A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Hőgyész (Tolnau) im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert Die Ansiedlungen in der "Schwäbischen Türkei"
JOSEF HOBEN. Uhldingen Muhlhofen
English Translation by Henry Fischer | Published at 12 Sep 2011 by Jody McKim Pharr

Where Did the Settlers in Hӧgyész Come From? 

  The Emigration Lists from the various German bishoprics and principalities provide no satisfactory answer to the question of the destination of those who set out for Hungary. In these lists, as far as we can tell, only the name of the family and the number of family members are recorded along with the amount of money or gold they were carrying. The specifications with regard to a definite destination of the emigrants was only within the bounds of probability and the place they planned to settled was often not where they actually ended up. 

  The emigration records kept by the German princes and nobles show no interest or concern about where the families came from and so we need to look at the dialect spoken in the individual villages and communities; researching each dialect in every village and comparing them with one another so that conclusions can be drawn about the dialect and the region where it was spoken in their former homeland.  The many parallel settlement activities of the individual estate and domain owners in Swabian Turkey as well as on the Great Hungarian Plain resulted in an entirely different composition of settlers.  They lived among Magyars, Slovaks, Croats and Serbs and spoke a variety of German dialects: schäbische (Swabian), mainfränische (Main River Valley and Franconia), rheinfränkische (Rhine River Valley and Franconia), hessische (Hessian), pfälzische (the Palatinate), stiffolerische (From the Bishopric of Fulda).  The number of emigrant families that first  settled in a given village was usually between 24 and 60.  Every newly settled village was relatively cut off from any of the other villages and led a life of its own in isolation from others.  Under those circumstances it is hardly any wonder that several German dialects, especially those spoken in smaller villages have been retained to this day in those cases where German is still spoken. 

  During the 1920s and 1930s, Johann Weidlein, undertook an investigation to gain an overview of the dialects spoken in the German linguistic island known as Swabian Turkey.  Even though his research into the geographical distribution of dialects rather than their origin and development became his concern, his interests were in the direction of establishing where the dialects were "at home" in what is now Germany.  His work led to some astounding results.  With the help of the so-called Wenker Questionnaire Method and other resources he was able to determine that there were no "niederdeutschen" (Germans from the lowlands in the north) but rather--and this was only in Swabian Turkey--that almost all "mittel and oberdeutschen" dialects were represented, whereby the rheinfränkische far outweighs the others except for Szakadát where a mittelfränkische dialect is spoken. 

  The first inhabitants of Szakadát who were settled there in 1723-1724 were: "compatriotae prope fluvium Saar" according to a Latin entry in the parish records and were from the Saar region in the vicinity of Zweibrücken (Westrich). 

  (Translator's note:  The author compares this dialect with various linguistic differences that are of technical nature as he will during the rest of this portion of the article.  His examples defy translation into another language and only such information that might be of interest or pertinent to an English reader will be translated.) 

  Closely related to this dialect spoken in Szakadát is the Upper Hessian dialect of the villagers in Nagyszékely that is spoken in the Vogelsberg region. 

  On the whole, the Hessian dialects can be divided into two major groups.  Those spoken in the Protestant areas and the Roman Catholic regions. 

  The colonists who spoke the Protestant dialect emigrated from the northern lying communities in Upper Hessen and a smaller portion from the area below the Main River around Darmstadt, Grossgerau, Wiesbaden and Mainz.  It is rather striking, that to a great extent, the smaller dialect groups in Swabian Turkey have adopted that of the later- arriving-settlers from Schwalm and the Wetterau in Upper Hessen.  That creates all kinds of difficulties for a dialect researcher because he is confronted with blended dialects. 

  The dialect spoken in the Lutheran village of Muscfa is closely related to that of the Hessian Lutherans.  Their dialect leads us to their origins in the Odenwald (which their church chronicle specifically identifies), while the pfälzer (Palatinate) dialect spoken in neighbouring Bonyhádvarasd enables us to determine the settlers came from the region around Worms. 

  The Fulda dialect is especially found in the Lower Baranya where large numbers of emigrants from the Bishopric of Fulda arrived early in the 18th century and settled on the estates of Prince Eugene of Savoy.  In addition to their numerous villages in the Baranya there were also villages established by them in Mucsi and Závod as early as 1718 and 1720 on the Mercy Domain. 

  The dialects continued to flourish in the villages of Swabian Turkey.  That was particularly true of the smaller communities that were relatively isolated from the world around them.  But it was inevitable that dialects began to blend as neighbouring villages inter-acted with each other.  Hӧgyész itself is a prime example of this because of the special role the community played because it was Mercy's residential headquarters in the Domain.  From early on, Hӧgyész was in close contact with most of the neighbouring communities and naturally with other estates in the vicinity.  This was strengthened after 1753 when it was raised to the status of a market town with four market days a year.  This interchange with other communities was very brisk.  For that reason it is easy to see that various dialects have been blended in the local dialects but some still remained dominant: the Franconian and the Hessian which was influenced by the dialect spoke in the Palatinate.  Despite various assertions and some historical interpretations as well as the parish register we are unable to state with certainty where the first settlers in Hӧgyész originated.  Whether they came from the Palatinate (the region around Worms); the Darmstadt region as some claim (although the Roman Catholicism of the settlers refutes that since Hessen-Darmstadt was entirely Lutheran); from the Main River Valley region of Franconia (in the vicinity of Würzburg); or perhaps the other most plausible variant is the Franconian and Swabian borderlands.  If the latter is true we are not only dealing with an historical possibility but also a bitter irony.  The descendants of the emigrants who settled in Hӧgyész who were expelled from Hungary after the Second World War were then re-settled in the area from which their ancestors had ventured from in going to Hungary over two hundred years before.  The Franconian town of Eschenau-Brandt is now the new home of large numbers of former residents of Hӧgyész and in the near vicinity of the ancestral homes of their forebears.

Next: A Portrait of the Settlement of the Hӧgyész Domain


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