Kaltenstein was among the Heidebauern villages on the Ungarisch-Altenburg Domain that once belonged to Queen Maria of Hungary, the widow of Louis II who lost his life and the Kingdom of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács against the Turks.  It was also one of the six Heidebauren communities where Lutheranism survived.  Today the community is known as Levél and its Heidebauern inhabitants were all expelled in 1946 as a result of the decisions made at Potsdam by the victorious allies.  This ended their one thousand year history in Hungary.


  In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the building of the Lutheran Church a booklet was published in 1989, which is a modest attempt at unravelling the mystery of various family names and their probable origins.


  The first six centuries of Kaltenstein’s history, from 900 t0 1500 lies hidden in the darkness of the past.  At that time there was no such thing as a family name as we know them today.  The “first” name simply stood for the person.  Only during the high Middle Ages were additions made to names, such as “the second or were given some kind of title.  Often it was a position they held in the community or an occupation and somehow descriptive of the family.  German family names that end with “er” are usually descriptive of an occupation i.e. Schäfer, Müller, Fischer.


  The first document that exists that includes the names of the families of Kaltenstein is from 1546, only twenty years after the Battle of Mohács.  Following the defeat of the Hungarian King and his army the Turks ravaged and destroyed, massacred and enslaved local populations throughout Hungary and the Heideboden as this region of Western Hungary was called, was no exception.  But in that year 1546 the fortress at Ungarisch-Altenburg was strengthened and some stability was brought back to the ravaged area.  There was a German occupation force stationed there under the command of Joannn Hardeck for the protection of the remaining eight hundred subjects in its vicinity including Kalentstein and the neighbouring village of Strasssommerein that had co-existed together as sister communities for centuries.


  The following names appear in this document of 1546 with regard to Kaltenstein: Benush Hausmann, Georg Thanicker, Anton Pinkitzer, Wolf Stelzer, Marx Zechmaister, Clement Murrer, Valton Rott, Jakobl Lang, Mathes Sainer, Kyrein Reyer and Georg Wallner.


  There are also several names with regard to Strasssommerein including:  Wurmbm, Pairr, Vischer, Mutt, Weidner and Muer.


  The information with regard to Kaltenstein indicates a probable population of fifty to sixty persons.  During these times there was a great deal of movement by families from village to village usually through marriage but they kept their ties with their former home villages and families.  Kaltenstein and Strasssommerein were very much interconnected in this way.  The family names that appear in these two listings indicate that they were “home made”.  Some deal with the natural world:  Thaniker, Muerer are descriptive of a person living on the moors that abounded in the Heideboden.  The forest: Wallner a corruption of Waldner.  Wald is German for forest.  Others refer to occupations:  Pinkitzer means a hammerer, or in other words a blacksmith.  While some are descriptive of a person’s appearance:  Rott is a variation of Roth that means red in German.  While the name Pairr is a corruption of Bauer, which means farmer.


  We note that the first names are either of German origin i.e. Wolf, the short form of Wolfgang of or Roman or Christian origin i.e. Marx, which is actually Marcus and Benusch which is Benedict.


What were the times like in which these people lived?  They were the feudal serfs of the Domain of Ungarisch-Altenburg and subject to the fortress in Altenburg.  Villages were small with usually less than one hundred people.  In Zurndorf there were twenty families.  These people had lived through the Great Hunger in 1510, followed by the peasant war led by György Dóza and the atrocities committed against them by the victorious nobles in 1511 only to followed by the coming of the Black Death.  The three fold use of land was in effect, which was a medieval crop rotation method and livestock rearing was a major undertaking by the peasantry.  In the midst of all of the devastation and cruelties inflicted upon them by constant Turkish incursions the peasant’s focus was not on material things.


  With the support of Queen Maria the Reformation had been introduced to the people on the Heideboden and its teachings led to the opening of schools and the reading of the Bible and the development of an evangelical piety of faith and hope that enabled the population to withstand all the horrors being inflicted upon them.  Even though they felt the heavy hand of Habsburg military might under Ferdinand I, the constant threat of their Turkish neighbours who had taken and occupied Raab, marauders and disaffected troops plundered, robbed and destroyed and held the peasant population hostage to fear.  They built timbered walls around their villages as a first line of defence and fled into the forests or sought refuge at the fortress in Altenburg.  This was life in the Heideboden in 1546 where their new found faith was tested and as future history would prove it would not be found wanting.


  A second document from the year 1644 known as the Possessio is a record of family names that was compiled by officials at Altenburg.  What had transpired since the last report of 1546?  The Lutheran Reformation had captured and won the support of the entire population.  Over ten thousand soldiers had served at the fortress forming a garrison to withstand the Turks but in 1594 the Turks had overrun the entire Heideboden.  They left destroyed villages behind them; wasted fields; impoverished survivors and captives led off to the slave markets of Constantinople.  The defences of the fortress were strengthened again 1644 and the villages were rebuilt.  But who now constituted the population?  We discover that they were the survivors who had gone into hiding along with some new settlers as their names will indicate.


  According to the Possessio we can identify familiar names from the past.  There was Thomas Stelczer, Gregorius Andreas Muhr, Ambrosius Muhr, Thomas Pinketzer, Vitus Danicker, Matthaeus Chechmaister, Gregorius Daniker, Christof Muhr, Martinus Steltzer, Christof Steltzer, Blasius Ratt (Rott) and Gregorius Schneider could have also been a descendant of the 16th century families.


  We know that the areas not occupied by the Turks in Western Hungary, primarily the Burgenland and Slovakia were developing quickly and as the population increased people were forced to move in search of land and new opportunities.  The following families listed in the Possessio were among them and received full sessions of land:  Christophurus Botter, Gregorius Simon, Thomas Hauczinger, Mattheus Peckh, Thomas Huetflus, Matthaeus Fischer, Abraham Heckh, Andreas Bierleiher, Joachim Gross, Rupertus Daschner, Johannes Gregorius Fleischacker, Michael Saltzer, Simon Fischer, Lauren Macher, Matthaeus Gross, Gregorius Grass, Gallus Pamer, Philippus Scmickl and Marcus Marx.


  In addition there were those who only qualified as cotters and day labourers:  Wolfgang Salamon, Matthaeus Schuesser, Johannes Holczer, Johannes Hierschinger, Martinus Ranner, Augstinius Seubalt, Blassius Ratt (Rott), Johannes Lienhart, Matthaues Kharni, Paulus Raisinger, Stephanus Marcus, Gergorius Stattner, Sebaldus Mattern, Paulus Pinter, Adam Grass, Peter Schmauser, Christof Steltzer, Gregorius Plambtritt, Andreas Schnaider, Bartold Daschner, Gregorius Pinter, Johannes Griessell, Johannes Schueb, Matthaeus Grass, Thomas Rhatt, Andreas Schmauser, Matthaeus Pameker, Salomonis Ranner, Jacobus Grass, Johannes Dasch, Blasius Wennes, Jakobi Raiff, Christof Gebhart, Martinus Grass, Matthaeus Eckher, Gregorius Schnaider, Sebaldus Schuesser, Johannes Perckhamer, Gallus Schuister and Blassius Wiessinger.


  There are historians who suggest that these newcomers came from Lower Austria, which is in close proximity following the Turkish Wars.  But the facts are that Lower Austria both south and east of Vienna was totally devastated by the rampaging Turkish armies and whole areas were depopulated with over ten thousand young people being dragged off into slavery.  It is far more likely that they came from Upper Austria, the Steiermark and the Upper Palatinate and Lower and Upper Franconia.  By the mid 1600s the population of Kaltenstein expanded to sixty families some three hundred inhabitants.


  The reason for that could well be the fact that in 1636 portions of the Altenburg Domain fell into the hands of the Emperor, which included Kaltenstein, Ragendorf, Nickelsdorf, Strasssommerein, Zurndorf and Pallersdorf.  With the possibility of obtaining land in an under populated region, streams of would be settlers from the eastern portions of Austria would jump at the chance especially because they would be under the protection of the Emperor and his military forces in the area.  The Emperor was also eager to have settlers come and develop his new estates.  The lessening of Confessional conflict in the face of the Turkish threat would also attract religious refugees.


  A study of the return of the local population following the Turkish invasion of Austria in 1683 and their unsuccessful siege of Vienna indicate that other refugees accompanied them.  It took the villagers from Strasssommerein twelve weeks to journey back home according to the Richter Muhr and on reaching their beloved village all they found was misery, devastation and destruction.


  The canonical visitation report for the Bishop of Raab in 1696 reported that the population of Kaltenstein stood at 469 persons and among them were 300 Lutherans.  At the same time while visiting Strasssommerein the visitor reported a population of 629 inhabitants.  There were 265 Roman Catholics and 364 Lutherans.  In nearby Zurndorf there were 1,032 inhabitants and among them were 299 Roman Catholics and 733 Lutherans.


  Several researchers in Vienna claim that religious refugees from the around Lake Constance fled into the Heideboden at the beginning of the 18th century.  Because the Habsburgs had less influence in the area than in Lower Austria and the Steiermark where the Lutherans faced constant harassment and persecution the Heideboden had become a place of sanctuary for many of them over the decades.  This had both religious and cultural impacts on the region.  This set in motion a new stream of religious refugees and they populated entire new areas.  Along the eastern shore of the Neusiedler Sea large numbers of Lutheran refugees from the Bishopric of Constance settled among the existing Heidebauern population.  This was not a mass migration but saw the arrival of small groups over a long period of time that did not greatly influence the existing population but simply merged with it.  These refugees came from Ravensburg, Isny, Lindau, Wangen, Tettnang and Saülgau and the surrounding vicinity.


  But there is also sufficient evidence to suggest large numbers of Lutheran refugees also settled in the villages with large Lutheran populations from the western most reaches of Austria the so-called Vorderösterreich.  This was true in Zurndorf, Nickelsdorf, Strasssommerein, Kaltenstein and very much the case in Gols.


  The name Drescher belongs to this movement at the beginning of the 18th century and can find its origins in the Swabian areas of Vorderösterreich but also in the Steiermark.  The names Nitsch-Nitschinger and also corrupted to Nix are very prominent in Kaltenstein and is also of Swabian origin from Vorderösterreich.  The Hauczingers and the Meidlingers are also of Swabian origin and the Schmeltzers can be traced back to Ravensburg.


  The more authentic Heidebauern names that are associated with Kaltenstein are the following:  Allacher, Dürr, Geistlinger, Reifmeister, Limpp, Bosch, Leinwetter, Pfann, Grundner, Schmelzer, Lunzer, Zechmeister, Wendlein, Rosenberger, Schliesser, Laas, Rumpeltess, Limbacher, Preiner, Rückstück, Weissdorn, Riener, Heinz, Falb, Salzer, Tischler, Bahr, Kellner, Hauptmann and Eder.


  It is rather phenomenal that some of the family names that appear in the documents of 1546 and 1644 are found in a listing of the members of the Lutheran congregation in Kaltenstein in 1721.  The leadership of the congregation included:  Andreas Schmickl, Filip Danicker, Hans Steltzer, Hans Schmausser, Andreas Muhr, Lorentz Steltzer, Georg Gross, Georg Schmickl and Matthiass Steltzer.  None of them are descendants of any of the later refugee families.  Members of the Schmausser family were among those who left in the founding of Bikács in Tolna County later in the 18th century.  There were others who went on to Pusztavám, Györköny and Lajos Komarom.


  In the Possessio of 1732 the following family names appear:  Hutfles, Hong, Nicz (Nitsch), Tulner, Mur (Muhr), Groff, Cwinkel, Taninger, Wesuckner, Lehner, Weth, Solczer (Salzer) and Wajsz (Weiss).


  In the church records of 1736 we can find names like:  Hoffbauer, Riechel, Lechner, Rath, Haek, Tullner, Dögn, Limbacher, Pamer, Mayrim, Tröschern, Pagessam, Buechler, Hagn, Schmöltzer, Gangl, Dumpf, Wallner, Niczinger, Kaslter, Pauret, Schiebinger, Weiss, Däscht, Schmickl, Wöber and Praimagen.


  The following names are of Bavarian origin:  Hofbauer, Pamer, Schmickel, Gangl and Schrödl.


One Response to “ Family Names in Kaltenstein ”

  1. Allan H. Buechler says:

    You reference church records I assume are from Possessio of 1736 which references our last name Buechler. How can I access those church records? We are interested in a Georg Buechler.

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