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The Settlement of Tolna County by the Swabians 

By Johann Weidlein,
Article from his monograph entitled:  A Tolnamegyei Német Telepitésé 
Translated by Henry Fischer, Swabian Turkey Regional Coordinator

On the basis of the tax conscription lists of the County in 1715 it can be determined that there were Magyars, Germans and Slovaks living in the area at that time.  Of the 561 known settlements in the County in the 15th century only 45 were still in existence and most of them had only been resettled after 1690.  Original inhabitants were few and far between and were survivors of the brutal Turkish occupation. 

The new settlement followed the expulsion of the Turks and also included Magyars.  These Magyars came from northern Hungary and settled primarily in the northern parts of the County and they did not have the capacity to inhabit the southern portions.  The wastelands of the south and the east were settled earlier by Serbs who literally swamped the County by the end of the 17th century.  In 1696 there were 448 Serbian households and 488 Magyar homesteads in the County.  During the Rakozsi rebellion the Serbs fled to the south but after peace was declared in 1711 they returned only having to face the plague, hunger and new fears that war would break out once again.  This push to the south on the part of the Serbs ended in 1720 and only some names of locales in the area reflect their Serbian origin and connections.  Only a few remained and usually stayed in villages with a German majority. 

At the beginning of the 18th century the County was only sparsely populated and there were entire Domains such as Gyönk and Tevel that were uninhabited and devastated.  The nobles and gentry who owned the land were hard pressed to bring in workers on their estates to make them productive.  At an early date they thought of the possibility of securing German settlers and the estate owner of Tevel, Ladislaus von Jobaháza Dory sent his agent, Franz Felbinger to Bieberach who recruited 127 Swabian families to come as colonists.  But it appears that the settlers were not satisfied with the terms he offered so that in 1718 Count Dory distributed promotional handbills in Württemberg in which he advertised better settlement terms.  The landlord, however, was unable to meet all of the terms of his advertisement and for that reason the colonists left Tevel and settled on the estates of other nobles and country gentry. 

Included in the landholdings of the Dory family were Zomba, Kisdorog, Ladomány, Kovacsi and Szárazd.  These locales were settled by Germans much later.  Zomba’s first German settlers were Lutherans who arrived in 1734-1735 coming from Gyönk and later leaving for Mekenyes.  They were followed by Magyar Roman Catholics who were later joined by Germans from Tevel and Kisdorog.  Later, between the years 1729-1733, Swabians arrived here and also in Ladomány.  Kovacsi was established as a new colony in 1755.  Its inhabitants came from Kéty and belonged to the landholdings of the former military commander Monasterly. 

Included in the landholdings of Count Wallis were the villages of Tolna, Kakasd, Belac and Harcz.  The last named was a Magyar settlement that was established in 1734 with new settlers from outside the County.  Tolna became a market town and was settled with mostly Bavarian and Austrian colonists.  Kakasd was established in 1718; Belac was settled two years later by German colonists who had settled earlier in Tevel and Högyész. 

In the northern portion of the County lay the land holdings of Count Styrum-Lymburg.  In 1720 he invited German Reformed settlers from Hessen/Kassel and Hanau to settle in his Hungarian Reformed (Calvinist) village of Nagyszékely and in the same year settled Roman Catholic Hungarians in Udvári.  After 1736 German Lutherans came to Udvári from the neighbouring villages which quickly led to it becoming heavily Lutheran and German. 

Gyönk belonged to the Magyari-Kossa family and was first settled by Magyars in 1713 that came from the County of Veszprem.  In 1722 they were joined by German Reformed families from Nagyszékely and Kismányok.  To this day the Germans and Hungarians live separately on two main streets. 

  Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy was the key factor in the colonization of Tolna County.  He not only conducted the colonization programme of the Habsburgs in the Banat where he was governor in Temesvár but was also responsible for the establishment of twenty villages in Tolna County primarily with German settlers.  He purchased the Domain of Högyész and Varsád in 1722 and within two years most of the villages were entirely occupied by German settlers mostly settlers who were destined and on their way to the Banat.  The Hungarians he settled on his Domain were separated according to their religious confession: the Roman Catholics in Kisvejke (1722); the Reformed at Kolesd (1722) and the Lutherans in Szarszenlörinc (1723).  His German colonies were also established on that same basis. 

The Roman Catholics at Závod (1718); Apar (1742); Hant (1742); Diósbereny (1703 with Maygars and 1728 with Germans); Mucsi (1722); Högyész (1722); Szakadát (1723); Varasd (before 1733); Nagyvejke (1747); Duzs (1741-1742) and Lengyel (before 1729). 

The Lutherans at Kismányok (1719); Varsád (before 1722); Felsönana (before 1722); Keszöhidekgut (1722); Kalaznó (1722); Mucsfa (1720-1722); Izmeny (1720-1722); Kistormás (1724) and Bataapati (1730). 

He managed to increase the population rapidly using the auspices of the government and his personal connections and most importantly by living up to his generous terms of settlement, especially in two respects:  the free exercise of his settler’s religion and the promise of his protection and support of them as far as possible in that endeavour and he required no Robot (free labour) of his peasant subjects. 

The Domain of Bonyhad was newly settled by Lord von Schilson.  German colonists came to Majos as early as 1715 and to Bonyhad as early as 1723, to Cikó in 1726 and to Kéty in 1732.  We have no information on the time of the arrival of the German settlers in Möcsény. 

Zsibrik and Murga’s German settlers were recruited by the Jeszensky family in the years 1723-1745.  Franz Kun brought German settlers from the Pfalz to Morágy in 1724.  The villages around Nagymányok owe their new settlers to the Bishop of Pécs.  Nagymányok was newly settled in 1722; Györe, Varalja and Máza received German settlers in small groups in the beginning of the 19th century. 

On both sides of the Kapos River lay the Domain of the Esterhazy’s.  Only the village of Pari was newly settled (1733).  Kocsola and Kurd were daughter settlements resulting from the arrival of migrating colonists into the area between 1750-1763. 

Szálka belonged to the landholdings of the Batthyányi family.  It was originally settled by Magyars but Serbs came in 1720 and the Magyars left while the Serbs in turn were swamped by the arrival of German families in 1776.  The Serbs in Grábic and Alsonana were also eventually vastly outnumbered by Germans. 

Germans from the Schwarzwald came to Bátaszék after 1718.  Värdomb was resettled by Germans in 1750. 

There are also isolated German villages in the eastern part of the County.  Mözs was first settled in 1732.  Györköny was settled by two waves of German settlers:  first in 1717 or 1718 by Germans from Weisselberg County (Moson) who were Heidebauern and in 1734-1735 by families from Hessen Nassau.  To this day the two groups lead a separate life and existence from one another.    The German inhabitants of Bikács are also from the Heideboden.  The Rudnyansky, Daróczy and Szaraz families also brought German colonists to Paks on the Danube at an early date but they became Magyarized very quickly like those in Dunaföldvár.  The latter had a strong German element as early as 1703.  Obviously, the original 46 German families were annihilated during the Rakoczy uprising.  In 1720 there were again 15 German households and according to the tax conscription list of 1750 there were 192 and by 1793 there were 216. 

In 1785 some 157 families mostly from the Rhineland were settled at Kömlöd.  In Ker there were 66 families of whom 44 were from the Mainz area. 

The villages of Belecska, Tabód, and Dorypattan were settled in the 1850s by Germans from the middle Tolna villages. 

The German population of the Tolna since the original colonization has been the source of German expansion into other areas.  The Protestant villages around Gyönk played an important role in that.  That is why Tolna Germans are found in Soltvadkert in Pest County, Balmazújvaros in the Debrécen area and in Polány, Hács, Ecsény and Gadács in Somogy County and in Baranya at Illocska, Magyarbóly, Kaposszeckcsö, etc. 

The major German settlement of Tolna County occurred during the 3rd decade of the 18th century.  The conditions and terms under which the settlers entered Swabian Turkey were vastly different and should not be confused with the 2nd and 3rd Schwabenzug to the Batschka and the Banat.  During the first phase of the Schwabenzug (Great Swabian Migration) the settlers were not “poor, beggars and the unskilled.”  Had they been their home states would not have attempted to prevent them from leaving.  The private land owners of Hungary were looking for industrious farmers and skilled artisans.  They had to have a “bankroll” of at least 200 Florins. 

From the nature of the dialects spoken in the various villages in Swabian Turkey the area of the origins of the original settlers can be determined but not always to the specific villages themselves.

[Published at DVHH.org 13 Feb 2013 by Jody McKim Pharr]

 Last Updated: 18 Sep 2017


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