BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L ArchivesArchiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2001-01 > 0980947385
Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 92A dtd Jan. 31, 2001
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 08:23:05 EST
THE BURGENLAND BUNCH NEWS -No. 92A
DEDICATED TO AUSTRIAN-HUNGARIAN BURGENLAND FAMILY HISTORY
(now issued monthly by )
January 31, 2001
(all rights reserved)
* Can't find your immigrant ancestor's village?
* Try Klaus Gerger's new combined surname-village search which matches 5500
surnames with the villages as they appear in our published village urbars and
* Go to the BB Homepage and click on Klaus Gerger's Map Site, click on
search, enter surname, click "start search."
This second section of the 3 section newsletter contains:
* A Short History Of Steinfurt
* Book Review-"Burgenland Panorama"
* Western Hungary & The Bakony Region
* Book "Community of Fuller Park" in 4th Printing
* Belated Thanks-Szt. Peterfa Records
A SHORT HISTORY OF STEINFURT (from Markus Prenner)
(ED. Note-Steinfurt is in the district of Güssing in the south of Burgenland.
We wish to thank Markus for sending us this article. It has the "ring" of
authenticity and truly exemplifies village spirit. I think it's a great
memorial and a splendid tribute to our past. Markus accompanied the history
with a brief note:
<< Dear G. Berghold! Maybe you remember: About a year ago I became a member
of the Bbunch. Working on a Dissertation of Burgenland, I'm interested in
nearly everything concerning my home, which is facing a new challenge, the
"reunion" with middle-eastern Europe. Hopes, fears (?); we will see. My
father's family comes from Steinfurt. Nearly all of the Prenner's were
parsons or teachers for many generations, none left Burgenland for America or
other countries. But now, a cousin of mine works in Canada as a scientist
(Biology, Chemistry). Best wishes. >>
A SHORT HISTORY OF STEINFURT (from a speech by Kurt Prenner, translated by
his son Markus)
"A community without history is a community without identity!" - That's the
reason why my father, Dir. Kurt Prenner, is keen on collecting everything
having to do with his hometown Steinfurt (10 km to the s-e of Güssing). The
following thoughts are the abbreviated and translated speech of my father on
the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the church in Steinfurt.
At the place the celebrated church stands nowadays, once stood a bell-tower
- so mentions the report of a visitation of the former Bishop of Lipoc, the
Hungarian name of Steinfurt, in 1797. Furthermore that official report
mentioned that all citizens of the little village were Croatians, settled
here by the Batthyany's about 1545. Older documents described an older German
settlement named "Steinfurt" (a document from 1489 named the village
"Lapisdorf" - a latinized form, which means "Stone-Village"). During the time
of the wars with the Turks, this settlement was devastated, only the so
called "Nemeth-Hof" -German Manor ("nemeth", Hungarian word for "German")
New settlers, Croatians, then established themselves on the hills east of the
old German settlement, near the old estate or "alter Meierhof". Most of them
subsisted on sheep-breeding and pottery, as the old Steinfurt family name
"Gerencser" (i.d. "potter") gives evidence.
Though the people of Steinfurt were very poor, they began to erect a church
at the place of the former bell-tower on the 24th of March 1897. The building
was finished five months (!) later. There are no documents about the
dedication of the church. But a cup exists with the engraved year 1898 and
the organ, the masterpiece of an Hungarian organ-builder, was built in the
same year - so we may estimate the dedication of St. George's Church was
The parson, Johann Herczeg (from 1918 till the end of the first half of the
20th century) asked the people of Steinfurt, when they wanted to celebrate
the annual parish-fair. "After the harvest" was the unanimous answer. The
reason was obvious: At that time they would have plenty to celebrate.
I have already mentioned the poverty of Steinfurt. Large families, small
number of acres, no big towns in the surrounding district - that's why many
people (170) left their home for America, "with tears in our eyes" - we are
told by a witness - "but never forgetting Steinfurt"!
Tragic years were to come: During World War I (1914-1918) the smaller funeral
bells rang for nine Steinfurt soldiers, who gave their lives for "God,
emperor and fatherland" - as their mourning mothers had been "consoled". The
larger church bells were taken by the war.
But after rain comes - thanks be to God - sunshine: The emigrants never
forgot their hometown. In 1922, about Easter time, they gave new bells as a
gift to their old-home church. By the way: About 80 of the emigrants returned
Although another thirty hard years went by, a new altar was built inside the
church. The first altar had been from an old Greek-Orthodox church, probably
from the Hungarian Puszta, used there as a so called "iconostasis" (wall of
holy pictures, important in the Orthodox service). A painter from Güssing,
Johannes Pomper, provided lovely pictures of Jesus´ "way of the cross".
In 1938 - not only for Steinfurt - began years of suffering and pain. This
time the funeral-bells for Steinfurt soldiers were heard thirteen times. Not
for "God, emperor and fatherland", now for the "German Reich" and the
"beloved Führer". We, born years later, can only imagine with what scorn and
sarcasm this was viewed by the mother, who lost her son, and the wife and
children, who missed their husband and father, when told that their loved
ones had "the honor to fight and die for the Führer".
But times became even harder. In spring 1945, cannon-thunder was heard from
the tower of Maria Weinberg, the parish-church of Steinfurt. For many people
a miracle occurred, this beautiful church was not destroyed! Only a few knew
about the (artillery) observation post at the top of the tower! The Russians,
if they had that information, wouldn't have left one stone upon another!
Seventeen German soldiers are buried in this graveyard - until 1820 it was
also the graveyard for Steinfurt. During the night of the 5th of April the
German troops left Steinfurt. The following story is known to only a few
A highly decorated German officer wanted the Steinfurt people to leave their
village and retreat with the army. The church was even prepared to be
blown-up with dynamite! But the former mayor, Rudolf Gerencser, replied
bravely: "If you want to destroy Steinfurt, you'll have to destroy us with
the buildings! - WE WILL STAY HERE!"
The next day many horse drawn wagons of the Russian army passed Steinfurt.
All of the houses were occupied by officers. About 300 soldiers lived at the
"Meierhof". At Mikin´s, the house-name for house #3, a military hospital was
established. The chief-officer (a major, and his adjutant) lived at the
school. Fortunately he was of a German minority, living at the river Volga in
Russia, who had had to swear to his mother, never to touch a German wife. So
- all in all - most of the soldiers left no great material or even human
damage in Steinfurt.
But not long after that, a company of Cossacks came from Körmend as well as
Russian civilians, looking for goods and women. First the women and girls
were hidden under the roof or in the cellars. Then the people defended
themselves. Getting rid of such persons strolling around Steinfurt, the
little church bell called all inhabitants out on the street - remember: the
great bells were taken to make canons years ago - gathered on the street,
protected by the community, nobody could do the women any harm!
Thanks God, even those days went by and many men came back from the war safe
and sound. They went on to make their home worth living. In 1949 the church
was renovated, installed new church-bells in 1952, colored window-glass in
1959 and later a renewed organ accompanied the hymns and songs, honoring the
Good-Lord for being with Steinfurt. During the 1950s electric-lights were
installed, a new road surfaced, a fire-department with a new fire-engine
organized- the new times made Steinfurt prosper.
One day brought sadness to Steinfurt again: the local school was closed. No
more the daily laughter and sounds of happy children. They now had to get
their education in Strem or in Güssing. Mentioning the school: In 1969/70
Austrian politicians were proud to be able to offer Austrian pupils
school-books for free. But in Steinfurt, the former aristocratic Batthyany
family, patrons of Steinfurt, and of the dynasty, who had settled the
Croatians in the area 400 years ago, and with the help of the local parson
had earlier established a charitable endowment. From this endowment, children
of Steinfurt already had free school-books as early as the 19th century!
After the devaluation of money in the Twenties the municipality had also
taken charge of the financing of school-books.
The primary heyday of Steinfurt in the late 20th-century was the honor of
winning the contest for the "prettiest flower-town of all Europe! The
charming and lovely village-green, once a watering-place for animals was
changed into a sea of flowers and trees. But it was not only the flowery
jewels of the houses or the beautifully situated village, surrounded by
rolling hills and healthy forests, that impressed the European-judges:
The entire community, the friendly people, the openhearted charm of the
inhabitants, the customs they celebrated, all these made the judges also feel
a part of the community. Visitors, for example from Steinfurt in Germany, a
village, similar to our Steinfurt in Baden-Würtemberg are convinced of that.
There is a partnership between the "Steinfurts".
Not long ago, near a cross beside the church, erected in memory of a young
man who was dragged to death by a horse, the community initiated a "gossiping
place". A stone-bench invites inhabitants and visitors to sit, enjoy a
soothing summer-evening, talk about the news and tell stories about the old
days. A tradition you could have found in the old Burgenland every evening:
sitting on the bench under the tree in front of your house. You do not find
it too often nowadays in other villages.
This 100-year-anniversary of the church, celebrated just a short time ago was
a splendid festival and confirmed once more, what history has showed us over
the centuries. Our village, small and not very important, compared with the
great Austrian cities, exemplifies people supporting each other in good times
and bad. Our village spirit enables us to look forward confidently into our
future - come what may.
Subsequent note from Markus: If any of the "bunch" wants to know anything
about Steinfurt, you may contact me by e-mail or write to my father, a
"Steinfurt-specialist": Dir. Kurt Prenner, Meierhofgasse 6/12, 7540 Güssing,
Austria - he will be getting an e-mail number in a few weeks. Aside: My
mother was brought up in Raiding, the birth-place of the musician Franz
Liszt. If anyone is interested in this town, I can help there, too.
MMag. Markus K. Prenner
Raiffeisengasse 7; A-7312 Horitschon
BOOK REVIEW-BURGENLAND PANORAMA (from Albert Schuch)
(ED> Note: Gerhard Land mentioned this book in a previous issue of the
newsletter. We are still attempting to find a source which would ship to the
I just had the opportunity to review a copy of the English edition of
"Burgenland Panorama" by Gesellmann/Stefanits (my sister Inge bought it), and
I have to say that I am quite pleased with it. As indicated by the title, the
book - which might be categorized as a coffee table book - provides a good
and lavishly illustrated overview of Burgenland. The texts dealing with the
individual villages are very short (and in the first place written for
tourists), but on the other hand (almost?) all Burgenland villages are
included. The book also provides short but good overviews on topics like
history, culture, ethnic groups, politics, economy, nature etc., plus a well
written foreword by the current U.S. ambassador to Austria, Ms. Kathryn Walt
I also did spot a few mistakes, but voluminous books (this one has 390 pages,
at 24 x 29 centimeters) seldom come without any flaws. For example, I noticed
that the photo accompanying the text about Kleinpetersdorf does definitely
not depict our village. To give you an idea of the texts, I am quoting the
(whole) section about Poppendorf:
<< Poppendorf im Burgenland. Municipality of Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal.
The German speaking village area of Poppendorf is built around a village
green and has more than 430 inhabitants and a predominantly agricultural
structure. Situated near the connecting road between Graz and Budapest close
to the state border, Poppendorf is one of the villages with most emigrants.
Well-kept cycling and hiking tracks as well as hunting and fishing facilities
provide the basis for a good holiday. Vineyards and gravel ponds in the
environment also encourage tourism. >>
All in all, the English version is well written, thanks to Mr. Vincent
Robinson, M.A., who was responsible for the "correction and improvement of
the English version" (as is stated in the book). I had, by the way, the
pleasure to attend Mr. Robinson's English lessons at Oberschützen High
School, and so had my sister Inge.
There is no doubt that Mr. Robinson did a good job, as is shown by the short
bios of the authors. (See below.)
Georg Gesellmann, born 1938, MA, academic painter, organizer of numerous
festivity publications, editor of catalogues and films; exhibitions at home
and abroad, intensive confrontations with possibilities of the media, various
multimedia performances, dealing with experimental visual side effects beside
Günther Stefantis, MA, PhD, representative of the Croatian ethnic group,
former German and English teacher, state inspector (superintendent) for
grammar schools, author and editor of publications dealing with folklore and
regional history, frequently working as an interpreter between the state
government and foreign delegations.
WESTERN HUNGARY & THE BAKONY REGION
Although we call ourselves the Burgenland Bunch, we also cover the Hungarian
border regions. Like a piece of string, once you start to unravel the
geography, it's hard to place a limit on where to stop. We've not really
established a limit, but I prefer to keep our research west of Lake Balaton.
This just about covers the area within which today's Burgenland descendants
may find links. Some time ago Ernest Chrisbacher joined us. He has since been
added to our staff as our expert on western Hungary. Ernest has developed a
surname data base of parts of western Hungary, with emphasis on the Bakony
He recently copied me on the following:
From: (Ernest Chrisbacher)
I have the following Kanzlers in my database of immigrants to USA from
#1521 John, married St. Benedicts, Newark, NJ 6/19/1904
#2550 Magdalena, Married Most Holy Redeemer, NYC 2/03/07, from Dobroente,
# 2615 Michael, Bapt. 3/11/1884 Dobroente, Veszprem County, Married 6/14/1908
Most Holy Redeemer, NYC
#1637 Stephan, married St. Benedicts, Newark, NJ 1/22/1908
I have no Dampf in my database
Bakonykoppany was settled prior to Dobroente, so you have given me a clue to
search for my earlier Kanczler line. If you happen to come across my
ancestors: Josef Kantzler, born about 1745 and his wife Maria Anna born abt
1745, please contact me.
BOOK "THE COMMUNITY OF FULLER PARK" STILL AVAILABLE"
From: (Barb Guttmann)
I just received an announcement that Rudolph Unger's book, "The Community of
Fuller Park; Those Were the Days My Friends" is going into its 4th printing.
Anyone who would like to order a copy should send a check for $26.00 to
Rudolph Unger at 6915 Lexington Court, Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
I was disappointed to learn that the book was out of print, but Mr. Unger
kept my name and address and just advised me of this new printing. Others
may also be interested.