Danube Swabian


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Excerpts from Correspondence With Pastor Ronald Lommel

The Lutheran Parish, Nieder-Gemünden, Hesse 

by Henry Fischer

  As indicated, the following information is contained in some personal correspondence I had with Pastor Lommel following my visit to his parish a number of years ago.  At that time he was unaware of any emigration from Hesse to Hungary in the 18th century, but my visit piqued his interest and he undertook some research into the matter on his own.  I had originally gone to Elpenrod where the parsonage for the parish was located, because at that time I thought that I had found the origins of my own branch of the Fischer family, but my investigations there and with his help indicated I had to look elsewhere.   

                                                                                          Henry Fischer 

  After a long search and stumbling around in the Church Books and the old Family Registers, I can provide the following facts with regard to the Hungarian emigration. 

  Johannes Fischer, Hainbach 

  In the year 1724, Johannes Fischer from Hainbach left for Hungary.  His first wife, Anna Elisabeth died a year before.  They had five children: Konrad born 04.05.1711, Johannes born 03.04.1714, Kaspar born 18.02.1716, Maria Elisabeth born 02.11.1719 and Elisabeth Katharina born 11.09.1722.  In March of 1724 he married a second time and his second wife was Anna Julianna born in Hainbach but living in Nieder-Ohmen.  Johannes was born in Hainbach on 25.10.1689. 

  Burkard, Bormann, Elpenrod 

  He originally came from Altenburg near Alsfeld and married a Christiana Freiensehner in Elpenrod in 1698.  On 12.06.1709 a son was born to them and a daughter in 1713.  The godparents were represented by proxies (indicating the family was either unable to live there or just passing through.)  There is a notation that he left for Varsad in Tolna County in Hungary in 1723.    

  Johann Peter Fischer, Elpenrod 

  He was born on 09.11.1674 and married Katharina Schlosser of Elpenrod who was the daughter of the schoolmaster on 27.01.1701.  They had numerous children whose births are recorded in the Church Register.  A family researcher who had no knowledge of the  emigration to Hungary noted that all eleven of their children must have died because there is no record of any of them ever marrying.  However, in an older Family Register there is the notation, “left for Hungary in 1724”. 

  Johann Peter Christ, Elpenrod 

  Here I have to report on a special notation I found:  In a Family Register there is the following entry:  J. P. Christ who was born in Elpenrod in 1703 along with his wife Anna Elisabeth Carle from Elpenrod left for Gyönk in Hungary in 1724.  In the Church Books in Queckborn (located close to Grunberg in Upper Hesse), it is reported that a son was born to him posthumously (following his death) named George Dietrich on 20.09.1725 in Gyönk in Hungary and on the 22nd was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest in Bormont*. 

  It is further reported that his pregnant wife married a countryman from Upper Hesse named Caspar Röder in Majos, Hungary on 20.06.1725.  (He in all likelihood came from Queckborn.)  Both of them returned to Queckborn and George Dietrich Christ married in Queckborn in 1751 as well as his step-sister Anna Katharina Röder. 

  Johann Heinrich Jäckel, Hainbach 

  He was the son of Johann Ludwig and Anna Katharina Jäckel whose maiden name was Weiss and came from Hainbach; Johann Heinrich was born in 1714 in Hainbach,  and married Eva Vinkenstock from Nieder-Gemünden, with whom he had a son, Johann Valentin born 17.11.1740.  It is noted that he and his family, along with two single sisters, Anna Maria born in 1711 and Katharina Elisabeth born 1728, went to Kistormás in Hungary.   There are no further entries with regard to them in the Family Register. 

  Anna Julianna Nagel, Nieder-Gemünden 

  She was the daughter of Mathaus and Anna Barbara Nagel (maiden name Pabst) from Nieder-Gemünden and was born 26.01.1730.  In Hungary she married Johann Konrad Zarth.  With regard to the fortunes of her brother Konrad, born 18.03.1734, as well as her parents there is nothing available.  It is possible that they too… 

  Pastor Lommel further writes: 

  “Following our discussion I decided to immerse myself in all of the available information I could find in the area in order to discover if there was any evidence of the emigration to Hungary.  I was able to find two or three sentences about it in various village histories, for instance in Bleidenrod and Alsfeld.  And with regard to some of the family names you shared with me, I found traces of them in Ruppertenrod, Nieder-Gemünden, Gross-Felda as well as others, all in the immediate vicinity where I serve and these family names are still familiar to this day.  But the population in this area is not conscious of any large-scale emigration to Hungary.  Only the memory of the emigration to America 100 years ago is still spoken of. 

  The major number one reason for the emigration to Hungary was the material poverty of the population.  Today we can hardly imagine the situation in which people found themselves and as the saying goes, they had nothing to lose.  The limited agricultural production could only meet the essential needs of the people and then there were always crop failures and famine.  The inheritance right meant that only the oldest son could inherit the family home and property, and the younger sons and daughters had to hire themselves out as hired hands and maids.  It was the same when it came to the tradesmen, like the tailor, shoemaker, wagon builder, blacksmith, weaver: only the oldest son could continue the family trade.  There were also shepherds and herders.  Most farmers were simply poor, very poor. 

  It was no wonder that when the recruiters and soldiers who came into our area to publicize the invitation of the Austrian Emperor Charles III to settle in far off Hungary and be given house and land and freedom from paying taxes, it fell on receptive ears.  According to H. Jäkel in his Zur Geschichte des Kreiss Alsfeld published in 1972, about  fifty settler families from the area around Alsfeld were involved in the first wave of settlers down the Danube during 1719-1725, becoming the Danube Swabians in their new homeland. Their descendants can still be identified by their Upper Hessian dialect and their allegiance to Lutheranism. 

*This community or a facsimile of it is unknown to me 

[Published at DVHH.org 27 Nov 2007 by Jody McKim, contributed by Henry Fischer]

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