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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Traffic – Trade - Industry - Business 

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     Of the thousands of settlers who came from the Empire, a large number founded commercial enterprises.  There were no merchants among them.  Each one of the villages also only had a "Gewölb" (vault) which was the property of the rulers.  In the past century trade in Feketitsch was almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews, the lively exchange business took place.  The number of professional educated merchants first grew from our ranks since the turn of the century.  In the same crowd the ranks of the non-Aryan merchants thinned and today there are hardly any Jews in the German quarter of the old established places.  Next to our German merchants the others are only second rank. 

     Since the World War I the shops have also become specialized.  The predominant manufacturing businesses are: Jakob Dietrich, P. Frieß, Phil. Hoffmann, Georg Kern; haberdashery: H. Frieß and Stephen Haumann; spice and delicatessen business: Phil Seibert; spice runs: Daniel Gieße and P. Scheer; iron wares: Jak. Butscher and Phil. Schwebler; watchmaker and jewelry shops: Karl Seibert; lumber yard: Johann Schwebler.  Besides that there is a warehouse of finished men's clothing of the Tivar Company, and a shoe store of the Bata Company.  Many of the businesses mentioned exceeded by far the size of the village general store and can be compared to the urban stores.  The entrance show windows are arranged in the most modern way.  The photo studio of the couple Josef Knefeli and his wife is arranged in the most modern way.  The photographs produced could not have been made better. 

     A large part of the trade was done at our weekly market.  This took place each Sunday and it is the largest in the area.  This fact can be attributed to a lot of dairy lands on the "Hotters" (pastures) from Srbobran, St. Becej, Mol, Petrovoselo, and there were also smaller settlements (such as Kutas Brasilien, Kevi, Moholer Valley, Gunarasch, and others), which are next to our community.  Constant visitors to our weekly market are the inhabitants of Sekitsch and Mali Idjosch.  Also the communities of Vrbas, Kula, Topola, and Bajscha are represented.  Especially active are the trades in vegetables, poultry, eggs, milk products, meat, fruit, grain, and products of the commercial businesses.  A dozen "Olcsos" are also a part of the scene at the market since the end of the war.  It is these Bosnians who carry their whole general store in a pile from market to market.  Germans called these "the cheap articles."  They are a piece of the Orient.  Especially large are the weekly markets before Christmas and Easter where the "Lebzelterstände"? (tents) take up a large part of the room.  Two or three decades ago the quetsch (plum) and cabbage markets were especially large.  Five or six years ago a second weekly market took place each Wednesday.  This idea however did not meet with approval, so it remained with one weekly market.  The weekly market took place before the community house and reached up into the neighboring streets.  The pig market is a part of this weekly market and wound up on the site of the weekly market. 

     Our annual market is the oldest and largest in the Batschka.  Formerly there were two annual markets, one on the second Sunday in May and the other at the end of October.  The latter occurred together with Kirchweih.  Since 1930 Feketitsch has also had a third annual market which falls on the 15th of August.  This third annual market proved to be very reliable.  Thirty years ago the market lasted two days.  No vendors moved as long as they were at this place.  Even on Thursday one could still buy his purchases and on Saturday the "Vormarkt"? (market) was in full swing.  At the same time the school children had four days off from school and could enjoy themselves the whole time at the market which offered a merry-go-round, a circus, and magicians.  At the scene of the market there were roast chestnuts which in turn had been drawn up into the village.  Without "gebrodne Käschte" (roasted chestnuts) there was no Kirchweih market.  The alms offerings, fruit to Vrbas, Kula, and Crvenka where large warehouses for the grain businesses existed on the canal, which their buyer had for the most part a "Rasierer" (shaver) go around the village of Feketitsch.  There were also grain dealers in this place in the early days and it was these Jews who were already rich 25-30 years ago and moved to the city.  Today they occupy themselves as grain buyers except for the two mills, the Agraria, Gottfried Gerber, the representative of a Novi Sad company and Adam Leibesberger as the representative of a Vrbas company. 

The Schwebler-Gutwein mill 

     With the grain growing the mill industry limited itself to "Mautmahlen" (toll meals/grinding?) in the past hundred years.  It is recorded that in the southern end of the village a water mill existed, and besides that there were numerous windmills and horse mills.  They were only allowed to stand at the edge of the village.  Their former positions gave an exact picture of the settlement of the community.  G. Schladt built the first steam mill  in Feketitsch starting in the '90's, which burnt to the ground in 1901.  Since 1904 the steam mill industry has been principally in the Christian Welker family except for a six year interruption.  Master blacksmith Christian Welker built the still standing steam mill on swamp land in 1904.  From a modest beginning, one of the best known enterprises in the area developed itself through great joy of working and quality achievement. 


     Thanks to the gravel road which led to the train station, they could also develop a lively export business with meal.  In 1935 this mill was bought by the Zuschlag and Gutwein Company.  The daily accomplishment is 100 q of wheat and employs 12 to 15 people.  In the same year a newly built steam mill of the Schwebler Brothers and Gutwein Company was set in use.  This steam mill has the ability to accomplish 50 q of wheat in 12 hours and employs 12 workers.  The consistency of the meal is first rate, which the wheat on the Teleschka has considerably more adhesive content than the low lying regions of the Batschka.  Next to these two steam mills there are only the two windmills of the Kolter family, which are mainly provided with coarse meal and thanks to their small cost of operations the competition could keep. 

The Zuschlag and Gutwein Mill 

     Fil. Freund, Nik. Gutwein, and the widow of H. Scheuermann were employed with the consumption of all meal production.  Of the many horse mills the last one that was running was that of Georg Ziegler in 1914.  There were also several oil mills.  In 1860 when kerosene was first commercially used, it quickly took the place of oil.  The last oil mill in use was employed by Johann Hellermann in 1885. 

     Of the industry plants hemp was always planted in small amounts.  In the 1890's Johann Hellermann had a hemp grinding and gossiping business in house number 250.  The operation was bought by blacksmith Christian Welker at the end of the 90's and a new hemp grinding and gossiping business was opened at house number 190.  Horsepower was used.  The building resembled a horse mill.  Unfortunately before long the opportunity was lost, a hemp factory was established, or it was more favorable to make one possible.  It gave many families the opportunity to work and hemp cultivation was in great demand. - Of the industry plants sugar beets and sunflowers were still grown and delivered to the factories in Vrbas.  Also, some families bred silkworms. 

     Tens years ago hops production gained momentum.  Shortly after followed a decline in prices so this plant disappeared from our pastures.  Of course the beautiful hops kiln of Georg Bittlingmayer still exists. 

     The products of Philipp Wagner's furniture factory on display since 1927 in Vrbas have generally been appreciated.  In 1931 the display of the Kulaer Company won first prize.  The company produced, thanks to their modern mechanized business, the most sturdy goods.

     The knitting company of David Kern and Son worked with the most modern machines and delivered to several department stores in Vojvodina. 

     The brickworks of the Feketitsch township is presently leased by Jakob Gutwein and he paid 58,000 bricks for it.  In 1935 he produced more than half a million bricks.  Formerly bricks were burned in the so-called field oven as one liked, today one such kind of production is covered with high taxes.  At the edge of the Telschka mudstone was formerly produced everywhere.  This is still often done today. 

     Milk processing was already often tried.   From 1900-1904 Philipp Wagner and Christian Welker had a well-equipped dairy with steam activity in number 216.  The ownership of this dairy with its 4 horsepower "Stabil" motor performing was passed on to Philipp Wagner and moved to house number 1100 and was set up to use electricity.  The milk basin and the cheese kettle held 500 liters each.  Each day, of the 1000 liters of milk processed, 60-100 kilograms of butter was manufactured.  The milk was taken over in the morning and in the evening.  The products found in the German, Vienna, Budapest, and Seged markets sold well.  In 1913 Subotica opened its own business where the consumption of goods took over.  During the World War the company delivered 300-400 liters of milk a day to the (k and k?) military hospital in Subotica.  After the war the business was set up.  Later J. Dohn tried it as well as another with the dairy.  But it always quickly failed to sell. 

Filipp Wagner's carpentry shop 

     World War the company delivered 300-400 liters of milk a day to the (k and k?) military hospital in Subotica.  After the war the business was set up.  Later J. Dohn tried it as well as another with the dairy.  But it always quickly failed to sell. 

     A matchstick factory also existed in Feketitsch from 1890 to 1900.  It was joined by Philipp Pfaff, Heinrich Dinges, and Philipp Wagner and produced sulphur sticks with homemade machines, which were enclosed in paper boxes they produced themselves.  Everything was produced by hand.  But already after a year the factory moved to house number 102 where a proper business was opened which was favorable to the tax authorities.  The proprietors were Philipp Wagner, Johann Schwebler, Philipp Spengel, and Wilhelm Höckel.  The machines were from Vienna-Neustadt.  Ten workers were permanently employed which produced 1 million sulfur and "Krach" sticks (firecrackers?) daily.  The chimney rose 5 to 6 meters in height.  The driver brought the matchsticks to Vrbas, Kisker, Altker, Schowe, and mainly to Subotica.  After this factory was first set up in business, the Vrbas factory was erected. 

     In 1906 Georg Deck, married to Margareta Gutwein, erected the first large locksmith shop connected to an iron foundry.  The company produced thresh boxes and made grenade pods here during the war years.  The company existed until 1925. 

     The soda water manufacturer has been Ludwig Keiper for 30 years, who in his old age (80's), with (beschmäden?) liveliness drove his soda water wagon around here.  Before that Jakob Gutwein and before him Georg Mandel manufactured soda water. 

     The 15 artesian wells were kept in working order by the A. Leibersperger Company because they must often be washed out when a layer of sand collapsed.  He drilled 9 artesian wells in Feketitsch, 2 in Sekitsch, and 5 in Pacir at a depth of 40-60 meters.  The development costs for such a well comes to 2500 Dinar today.  The artesian well in front of Schmidt's guesthouse which delivers 140 liters of water a minute is 37 meters deep.  Because of this amount of water there was a pipe 1 meter above the ground through which this amount of water flowed down with a 70 liter per minute pressure. 

     In 1911 a community committee began to advise on the question of the introduction of electrical lighting.  The 3 communities of Feketitsch, Sekitsch, and Mali Idjosch concluded a contract to the owner of the first Sekitsch steam mill at the time and gave him the concession for the delivery of electric current.  This contract is generally still valid today.  The central office obliges itself to #1. deliver current to every "Reflectant?" who lives no farther than 100 meters from the existing electric main. - The price of this current was 6 Heller.  Today it is 7 Dinar and a 70 "Para" tax fee.  Industry current was 4.50 Heller.  Today it is 5 Dinar. 

     According to #7 the consumer can agree on a flat rate fee with the contractor.  This arrives in central office, so the consumer can no longer be stopped to the fixing of an hour yet the central office has little control to demand a rental fee for a fixed hour. 

     From the appendix of the contract comes the fact that the concession runs for 50 years from the 10th of December 1912. 

#4. The coverage may not show any fluctuation over 4%.  For this purpose a precision voltmeter is set up in the community house.  Unfortunately its control is hardly worth mentioning.  Through the faulty controls the community and individual defects could grow. 

According to #6. the current is switched on to customers 24 hours sooner. 

#13 was supplemented on the 13th of January 1913 and consequently 75 lights burned throughout the night on the street while 75 others only burned half of the night.  The light must be 32 candles strong. 

#14. The community pays a 3000 Kronen flat rate a year.  A ban must be placed on the central work that the central office may neither be sold nor can it be burdened.  The central office still has a deposit to pay. 

According to #18 the buildings of the community get the current for about half price.  The central office together with the machines must be insured against fire damage at some cost favorable to the community.  The community of Sekitsch has the policy for safekeeping. 

According to #27 a 10 Heller fine is to be paid for each non-burning street light, even if it switches on later or switches off earlier. 

#28 means if the street light loses 30% of its strength, central office has to replace this, otherwise 50 Heller is to be taken off of the deposit daily. 

#25 means that the contract can be cancelled after 25 years if the income paid doubles in a year, after 35 years the whole gross income will, after 40 years half of the income as the proceeds claimed.  After 50 years the contract is expired without cancellation and the ownership of the equipment together with the machines goes over to the three communities. 

The workers must be taken from the ranks of the village inhabitants, otherwise fines are to be expected. 

Today there are 500 homes in which electric light has been introduced.  With this number Feketitsch stands in last place of the three communities. 

Cottage industries: Formerly there was no house where the womenfolk had not kept some spinning wheels in business.  Also a loom could be found in most homes.  There were homemade underwear and dresses.  Today they occupy themselves with spinning and weaving only very little.

During the long winter months several occupy themselves with binding room and yard brooms, or finishing baking baskets such as reed or clay baskets.  Many did not earn anything with it, but at least some Dinar are received in the house during the unemployed winter months.

Source: Die Deutschen der Gemeinde Feketic-Feketitsch by Dr. Viktor Pratscher, 1936. Herausgegeben vom Festausschusz der Gedenkfeier.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]