Migration Voyage, The
Danube & The
by Hans Kopp
When the first
colonists left the homes of their ancestors in quest of a
new and better life, they had to buy themselves free or be
declared free before they were allowed to leave. Primarily
able individuals with financial means of 200 gulden were
sought after; this was a lot of money. To give you a
comparison of the value of the money at that time, we found
that the price of a horse was 18 gulden and one could
purchase a house for 160 gulden. Some people simply deserted
without permission or legal papers.
To historians the migration of the Germans to
Hungary during the three time periods 1723-1726,
1763-1773 and 1782-1787, became known as the Great Swabian Migration. Ulm was the port
where our forefathers boarded the barges called
Schwabenplätten, to take them to their new homeland.
The barges used for transportation were "Ulmer
Schachteln" and "Kehlheimer Plätten."
Since single men were not allowed to become
colonists, so they had to find a bride among the
many young maidens and be married before they
could board the barges at Vienna to continue
their voyage down the Danube to their
destination. If your ancestors were
Catholic and married there, their marital
records will be found at the Wengen Kirche in
In order to balance
the population between men and women, active
recruiting was done among single women.
famous transports of single women traveling down
the Danube became known as
“Frauenzüge” (Women’s Migration Transports).
Church in Ulm"
Expenses for the trip to
Vienna had to be born by the colonists themselves.
At Vienna, their first major stop on their journey
down the Danube, registrations took place and new
passports were issued. Each family received 2 gulden
per member and free food supplies for the rest of
their journey. At their arrival in Budapest an
additional gulden was paid to the colonists, and the
destination of their settlement entered into the
passport. At their arrival in the settlement center,
another registration took place coupled with an
examination. Then a document was issued with their
rights and obligations, as well as, the amount of
their monthly allowable provisions to be issued to
them at their destination. Every person over ten
years of age received one Kreutzer, a prescribed
portion of flour, firewood, straw and other goods
until the time they could provide for themselves.
The voyage of our forefathers was by no means a joy
ride on the Danube. Several detailed letters of
experiences from travelers immigrating to Russia
exist. Reference “Ostwanderung der Württemberger
1816-1822” by Karl Stumpp) Deducting from these
letters one can assume that our forefathers did not
fare any better. In a letter from Johann Christian
Bidlingmeier we learn that there were several stops
along the river. They left Ulm on the 2nd
of June and reached Vienna on the 9th
of June. On the 17th
they left Vienna and arrived in Budapest on the 19th
of June and on the 26th
of June they reached Neusatz (Novi-Sad) and on the 1st
of July Palanka. In Vienna documentations were
checked and then they were transferred on different
barges. One of the bigger problems was simply
piloting and handling the barges through the rapids
and sandbanks. Piloting became especially difficult
on the waters past Budapest, since that portion of
the Danube was mostly unknown to the pilots the
river in particular at Peterwardein near Neusatz.
Vienna was not the only
stop where the passes were checked; they were
checked all along the river in Linz, in Budapest and
other ports as well as at their destination.
Friedrich Schwarz writes in his letter, he left his
home on June 26th
1817 with his wife and nine children and arrived in
Ulm on the 29th.
On July the 3rd
they left Ulm and were held up on the 4th
by rain in Ingolstadt. On the 7th
they reached Passau and had to stop because of rain.
They reached Linz on the 11th
and the passes were checked for the third time. The
bad weather continued but they were finally greeted
by clear skies as they reached Vienna on the 10th
of July. On July 15 they were loaded on a larger
barge with 309 people. On the 18th
of July they were hit by a big storm and had great
difficulty on the barge. On the 27th
of July they reached Neusatz. These letters report
not only on storms, pass checks, but also of the
scenery, the abundance of food they purchased along
the way, and illnesses as well as death and burial
stops. The journey down the Danube was a one-way
trip and barges were dismantled upon arrival and
used to build their first homes.
With thousands of people
leaving east and west to Americas, Russia, Poland,
Hungary and other eastern frontiers, the landlords
of the German states did not necessarily approve of.
They closed off the Rhine River only to see the
emigrants leaving across France and board the ships
at the ports there. On February 9th
1770 the Hessian government released a warning to
the police to take a close look at the items that
could be silver-plated. In their statement they say
that the emigrants in doing so take the fortune out
of the country. In a statement from December 11th
1784 it was pointed out that the emissaries, who
promise greener pastures in foreign countries to the
citizens of Hessia, should be retained.
"The Wengen Kirche (Church)" - was destroyed during
WWII. There is a new church erected in its place. I
found the above painting on the wall in the office when I
visited the parish and asked them if I could take this
"Captain/pilot of the barges" - They mule and/or
horse teams pulling smaller type boats up the river or they
traveled along the river by wagons as they already did 1,000
year or longer before. Remember the Crusaders on their
way home. There were roads to travel on at that time
too and once in Budapest they could use one of the many
better roads on which coaches traveled.
"Frauenzüge" (Women's Migration Transports) - It was
very difficult to find spouses whence in the settlement
regions. Therefore, one had to marry before getting
permissions to travel down the Danube from Vienna.
Normally, families were settled, but there must have been
also singles who wanted to settle. But not only male,
also female. Some documentation is actually very good
from certain HOG books. Also Stefan Stader has 6
volumes of documentations in German.
[Published at DVHH.org
15 Nov 2006 by Jody McKim Pharr]