Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2001-05 > 0991311885

Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 96 dtd May 31, 2001
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 08:24:45 EDT

(issued monthly by )
May 31, 2001
(all rights reserved)



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This first section of the four section newsletter includes:
* First Immigrants?
* Burgenland Slaves, Serfs and Peasants
* Burgenland Immigrant-Family Status
* Auswandererschicksal -"Immigrant Story"-Jaindl & Krenn
* See Continuation of Immigrant Addresses at 96A & C
* See Ellis Island Records- Additional Comment at 96B


What happened to our first immigrants? Last issue we asked for any immigrants
who came to America between 1880-1890. We've not received one! Maybe we
buried the request (Newsletter 95B)-anyway let's have at least a few. Send
us-name-year arrived between 1880-90-village of origin-where settled-source.
Your ancestor just may end up in a published book one of these days!


"The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams
and visions in a peasant's heart on a hillside." -James Joyce, "Ulysses"

We get many questions about the status of Burgenland immigrants prior to
their emigration to the new world. Many infer that they were serfs or
peasants, involved in a thralldom that was like slavery. At some point in
history, that well may have been true, but by the time of the "Auswanderung"
social conditions had changed considerably. While conditions throughout
Europe varied greatly, my comments pertain mostly to Transdanubia* and the
years 1880-1924.

* Transdanubia=across the Danube. Defined as that portion of pre 1921 Hungary
west of the Danube Bend assuming one is standing east of Lake Balaton looking
west. It includes the region that became the Burgenland.


The very bottom of social structure, we hear a lot about slavery. It has been
with us since pre-history and at some point in time, we all had slave
ancestors. So many "Burgenländers" (western Hungarians) were carried off to
the Ottoman Empire during the Austro-Turkish Wars (16th-18th centuries) that
white Christian slaves had little value in the slave markets of
Constantinople for many years. How many Turkish branches have sprouted on our
family trees? I'll close my slavery remarks by saying that by the 19th
century, slavery was no longer a Burgenland issue and it can be ignored for
our purposes. Still-I wonder how many ancestors were brought up as Moslem
Janissaries or carried off to Ottoman harems.


Serfdom ("Leibeigenschaft") evolved during the Dark Ages. It existed well
into the 19th century (last outlawed in Russia in 1851). In its simplest form
it was the exchange of freedom and labor for security. Serfs "belonged" to
their "lord" and could be used as he saw fit. The possibilities of abuse were
endless. Nothing could be done without permission, including marriage,
travel, occupational changes, education etc. There were various levels of
serfdom, a serf with greater responsibility (a cook or miller, etc.) would
"outrank" a field hand or laborer. Because of abuses within the system, there
was always much unrest. Under the reigns of Maria Theresia and Joseph II,
serfdom was abolished in Hungary by 1786. Serfdom is not an issue for our
purposes. By 1800, no Trandanubians could be considered serfs.

Peasants (H-paraszt)
G=German, H=Hungarian, L=Latin

A "simple" Austro-Hungarian "social order" or "standigkeit" as it existed in
rural areas from 1800 forward follows. Starting with gypsies (Rom), and
moving up the social ladder, we have peasants who rent cottages and work as
day laborers (H-napzamos) or apprentice craftsmen (G-Sollner), then those who
rent both house and farm land as tenants with hereditary rights (H-zseller),
(craftsmen with established businesses could have equal status-also called
G-Sollner), local merchants followed, then village "mayors" (Richter) and
professional people like doctors or notaries, school teachers and priests or
pastors, then lesser local nobility and finally greater local nobility- (the
Esterhazy and Batthyany). The crown and its court were so far above the lower
elements as to not even be considered. Each of these groups in turn had
gradations such as those whose family or village had been granted "nobilis"
status with exemption from taxes and land owning restrictions or who held any
sort of official status. It was a very structured society.

Since only those of "nobile" status could own land prior to 1848, it was
necessary for a "free" man who wished to farm (L-"colonus") to enter into a
"lord-subject" relationship ("Unterthänigkeit") with the landowner. By paying
rent consisting of farm produce, money and a certain amount of labor
(G-"robot"), a peasant would be given a cottage and/or lot, a certain amount
of tillable soil, a share in common pasturage and certain woodland rights.
The actual amount (G-"Sessio") varied village by village depending on the
fertility of the soil. The theory was that enough land would be given to
sustain one family and allow them to meet the "rental" obligation. Very
similar to our own early and late American "sharecropping" conditions. Total
land available for use might approximate as much as 40 acres (18 tillable-20
in common and 2 for house and garden), an average full "Sessio" but in
general it was considerably less due to family partitioning. Holdings
(G-"hold") were frequently of 1/2 or even 1/4 Sessio. (Note-prior newsletters
contain much discussion concerning this topic.)

This "rental" agreement; however, could be passed on to descendants, split,
exchanged or traded (with permission of the owner) and "robot" service could
be met by utilizing the labor of women and children at reduced value.
Supplying a horse or ox and wagon was worth the equivalent of more than a day
of manual labor.

The Hungarian revolution of 1848 ushered in various reforms, one of which
abolished robot and another which removed restrictions to the ownership of
land. By 1867 peasants were being encouraged to buy their land, 1/3 paid by
the crown, 1/3 by the peasant and 1/3 donated by the aristocracy. Finding
enough cash in what was a "barter" economy and establishing land value (the
"Kommisierung") created much dissension. One Berghold great-grandfather died
as a result of a dispute over land value. Nonetheless, the land was
eventually purchased and the peasant "tenant" farmer (sharecropper) became a
"small holder" (a landwirt) or owner of property.

These then are the rungs of the social order in place prior to the
Auswanderung. It does not answer the questions of immigrant status but it
does remove the "tags" of slave or serf. I also feel peasant, perhaps
appropriate in some cases, can be misleading. In the following article, I
consider that question.


Some tell romantic stories of family connections with the nobility. This is
generally accepted with reservations unless the name is Esterhazy, Batthyany,
Draskovitch, Erdödy or one of the other minor nobility. Others label their
people as serfs or peasants. Two schools of thought, both erroneous. The
first implies that association with "nobility" somehow confers some special
significance. The second implies that by using the lowest social tag there is
nowhere to go but up. The true facts are generally in between.

In my previous article, I suggested that terms applied to immigrants are
often misleading. The average immigrant was fairly young and rarely the
oldest child. Given the rule of primogeniture, the oldest child would have
less reason to emigrate.

Some immigrants had families which accompanied them, most stayed behind and
were sent for later. Many had day laborer jobs prior to emigration and could
not support a family. Hence the peasant tag. They could live at home with
parents and siblings who were having a hard time supporting themselves (and
perhaps still making land payments), apprentice to a craft, join the seasonal
workers wandering Europe or they could emigrate. Some did all of the above.
My grandfather Sorger (4th son) worked in his father's pottery, tended grapes
in his vineyard, was later apprenticed to a builder and then worked as a
journeyman bricklayer before emigrating.

The greatest push-pull factors to Burgenland emigration were mainly economic.
Coupled with the development of low rail and ship fares, the stage was set
for the "Auswanderung". Poor economic conditions developing in the "Heimat"
then provided the triggers to set in motion the first ripples of what become
a tidal wave of emigration. Those triggers were periods of drought, monetary
and fiscal crises, bank failures, swine virus and destruction of vineyards
(phylloxera) among others. (The economic importance of wine and pork
production can not be over emphasized). Our ancestors emigrated, not because
they were peasants from poverty stricken families, living under intolerable
conditions, they emigrated because the immediate economic climate held little
hope for the future. As Dr. Dujmovits wrote in the most recent edition of the
Burgenländische Gemeinschaft News, "Burgenland now has enough sustenance for
all its children-they no longer need to emigrate."

If we are to apply a social order tag to these mainly young immigrants, it
might be better to use the tag which applies to their parents. I have a great
deal of trouble labeling my four immigrant grandparents as peasants when they
came from the following backgrounds:

Berghold-blacksmith, gasthaus owner, carter
Neubauer-small holder (landwirt)

Occupation of immigrant son prior to emigration-carter
Occupations of 2 immigrant brothers-miller-watch maker
Time period-1901

Kornheisel-smallholder (landwirt)

Occupation of immigrant daughter prior to emigration -factory worker
Time period-1902

Sorger-potter(from 3 generations of potters), vineyard owner
Tarafass-smallholder (landwirt-colonus)

Occupation of immigrant son prior to emigration-brick layer
Occupation of immigrant brother-potter
Occupation of immigrant sister (housewife-husband-iron worker)
Time period-1901-04

Mühl-carpenter, casket maker (father was a school teacher)
Pöltl-potter, vineyard owner

Occupation of immigrant widowed mother-house maid-seamtress
Occupation of immigrant daughter prior to emigration-house maid
Occupation of immigrant twin-house maid
Occupation of immigrant brother-tailor
Time period-1907

Your grandfather may have been a day laborer but his father was probably
something completely different. How can you then say that your ancestors were
peasants? If we do so, we must label any American farmer of the period with
small acreage as a peasant also. Let's not add erroneous tags to our family


All of my grandparents and GG etc, are from the Jennersdorf and Weichselbaum
area except for one line and they are from Gillersdorf, Steiermark.

My maternal grandfather Karl Jaindl, B. July 12, 1873, in Gillersdorf,
Steiermark. House # 24; M. Feb. 11, 1901 in Allentown, Pennsylvania; D. March
15, 1938 in Gillersdorf, Steiermark (he was the son of Johann Jaindl B. May
27, 1843 in Magland, Austria & Anna Lugitsch B. April 13, 1838 in
Gillersdorf). Karl Jaindl emigrated to Allentown between 1898 - 1900, as of
yet I haven't found a date. My mother said that he worked as a gardener for a
family where my Grandmother also worked as domestic help.

I do not know whether they knew one another before they both worked at the
same place. My Grandmother Gizella Krenn came from Ercsenye, Hungary
(Henndorf, Austria) which is the next village to Gillersdorf but in Styria.
They married in 1901 in Allentown. To this union there were four children
born in USA, Allentown, PA. Gisela Nov. 1, 1901, Karl B. March 21, 1903,
Maria B. 1905, and Frank B.
Nov. 22, 1906.

Around 1907 my grandparents returned to Gillersdorf, # 24, to take over the
farm as my great grandparents were of an age to retire. Here four more
children were born. Francis b. Sept. 9, 1908, Maria, b. March 10, 1910, Anna
b. Aug. 10, 1911 and Josefa b. Jan 10, 1913 (my mother).

With the outbreak of war my grandfather was called to serve in the Austrian
army in 1914 and in 1915 he was listed as missing in action. (My mother said
that they had his name on the war memorial in Loiperdorf.) However he had
been captured by the Russians and held a prisoner in Siberia for five years.
He became friends with one of the guards and learned to speak some Russian,
The guard helped by grandfather & three others to escape. They traveled by
night & slept near sewers by day. Eating only dry crusts of bread, they got
to the Black Sea and from there to Budapest. Then to Vienna and back home in
Nov. 1920.

My grandmother Gisella never gave up hope that he would return. My mother was
only a year old when her father left for the war and was seven years old when
he returned. She didn't know her father when he returned. But she said that
they prayed each night for his return. My grandmother died the following year
Sept. 1921 at age 41

Three of their children emigrated to the USA:

Karl - ( married Schraith from Grieselstein)
Francis ( also married a Schraith from Grieselstein)
Frank ( married a Seidl from ?)

Two children went to Canada, my mother Josefa ( married Kropf from
Henndorf) and Anna ( married a Fink from Graz)

In 1924 my grandfather remarried to Anna (Hodl) Ferstl. Anna had two
children, Bertha Ferstl married to Karl Schaller and Frank married to Marie
My grandfather & grandma Anna had a child Hilda married to Posch.

My Grandmother Gisella (Krenn) Jaindl was born Sept. 2, 1880 @ Ercsenye
# 5, to Josef Krenn b. Jan. 8, 1842 @ Ercsenye # 5 and Maria Bak B.
April 21, 1848 Gyanafalva # 169

Her sisters were Maria b. Jan. 20, 1872 married to Augustinus Dax.
Carolina b. July 1, 1878 married to Charles Eby. Anna b. July 27, 1876
married to Francicius Janosch. (Their daughter Anna Janosch b. July 28, 1896
married Joseph Ponstingl, brother of Hans Ponstingl , (in newsletter # 44B
1998 )

I have an article re Hans Ponstingl in my files that my mother gave to
me that was in the Burgenlandische Gemeinschaft June 1977.

My mother's sister Gisela Jaindl is married to Johann Schaukowitsch B.
Dec. 13, 1891 in Heiligenkreuz i.L. Austria. M. April 23, 1923 in
Loipersdorf and D. Dec. 15, 1973 in Heiligenkreuz i.L.

Johann's parents Franz Schaukowitsch B. June 4, 1865 in Heilgenkreuz
i.L. and Elizabeth Beutl B. Dec. 15, 1868 in Heilgenkreuz i.L.
I'm in touch with present day generation Schaukowitsch from Heilgenkreuz.

Newsletter continues as no. 96A.

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