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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

School Affairs

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

   The denominational schools of the Batsch-Syrmien, later the Batscher Evangelist Executives were assigned in the dean's office which the dean presided over.  Feketitsch belonged to the Crvenka dean.  The dean from 1817 to 1829 was Johann Georg Tesseni, pastor of Torschau.  He left in writing to the executives the 'institutions' of the Mountain Superintendent, of which our executives belonged.  These orders of conduct were also written in the school minutes of the Feketitsch Evangelist community.  From this it must be deduced that the teacher must have passed on these orders through a messenger to Vrbas, Sekitsch, or Bajscha.  Interesting points are the following:

   Point 3. "It is unfortunate that the teaching profession offers little pay as it is planned by the executives.  There may well be good reasons for this because it seemed to be so inexpensive.  Also in Feketitsch they succeeded in a 6½ Florint month's salary advance.

   Point 4. "The church community chose a school teacher by having the candidate take an examination before the dean and executives to determine if the teacher was suitable for the office.  The subjects to be stressed: 1) Reading comprehension, 2) Mathematics, 3) Handwriting, 4) the main parts of Natural History, mainly for the knowledge of the loving-kindness and wisdom of God, as well as learning good principles that are useful in agriculture, 5) Nature, particularly of the natural phenomenon, for the eradication of superstition and for the instruction of the caring and ruling God, 6) Religion, 7) Geology/Geography.  Each teacher must have at least all of these books.  The student must possess at least their reader, the Lutheran catechism, book of hymns, and the New Testament.  The books could be referred from Preßburg Bayruth or Vienna." application and in  Everything will be done with practical the mother language.

   Point 14. "At no time will the teacher be seen in the school smoking a pipe."  One could hardly imagine a teacher without a quite long pipe stem.  Our old teachers including the Reverend F. Hamel were also passionate pipe smokers.

   Point 15. "The teacher has to keep the schoolroom clean and in the same room no pigs, geese, ducks, chickens, or other similar things can be kept which contaminate the air."  In the good old days there was no plaster and in the bad weather the children brought their lunches with them to school where they stayed from morning to evening. The lunch break is to take place on the grounds after instruction and may include bread, (Maleibrocken?), roast potatoes, sliced fruit, etc. With the poor salary of the schoolteacher this was virtually a supplementary income for him.   Then one or two pigs and his poultry stretch it out greatly.  But because he was also the school servant, it resulted that these useful domestic animals were allowed in the school classes, that wander over. 

   Point 19.  "He is never to beat the children in the church, by the music stand, or at a funeral."  Here it is noted that for the students in the higher grades, attendance at church service was still always mandatory.

   Point 22.  "In school detention he is not to be too strict or too lenient."  That was easier said than done.  But with 100 to 300 students the educational methods often would not be complete without brandishing the rod.

   Point 29.  "Schoolteachers are under the command of the preachers."

   Point 33.  "All schoolteachers are forbidden to go into the wine and beer houses, which in any case are only for travelers."  Guesthouses are necessary for travelers.  Very important!

   The dean will always be chosen for three years by the executive committee.  

From Years:

the Dean was

Pastor of


Josef Skultety



Carl Theod. Roth

Stari Vrbas


Paul Skultety



Ferdinand Hamel


   In the fall and spring the school hours were from 7 to 11 and from 1 to 5 o'clock.  In the winter hours are from 8 to 11 and from 1 to 4 o'clock.  The exams will be announced through a circular from the dean.  In 1834 the dean directed the following circulars to the teachers:

"Dear teachers!

   With the approaching spring familiarize yourselves with the definite time of the school exams which will be held on the following dates:

10th of March....A.M. in Kucura.

4th of April....A.M. in Feketitsch.

11th of March....A.M. in Torza.

7th of April....A.M. in Bajscha.

11th of March....A.M. for boys in Kisker.

8th of April....A.M. for young men in Crvenka

11th of March....P.M. for girls in Kisker.

8th of April....P.M. for young women in Crvenka

13th of March....A.M. in Novisad.

9th of April....A.M. in Novi Vrbas.

14th of March....A.M. in Jarek.

9th of April....P.M. in Stari Vrbas.

3rd of April....A.M. for young men in Sekitsch.

3rd of April....P.M. for young women in Sekitsch.

      I would still only make notice that you give the examination opportunity to show before the eyes of the world, as able and diligent students and it will be my duty to ensure that you oversee the fairness of the exams.

   Yours, dear teacher, sincere friend.

              Sekitsch, on the 26th of February 1834.

                               Josef Skultety e.h. the current dean.

     After the superintendent's visit; in 1836, received Reverend Johann Stehli from Petrovac, executive at the time (from 1832-52) of the gracious commission, issued the following order:

     1) The school time should be punctually kept; 2) The teachers should refrain from frequent departures and running around without requesting permission from the village pastor. 3)

 Intoxication and card playing are to be avoided; 4) The teacher should not instruct in the school with a covered head and pipe in mouth, etc. 5) The religion must always be the main objective of the instruction; for the remaining sciences this important necessity must also be carried forward.

   The most necessary are from reading, a number also learned the writing, quite a few even the math.  From the success of learning at the time of one school year we can make an impression if we look at the interesting data on the matter which are noted from the school year 1814-1815 in Torscha.*

From 174 students could: 





at the beginning of the school year





at the conclusion of school





    The reading was drilled with the spelling method by the old schoolmasters until the 70's.  An ABC book served as handbook, when the spelling went reasonably, the small catechism was carried out.  Progress came in the large catechism, best of all in the testament.  Reverend Georg Schwalm tells of spelling in the memory of his youth that in his ABC book the letters all stood in pairs like soldiers being drilled: ab, eb, ib, ob, ub; then reversed ba, be, bi, bo, bu; and so on through the whole alphabet to z.  These one must be able to recite by heart without error.  But this is hardly witchcraft.  "Ab" is shown in the book that it should be spelled: a-be=ab.  It was difficult to grasp why the "e" must be bitten off after the "a-be".  Instead of "ab" he has spelled "abe" and  he still only heard what it sounded like to the ear.  Modern teachers of the time used it in the verse: a-be=ab, (what ab?) Schneppkapp; i-en=in, (what in?) sin Läus' drin; be-a= Appenpappen; ce-ka= Eckendeckel = Pappendeckel, and so forth.

   It is interesting that many who could read could not learn the writing, they could merely read the printed word.  Writing was done on a slate with a piece of chalk.  With spit and elbows they were wiped off.  There were no pencils or steel pens in those days.  They used to write with a goose feather pen which the teacher cut.  The teacher prepared two pens.  Ink was made from inkberries and sand served to dry it up.  Since 1840 it was urged by the secular authorities that the so many hours spent on the Hungarian language be given up.  The first Hungarian signature to be found on this year was that of Baron Janos.  Our register from this year on was kept in the Hungarian language.

   Because of the civil unrest in 1849, no exams could be held.  The Hungarian rule was to end temporarily.

   In 1850 the upper echelon sent a circular which gave insight on the position of the teacher so now they would be aware of the secular side. 1) The salary and the perks of the teacher will be promptly paid. 2) Quarters also have to be provided with a small bedroom, cattle stall, and (Reterat?).

- undersigned in St. Futok on the 7th and 19th of July 1850 by Triphon Jojkovitsch c.h. District Commissar

*Reverend Peter Wack: Torscha 1934.

   It is noteworthy of the warning reminder of the "voluntary" contributions to the teachers of the high school (Vrbas Gymnasium) that payments in arrears should be paid up as soon as possible so the unpleasant installments could be prevented (1838).  This high school existed since 1822.  The administrator frequently announced for the well-educated teachers to consult with him to be relieved of the tax on their voluntary contributions.  When it was considered that the village teacher may not leave without the permission of the preacher, the good advice to the miserably paid teacher would have been expensive, then the average would be a contribution of 10 Florint in Viennese currency, that is a 4 Florint decrease in Austrian currency for the teacher.  In 1857 there were 20 German Evangelical teachers in the executive committee, which had also kept one old blind colleague while they catered to him monthly.  From 1859 on they started to have two exams a year.  For example, in Feketitsch the exams were on the 2nd of February and the 19th of June 1859.  But after a few years it was again back to the old way everywhere. - There were already sample handwritings in the old times.  The sample handwritings were carried out shortly before the exams.  Beautiful lined cardboard sheets were used for it.  Here attention was paid to write down the prescribed text if at all possible in a beautiful way.  They paid the price in sweat  and if one made a mess of his paper in the excitement, that was a misfortune of the first degree.  The two Kreuzer that the paper cost was marked off and in the bargain the student must put up with the anger of the teacher.  Occasionally at the examinations these sample writings were shown off.  With the nationalization of the schools they got away from sample writings.

   The schools were better equipped with teaching aids. Around the turn of the century besides the ABC slates there were illustrative pictures of the walls, maps, globes, physical aids, and a library at one's disposal.  For these provisions the comitat's school inspector, who carried out even greater supervision and rules, contributed much, especially since the teaching positions were already provided considerable assistance from the state.

   The use of the Hungarian language in instruction continued to increase after the year 1868, but especially since 1900.  The excellent Lackner'sche "German reader" which also contained the necessary geography, history, natural science, etc. served as textbook from 1880 to 1905.

   The schools, although state supported, were denominational schools, of which 29 school ordnances continued to exist, although these were only rights the schoolmasters should have had to cover themselves 100 years ago.

   The coup in 1918 was also promptly noticed.  Already on the 16th of November 1918 a reply came according to which the Hungarian language would not be stipulated in the first and second grades but rather would be instructed in the mother tongue. - In 1919 the Serbian school laws of 1904 were extended to Vojvodina.  On the 10th of October 1920 the congregation brought the resolution that "in the matter of the reply of the Batschka school inspectors under number 5200/1920 and the ordnance of the Minister of Prosvete for the Batschka, page number 17967/1920, the Evangelical congregation were not in a position to procure the specified and necessary costs for the school, as their elementary school S.H.S. was handed over to the state."  The school wealth consisted only of 3 school halls with inventory and schoolyard.  At the same time the letter asked the inspectors and ministers to allow the congregation permission to have the church chancellery, which is under the same roof as the school building, available to them in the future."  The school inspector of the faculty would not promise such a thing.  The congregation did not receive it and they even surrendered the choirmaster's field that was much in demand.  On the contrary, the community demanded their choirmaster's apartment back, and received it again in 1936 but it threatened collapse, so they had to be supported and be in a legal position which demanded 15,000 Dinares.

    The schools today are state schools in which state appointed teachers give instruction. The Evangelical and German Reformed children go together in the German section of the school.  The German children were taught in four groups at the time.  1st and 2nd grades, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th and 6th grades.

     Of the four teachers three professed to be German.  There was Julius Pratscher; Richard Klein, born in Vrbas; and Andreas Hofmeister, born in Belje.  In the first grade the children learned to read and write in the mother tongue with Gothic letters; in the second grade the students learned the Cyrillic and Croatian letters.  It is no wonder that this great variety of letters were sometimes confused because they meant a huge load for the students.  The school building and the inventory found in it are the property of the congregation.  The school Julius Pratscher community paid a much too small lease of 60 Dinar for its use.

    Teacher and The school director is a teacher.  The school inspector is likewise a specialist, Choirmaster a teacher.  The earlier theologians and jurists have separated from these positions and today it is taken for granted that the instructors are experts only in teaching.

The number of students in  






























The number of all of the German Students in  





   It is noticed that in 1829 during examinations 49 Kreuzer were distributed  to the students.  In 1831, 68 'Semle' were purchased for the children for about 2 Florint, 16 Kreuzer = 136 Kreuzer from which they purchased for themselves a roll which had cost 2 Kreuzer.  Soon the baker in Sekitsch received 5 Florint, 20 Kreuzer "für Semle".  The custom of the examination roll is over 100 years old and it had gladdened the hearts of so many children and should do so in the future.  

Andreas Hofmeister


   Students of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades in the Evangelical school on November 3rd, 1896.

   Row 1: Joh. Lutz, Fritz Fetzer, Karl Gutwein, Peter Schwebler, Joh. Freund, Joh. Dietrich, Ph. Bittlingmayer, Joh. Pratscher, Joh. Lutz, G. Meßik, Karl Häußer, Peter Häußer, Chr. Bender, G. Karbiener.

   Row 2: Mich. Hinkel, Jakob Schwindt, Heinr. Butscher, Nik. Dietrich, Ph. Scheer, A. Baschawerk, Chr. Kaiper, Jak. Morell, F. Wagner, Chr. Anschüß, A. Müller, Peter Geyer.

   Row 3: Fritz Dietrich, Jak. Brückner, Georg Egner, Peter Ziegler, Jak. Brandt, Ludwig Roth, Chr. Fetzer, Georg Gutwein, P. Ortag, J. Ludmann, Peter Krebs, Gottfried Howe.

   Rowe 4. A. Liebersperger, Heinrich Kloß, A. Bechtler, G. Baschawerk, L. Morell, Jak. Fritz, Julius Pratscher, A. Häußer, G. Schwebler, Ph. Poleratzki, A. Scheer, H. Gutwein, Elis. Gutwein.

   Row 5: Kath. Scheer, Kath. Geist, Chr. Häußer, Elis. Schäfer, Kath. Lutz, Dor. Scheer, Elis. Dietrich, Marg. Gerber, Chr. Hellermann, Elis. Welker, Kath. Lehr, Bar. Geist, Ther. Heck, Elis. Müller.

   Row 6: Kath. Häußer, Sof. Ziegler, Maria Häußer, Chr. Bender, Ther. Schübler, Magd. Bittlingmayer, Elis. Schwaner, Ther. Roth, Elis. Spies, Sofia Stengel, Marg. Leibersperger, Kath. Gutwein.

   Row 7: Dor. Egner, Dor. Fritz, K. Gerber, K. Bechtler, Elis. Müller, K. Fetzer, teacher Wilhelm Pratscher, K. Pratscher, K. Dietrich, K. Thiel, Theresia Ziegler, Marg. Balk, G. Glock, Sus. Scholl, K. Freund.

The students of the 3rd & 4th Grades in 1896

   The children were just the opposite of today's in style of dress in that they were very plainly dressed.  The mother sewed the clothes herself by hand and the siblings, often 8 to 10 in number, inherited these clothes from each other and handed them down as well as the slate, hymnal, Bible, and catechism.  Poor children received these books from the congregation as a gift.  A (Schleh) rifle? was the greatest desire of the boys.  The pastor did not even have a leather pouch or a briefcase.

   The kindergarten existed since 1896.

The political community put up a beautiful new building for this purpose in 1905.  The imposing building had two teaching halls and an apartment with neighboring buildings.  Instruction was done at the time in three languages.  The state appointed kindergarten teacher is Elisabetha Bachmann. 

   The youths who have outgrown school have to go to the so-called repeat school on weekday afternoons and before the Sunday church service for two hours.  Later this instruction took place on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons instead.  The congregation would provide a teacher for the lessons and pay 140 Kronen a year for it.  Lesson time lasted from Kirchweih to Easter.  After the nationalization of the schools, the school community kept the repeat school upright and paid the appropriate hourly fee.  Since 1930 the elementary school has had eight grades instead of six.  Because of the shortage of teaching space and teaching staff this law was not executed.  Eventually the age required to be in school was raised to 14 years old.  But if a child completed the sixth grade sooner, he had completed enough of his school requirements.  Since 1930, the school age began not at the sixth but at the seventh year of life.

Repeat school doesn't exist anymore.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]

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