.  Many of them are only known now by name.  How the population declined is described in this example of Kaposvar, which was liberated by Turkish Louis in 1688 and the total population was 120 persons.  In the county districts only households existed.  At the end of the 16th century it has been estimated that a total population of 45,000 persons lived in Tolna, Baranya and Somogy Counties.  In 1692 there were only 3,221 left.  Szekszard had 290 people in 1692 and Simontoryna had 144.  The same was true in Baranya.  With the Turks gone a new population was necessary to develop the land.  The Landtag (parliament) of 1715 empowered the Emperor Charles to carry out a planned programme of re-population.  Because there were no longer enough Hungarians to call upon, the Emperor turned to his German holdings and his vassals to supply him with settlers.  In Temesvar he put Count von Mercy at the head of the colonization, with the first aim being the re-settlement of the Banat.


  Count von Mercy sent his agents to the German principalities along the Rhine and Main Rivers, who used fliers and leaflets to beckon and lure settlers to come to Hungary.  In large towns, like Worms, they set up emigration bureaus.


  The local nobles mistrusted the agents and had them abused and even jailed.  But there was no way to stop the stampede to Hungary.  Whole families disappeared overnight.  Mercy needed colonists for the Banat to meet the Emperor’s objectives.


  Captain Vatzy worked for Count von Mercy as his representative in Vienna for the Banat colonization.  All of this would prove to be of great importance for the Lutheran and Reformed emigrants from Germany who responded to the invitation who settled in the what would be later known as Swabian Turkey.  This was especially true of Tolna County were the primary Lutheran and Reformed settlements were established, with most of the colonists coming from Ober Hessen.  No primary settlements emerged in Baranya and Somogy Counties except for Felso Mocsolad and Kotcse.


(Translator’s Note.  The author digresses about the hunting practices of the nobles in Hessen and their effect on the life of the peasants).


  These hunting practices of Ernst Ludwig of  Hessen is an example of  what the emigrants sought to leave behind them.  Their pietist pastors preached against “the hunt” and the disasters it caused the peasants and their animal victims.  Although the nobles opposed the emigration in Hessen, from 1721 to 1725 up 1,000 persons from Hessen Darmstadt set out for Hungary.


  From Ober Ramstadt, for instance, 82 persons, whole families, some of them fleeing illegally left for the Temesvar Banat, 12 miles distant from Belgrade, in the district of Langenfeld.  Larger and smaller groups were on the way down the Danube.


  Then an important event took place in 1722 that would have a major impact on the future Lutheran congregations and settlements that would emerge in Tolna County.  Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy de Argenta purchased estates in Tolna County.  He was the governor of the Banat and president of the Temesvar Colonization Commission.  His estates stretched from Paulsdorf (Palfa) to the north, to Abstdorf (Apati) in the south at the county border with Baranya.  In order to settle his lands he carried out extensive operations.  He allowed freedom of religion and conscience to all of his subjects.  Very quickly, the following Lutheran settlements came into being: Varsad, Felsonana, Kismanyok, Izmeny.  His settlement programme was continued and ended by his successor, his nephew Count Anton Ignace (Karl Augustus) von Mercy.  He adopted Anton on September 24 ,1727 as his son and heir.  The younger von Mercy died at the battle of Essegg on January 22, 1767.  He was succeeded by his son, Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy II, who had been a student of Pastor Georg Barany at Szarszentlorincz, who died in 1794 after a short term as the ambassador of the House of Hapsburg in Paris and London.  It was Mercy II who sold the Tolna estates to Count Georg Appony for 700,000 to 780,000 gulden.


  The first Mercy settlements were actually established by former owners, such as Count Wenceslas Zinzendorf, Baron von Schilson and the Skekely family.  1722-1772 the von Mercys were the richest and most powerful of the landowners in Tolna County, who had all of the privileges of the Hungarian nobility, and after 1723 “the power of the sword”, which meant power over life and death of his subjects.


  All three of the Mercys were the protectors and defenders of their Lutheran subjects against the attempts to persecute them on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy and the Roman Catholic County Administration.  The destiny of the Seniorat (Translator’s Note.  The Lutheran Church Administration of the Counties of Tolna, Baranya and Somogy , i.e. Syond) in human terms, under the “quiet persecution” of Maria Theresia would have had a different result if the Mercys, the landowners and protectors of numerous totally Lutheran communities had not been there for them.  These settlements were the seed of the future Seniorat.  The Mercy settlement policy was the result of the suggestions of their adviser, Pastor Georg Barany, who advocated that settlers of the same confession  be settled separately from others who did not share their convictions in order to avoid disputes and arguments.  Only Magyar Kolesd was mixed confessionally.  As a result there were either Roman Catholic or Lutheran villages.  Mercy I would not permit the formation of Calvinist congregations among his Lutheran settlers.


  Count von Mercy carried out a publicity campaign in Hessen as President of the Banat Colonization Commission.  These campaigns were carried out to settle his Tolna domains.  As a result he sent his commissioner, Captain Vatzy to Vienna, fully empowered to act in his name to entice some of the emigrants heading for the Banat for his Tolna estates.  From a report of Pastor Johann Balassa of Szarszentlorincz, von Mercy was ordered to Vienna for an audience with Charles the Emperor to answer for his manipulation of the situation and charged him with settling Lutherans in Hungary contrary to his orders and decrees.  But Count von Mercy did not allow that to deter him for a moment and continued with his colonization efforts in the Tolna.  From 1721-1724 there was a massive emigration of Hessian Lutherans into the County.


  In 1722 emigrants from Ober Hessen founded Kalazno, which became a filial of the Varsad congregation in 1724, where Karl Johann Reichard was the pastor who had been driven out of Langenfeld in the Banat by the Jesuits and had taken protection with Count von Mercy.


  The Lutheran settlement of Apati was established during the reign of  the Emperor Charles in 1724, and not Maria Theresia as others suggest.  The names of Lutherans in Apati already appear in the church records of Kismanyok as early as 1724 when it was a filial congregation.


  From its beginnings in 1722, Kalazno had a “Bethaus” (Literally: prayer house) and a teacher.  In 1733 the Bishop of Pecs wanted to form a Hungarian Roman Catholic parish in Varsad and Kalazno.  That perhaps indicates that when the Hessian settlers first arrived there were Magyars already living there.  Only later would Kalazno become a completely German speaking Lutheran community.  In 1725 Michael Reulein was the teacher here.  The ruins of a church from the Middle Ages was discovered early in its history.


  In 1719 Gyorkony was a Mother Church.  (Translator’s Note.  This is a term used by the Lutheran church in Hungary to describe a congregation with a resident pastor who also served a number of smaller congregations in the vicinity, that were served by teachers who also functioned as clergy, with the exception of celebrating Holy Communion).  In that year Georg Barany organized the congreation in Gyonk, then turned it over to Stefan Denes and went to the mixed language German/Hungarian congregation in Gyorkony.  Daniel Krmann, Superintendent (Translator’s Note:  Bishop) of Slovakia, who was a major Orthodox Lutheran opponent of Pietistm, nonetheless, appointed Georg Barany as the Senior of the Tolna “Contuberniums” on January 27, 1720 to provide leadership to the fledgling emerging congregations greatly under pressure from the Roman Catholic church authorities.  There was no superintendent in southern Hungary until 1742.


  The two nationalities in Gyorkony did not get along.  As a result, Barany asked permission from Count von Mercy to resettle the Hungarians at Szarszentlorincz in 1722 and he accompanied them.  Szarszentlorincz became the center of Lutheranism and the Seniorat.  The Lutherans in Nagyszekely became a filial of the congregation in Szarszentlorincz, prior to that they had belonged to Varsad.   The colonizer of Naygsekely was Count Styrum-Limburg who was of Dutch origin.


  On May 9th 1724, Kistormas was founded by settlers from Wiesbaden.  There were sixty families with their own pastor and teacher who accompanied them.  Some of them also moved into Kolesd among the Hungarian Lutherans there.  The church records in Kistormas indicate that “we arrived between seven and eight o’clock in the evening  on the wagons provided by Count von Mercy which had brought us from the market town of Tolna on the Danube, we were a new small group of Lutheran colonists who sat down and rested in the deep grass of the “puszta” (Translater’s Note:  Prairie) of Tormasch.  We came from the region around Wiesbaden.  The green grass and the earth formed our bed and the sky was our roof for our first night in our new home.  We brought our preacher with us, Johann Nikolaus Marsilius Tonsor who was born in 1692 in Wallau, and was ordained in Wertheim am Main on our way here to Hungary.  Among us is also our school master Johann Wolfgang Friedrich of Idstein by Wiesbaden”.


  Mucsi existed when Zinzendorf owned it and in 1718 there was a small Lutheran congregation in the Roman Catholic village.  The pastor of Bikacs discovered that years later, but it disappeared in the 1730’s in the time of the great persecution.

  Hessen and the Danube Swabians 

  (Translator’s Note:  This is only a recap and resume of this section based on the work of  Johann Weidlein)


  The Hessian connections with Hungary were varied.  According to a census in 1715 in Tolna County there is a reference to the Lutheran Hessian village of Majos.  Between 1715-1720 a whole row of Hessian villages arose in the hilly lands of Pecs: Zabod 1718, Kismanyok 1719, Varsad 1718-1719, Nagyszekely 1720.  There was a great increase in Hessian colonists after 1719.  Most of the Hessian settlements in Hungary were established 1722-1724.  Felsonana, KeszoHidegkut, Mucsfa, Izmeny, Diosbereny (Roman Catholic Hessians).  Lutherans from Hessen arrived in Bataapati in 1730.  After von Mercy accommodated the original Hessian emigrants, he had no room for more, so that his neighbours took them: Gyonk 1722, Bonyhad 1723, Kety 1732, Szarzd 1735, Udvari 1736, Murga 1745.  In northern Baranya there were Hessian settlements at Toffu  in 1722, and Hidas in 1730 and they were primary Hessian settlements in addition to those in the Tolna.  Mekenyes received its Ober Hessen settlers in 1735 from Tolna County.  The goal of the emigrants from Fulda was the eastern Baranya and the domains of Prince Eugene of Savoy.


  In the 18th and 19th centuries the Hessians in Tolna and the eastern Baranya moved on deeper into Magyar areas and the south Slav areas, including those moving into Slavonia and Syrmien.  The greatest stream of settlers in the 18th century went to the Batschka and the Banat.  There were many Hessians among them at Temesvar, Verbass, Neusiawatz, Sektisch, etc.  But here they were a small minority and their dialect disappeared.  Only in Swabian Turkey would the Hessian dialect survive.  The Batschka was overwhelming from Pflaz, Swabia and Bavaria, and in the Banat it was the same except for Liebling which maintained a Hessian character in terms of its Lutheranism and dialect since many of the original settlers also came from Swabian Turkey.  In other areas of Hungary, the Bavarian dialect is the chief common characteristic, especially among the Heidebauern.  But Swabian Turkey’s 200,000 Hessians were in effect “Little Hessen”.


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