The Germans of the Community of Feketic / Feketitsch
Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler
The Settlers Patent and the Old Homeland
If we look deep into our past
of nearly 150 years, we see in the great distance of 1200 kilometers, in the
area of the Rhine, the Mosel, and the Main, at the western border of the great
German-Roman Empire, our ancestors. They have the power over themselves,
which means, they are willing and able. In most cases those in power were
not Protestant, so people were persecuted because of their beliefs and were put
At this time Emperor Josef proclaimed
that he wanted his empire settled far into the southeast in the Batschka with
members of the empire without regard to religious denomination. He
promised never to favor any one settlement.
According to the contents
of the Settlement Patent the emigrants would be promised:
provided with clergy and teachers.
Each family would receive a house and a garden, supplied
with the necessary household appliances.
Each field hand would be presented with cattle and
equipment together with field and meadow.
Professionals would receive 50 Guilders for the purchase
The eldest son is military free.
Ride free from Vienna.
Hospitals would be erected to fight against illness.
10 years tax free.
On the 21st of September 1782 Emperor Josef II enacted this
Patent, called the Imperial-Royal Assurance. A thousand copies of
the patent would be printed and distributed in the upper Rhine.
The "Upper Rhine" was one
of the ten areas of which the Holy Roman Empire was divided into by his
resolution in 1806. The inhabitants of this area named the patent:
"Empire Song" and the settler-ancestors say in their records that they
are born in the "Empire." In any case, under this patent all of
Germany is to make out, without the area of the upper Rhine, of the
upper Danube (that is the Black Forest), of the Main and of the Mosel.
"The Empire" embraces the
lands: Swabia (that is Wurttemberg and Baden), the Pfalz, Zweibrucken,
Hessen, Nassau, Mainz, etc.
The Empire Song seems
especially suitable to the Emperor for the execution of his plan.
As the western border of his empire through most of the wartime
hardened, he could entrust them at the outposts of the troubled
southeastern border of his lands from the Turks. He selected them
because he had known them to be an especially diligent people by their
many children and poetic population as only with diligence that is most
necessary to raise their family.
In the Batschka, here in
this unpopulated wilderness region, the emperor needed the worthy,
never-tiring Swabians. Here was the greatest family desire. About the cause of the emigration K. J. Weber reported in
his "Letters of Traveling Germans in Germany" the following: "The Pfalz
(from which very many settlers descended, mainly the Protestants) is the
most fertile land of Germany under the most peaceful climate. The
farming is established on artificial fodder. Surprisingly it is a
marvelous fruit growing area, rich in tobacco, corn, chestnut, and
cherry harvests. The diligent Pfalzer (from their Pelzer dialect)
are content and happy and they are quick to help strangers and speak to
them. It is the law. Men and women have fallen in love with
the sky blue color, as the genuine tranquilizer, of which one is often
accused of carelessness or light-heartedness. Well now!
Without the light-hearted, one true gift of God, in conscious
circumstances, and without the Kerwen (church celebration), under the
old rule perhaps half the poor Pfalzer's of the Rhine became paupers and
the other half fled to Pennsylvania (America) or Hungary and as well one
could use these colonists in Bavaria.
This paradise, the whole
Pfalz, 100 square miles, had only 300,000 souls and they were mainly
guilty of religious pressure and bureaucratic fervor! The
Protestant religion should have ruled but the ruler was Catholic, so
consequently the Catholics ruled. Only they could hold civil
servant positions. A village lackey (beggar), whose children
begged, would become sheriff or mayor or judge because he was the only
Catholic in a village of 1000 citizens. Low level officials often
had hardly any compliance and high level civil servants would have their
offices bought. Slave driver! Criminals were pardoned when
they were Catholic and naturally found few days in prison with the pious
drive to conversion.
The Pfalz remained the
eternal, living example where religious intolerance and official
pressure reigned. The Eden of Germany was for thousands of modest
and hard working Germans a hell during the rule of Karl Theodor
(1743-1792) who spared no expense. His court was splendid.
He did everything for the arts: foreign actors, dancers, singers, and
pipers were rolling in dough while the useful Pfälzer had hardly any
With it came the
devastating flood, poverty, and misery in the years 1784 and 1785.
In such a sad affair our ancestors were affected by the imperial patent
which promised religious freedom and farmland in southern Hungary, known
as the Swabian Turkey. It is understandable how this publicity of
the topic of the day swayed our ancestors. The talk brought
about bets and dares, about winning luck. There was advising and
thinking it over. It dealt with so many. It brought about
the separation of families and acquaintances in the homeland, never to
see each other again.
Reverend P. Weimann wrote,
"So many people in those days were tired of the many hardships and had
forsaken their beliefs and it is better that he went and stayed there
than his father is here. His fathers have left the house and the
yard and have become homeless but they have kept faithful to their
beliefs. They are won at great cost. Hold fast to the
can be established from the archives about "the motives for the
emigration from the back of the county Sponnheim:"* The conditions
of the settlement patent were so favorable *) from Robert Karius,
Partenkirchen. That at the time the serf farmers who
were still almost tied to the soil could hardly comprehend that this was
something unusual. As they began to half empty the villages and
because of it the tax revenue of the independent government in the
Rhineland quickly declined, the rulers saw reason to enact a strict ban
on emigration. The success of it was that now the people, despite
the imposition of their bans, secretly escaped.
For that reason it was graciously
1. the emigration would
be banned once and for all.
2. the ones who still emigrated would have all of their
3. to await the disposition of a just life sentence.
4. emigrants who were found in the land again should be
imposed with a six month
So the emigration was
finally brought to a standstill. Then the lords of manors,
indebted through carelessness and extravagance, increased their demands
because a tenth part of the yield of the farms was no longer enough.
For protection and insurance grain, oats, governor chickens, Shrovetide
chickens, Thomas pigs, Jakobs' geese, Vitus' sheep, etc. were demanded.
From each chimney three kegs of smoked oats must be paid.
Through a yearly estimate the financial circumstances would be
determined. A duty was imposed on calves, pigs, meal, beer, wood,
Burdensome and much
hated was the principal that the gentlemen had the right to a part of
the estate of one who died. Usually the best cattle were taken
away from the surviving relatives. Then there was the maintenance
tax for the young princes, (Wittums?) and loyalty tax. Permission
to enter and leave cost a tenth part of the fortune. Almost
everything was squeezed out of the people from taxes leaving an almost
comprehensive list. There were many factions involved in these
submissions. The achievements were not restricted just to the
agriculture, meadow, and forest factions but also would be expanded for
building, preparation of raw materials, and the supply of materials for
errands and day service. Acts of violence from the ruling power
were allowed. Young people fir for military would be sold in
masses to foreign princes for military service. The despair of the
farmers at the time is reflected in the song:
Not! Not! Nix wie bittri
Vun Kindheit uff dis an de Dod;
Des Baurevolk, des bleib dei Los
Kee Freed im Lewe, Sorje bloß
Un schaffe, nix wie schaffe
For Herre un for Paffe.
In cases where someone took in a runaway, he was promised
six Reichstaler for a man, four for a woman, and three for each child.
Each recidivist should receive thirty lashes and those who repeatedly
fled would be branded. It was ordered that this prescription would
be openly read aloud once a year and on the Sundays of Misericordias
Domini by all of the preachers of the council. People were
extremely hostile of the pastors' input, who in any case claimed a tenth
of a third for themselves. From the following comes the expression
that one does not always take away the best fruit from their barn.
Do schlah en Dunnerwetter drin,
Der Deiwel mag eier Parre sin.
Dorn, Rad un Vogelwicke,
Die sollt'r nit dem Parrer schicke.
Der predigt das Wort Gottes rein
So soll aach eier Korn un Hawer sein.
The Reichenbacher pastor mourned that because of him in the
year 1785 nine families emigrating to Hungary were fined eleven kegs, 2
(Sester?), and 2½ quarts. These families included Georg Nickel
Schmidt, Philipp Müller, Georg Jakob Heintzen Wittib, Johann Nickel
Beckhäuser, Christian Heintz, Jakob Gðttgen, Melchior Schmidt, Johann
Loch and Philipp Jakob Heintz Melchior's son, who all came from
Frauenberg village and settled in Crvenka and Sekitsch. Others
received punitive charges, etc. When these people continued to be
poor under the everlasting pressure of hardship, they did not remain the
rejects of the nation for very long. In some cases they were rough
as the climate and as hard as the rocky ground. They had from the
very start of their new existence the possibility on foreign land that
their ability really was not seen in a bad light. And splendid are
the words of the Augsburg pastor:
"Not with the sword, but with plowshare conquered,
Children of the peace, heroes of the work."
*) Weimann: History of Ujverbasser Reformed church community 1785-1912.