Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 1999-07 > 0931436008

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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 54A dtd 31 Mar 1999 (edited)
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:13:28 EDT

(issued biweekly by
March 31, 1999
(all rights reserved)

This second section of the 3 section newsletter contains Translation of an
Article Appearing in the Feb. 17 Edition of the Oberwart Zeitung,
German-Hungarian Terms For Farmer and Beginning Your Burgenland Search -Part

(by Albert Schuch)
(ED. NOTE:-the following translation of an article recently published in the
Austrian weekly newspaper "Oberwart Zeitung" was presented to me at a dinner
given by my cousin and BB member Klaus Gerger in Vienna during our recent
visit. Albert and his sister Inge were also present. The article was written
by Albert and translated by Inge. I was very pleased and felt like a

Tracing the Steps of Forefathers and Tracking Down Relatives
Gerry Berghold, born 1930 in Allentown, PA, as a second-generation American
of Burgenland descent, is now retired from a successful career and living in
the town of Winchester, VA. Once free from the demands of his job, he got
serious about trying to find out more about his family roots in
Burgenland-and, tapping into the vast resources of the Internet, quickly came
across a bunch of like minded people.

At the beginning of 1997, the contacts Gerry had thus established led to the
formation of a group which he named the Burgenland Bunch. From an initial
dozen members, the Burgenland Bunch has since grown to an institution with
close to 300 members. Quite a few members were first drawn to the group by
their genealogical interests, only to find their interests widened to bigger
issues of the history and culture of the regions of Burgenland and Western

Every other week the members receive a newsletter, brimming with genealogical
and historical information, translation hints for Church and government
documents, news on recent book and music releases, and the like.

The homepage of the Burgenland Bunch
(http:www.spacestar.com/users/hapander/burgen.html), which is administered by
Leslie "Hap" Anderson (Minneapolis), among other things features a list of
all members, with a list of their family names and the regions in Burgenland
where they originally came from. Most of the members are U. S. citizens, but
there are also a number of Burgenlanders that have signed up, and there are
some Canadians, British, Australian, Hungarian and Israeli.

Thanks to the Burgenland Bunch, paths that diverged long ago have crossed
again, and one or the other member has actually managed to find "new"
relatives through the channels of the group. Not all members have personal
relations to Burgenland, though; there are some who have joined for purely
academic reasons.

To find out more, just visit the group's website. And do not hesitate to get
in touch with Gerry Berghold-he loves to get e-mails from Burgenland.

Should you wish to contact him right now, you will, however, get no answer
until the beginning of March. At the moment Gerry is taking some time off,
celebrating his 45th wedding anniversary with his wife Molly-in Austria, of

<< In researching LDS films of Burgenland (Pilgersdorf), there are several
terms which seem to mean "farmer". I wondered if there is some distinction
among these terms. The terms are "fldmvel", "jobbagy" and "zseller". Can
you enlighten me and other readers of the Burgenland Bunch News? Gerry
Stifter >>

Answer: In translating these terms we must remember that they reflect
conditions in a particular time peroiod. 1848 was the date which forever
changed the relationships between the common people and the aristocracy.
After 1848, it was common for tenants to own their own land and many feudal
concepts no longer prevailed. I'd also suggest digging through our archives
for previous articles on the subject by members like Albert Schuch, Fritz
Knigshofer and Bob Schatz. Newsletters 52 and 52B also have some material.

"fldmvel" is of course Hungarian and various translations for the noun are
given such as cultivator or ploughman-"fldmves" also is defined as a tiller
of the soil, farmer, husbandman. I'd translate this (post 1848 term?) as
someone who operates a farm which he either owns outright or as a tenant, but
who has the right to make decisions. Like a British "yeoman". He may have
"jobbagy" or "zseller" types of his own working for him.

"jobbagy" is also Hungarian and refers to a serf or bondsman, feudal tenant.
This is a (pre 1848? term?) commoner, usually a day laborer working on
someone elses land. A persom "tied" to a particular manor. It may also refer
to "status" as well as "occupation". Fritz Knigshofer says:

On your question, I always thought that jobbagyi meant "commoner" but I think
you are right that it was used in the sense of "Untertan" and thus gradually
went into disuse after 1848 (though I think this was decades after 1848). I
believe the term was more or less replaced by "nemtelen" the real equivalent
of "commoner."

Bob Schatz says: Reading Fritz's query about the Hungarian Fo"ldmo"ves for
"farmer" triggered more thoughts about pre- and post '48 terminology. I'm
wondering if we should include in your essay the Hungarian term Jobbagy
(plural: Jobbagyok), which was used in the pre-1848 records to indicate a
peasant farmer/manorial tenant (today I believe this word is used pretty much
like our English farmer). Along with Fritz, I have also noticed in my
research that Jobbagy was little used after 1848, and instead was replaced by
Fo"ldmo"ves. I'm just speculating here, but Jobbagy may have had such strong
manorial implications that it became undesirable to apply it to the now-freed
peasantry. Perhaps someone might know a professor of the Hungarian language
who could shed light on this?

"zseller" is also Hungarian and is defined as a "cotter", a peasant or farm
laborer who occupies a cottage and small holding of land in return for
services. This person would work directly for the landowner on a purely
"robot" bais. An English equivalent (also found in the US) is the person who
gets the use of a house as well as pay on the farm of a yeoman or large
estate in return for being a "hired man". Many also tilled garden plots for
their own use.

Fritz says more: Your article would be very welcome. It does not need to be
complete to be useful. These farmer statuses and words are not my ballpark,
and I have never even noticed that the names used changed according to pre-
or post-1848, and pre- or post-Komassierung (the break up of the aristocratic
holdings after 1848). Let me just throw in what I encountered and, if you or
anyone in our group could place the words, could be appropriately included in
the article. Obviously, in our matrikel search, for the Burgenland we mostly
encounter Latin or Hungarian terms, rarely German ones.

1. Especially older Hungarian matrikels often use the Latin term colonus
which I always thought translates to farmer. A translation to Sllner
(zsellr) is unfamiliar to me. Sometimes the term "neocolonus" [farmer of
newly cleared land?] is also encountered. Gerry might well be right, though,
with translating it to Sllner, as I would not know a Latin term for the
latter anyway... which only now I notice is quite odd. However, my Latin
dictionary translates colonus to peasant and/or farmer, which would look
similar to the Hungarian fldmves, see point 3.

2. Let's not forget the Latin term octavalista which was encountered in
matrikels of the Northern Burgenland and discussed by us, though we cannot
yet be 100% sure whether it already describes a farmer (with 1/8th of a
sessio... Albert was lately leaning to this explanantion), or a cotter
[Sllner, Hungarian term, I believe, is zsellr].
3. Especially newer records (late 19th century) often use the term
"fldmves" or "fldmives." In fact, I am just looking over the death
records of the Eltendorf civil office, and the most frequent status there
appears to be "fldmves." My dictionary has two translations, namely (a)
farmhand ("Knecht" in German), and (b) farmer (Hungarian term: gazda). I
really would like to know the meaning of fldmves in the context of the late
church and early civil records of the Southern Burgenland. I have translated
the term into the English "peasant" which also seems to convey the dual
connotation of small farmer and farmhand. We do not really have an
equivalent in the German language... perhaps "Landmann," but this term is
relatively close to the term Bauer.

4. There is also the Hungarian word "birtokos" which, I believe, sometimes
was used to describe a farmer. In my dictionary, the term translates to
"property owner," but let's not forget that the political party of the
"smallholders" (in the sense of "Kleinlandwirte" or small farmers) has
"kisbirtokos" as the Hungarian word in its name.

5. I am not sure about famulus (servant?) and napszmos [sic] (day-laborer).
Under the term "Landarbeiter," my German Brockhaus encyclopedia states that
historically there were three categories, namely (a) Knechte and Mgde who
belonged to the semi-permanent staff of a farm receiving subsistence and a
small remuneration, (b) Deputanten (a term unfamiliar to me, meaning members
of the farm household receiving remuneration only in form of naturalia, and
(c) day-laborers, engaged only when work needed to be done.

6. Within the BB, we have consistently called people with their own houses
but little land by the German term Sllner. In Styria, alternative German
terms used are Keuschler or Husler, the latter perhaps representing the most
widely and commonly used term in German lands. I believe it translates to
the Hungarian word zsellr, English translation cottar or cotter???

7. In my own research, I have not consciously encountered the term paraszt,
therefore, I wonder how much the term was in use and in which regions.
However, my dictionary clearly translates the word to peasant or countryman.

This is a discussion I truly enjoy, yet I hope that Gerry will cut through
the uncertainties we will hardly put to rest, and actually print his summary
in whatever state he will leave it for the moment. On your question, I always
thought that jobbagyi meant "commoner" but I think you are right that it was
used in the sense of "Untertan" and thus gradually went into disuse after
1848 (though I think this was decades after 1848). I believe the term was
more or less replaced by "nemtelen" the real equivalent of "commoner."

Since I have done some searching in Styrian records, most of them being in
German language, I briefly reviewed my notes from these searches.
Accordingly, I believe that farmers were always or mostly called "Bauer" in
the German language. However, for the category with no or little land,
various terms were used, and I am not sure if there are distinctions. There
was Sllner/Slner/Sldner, then Keuschler, and also Husler. The term
"Bergler" was also used, perhaps meaning the owner of a house without much
land in the hills or mountains. I noticed also a term "Hofstttler" and
wonder how Albert would classify this term (in this case I have no idea at

I believe that in older times (before 1800?) there was a classification as
various "-holden" in the meaning perhaps of "Untertan" such as "Berghold" as
an Untertan living in the mountains, "Vogthold" as the Untertan of a Vogtei
(the lowest class of overlord). Clearly, it seems to me, the concept of
people being "beholden" to someone (-hold has the sense of Untertan but also
of being protected by) came out of use in the 19th century. Today, you can't
even find the word in most historical dictionaries, let alone current ones.

Newsletters 47, 48 and 51A provided guidance for locating your family
village, finding the church records and translating the data. This part
explains how to use civil records.

Beginning in the 1500's (the period following the Council of Trent in the
last half of the 1500's), the Roman Catholic Church issued a decree requiring
parish priests to record baptisms; soon followed by marriage and death
records. Protestant churches followed suit. In 1828, the Hungarian government
made each parish officially responsible for these vital records and further
required that they be given copies. In 1896, the responsibility was
transferred to local authorities (the village notary or "amtmann"-office
clerk). In 1921, with the formation of the Austrian Burgenland, these record
files were retained at the village Gemeindeamt (community office) and for the
most part are still available there (in the village responsible for local
administration) today. Specific forms were supplied, which at first contained
much more data than the previous church records. There were changes to format
year by year. For the years 1896-1921, copies were also provided to the
central Hungarian government and they too were microfilmed by the LDS in the
1960's and are available by ordering from any FHC. (Note-civil records for
villages which remained in Hungary were not microfilmed by the LDS.)

Locating the civil records for your village is a little like locating the
church parish records. Not all villages had notaries or municipal offices.
You must find the one responsible for your village. In the case of larger
villages you'll find the civil record microfilm following the church record
microfilm in the LDS index covering your village. If your village is a Bezirk
(District capital) the records will be there. For instance, if you look in
the LDS index under Hungary, Vas, Nemetjuvar (Gssing) - Civil Registration
you'll find 9 rolls of microfilm, 3 each for birth (Szlettek), marriage
(Hazasultak) and death (Halottak). You'll find the same film numbers if you
look under Austria, Burgenland, Gssing. However if you look for the civil
reords for Grossmrbisch (Hungarian Alsomedves) you won't find anything. What
to do?

Go to Albert's Village List (homepage) and find Grossmrbisch (it's shown
under Bezirk Gssing). After the village name you'll find a "gv"
(abbreviation for government records) and the town name Gssing. This means
that is where the records are kept. However, in this case there were so many
that you'll also find Civil Registration film for "the surrounding area of
Gssing". When this is encountered, you must look in both places to find the
records for your village. In this instance, Gssing is also where you'll find
records from 1921 to date, except there is no microfilm. You must visit or
write for copies. Also (I repeat) there is no microfilm for villages which
are in Hungary today. The BB newsletter has published articles concerning the
many fires that occurred in the villages. You will find villages where the
original records were destroyed either through fire or war damage.
Fortunately many of the 1896-1921 records were copied.

The earlier civil records are at least two pages long and follow a printed
format. I have not used Hungarian diacritical marks in the examples, nor have
I shown all headings, just those to allow you to extract the basic data. I
only show Hungarian words and translations once.You'll need a dictionary or a
list of names for occupations, causes of death, etc.

The following is an exmple of a birth record: This example shows a US birth
reported to Hungary probably at the time the parents returned to Hungary
(they emigrated to the US again shortly thereafter)

A bejegyzes ideje (date of entry) 1913 Aug 5
A szuletes ideje (date of birth) 1904 Oct 11
A gyermek utoneve neme, vallasa (name, sex and religion) Geraldine, female,
A sulok (parents and domicile) Berghold Janos, Langasch Fani Patafalva
vallasa (religion)-Lutheran
kora (ages)-not given
A szuletes helye, ha a szuletes nem az anya lakasan tortent (place of birth)
Allentown Pa North America
Alairas elotti esetleges megjegyzesk. Alairasok. Comments and name and
signature of recorder Vertes Sandor

Note: some earlier birth forms will look like the following marriage form.
Later ones may include just the very basics. The same applies to death and
marriage records. Look for key words as shown in these examples to identify
the type of record.
The following is an example of a marriage record:
Upper Left-Hungarian Coat of Arms
Kelt (place)-Kortvelyes (Eltendorf)
ezer, evi, ho-date-1898-februar 7
Magjelentek-name of notary-Ebenspanger, Rezo (Rudy)

1. mint volegeny (bridegroom) Mirth Joszef, Lutheran faith, of Patafalva
(Poppendorf) 98
Szuletesenek (birth data) Patafalva, 1873, December 18
atyjanak (father)-blank (illegitimate)
anyjanak (mother)-Julia Mirth, foglalkozasa (occupation)-foldmuvesnos-farmer
lakohelye (residence)-Patafalva 19

2. mint menyassony (bride) Berghold Julia, Lutheran faith, of Patafalva 100
born Patafalva 44, 16 Jul. 1875
father-Berghold Janos
occupation-blacksmith Patafalva 100
parents Berghold, Janos and Neubauer, Teres

egyik tanu (witness for the groom)) Gibiser Jozsef, farmer, Patafalva 29,
eletkora (age) 47
masik tanu (witness for the bride) Berghold Jozsef, farmer, Patafalva 5, age
Signatures of all plus date.
The following is an example of a death record:
Szam (number) 55
Kelt (place) Kortvelyes 1906 september 12
Megjelent az alulirott anyakonyvvezeto (person reporting) Schlener Mihaly
occupation kisbirtokos (small land holder from Patafalva

Es bejelentette a kovetkezo halalesetet-csaladi es utoneve (name and
particulars of deceased)-Berghold Janos of Patafalva, born Patafalva, age 3

Atyjanak (parents) Berghold Janos small holder of Patafalva and Berghold
Janosne (wife of Janos Berghold) born Langas Fani from Patafalva (wrong-name
was Langash and she was born in Inzenhof-an example of how these records are
not always correct)

The parents (as above repeated) attest that the deceased died 12 noon 12
Sept. 1906 of (can't translate the reason)

Witnesses Vertes Sandor (notary), Schlener Mihaly (witness)

Now let me give you a quick and dirty way of translating foreign church and
o look for the words that mean birth, marriage or death so you know what
you're looking at
o look for a name and a date (the name and time period you're researching)
o if it's a birth record you'll find a given name followed by names of
parents (sometimes godparents are first)-sometimes their village-and
sometimes their ages
o if it's a marriage you'll find two names, ages and villages followed by
parents and witnesses (sometimes just witnesses)
o if it's a death you'll find one name and age, sometimes child of, widow of,
etc., cause of death

Scan for the above. Forget the foreign phrases or legalese or church "boiler
plate". This is interesting of course but you can translate that at your
leisure or when you learn some of the language. Look for the meat of the

This now takes us to 1921. What if we need later civil records? I know of no
post 1921 Burgenland record depositories in the US or from internet sources.
As of now, you must either visit the Burgenland or write requesting copies of
the records. To do this you need the address of the Gemeindeamt (community
office) holding the records for your village, and pertinent data to enable
them to find the record. Name(s), village(s) and approximate date(s) are
minimal. They will generally charge a fee to copy and mail the document.
Writing in German is the only way to be sure of an answer. If you don't know
German, German letter forms may be found at some of the web sites mentioned
in our URL lists. Some genealogical publications also provide examples.

This concludes the series on beginning your Burgenland search. You should now
be something of an expert. The next series will cover some more sophisticated
sources of data starting with the 1828 Hungarian census. We still haven't
exhausted those wonderful LDS records. If you've followed through to this
point, you should have family data for your main blood line back to 1800,
perhaps late 1700. Not bad for tracing records of people who for the most
part were peasants or simple farmers. Many US genealogists are still
struggling with that first link to Europe. Do the work now and your
descendants will not have to join them in the future. (Note: also see
newsletter 54B-the Fritz Knigshofer reply to a Gssing query. which provides
more help concerning how to use civil records).
(Newsletter continue as No. 54B)

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