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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

The Evangelical Teachers

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher, 1936
Translated by Brad Schwebler

  The first teachers were educated businessmen who received little payment for their work during the winter months and as the first days of Spring and workdays neared, the lessons ended.

   A regularly scheduled instruction began in 1827 when Peter Burg was elected to be the permanent teacher.  He was a linen weaver by profession but he had also learned the art of instruction and was thoroughly trained by old schoolmasters.  He was the first schoolmaster, called teacher, because this was his main occupation.  Until 1846 there were hardly any educational establishments for teachers in the whole country, but if anyone chose teaching as a profession he went as an apprentice at the side of a competent teacher where he would soon become a qualified assistant.  Some of them even attended one or two grammar school classes and could already gain such a wealth of knowledge from them, which at the time was sufficient enough to become a schoolmaster.  Many continued diligently to further their education.  Some could also demonstrate astonishingly good success, not uncommon in a school of 200-300 students.  If one then still tested with success before the executive committee he would receive the best teaching post that was open.

   Peter Burg worked from 1827 to 1845 with a three year interruption.  The community was satisfied with him.  Already on Christmas in 1827 he received as a sign of recognition an oilcake for a present which cost a Guilder.  Most of today's generation have no idea what an oilcake is, just as the teacher and his contemporaries had no idea of  "Soladoled"  ice cream or cream pie.  From 1831 to 1833 Adam Krum was the teacher during Peter Burg's absence.  Adam came from Sekitsch.  Peter Burg was "installed" again in 1834 and the community closed a proper contract with him this time according to which he received from every marriage a large quarter of pure winter grain and 45 Kreuzer in Viennese currency.  Besides that one fathom of hard firewood would be delivered to him and as much straw as necessary.  Shawl for baptism and funeral always 20 Kreuzer, (Copulation?)- 30 Kreuzer; for host pouch and altar cloths to wash - 2 Florint, 30 Kreuzer. That he had a free apartment in the schoolhouse was not stated in the contract.  Such a thing was taken for granted at the time so it was still not admitted in the contract just as it was taken for granted that the teacher had to clean and heat the school.  Attention was paid that straw and reeds would be utilized to heat the school.

   After Peter Burg there were three teachers in six years:  N. Torda from 1845 to 1848; Friedrich Jaus from 1848 to 1849; and Eduard Liptai from 1849 to 1851.

Then followed:

Karl Burg from 1851 to 1873.  He was born in Feketitsch in 1827.  His parents were Peter Burg, the teacher, and Scharlotte Knittel.  After he attended two grammar school classes in Vrbas he was assistant to his father.  As an 18 year old youngster he was teacher in Klopodia and later in Pivnica.  From here he would be chosen to go to Fekititsch with consideration of the merit of his father.  He must have collected his wages from the community members himself as much as he could. The yield of the harvest was done with all of their hearts each time of the day, even during the hour of instruction.  With the irretrievable debts he accumulated his materials with difficulty. (Please excuse the poor quality of this very old photo)

From these a part of his belongings were also regularly stolen by thieves including fruit, meat, lard, etc. typical of the situation at the time.  In the last year of his work here he trapped one such nocturnal thief and shot at him with his hunting rifle.  The robber jumped through the open corridor of the parsonage and ran at full speed to the wall of the place of worship and lay dead at the spot, to the not so small fright of the pastor.  He was a local Hungarian.  Burg went to court but he was so poor that the schoolchildren collected the traveling expenses for him.  In light of his material situation in 1873 he requested the community to pay his salary in cash.  The community did not agree to this and since he also feared revenge, he resigned after 22 years of service and preferred it as he earned his keep as a book peddler (rumor-monger).  Also a miserable profession!  Who used a book in those days?  So he later served as teacher again for another ten years in Schowe, then in Alt-Ker and Kisch-Ker, and even in Sekitsch from 1888 to 1899.  In 1899 he accepted the (Leviten?) teaching position in Despot Sv. Ivan and died in Schowe.  He had two daughters and a son.  Burg was a good choirmaster and the success which he could show in religious instruction no one could equal.  After Karl Burg had given up on his local teaching post, he went to Vrbas.

   Wilhelm Prätscher was teacher by profession. He was born in Crvenka in 1851 and he attended the Evangelical middle schools in Vrbas, Ödenburg, and acquired his teaching certificate in Oberschützen in what is today Burgenland, Austria.  In 1871 he worked as teacher in Crvenka, 1872 in Neu Vrbas, and from 1873 to 1916 in Feketitsch.  He was the first certified teacher in the community.  The salary consisted of: 1. apartment, 2.a.) from farm couples - 1/3 Pester Metzen of fruit and 60 Kreuzer; b.) small homeowners - ¼ fruit and 50 Kreuzer; c.) assessors - ¼ fruit and 40 Kreuzer.  Widows paid half.  Members over 60 years old were exempt of the teacher's fee.  3.) Shawl for baptisms and funerals - 14 Kreuzer; for Copulation - 21 Kreuzer.  Later he received in addition as choirmaster salary the use of three chains of field.  But he soon suffered the same fate as his predecessors  The debts for one whole year's salary were soon due which the community acted uninterested in paying.  Finally the community had to take care that in the future the teacher is assured that his salary is actively received.  He was married to a local farmer's daughter, M. Elizabetha Weber, and had 8 children.  After 45 years of service he went into retirement.  He was secretary of the community for a decade.  He wrote the minutes with a beautiful handwriting.  He was the leader of the choral society, founder and secretary of the first Feketitsch "funeral association" (Leichenverein?), and treasurer of the teachers' association of the executive committee.  During his service he made the following objective report to the superintendent:  "What scientific education, moral behavior, methodology and enthusiasm of the trustees, religiousness and overall quality concerned one diligent teacher, so the teachers concerned have intended to be praised."  As choirmaster he worked at 2,078 baptisms, 437 wedding ceremonies, and 1,317 funerals.

   Occasionally during his retirement he received marked recognition as education minister and school inspector.  The executive office wrote, "You stood 45 years, through one lifetime always first rank as the best teacher to the executives.  For you in the interest of your accomplished work to our Evangelical church, I bring you the perfect recognition in the name of our executives.

  Respect and worthiness."  The elders and the school chair did not remain behind in the recognition.  The ordered "festivities", which in an appropriate framework should have taken  place, was not done, because of the warlike times, which the homebodies took part in.

   Also he could only leave his profession gradually.  He still spent half of his time out in the German Reformed church community, which no teacher had done, and gave private lessons.  He died in 1932 and rested in his own tomb.

   After that a second teaching position was also organized.  From 1872 to 1879 the following businessmen worked as teacher: Ludwig Thiel and Michael Kinkel.  They received 8 Florint  per month for their time of instruction.  But soon Gottfried Gutwein did it for less, for 7 Forint and Peter Karbiener even did it for 6½ Florint per month.  The authorities were not pleased with this arrangement, so in 1879 a vacancy for a second certified teacher was made.  Salary was 300 Guilders.  Because of the small salary the teachers changed often.  The following teachers worked in this position: Karl Kunst - 1880; Johann Karner - 1881; Josef Schorr - 1882; Johann Bruckner - 1882 to 1885; A. Groo - 1885 to 1889; A. Kintzler - 1890; Viktor Gotsch - 1890 to 1892; E. Jany - 1893.  Most of them came from either the Zips or from Burgenland, Austria.  They came by ship to Bezdan where they would catch a wagon.  J. Schorr was a village child.

   The following permanent teachers worked in the so-called little school.

   Viktor Gotsch: He was born in 1868 in the beautiful little city of Leibitz in Zips.  He attended school in Kesmark and Eperjesch and then worked from 1890 to 1908 in Feketitsch.  He spent the 1892-1893 schoolyear at the Evangelical school in Srbobran.  As the Feketitsch community agreed to pay him the legally established minimum wage of 500 Guilders, he came back and worked to his complete satisfaction until his early death in 1908.  According to the expert opinion of competant authorities he was a skilled, tactful, genuine Evangelical-minded teacher.  He left behind his widow Sidonia, born Kinzler, with three small children.  He rests in his own family tomb.

   During the illness of the teacher Viktor Gotsch the substitute teachers were Gustav Berg, Johann Freund, and Julius Pratscher.

   Friedrich Stštzer, chosen to be permanent teacher, worked from 1908 to 1914.  He was born in Vrbas and attended the high school in his hometown, but he went to the teachers' training institute in Ödenburg.  He was a diligent teacher and very industrious.  Although he was chosen to be the teacher by an enthusiastic majority, he resigned after 6 years and went away to another part of the country.

   After that a third teaching hall was built and a third teaching position was organized in 1911.

   Julius Pratscher was chosen for this position and still works here today.  He was a village child born in 1887, studied in Sarvasch and Ödenburg, worked one year in Sekitsch and 3 years in Bavaniste, and then came to Feketitsch in 1911.  His exams with the small schoolchildren of the first and second grades testified to the fact that he came from a teacher's family and works with pleasure  for parents and audience.  He is married to F. E. Unden and has two daughters, one of whom is a teacher.

   Jakob Kellerman was chosen to a teaching position in 1916.  He was born in Monostor in 1891 and completed his studies in Vrbas and Ödenburg.  He served just one year as a volunteer in the military as the World War broke out.  He took part in the first campaign and suffered several wounds from it.  That's why he was discharged from the military and became a teacher in Sekitsch, Schowe, and from 1916 until his death in Feketitsch.  He enjoyed great popularity with his schoolchildren and with the members of the choral society of which he was choir leader and proved especially effective as a choirmaster.  He was married to M. Palotasch and had a son.  He died in 1931 and was buried in Vrbas.

   From 1914 to 1920 the community had only two teachers.  Because of the World War the third position was not filled.  The local pastor instructed in the school year 1914-1915 for a fee of 500 Kronen, but the next year he refrained from teaching.  So the two teachers took over that one class and received 500 Kronen each as the fee.  In the school year 1916-1917 the local pastor taught once again for the first and second grades for a fee of 1000 Kronen.  After that in the following year the local pastor was no longer interested in teaching.  So the two teachers taught both classes and divided the fee between themselves.  On the impulse of the authorities the school chair had prepared an end to this six year long illegal condition.  The community appointed a teacher.

   Jakob Dietrich was born in Vrbas in 1899.  He completed his studies in Vrbas and Oberschützen.  The community appointed him as the third teacher in 1920.  He is an efficient teacher, impulsive person, and a loyal citizen known in broad circles.  His wife is G. Bittlingmayer, a village child.  He has three children.  In 1931 he transferred to the German school in Novisad-Neusatz.

   Since 1912 the choirmasters were Julius Pratscher, Friedrich Stštzer, and Jakob Kellerman.  They took turns providing a second choirmaster service weekly.  Presently Julius Pratscher is the only choirmaster.  The fee for it is the choirmaster's apartment, three chains of field, and a shawl.

   The religious instruction was the duty of the respective teacher and the greatest weight was placed on that.  As the state took over the schools in 1920 he gave the honor of religious instruction over to the church community.  It praised the Evangelical spirit of our teachers in Feketitsch for giving the religious instruction for years.  On the other hand it belonged again to our church community to those few who showed their appreciation.  The new church law ordered that the pastor have the honor to give religious instruction.  In practice the pastor only took on the religious instruction where there was no longer an Evangelical teacher to give it.  The Evangelical church community voted for 15 q of wheat for the instruction.

   The following took part in the religious instruction at the time:  Reverend Peter Scherer did the third and fourth grades and teacher Julius Pratscher did the first and second grades.

   Until 1931 the Evangelical community had the luck of having in their school popular diligent teachers who at the same time were staunch supporters of the Evangelical belief. Today the number of such teachers has dwindled.  The time when dozens of German Evangelical teachers volunteered for a position are over.  The Batscher Evangelical executives, the cultural union, and the German school foundation made a praiseworthy effort to prevent the shortage of Evangelical and German teachers.

    Today the Germans of Feketitsch feel that such teachers are missing.  The community also actively defended the examination roll of the children to show that it should remain for them.  The parents remembered their own school days when they were fortunate to be the happy children who received the examination rolls.  But not only did the child receive this roll 50 to 100 years ago, but also the teacher's Evangelical beliefs and his German blood, through which condition was given where the intellectual ability could be best developed.  So while the examination roll of the child should at no time be taken away and it also cost a sacrifice, we have to and want to sacrifice joyfully so that the child would be given an Evangelical teacher like their parents and ancestors and also as the law provides for.

   Jakob Dietrich was the last teacher that the church community had chosen.  Since the nationalization of the schools, the state names the teacher.     

[Published at 2003 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!