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The Early History and Development of the Lutheran Congregations and Church District
Of Swabian Turkey in the 18th Century

 Taken from: Beiträge zur Geschichte Des evangelischen Seniorats In der Schwäbischen Türkei
By
Gustav Schmidt-Tomka, München 1976
Summarized and Translated By Henry A. Fischer 

  (The Seniorat (Church District) of Tolna, Baranya and Somogy of the Lutheran Church in Hungary includes Hungarian, Slovak and German-speaking congregations.  What follows addresses only the early development of the German-speaking congregations in Swabian Turkey whose members would later be identified as Danube Swabians.) 

  In 1718, the large-scale immigration of Evangelical Lutherans from Germany into Tolna County began.  Many of these settlers came from Württemberg and the Palatinate, but the major portion came from Hessen Darmstadt.  Hieronymous Schwarzwalder, who accompanied the colonists, served as the pastor in Varsád beginning in 1718.  He was ordained in Kremnitz in Upper Hungary (Slovakia) on September 29, 1718 by Daniel Krmann, who was the only remaining Lutheran Superintendent (bishop) who was still in office and not in prison.  The Varsád congregation was located on the land holdings of the Székely family who were Calvinists.  At the founding of the settlement there were also Hungarian Calvinists and Roman Catholics but they left shortly afterwards and Varsád would become a totally German village.  The first settlers in Varsád came from Württemberg.  They were only the vanguard.  Like the stars in the night sky, scattered throughout Tolna County after 1718-1719, Lutheran congregations came into being under the leadership of a pastor or Levite Lehrer (a teacher who also had theological training).  Initially, there were only simple services of worship consisting of hymns, the reading of Scripture, prayers and the reading of sermons if no one was prepared to preach in the absence of a pastor or teacher. 

  Shortly afterwards, in 1718-1719 a congregation was formed in Kismányok consisting of settlers from Württemberg under the leadership of an ordained pastor named Jeremias Walter.  On his arrival from Germany, Count Wenceslaus Zinzendorf, the Minister of Finance in Vienna who owned the estate on which the village was located, officially appointed him to his pastorate.  According to several sources, this pastor Walter also served the newly formed congregation in Izmény in 1720.  This latter village was part of the domains of Count Apar.  Walter appears to have come from either Württemberg or Hesse.  In 1744 the congregation in Izmény became an affiliate of Kismáyok after its young pastor, Stephen Barany and his family were banished and driven out of the village by County troopers under the leadership of County Administration and Roman Catholic church officials. 

  Colonists from the Vogelsberg District from Upper Hesse came to Felsönana in 1721 and founded a Lutheran congregation.  These settlers came from the domains of Freiherr Riedesel.  Other emigrants from Hesse/Kassel and Hesse/Nassau joined them in the following spring.  The congregation became an affiliate of Varsád at the outset, but after 1724 was served by the pastor in nearby Kistormás.  The first known teacher in the village was Georg Sutter in 1730, who had been preceded by one of the settlers who acted in this capacity and led in worship until a trained teacher could be obtained.  This was typical of most of the congregations and the men did so secretly and were called “emergency teachers.”  Their primary task was to teach the children in preparation for confirmation, which meant knowledge of reading, writing and Scripture and also to serve as the lay leader and preacher in the congregation. 

  In 1722-1724, with the full consent of Emperor Charles VI, a Lutheran congregation was formed in Mucsfa.  The inhabitants of this village had their origins in the Odenwald, now part of Hesse.  Because of their poverty they were unable to establish regular church life on their own and united with Izmény at first and then later with Kismányok.  The first teacher we can identify with certainty was Johann Thomas who began to serve in 1733. 

  In 1722 a significant event took place that affected the majority of the Lutheran congregations in the Tolna.  General Count Claudius Florimundus de Mercy of Argentau purchased the largest domain in Tolna County.  He was the governor of the Banat and president of the Commission for Settlement and Colonization at Temesvár.  His land holdings in Tolna County stretched from Paulsdorf (Palfá) in the north to Abtsdorf (Batáapáti) in the south along the border with the Baranya.  In this settlement area he carried out an ambitious, innovative and effective colonization policy in which he   protected and defended the religious rights of his subjects to the extent that it was possible for him to do so.  At the time of his purchase the Lutheran congregations in Varsád, Felsönana, Kismányok, Izmény and Muscfa had already been established. 

  His policies were introduced and implemented by his cousin, Count Anton Ignaz de Mercy who was his designated heir.  Following the death of this younger de Mercy on January 22, 1767, his son Count Claudius Florimundus de Mercy II, who later served as the Habsburg ambassador in Paris and London, succeeded him.  He sold the family holdings in Tolna County in 1773 to Count Georg Apponyi for over 700,000 Gulden.  The de Mercy holdings had included the estates of Count Zinzendorf, Baron Schilson and the Székely family.  From 1722-1772 the de Mercys were the most powerful and wealthiest landowners in Tolna County with all of the special privileges of a Hungarian noble and the right of the sword.  (They had the power of life and death over their subjects). 

  The de Mercys proved to be effective defenders and protectors of their Lutheran subjects in the face of the attempts to persecute them on the part of the County Administration , which was overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and included their higher clergy.  The fate of the future Lutheran Seniorat would have been different on the basis of any kind of human judgement and especially in light of the “quiet suppression” under Empress Maria Theresia had the de Mercys not been the landlords and protectors of numerous Lutheran congregations who were the seed out of which the future Church District would sprout. 

 In his role as president of the Colonization Commission for the Banat,  Count de Mercy carried out public relation activities in Hesse to recruit settlers that would produce results other than those the Emperor had intended.  His own domain in Tolna County would be the chief beneficiary of his publicity efforts.  For this purpose he sent his authorized commissioner Captain Tobias Vátzy to Vienna to persuade immigrants who were bound for the Banat to choose instead to secretly settle on Count de Mercy’s domains in Tolna County.  According to notes left behind by pastor Johann Balassa of Szarszentlorinc, Count de Mercy received an order for an audience with the Emperor in Vienna in which he was reprimanded for his manipulation of the Banat bound settlers,  also charging him with having accepted Lutheran settlers on his estates and supported them in their heresy.  Count de Mercy did not allow any of this to influence him in any way and proceeded with his colonization project in the Tolna as before.  From 1721-1724 we can speak of a massive emigration as more Lutherans sought refuge and land with Count de Mercy on his domain. 

  In the year 1722, Kalázno was founded by Lutheran settlers arriving from Upper Hesse and quickly joined themselves as a daughter congregation of Varsád in 1724, where at the time, Karl Johann Reichard was the pastor.  Only recently, he had been driven out of the Banat by the Jesuits and had become a fugitive from the law.  He had served two Lutheran congregations made up of Odenwalders from Hesse who had settled in Langenfeld and Petrilowia in 1718 as well as the neighbouring settlements of Orawitza, Russowa, Haversdorf and Saalhausen.  He had done so under the protection and official appointment of Count de Mercy.  These settlements were in the vicinity of Weisskirchen and close to the frontiers with Turkish occupied Serbia.  The Jesuits in Temesvár made the young pastor’s presence and activities known to the Court in Vienna and he was thus ordered banished.  It was only through the Count’s assistance that he was able to escape imprisonment and to make his way to Varsád where the Count placed him in the pastorate there.  In the following months a trickle of Odenwalders, some eighty-five persons arrived in small family groups and rejoined him in order to escape conversion.  All of these early Lutheran settlements in the Banat were destroyed by the later Turkish incursions into the area and the population was massacred or carried off into slavery. 

  The congregation in Abtsdorf (Batáapáti) was founded in 1724 under the Letters Patent that it had been granted by the Emperor Charles.  Many of the members visited Kismányok for pastoral services and the names of their families can be found in those church records and, in the same year,  they officially became affiliated with that congregation. 

  Kalázno belonged to the land holdings of Count de Mercy centred at Hogyész and was settled by colonists from Upper Hesse.  According to the church archives, the village had a Bethaus (prayer house) and teacher from the beginning of the settlement.  In 1733, the bishop of Pécs sought to establish a Roman Catholic parish in Varsád and Kalázno for Magyar Roman Catholics.  This indicates that, at the time of the arrival of the German settlers, there were still numerous Hungarians in the area.  It was only later that Kalázno would become entirely German in terms of its inhabitants.  In 1725, Michael Reulein became the resident teacher. 

  In 1719, the Lutheran congregation in Györköny was established.  In that same year, Georg Barany organized the congregation in Gyönk,  turned it over to Stephen Denes and went to serve the mixed language Magyar and German congregation in Györköny.  Daniel Krmann, the Lutheran bishop of Upper Hungary appointed Georg Barany the Senior (Dean) of the Tolna congregations on January 27, 1720 to give leadership to the growing fledgling congregations. 

  Relationships between the two nationalities broke down in Györköny and Barany requested approval from Count de Mercy to establish a Hungarian Lutheran settlement on the puszta (prairie) at Szarszentlorinc.  On his approval, Barany and the Hungarian families left to establish what would become the centre of Lutheranism, where he would lead the Church District in the turbulent decades ahead.  A Lutheran congregation was also formed in Nagyszékely and associated itself with Barany’s parish. 

  On May 9, 1724 in the evening, between seven and eight o’clock the wagons of Count de Mercy arrived at Tolna-on-the-Danube to pick up a small group of Lutheran settlers and dropped them off in the tall grass of the puszta of Tormash (Kistormás).  The colonists came from the vicinity of Wiesbaden.  The tall grass was their mattress and God’s free sky their only cover.  A pastor, Johann Nicolaus Tonsor (Latin for Schneider) accompanied the group.  He was born in Wallau in the Wiesbaden area on November 2, 1692.  He was ordained at Wertheim-am-Main on their way to Hungary.  In their emigrant train there was also a teacher along with his family, Johann Wolfgang Friedrich from Idstein by Wiesbaden.  When the congregation organized, it numbered about sixty families.  At the same time other German settlers moved into Kolesd, which adjoined Kistormás and resided among the Magyar Lutherans who were living there. 

  In Mucsi, owned by Count Zinzendorf, a small Lutheran “daughter” congregation was established in 1718.  The pastor in Bikács, Andreas Reiner, attests to this in a document he presented to the Church District in assembly.  This congregation disappeared in the 1730s as most of the Lutherans moved on to other settlements.  It was a basic policy of Count de Mercy, if at all possible, to establish settlements with only one religious confession and nationality to avoid conflict. 

  Between 1718-1724 there were eleven Lutheran congregations established on the domains of Count de Mercy in Tolna County of which nine were German-speaking and consisted of settlers from southwest Germany as well as Western Hungary in terms of the Heidebauern who had established Györköny. 

  Lutheran congregations also emerged in settlements belonging to other nobles and private landlords.  In particular there were Kun, Perczel and Schilson.  The Kun estate included Majos, which was apparently settled prior to 1720  by Hessians who formed a Lutheran congregation shortly after their arrival.  Georg Barany, however, indicates an earlier arrival of German settlers under the leadership of Friedrich Samuel Bertram of Magdeburg who was their pastor.  He was banished from the County and the members of the congregation followed him into exile, but their destination is unknown.  Several pastors attempted to serve in Majos but all of them were imprisoned, banished or expelled from the County.  Their Bethaus was boarded up and all forms of worship were forbidden in the village.  The congregation was placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic clergy in Bonyhád but the vast majority of the members of the congregation went to Kismányok for pastoral services along with the other orphaned Lutheran congregations in the area. 

  Congregational life by the Lutherans was established in Bonyhád between 1720-1724 on the Perczel estates.  Many families from Württemberg settled here and were the backbone of the congregation that was not permitted to have a school or teacher but managed to operate a clandestine one.  Some of the families sent their children to the school in Majos, which was nearby.  In terms of church jurisdiction, they were placed under the authority of the local Roman Catholic priest to whom they had to pay their tithes and fees along with the Hungarian Calvinists in the town.  The congregation would undergo constant pressure and restrictions well into the 19th century, even after the Edict of Toleration had been published and enacted. 

  The village of Hidas, which now belongs to Baranya County, was on the estates owned by Franz Kun who in 1720 settled some German colonists from Hesse and Württemberg.  The majority of them were Lutherans but there were also a sizeable number of Reformed.  The Lutherans formally organized themselves in 1730 with the landlord’s permission.  They associated themselves with the Kismányok parish.  During the time of Bishop Berenyi of Pécs the congregation experienced intensive persecution along with the Lutherans in Bonyhád. 

  In Cikó, where a Cistercian Abbey was located, a small Lutheran congregation of some thirty families came into existence in 1719.  At first it related to the congregation in Majos when it had a pastor and then later to Kisjmányok when he was banished.  The village was on the lands of Baron Schilson, which was later sold to the Perczels.  In 1730, the Lutherans built a Bethaus and they shared a common bell with the Roman Catholics.  According to Roman Catholic records, the two groups built the Bethaus jointly.  In 1723 the Lutheran teacher in the village was Kaspar Faust.  During the episcopate of Bishop Berenyi, due to the pressures exerted against it, for all intents and purposes the congregation was wiped out.  A sizeable number of the families moved to Gyönk where they laid the groundwork for a large future congregation, while others moved to nearby Zsibrik where another small congregation was established.  They built a Bethaus and engaged a teacher but were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Cikó.  This valiant little congregation experienced great difficulties throughout the reign of Maria Theresia at the hands of the Bishop of Pécs. 

  In response to the colonization project of the Perczel family, both Lutheran and Reformed settlers came to Mórágy in 1719-1720.  The Lutherans associated themselves with the congregation in Kismányok where a teacher by the name of Triebach was working, but their numbers were small relative to the Reformed and they were gradually absorbed into their congregation.  Both groups had their origins in Hesse where these kinds of unions between the confessions on a local level had become common in many villages and was not considered to be out of the ordinary.  

  Kéty was another case in point.  This Lutheran congregation established in 1732 had a significant number of Reformed members.  Sixty-five years later, eighty-six of the members still registered themselves as being Reformed.  Their settlement contract with Baron Schilson dates from May 30, 1732.  The congregation was placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Zomba and suffered a great deal by the restrictions imposed upon them at the hands of the fiercely catholic Bene family.  Their Bethaus was confiscated by the Bene family and converted into a stable and their two teachers Matthias Lämle and Peter Ernst were driven out of the community. 

  Paks-on-the-Danube was located on the land holdings of the Rudnyanszky family.  The church records of the Roman Catholic church that begin in 1720 present a colourful confessional picture with Calvinist Hungarians, Orthodox Serbs, Lutheran Slovaks and Lutheran Germans as well as Roman Catholics of various nationalities. The last mentioned group among the Lutherans were primarily Heidebauern from Weisselburg County (Moson).  Their numbers increased with the arrival of German Lutherans from various Germans principalities.  Although they formed a Lutheran congregation, it was not allowed to function nor was it permitted to have a school and teacher.  This was not a new experience for the Heidebauern who had existed in this manner for over one hundred years and continued to give expression to their faith as household assemblies in which the children were also taught scripture and the catechism.  They were obliged to pay their tithes to the Roman Catholic priest and, if they sought the services of a pastor of their own confession, they also had to pay whatever fee was deemed appropriate to the priest as well. 

  On the Rudnyanszky estate, the village of Bikács was settled in the early 1720s, although it was not officially founded until 1736 in order to avoid paying some County taxes.  The settlers were Heidebauern from Moson County who began settling in the community on and off since 1725.  Upon forming a Lutheran congregation, they associated themselves with the congregation in Györköny but met constant resistance from the Roman Catholic authorities in their efforts to develop any form of church life in the village.  Their first teacher, Stephen Salamon came from Tet in Raab (Györ) County and he served from 1727-1753 when he was banished and the congregation was placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Kajdács. 

  The village of Zomba was situated on the estates of the Orthodox Monasterly family and later the Vitkovics heirs and was settled by Hungarian and German Lutherans.  In 1723      a Lutheran congregation was established and developed a relationship with the Majos congregation before 1726.  When the pastor was expelled in 1729 they were left to fend for themselves. It was only later that they began to experience real difficulties when Zomba was purchased by the Döry family who were fiercely anti-Protestant and ordered their Bethaus confiscated and locked and banished their German and Hungarian teachers.  The German Lutherans left en masse after 1735 and settled in Mekényes in the Baranya, while their Hungarian co-religionists left to establish Oroshaza.  As the last teacher noted, “It is to the great honour of our German and Hungarian forebears that they sooner left house, land and home than to forfeit their faith and church.” 

  There was another Lutheran congregation on the Monastery and later Döry estates at Szárázd.  The congregational archives indicate that the congregation was formed in 1737 and affiliated itself with the congregation in Gyönk.  The first settlers came to escape the fanatic Bene family, leaving Kéty 1736-1737.  But here they were to suffer even more under the Roman Catholic priest in Sagetal.  An “underground emergency teacher” served here until the time of the Edict of Toleration; by then, the local Roman Catholics had left and the village had become entirely German and Lutheran. 

  In nearby Murga, where the landowners were Stephen and Nicolaus Jeszenszky, both German Roman Catholics and Lutherans settled in the village in 1745.  The Lutherans were not permitted to engage in any kind of organized church life and were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Zomba.  Their landlords handled both groups so badly that together they petitioned for redress to the Empress Maria Theresia from the exploitation and oppression they suffered at their hands.  Although the Lutherans were not allowed to have a teacher, one of the local tradesmen secretly acted as one until the Edict of Toleration. 

  During the early 1730s Hessian Lutherans arrived and settled in Keszöhigkút and formed a congregation related to the Gyönk parish, while Hessian Lutheran families in Nagyszékely left there when they were not allowed to build a Bethaus by their landlord.  The latter moved on to Udvari among German Roman Catholics where they formed a Lutheran congregation, but were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic parish of Szaáadát.  The two congregations were both served by “emergency teachers” until the Edict of Toleration.  Daughter churches would emerge in the area at the end of the 18th century, but that goes beyond our present survey of the early development.  

  The story would be slightly different in Somogy County.  Numerous Hungarian and Slovak congregations came into existence during this period but we will focus only on those that were German speaking.  Unlike the situation in Tolna County, in Somogy County the German Lutherans who settled there did not come directly from Germany but had first settled in the Tolna and were usually the first generation to be born in Hungary.  In terms of the settlements themselves there are only two exceptions.  For that reason historians and researchers would look upon the others as secondary settlements. 

  Felsö Mocsolád is considered by many to be the first, with Hessian Lutherans arriving there as early as 1725 and they too were served by the teacher Kaspar Faust, who we first met in the Tolna.  In the following years there was a steady stream of Reformed settlers who arrived there.  Most of them were Hungarian who eventually formed the majority and the village lost both its German and Lutheran character by the end of the 18th century.  

  To the north, on the estates of the Protestant Berzsenyi, Antal and Benko families, the village of Kötcse was founded by  five Hungarian Roman Catholic families, twelve Hungarian Calvinist families, forty-seven German Lutheran families and seven German Reformed families.  The Germans were of Hessian origin, having embarked for Hungary from Regensburg in the spring of 1723.  The Church District accepted the congregation in 1725 when it was being served by an “emergency teacher” until a Levite Lehrer was available.  In 1734 Dominik Haas, who had been born in the Tolna, arrived to serve them in that capacity and was succeeded in 1740 by Michael Harmonia, who was secretly ordained by Georg Barany.  In 1745 Martin Biró von Padámy, the bishop of Veszprem, took action against the congregation.  On the night of December 15, 1745 a mob of peasants led by the priest in Karad stormed the village, raided and ransacked the houses of the Lutherans and Reformed and confiscated all bibles and hymnbooks and devotional literature under the direction of the High Court Judge Johann Rosty accompanied by County troops.  A huge bonfire was built in front of the Bethaus that had only recently been built and the books were burned; the judge read a decree outlawing any form of Lutheran worship or household assemblies and placed the congregation under the jurisdiction of the priest in Karad.  He then ordered that the Bethaus be put to the torch by the unruly mob.   Michael Harmonia and leaders of the congregation were whipped and he was dragged off to the episcopal dungeons in Veszprem, where under torture, he converted to Roman Catholicism.  The congregation went back to its former underground existence under the leadership of several emergency teachers until the publication of the Edict of Toleration thirty years later. 

 Some time after 1730 groups of Hessian and Württemberg Lutherans, who sought to escape conversion in the Tolna, made their way into the hill country of Somogy County and established new settlements, one of which was Bonnya.  The beginnings of this Lutheran congregation cannot be determined precisely, but it is tied to the arrival of Jakob Becht who had been born in Württemberg, and was the banished Lutheran underground teacher from Bonyhád who had fled from the authorities who sought to drive him out of the country.  He and his young family arrived in Bonnya on April 11, 1730 and took on the guise of a local farmer while he also secretly served as the Levite Lehrer.  The oldest sons of the Becht family would serve in that capacity in the life of the village and congregation for the next seven generations until the expulsion of the Danube Swabian population in 1948. 

  At about the same time, the private landowner Johann Nepomuk Hunjady welcomed German families to settle on his estates at Döröcske.  These first settlers came from the Tolna along with others from Kötcse because land to provide a livelihood for younger families was starting to run out.  The Lutheran congregation was formed in 1758 and was served by various men as emergency teachers because all attempts to have permission to have a Levite Lehrer were turned down by the Empress Maria Theresia.  They considered themselves affiliated with the Slovak Lutheran congregation in Tab. 

  In the mid 1750s, some twenty-five Lutheran families from the Tolna and Baranya settled in Ecsény on the lands of several private landowners.  They were unable to form a congregation of their own and while officially under the jurisdiction of the priest in Barapati, they associated themselves with the Slovak congregation in Tab.  They were the first of the German-speaking congregations in Somogy County to receive permission to call a pastor and build a church at the time of the Edict of Toleration in 1781. 

  There were also developments taking place in Baranya County, but only the congregation in Hidas was able to take root in the first half of the century.  The Bishops of Pécs were determined to nip any attempts at a Lutheran presence in the County in the bud.  It was only in the villages of Tofü and Mekényes that had formerly belonged to Tolna County that the Lutherans had been able to establish a bridgehead. 

  The congregation in Tofü came into existence in 1719 and later became associated with the congregation in Kismányok.  Later in 1735 it related to the congregation in Mekényes that was much closer.  In 1743 the Bishop of Pécs had the Bethaus in both villages destroyed and placed both communities under the jurisdiction of the priest in Bikal. 

  From its inception the congregation in Tofü supported an “emergency teacher.”  In 1739 it chose Philip Dieleberger as the teacher but the Roman Catholic authorities had him banished and in 1746 we find him listed in the church records in Kismányok as an ex-teacher.  Like the other congregations that managed to survive until the Edict of Toleration Tofü’s lay leaders held the congregation together and provided personal models of faithfulness with many of them ending up in prison. 

  The beginnings of Lutheran church life in Mekényes can be traced back to 1735.  The first Lutheran settlers came from Zomba and Gyönk in the Tolna because they could not remain in those communities and practice their faith.  The first settlement took place on April 24, 1735.  The names of these colonists indicate that their origins were in Upper Hesse in the vicinity of Schlitz.  At the beginning the settlers had to suffer much at the hands of the local Serbs who preceded them and were to be found in most of Baranya.  Their landlord was the Esterhazy family that made no distinctions because they were Lutherans and acted towards them favourably.  In 1737 Mekényes was accorded the rights of an Artikular Church (a law that allowed two Lutheran Churches to function in each county of Hungary) and called Franz Tonsor who was the pastor in Lapafö in Somogy County to be their pastor.  He served from 1737 to 1743.  After personal harassment and constant threats, he was forcibly driven out of the village by troops sent by the Bishop of Pécs in 1743 and the Bethaus was locked and sealed.  Mass was celebrated annually in the Bethaus even though there was not a single Roman Catholic resident to be found in the village.  The congregation supported a teacher secretly and kept him hidden from the authorities even though a Roman Catholic teacher had been imposed upon them.  This congregation endured much in the years before the Edict of Toleration. 

  Rackozar received its name from its original inhabitants:  the Raizen who were Serbs and Croats and had settled in the area under Leopold I.  They were semi-nomadic.  For that reason the Esterhazys were interested in getting rid of them and replacing them with seasoned farmers, which meant German settlers.  In 1732 a single Lutheran family had settled there.  It was only in the mid 1750s when large numbers of German Lutherans would first arrive.  A congregation was formed in 1756 and in the years ahead, it faced a constant struggle to gain permission to have a pastor or teacher even though it sent delegations to petition the Empress Maria Theresia who turned a deaf ear to the requests.  Instead it were placed under the jurisdiction of the priest in Bikal and the teacher that it had been allowed to have was driven out of the community and was replaced by a Roman Catholic.  None of the children attended the school.  The congregation bribed the priest in Bikal to turn a blind eye to the fact that an “emergency teacher” was serving in their community.  None of this changed until the Edict of Toleration. 

  The Esterhazys also settled German Lutherans from the Tolna among their Roman Catholic subjects in Gerénges, Nagy Ag, Tékes, Kaposszekcsö, Csikostöttös and Tarrós where Lutheran congregations were quickly formed and were faced with the same struggle for survival.  Again the local lay leadership bore the brunt of the battle and the emergency teachers who were apprehended and imprisoned. 

  In light of all of this, it seems virtually impossible but it is a fact that Lutheran congregations and communities arose on the estates of Princes of the Church and other church lands.  Such Lutheran settlements were in Alsónána and Györe in the Tolna and Nagyhajmas in the Baranya.  Some time before 1740, Jacob Jany the Abbot of Bátasék brought Lutheran and Reformed Germans to settle among his Serb subjects in Alsónána.  It was only later in 1751 that the village became part of the state holdings of the Habsburgs.  The village was considered to be a filial of the Roman Catholic parish of Bátásek and no Lutheran church life was tolerated, but clandestine household services were the norm, while several emergency teachers served here until the Edict of Toleration. 

  On the other hand, Hessian Lutherans settled in Györe under the auspices of the   Bishop of Pécs.  The year of the beginnings of the congregation is uncertain but it became a filial of Zsibrik in 1739 and managed to carry on during this difficult period. 

  Nagyhajmas was settled with Roman Catholic Germans and Croats by Count Philip Ludwig Zinzendorf, the abbot of Pécsvarasd who was a son of the well known Count Wenceslaus Zinzendorf.   But unknown to him, among his German colonists there were numerous Lutherans.  The year of settlement is uncertain, as well as the point at which the Lutherans formed a congregation, but we do know that they were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic parish of Bikal.  Numerous emergency teachers served here, mostly peasant farmers like their neighbours. 

  In summary, we can verify the existence of at least twenty-nine German Lutheran congregations in Swabian Turkey by the end of the 18th century.  In addition there were four congregations with both German and Hungarian members.  These figures do not include the Hungarian and Slovak congregations.  The seed had been planted.  The harvest would come following the Edict of Toleration.

 


[Published at DVHH.org 04 Feb 2008 by Jody McKim Pharr]


 

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