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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

How Urschels Peter came to Schowe

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     Our old people have so many interesting things to tell about the old times.  Peter Klein, a latecomer, had the opportunity to learn about the emigration and settlement history from the year 1803.  His uncle, who is 73 years old today, had heard his grandfather tell this story when he was a child.

     After a long while passed, more old men usually came to tend their vineyard by the grandfather's cabin and reminisced.  Grandfather recalled the history of his emigration.

     It was in the year 1803, after the harvest.  I was sent by my father one day to have a strap of a horse harness repaired in Schwanden near Zweibrucken in the Pfalz.  On the way there I saw on the other side of the street a court person (juror) approaching me and as he came nearer to me he waved a finger and called, "Peder, kumm','mol 'riwer, ich han d'r 'was zu saan!  Marje is'  wider Zettelziehe far die Rekrute', awer ich han g'hort, dass du gar net ziehe derfscht, du muscht gleich inrickte', weil de dich schun zweemal "freigezoo" hascht un weil dei'drei altere Bruder sich aa all freigezoo han, denn jemand muss doch 'm Kaiser diene' aus eurer Familie.  Ich han d'rs jetzt kannscht de mache, was de willt, awer verrot jo net!"

   I was very frightened that the view of the soldier's life was not very rosy at the time.  In an instant I had formulated my plan.  I hurried home and said to my father: "Ich sin net zum Riemer gang', 's Rossgscherr hole, weil der und der hot m'r des un des g'saat un ich will net in de' Franzosekreich, ich reiss liewer aus!"  The father said, "Where do you want to go?  Where can you go?"  I answered, "Mei' Plon is fertich.  Ich wannr aus in's Ungreland. (My plan is finished.  I want to go to Hungary.)  Awer's allererscht laaf ich jetz' 'niwer uf Steinwenden (Turning Stone) un hol m'r 's Urschels Lische, ich denk m'r, des werd gern mit m'r gehn."  Urschels Lische had just received a letter a few days ago from her parents who had emigrated to Hungary sixteen years ago.  In the letter her father wrote , thank goodness, that all are in good health, his seven children are all still alive, they all had enough work, and everything is going well for them.  As the good child read and discussed the letter she continually wiped the tears from her eyes from all her emotions and yearning to be with her beloved parents and siblings she had been separated from for so long.  Since she was only a baby when her parents left the old homeland, she was left with an aunt and for sixteen years she was raised by her aunt and grew to be a young lady.

     On the same morning I made my way without hesitation to Steinwenden and went right away into the house where Lischen served and demanded to see her.  After thinking about it a short while the owner agreed to get her.  The employer and his wife went with us to the pastor who the employer heard was ready and willing to issue us the paperwork we needed.  Right afterwards we went to my parent's house. 

    When I arrived home I said, "Na Vatter, da han ich's Lische', mer han uns diriwe in Steinwenden ve'lobt (became engaged), 's werd mit m'r gehn (will go with me).  Jetz' muss ich des noch g'schwind in unsr'm Parramt melle un' aa vun dart die notweniche Schrifte' hole'."  Since I had acquired it, my father assumed that I would be taking the wagon and my favorite horse with me -- "In God's name."

     The older brother came and spoke to father, "Ehr losse den Peder ausreisse?  "Yes, what should I do then?  Er soll doch liewer ins Ungreland ausreisse, als in de' Franzosekreich ziehe, dart bleibt 'r wenichscht'ns am Lewe!"

     The second and third oldest sons feared that they must go to war instead of the youngest brother, and they also asked about the horse and wagon.  They wanted to go with the women and children to their In-laws in Russia.  The father broke down and consented and cried a lot because he was losing his three sons at once.  Only the oldest son who had done his military service would stay home with his parents.

   Now as the night had fallen and everyone was asleep, the three wagons rattled, one after the other out to the yard.  And so they went with fresh courage and new hopes up to Regensburg where there was a dangerous crossing called the Regensburg Whirlpool on the Danube River.  Soon the three brothers separated to strive for their special goals. 

   The grandfather recalled further:  With a few other emigrants I finally came to Vienna.  After that we went to the settlement office and reported to the Hungarian chancellery where we would be summoned for the next few days.

   One of the officials asked me what my name was.  "Peter Kleen," I answered.

   "Can you also write?"  "Yes!"  "Now write your name on this blackboard."  I wrote as beautiful as possible: "Peter Kleen".  But he wrote under it "Peter Klein" and asked me if I wanted to use this name since he must hand me over in any case as a military refugee.

   I agreed, Lischen and I got married in Vienna, and together with 21 other pairs we were instructed to go to Franzfeld where a settlement was taking place at the time.  Until we arrived there, all house numbers were fully occupied.  So over the winter we would receive quarters.  However I did not want to stay there over the winter and my wife urged also.  So I requested permission to journey on to Buljkes where my parents-in-law lived.  Without a second thought permission was granted with the orders that we would report to them in each community we passed through.  When we arrived in Schowe we reported to the community house as instructed per regulations and the judge asked us where we were going.

   "Uff Buljkes." (To Buljkes) "To where?"  "To the Urschel."

   "Ei do in Schowe wohnt aa e Urschel, v'leicht sin Ehr Freund mit 'nanner?"

   The judge must go with us.  As we came out of the gate he called out into the yard, "Urschl, do bring' ich eich Deitschlanner Gascht'."

   "Deitschlanner Gascht'?  Ja, vun wu? (Oh yeah, from where?)

   "Vun Steinwenden." (From Steinwenden), I said.

   "From Steinwenden?? Oh my God!  Bischt du v'leicht unser Liesele?" (Are you perhaps our Liesele?")

   "Jjje" said my wife.  "Na un ich sin dei' Bruder Karl."  (I am your brother Karl).

   After being rather overjoyed and surprised we discussed staying with them in Schowe because father had enough workers in Buljkes while, on the other hand, the in-laws and brother Karl needed some help.  Our wagon, which we had put aside on the sixteen week long trip, would be picked up right from the community house.  On another day we had a happy reunion with our in-laws in Buljkes.

   We then stayed for three years in a joint household with my brother-in-law Karl Urschl.  At the time one engineer was allocated to each house number to work the many fields: one quarter or one half session.  So on the main street there was a master tailor who desired one half session although it was not clear how much that was.  The half session farmer was obliged to slave for sixteen days a year to work his properties and to farm his assigned field.

   As well as this field the master tailor was instructed that he would also receive wheat, oats, and (kukuruz) fields that appeared much too great to him.  He dreaded the work.  The other farmers laughed at him and consoled him in a joking way  that the piece of meadow would be too small.  The next day he was instructed to take the small meadow.  He was aghast to notice that this was larger still than the little piece of field he already had.  And this large meadow was still underdeveloped so consciously it was at once as large as it was small.  That was too much.  He couldn't take it anymore.  In addition, on the following day his neighbors  started the day taking the large meadow and they wanted him to take it with them but it had disappeared in the night and fog.  He was afraid just to simply pass through the many fields!

   Peter Klein, known as Urschls Peter, would request to take over the abandoned property.

     He also switched to a house and field belonging to a neighbor of his in-laws and paid a cow for them.  So the two in-laws had neighboring homes and fields.

   The Torschaers would fear the size of their Hotters. They were stubborn and wanted to have the whole Hotter smaller so that each one would receive less with it.  A certain unique social conviction.  Pastor G. U. Famler reported about this case: "The whole Hotter would be defined with poles and stakes, at the poles were bits of paper.  There something had occurred that was so great that it was hard for many of the settlers of the Hotter to believe.  They went out in the night time and carried the poles with the bits of paper stuck on them around several hundred fathoms near the village."

   In the book "150 Years in Batschka-Palanka" the writer Niolaus Hepp wrote that in those times in Futog a farmer handed over to his neighbor a quarter field without payment and with it he was relieved of the many burdens.  The caretaker of the fields received a measure of alcohol because he cared for the field.

   In the second decade of the last century the time was over when a man could have the land for nothing.  The alert Schwabenfaust had done theirs.  The Hotter was too small, the cultivated ground too little.  In their village it was too narrow for the Swabians and for that reason they became residents through purchases in neighboring villages.  So it was in Kucura, St. Schowe, St. Vrbas, Paschitschevo (Altker), and Feketitsch.  It admittedly still did not cost any 30-40,000 Dinares for the yoke at the time, since it was in the postwar years because so many a "Stickelche" would earn about a loaf of bread.  But it wasn't worth much to the vendors either.  Around the year 1818 the influx to Feketitsch began from the German Protestant villages that were settled 30 years before.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2020 2003 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation.
Webmaster: Jody McKim Pharr
Keeping the Danube Swabian legacy alive!