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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 51 dtd 31 Jan 1999 (edited)
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:09:48 EDT

(issued biweekly by )
JANUARY 31, 1999
(all rights reserved)
"Only a genealogist regards a step backwards as progress."

This first section of the 3 section newsletter contains historical material
concerning the villages of Rudersdorf and Dobersdorf, Origins of
Szentpeterfa, Hungary, continuation of Emigration Articles From The
Volksfreund (5 of 5) and A Long Return Home, the story of one immigrant's
long journey.

VILLAGES OF RUDERSDORF & DOBERSDORF (from the Father Leser Series, Extracts &
Translations by Burgenland Editor Albert Schuch)

50) Rudersdorf
Around 1600, possible settlement by expelled Styrian Lutherans. Families
listed in 1750 Urbarium: 17 BAUER; 7 BRUNNER, SCHNECKER, KNIG; 6 UNGER; 5
Fires in 1857 and 1863 (with 20-30 burned houses). Number of inhabitants:
1802: 618 Catholics, 230 Lutherans; 1832: 1030 C, 206 L; 1856: 930 C, 230 L;
1930: 1234 C, 323 L. Catholics belonged to Deutsch Kaltenbrunn parish until
1928, have their own parish since this year. Catholic teachers: Michael KNIG
(-1872), Andreas SCHLGEL (1872-74), Josef NIKO (1874-1907), Matthias
TOMSCHITSCH (1907-14), Alois POPP (1914-30), in 1930 also Elisabeth MODLY and
Otto ROTH. Lutherans belong to Eltendorf parish since 1783. Lutheran
teachers: Johann ERNST (1886-93), Johann KARNER (1893-1930). Dr. Medardus
Josef KOHL, born 5 Nov 1859 in Rudersdorf # 5 became a bishop in Hungary. The
establishment of an independent Catholic parish was only made possible by his
donations. He died in 1928. (source: V+H Nr. 3-4/1959)

51) Dobersdorf
Possible settlement of expelled Styrian Lutherans around 1600 (from
Families listed in the 1750-Urbarium: 6 LEITGEB; 5 TALKNER; 4 UNGER, WAGNER;
(Catholic) teachers: Matthias TAUCHER (1777, born in Litzelsdorf); Georg
GODHARD (1788), Bartholomus PEHM (1812), PERGER (1817), Matthias
SEIDENSCHMIED (died 1824), Matthias BISCHOF (1826-32), Johann BERGER (1858),
Karl WEHOFSITS (1863-72), BABITS, Johann BISCHOF, Johann FANDL (1884-1922),
Franz ZOTTER (1923-30; from Knigsdorf); second teachers: Franz THALER
(1909-20), Florian KNAUS (1920-23), Georg SAGMEISTER (1923-30). (source: V+H
Nr. 4/1959)

Croatian Corresponding Editor Frank Teklits)

The following information can be added to the growing base of material
concerning Szentpeterfa. Perhaps over time, with the continuing effort of
many others, it may someday be possible to pinpoint an area, or perhaps a
village, within Croatia from which the ancestors of this village may have
emigrated. There are certain references from Dr. Dobrovichs text
Burgendlandische Forshungen, which is in the process of being translated,
that mention specific areas of Croatia from which our ancestors may have
migrated into Burgenland. For the most part, these references have been
shared in the past with other BB members who are interested in the town of
Szentpeterfa, also known as Prostrum, and Petrovo Selo.

Some of the more salient references taken from Prof. Dobrovichs text follow:
We can distinguish five groups of settlements in the space of the former
Domains of Gussing, Eberau, and Kormend among the old homesteads of the
Croatians settled in the 16th century. Most Croatian villages were situated
and are still situated today in the center of the Strem Valley up to the
small Hungarian town named Kormend. Besides these, there are still three
smaller and one larger group of settlements. The sources for (including)
these settlements are:

Outline from the History of Gussing up to the End of the 16th century by
Zimanyi Vera; Burgenland Research, Eisenstadt, 1963; The Settlement of the
District of Gussing, by J. Schwarz, Graz 1951; The Croatian Settlement in the
Southeast German Border Area, Vienna 1949; the Conscriptio (tax records owed
to the King) of the Eberau Domain of 1617; the Urbar of the Gussing Domain of
1635 and occasional Zehentverzeichnisse (a tenth part of the harvest tax
register) of the County of Eisenburg of 1563. The following pure or
predominantly Croatian villages were in neighboring Hungary: Kroatisch
Schutzen, Prostrum, Kroatisch Nadalja, Harasztifalu, Berkifalu, and Gross
Kulken, all together a total of 6 villages.

Prostrum and Grosskulken were predominantly Croatian in 1698. The Urbar of
1603 from Kormend shows the localities of Kroatisch Nadalja, Berkifalu, and
Harasztifalu to be founded solely by Croatians. The first Croats of these
villages came from the region of Moslavina, Roviste, Raca, and Koprivnica,
and were settled here after 1545 by the Erdody family. A second group came
between 1557 and 1561. After the fall of Kostajnica, Nicholas Zrinyi led the
move from his Estates into this region also. The traces of these Croats
settled by Zrinyi in the Domain of (Vep) Weppendorf from 1557 until 1561 have
been totally obscured. We know nothing of

Peter Erdody completed an agreement with Nicholas Zrinyi on February 12,
1557, in which the Zrinyi Domains of Eberau, Rotenturm and Csatar in the
County of Zala were transferred in exchange for the Castle of Medvedgrad near
Zagreb (Agram) and Rakonok (Rakovac) in the Slavonian county of Kreuz
(Krizevci). The royal Curia decided in 1612 that the heirs of Zrinyi had to
transfer the Domains of Eberau and Rotenturm, and all accessories to the
Erdody family in return for the castles of Medvedgrad and Rakonok, plus a
payment of 12,000 florins redeeming an old loan.

Erdody had already settled Croats in the Domains of Rotenturm and Eberau
from the area of Moslavina, and several years later from the territories of
Roviste, Raca, and Kopreinitz.Nicholas Zrinyi, his successor, led his
Croats from Slavonia in 1557 - 1561 to the Estates of Eberau, Rotenturm and
Vep (in Hungary). These were from the area of Kostajnica and Hrastovica. A
direct, and poignant, reference is made to Petrovo Selo in the following
footnote: In the Chapter The Immigration of our Croats into todays
Burgenland and in the Neighboring Lands, we said, that the population of
Kostainica migrated as far as Hrastovica (a community around Petrinje) after
the surrender of Kostainica in the year 1556. The villages of Hrastovica and
Petrovo Selo point towards the old home town.

Teklits Note: The village of Hrastovica is located approximately 15 km west
north west of Kostainica suggesting the flight of the Croats from the Turks
in the general direction of Zagreb. A Croatian village named Stari (Old)
Petrovo Selo is located approximately 35 km. due east of Kostainica. Another
Croatian village with the name of Licko Petrovo Selo is located 60 km. west
south west of Zagreb. In the course of recent weeks, several messages
containing relevant information pertaining to Szentpeterfa have been received
from members of the BB. In June 1998, I wrote to Fr. Johann Schneller, the
Pastor of Szentpeterfa, asking him for the earliest dated church records in
his parish, whether his parish was a Filiale, and if so, what was the name of
the Host Church, and does that church have records dating back prior to 1682.
While waiting for a response, a source with strong familial connections to
Szentpeterfa provided the following information:

I got some great news for you. My Uncle Andy told me that during the St.
Peter & Paul Churchs (Ed note: in Szentpeterfa) 750th anniversary
celebration that was held at Petrovo Selo (Ed Note: Croatian name for
Szentpeterfa) in 1996, a priest from Austria mentioned that before Petrovo
Selo had its own priest (before circa 1650), the priest would periodically
visit fromEberau, Austria (located 1.5 kilometers
away from Petrovo Selo.) I was told that if a child was to be christened, the
parents would have to take that child to Eberau, or wait until the priest
came to visit Petrovo Selo. This information was shared with Fr. Reicher,
Matthew Kurtz, (fellow BB members) and Judith Garger, a recent immigrant from
Szentpeterfa. Shortly after receiving this information, Fr. Reicher, a member
of the BB, received the following information from a meeting with Fr.
Schneller in Burgenland:

After the market we drove to Horvatlovo-Krowatischschuetzen to meet with
Ferencz and Maria Schneller. Fery is the brother of Johann Schneller, the
priest from Szentpeterfa. We had an enormous dinner there and after lunch Fr.
Johann came by. We had a very nice conversation with him and I tried to ask
him about some of your concerns and questions. The original church in the
area, built around 1221, withstood a siege by Tartars in 1245, but was
heavily damaged. The churches in this area were originally a part of the
Salzburg diocese. That does make some sense since on Lake Bled in Slovenia
there is a large palace that belonged to the Archbishop of Salzburg,
overlooking the lake. According to Fr Schneller, Croatians made their first
appearance in this area about 450 years ago. The present St. Peter church was
built by a knight by the name of Berchtold Ellerbach around 1475. It was a
gothic structure, primarily stone, but with a wooden nave. The church in
town, dedicated to St. Stephen, is of much more recent origin, only about 150
years old. In 1735 St. Peter suffered a fire and the wooden portion was
destroyed. Rebuilding started and that is when the rebuilt section took on
its present baroque style. Incidentally the altar in the church was from a
convent closed by Joseph II. You know that Emperor Joseph secularized a lot
of church property and closed monasteries and convents, prompting a visit to
Vienna by the Pope of that time. Over the last number of years Fr. Schneller
has been slowly renovating this ancient church. He has done a magnificent
job. According to Fr. Schneller, the parish of St. Peter, has never been a
filiale. It has always been selbststaendig, the principal church in the area,
being responsible for the surrounding parishes in Eberau, St. Kathrein, Kulm,
etc. However, he did say that for a time Eberau was the political center of
the area. Perhaps that might be the origin of the thought that Eberau was
also the church center of the area. Fr. Schneller mentioned that he has
records dating back to 1681. (That is one year earlier than your estimate,
but obviously you you are both on the same page).

The aristocrat Berchtold Ellerbach founded a monastery in 1460 or 1473 in
Kulm. His widow Barbara and sons Johann and Stefan, who made the monastery a
valued property gift, completed the building in 1482. The monastery also
found other benefactors. On February 5, 1558 Nicholas Zrinyi and Peter Erdody
destroyed the cloister and acquired its possessions. On August 14, 1559, the
General of the Order of St. Paul complained that Nicholas Zrinyi and Peter
Erdody had torn down the Monastery of Kulm and confiscated its property. The
general also complained that he had been forced to sell Hagensdorf, because
Zrinyi threatened to kill him."

I forwarded this information to Matthew Kurtz who provided the following
substantive input, with minor editing on my part:
Recently I was at a party where Andy Skrapits was present. He told me the
story, that his nephew Joe Skrapits contacted someone in Croatia by Internet,
and found out, that around Sebenica (Sibenic) Croatia on the Adriatic sea
there is a small place, where people call themselves Skrapich-es . There is
a high probability that Skrapits-es in Szentpeterfa migrated from that place.
If this happens to be true, that supports the idea that the Croats in
Petrovo-Selo did not come from one place, but rather from various places.
They settled down in Szentpeterfa, perhaps with a Croatian speaking priest.
The Church in Szentpeterfa was always the Mater (Mother, Main) Church, and
also had Filiale-es (Ed Note: a Filiale is a subsidiary church, referred to
in the US as a Mission Church.) These Filiales were: Monyorokerek (Eberau),
Kolom (Kulm), Tothfalu (Faluba)(Winten), Szent Katalin, Horvathasas
(Kroatische Ehrensdorf), Hovardos (Harmisch) Pokolfalu, and Abdaloc
(Eisenberg). In 1804 Szent Katalin established their own parish with the
following Filiales: Abdaloc, Hovardos and Horvat-Hasas. From this time
forward, these villages were no longer Filiales to Szentpeterfa. In 1905
Monyorokerek (Eberau) become an independent parish, and from this point in
time, Szentpeterfa no longer had any Filiales. Uncle Andy probably confused
the Church Registry with the Civic Registry. The Church Registry was always
in Szentpeterfa. A priest from Szentpeterfa said a Mass in Szentpeterfa, in
Monyorokerek (Eberau), and on high holy days in Szent Katalin. The Civic
Town Clerk was located in Monyorokerek (Eberau) until the participation of
Hungary. When Eberau become part of Burgenland Austria. (I remember around
1930 when a couple went together to Eberau to get a Civic birth certificate,
that it was the first sign that they planned to get married). The Eberau
fortress (castle) has an interesting story. When the Croats settled in
Szentpeterfa, most of them at that time were illiterate, so they translated
the surrounding village names into their own dialect. For example,
Szombathely became known as Sambatel, Kormend as Kermend, Kertes as Kartezs,
Saroslak as Sereslak, etc. There were two exceptions: Szentpeterfa was
translated from Hungarian to Croatian as Petrovo-Selo; Monyorokerek (Eberau)
was translated not by hearing, but rather from sight. The fortress (castle)
was visible from Szentpeterfa by naked eyes, so they started to call it
Varos, and until today, it is still called Varos. Var means in Hungarian
Fortress-Castle. The reason why (there are) church records prior to 1681
remains to be determined. Attempts will be made to contact Fr. Schneller via
familial connections living in Szentpeterfa. It is vital to establish the
whereabouts of these records, as they would most probably contain references
to theCroatian villages from which they emigrated.

The small towns of Guttenbach, St. Kathrein and Harmisch already existed
before the settlement of the Croats and are newly Croatian. The Konskription
(tax records owed to the King) of Eberau from the year 1617 says that St.
Kathrein is virtually Croatian. Harmisch was purely Croatian in the years
1698 and 1720. Two small towns on the right-bank of the River Pinka are
mentioned which were Croatian according to Visitation from 1698. These are
Edlitz and Kulm that were newly founded by Croats. Kroatisch-Schutzen,
situated east of Deutsch Schutzen, and located on the Hungarian side, was
almost entirely Croatian. Five Croatian villages, Prostrum, Grosskulken,
Kroatisch-Nadalja, Berkifalu and Harasztifalu, are situated in Hungary close
to the border with Burgenland.

(Ed. Note: this is the last of the emigration articles written for the
Szombathely "Volksfreund" at the turn of the century by Adolf Knigshofer.
Adolf was the school teacher in Poppendorf as well as a contributing
columnist. He was a learned man of much erudition who recorded the tempo of
the unsettled emigration years. Of immense interest to me is the fact that he
succeeded my own g-grandfather Emil Langasch as school teacher of this
village. The articles were found in the National Library in Budapest,
extracted and translated by Adolf's great-grandson, our Austrian Contributing
Editor, Fritz Knigshofer. We owe Fritz a lot of thanks for his efforts and
for sharing them with us. These articles portray both the hope and pathos of
the Burgenland "Auswanderung" in a way that is as clear to us today, one
hundred years later, as it was to our ancestors. I wish more of these
articles existed but we are fortunate that these have survived.)

Fritz writes: Gerry, as I had already written to you, this was the last
article Adolf wrote about the subject of emigration. The reason why he gave
up writing on his previously pre-eminent subject of interest might have been
the fact that in about 1908 or 1909, one of his own children, second-born
Adelheid, had left for the United States. As Adolf had described in his
earlier articles, she married almost as soon as she had settled in the
Milwaukee area, and as he had most likely feared (and also written about
before), she never returned to see her father and home soil again. Adelheid,
married Schmitz, died in 1912, after giving birth to two daughters, Marie and
Adeline. In 1914, the third-born child Emery also emigrated and settled in
Allentown. Best regards, Fritz.

>From Der Volksfreund, 27 February 1909, page 4:
A Woman's Odyssey.
"Several years ago, a healthy and strong man emigrated from the Lafnitz
valley to America. He had been blessed with many children, but his farm was
small. Therefore, he had taken the walking stick in his hands and had left,
with the goal to better fend for his family from (by going to) America. Year
upon year, he took on the heaviest labors, faced the great heat at the blast
furnaces, so that his hands started to look like they were seared.
Diligently, he frequently sent money, and yet more money, back to his loved
ones; from these remittals, his wife paid the debts and cared for the little
ones. However, man gets old, body strength lessens, and this also happened
to our poor emigrant. The money transfers became smaller, because he was no
longer able to earn as much as before.

At this point, he decided to take a daring step, namely, to let his family
join him in America. The mother and the 5 children went on the long journey
to the United States. It needs to be mentioned that one of the children was
a 15 year old cripple who was unable to stand on his legs; this one was also
taken on the journey. Dear reader, please just think about the boundless
love of the mother!

They all arrived safely in Wien (Vienna) where the marching instructions were
given to them. They traveled by train, reaching Hamburg without a hitch.
There they boarded a freighter that took them to Liverpool (England), from
where they traveled over the wide ocean to America on another freighter.

At arrival, they found themselves unable to understand anybody. They faced
the greatest hardships, hunger and thirst. Someone tried to smuggle them
into the United States, but the attempt failed. One day, they once again had
to board a ship, not knowing where it was headed. For God's sake, the woman
thought, will I ever see my husband? Off they sailed, again through many
nights and through fog, until the ship one day stopped in a harbor; they had
arrived in the Republic of Virginia (South America) [sic]. (Obviously the
southern part of America was meant).

'In this harbor city' (Norfolk?)-- she told -- 'there were only black people,
and once again, not a soul who would have understood me. Therefore, I stayed
with my children on the ship. Only once I visited the town, where I could
see heaps of melons, oranges, figs, etc., and where the heat was so huge that
it was unbearable. Otherwise I was not afraid, except for the fear of us
being sold to somebody somewhere. Then, one day out of the blue, a gentleman
came on the ship and asked me in best German whether I am this or that
person. When this man talked to me in German, I began to weep and cry of
joy, and I cannot even recall anymore in detail what I had felt at that
moment. It had been the first time since leaving Hamburg that I had heard

'Dear lady', said the man, 'don't cry. You will see your husband shortly.
You come with me on a New York pleasure steamer where you will have a cabin.
Please just stay quiet with your children. When we arrive in New York, you
follow me. I will take you to an inn, where you can await the arrival of
your husband.'

'And so it went. After a long sailing, we moved into New York, without
anybody having touched or harmed me; my husband was called to me by
telephone, and the joy of reunion was an immense and happy one. Within short
time, we had completely recovered from the 3 months of journey, but I must
say that I had endured much pain and hurt, especially with my poor sick

Meanwhile, some more years have passed, and today the family is back in their
old home country, experiencing again the pains and joys as before the
emigration. A few of their children are buried in foreign soil, but the poor
cripple rests in a grave in his native country." [end of series]

A LONG RETURN HOME (by G. Berghold)
Having read the Volksfreund emigration articles with their mention of returns
to the Burgenland I'm reminded of a strange case I experienced while growing
up in Allentown, PA. My grandmother Hedwig Mhl Sorger and her twin sister
Fannie Mhl Wallitsch Holzer emigrated in 1905 with their mother Johanna
Pltl Mhl from Gssing. After the death of her first husband Sam Wallitsch,
Fannie and her second husband Charles Holzer had the West End Hotel at the
corner of Ruch & Oak Streets in Stiles, PA (West Coplay) north of Allentown.
We visited often. The property was very nice, a large Victorian building with
side porches, and an old carriage house barn, surrounded by landscaped
grounds. "Aunt Fannie" and "Uncle Charlie" were favorite relatives who filled
us kids with draft birch beer, bar pretzels and other goodies. Stiles was the
home of many Burgenland immigrants, most of whom worked in the cement mills
and frequented the hotel. One such immigrant was a man whose family was still
in the Burgenland. His name was Charlie Nikles and he emigrated some time in
the 1920's or early 1930's. He was something of a local character but a
reliable worker at the cement plant. He sent money home to his family and
lived rather rough, the local men having built him a cabin (some called it a
shack). When not working he could be found at the Hotel, occupying a corner
of the bar where he would greet all and sundry. My great aunt saw to it that
he ate well and that he kept himself presentable. He had much respect for her
and was something of a hotel fixture.

The years flew by, the old people passed on and the Hotel changed hands.
Charlie became eligible for Social Security after WWII and while I don't
know the details, with help from the locals he finally returned to southern
Burgenland where we were told his wife still awaited him after so many years.

There was a strange aftermath. My second cousin Raymond and his father Adolf
Burkhardt (he and his wife Hilda had become owners of the Hotel) took a trip
to southern Burgenland in the 1950's to see the village where Adolf was born
(Klein Mrbisch). Adolph had emigrated as young child. While driving into a
village, who should they see but Charlie Nikles, neatly attired, stolling
down the street at mid day, apparently without a care in the world.. They
called out "wo ist die Coplay Mnnerchor" (where is the Coplay men's club?).
He replied "muss Coplay, Amerika gehen" (you must go to Coplay, America).
They laughed and he recognized them, was astounded to see them and invited
them to his home. When they asked him about his wife, he said "She's out in
the fields-she must work! (Sie muss schaufen) ". Just one of the many stories
from the Auswanderung, sad in some respects yet with a happy ending.
(Newsletter continued as number 51A)

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