After the Turkish Occupation

(From:  "Franken und Schwaben in Ungarn" by Heinrich Kéri)

Translated by Odis A. Schlösser

Witnesses who appeared before a County Commission in the year 1699 stated that the open prairies of Gyönk, Szabaton, Göszle, Kéty, Tabód and Gerenás had been populated by Serbs quite a few years before; the noble landowner at the time was Gergely Szili and he continued to collect taxes from the peasant farmers during the Turkish occupation, often using troops of his own. 

On the basis of these statements the prairies were awarded to István Sándor as the rightful heir because his first wife had been Eva, the daughter of    Gergely Szilli.  The Sándor family lived in Komárom and that is why it assigned all of its rights and powers to István Sándor.  The Székelyi family had a much humbler presence in the area with their manor in Simontornya and as of 1700 owned the village of Varsád.  István Sándor died prior to 1700.  The heirs, István Sándor Junior and his sister Judith who was married to Péter Magyary-Kossa, the Reformed Superintendent (Bishop) for the Upper Danube region, were granted the previously cited prairies in a Land Grant in 1702 following the payment of a 12,000 Gulden fee to the Treasury.  The deed did not mention Gerenás around which several legal procedures would follow.

In 1703 Gyönk had a population consisting of sixteen Hungarian families.  They were all expelled during the wars that followed.  Only one of their names later appears in an official register:  András Bölcsfoldi.  In 1715 several families (Bosnyák, Irasi, Sáfár) made claims on the deserted prairie whereby the Treasury set out to obtain verification of the property rights of those involved. 

The representative of the Royal Chancellery in Simontornya, Johann Kaufmann, was commissioned to implement a conscription, which he then forwarded to the Administrators of the Chancellery in Buda under the title, “newly settled village of Gyönk together with the relevant five open prairies.”  In it, he writes, “This new suitably situated village of Gyönk requires a great deal of work for the most part but a few fields and meadows are available.  The two other prairie areas of Gerenás and Szabaton have also been appropriated by the inhabitants and show some economic benefit.  The village of Gyönk borders Szabaton towards the rising of the sun, to Szakadát towards midday, and Gerenás towards the setting of the sun.  It is not a large Puszta, its length can be walked in half an hour; the width is somewhat smaller, the forestry consists mainly of oak trees.”  He later mentions that there is also an oak forest and cultivated fields in Gerenás; in Szabaton the harvest was two hundred loads of hay and the inhabitants had left little Szabaton years ago during the pestilence to save themselves and hid in the forests.  Kéty “was populated with many inhabitants before the rebellion of 1701 and is an extremely beautiful Puszta.”

Six Hungarian families are registered in Gyönk in his conscription; all of them have cows and calves, while five families also have draft animals, predominantly horses.  By 1715 one family moved on, while the others continue to appear in the conscriptions of later years.

György Bárány of Szenicze reports the events of the first years here in his history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church District of Tolna, Baranya, Somogy that he wrote in 1742 and the County records contain further details.  According to Bárány only a few scattered Lutherans lived among the Catholics and Reformed in this area until a group of Lutherans from the Domains of Pápa settled on the prairie of Gyönk.  In order not to have to assimilate with the other religious confessions they sought seclusion in the forests since they made their living more easily as hunters rather than farmers.  (In a sense the conscription prepared by Kaufmann contradicts that in terms of their numerous draft animals.)  They appealed to the Inspector of the Treasury in Buda in order to be allowed to have an Evangelical Lutheran preacher.  They then called András Molitoris, the former pastor of the Lutheran parish of Varpalota from where some of the Hungarian Lutheran families living in Gyönk came from.  The scattered Lutheran families living in the vicinity streamed to Gyönk to attend worship, which resulted in the intervention of the Roman Catholic clergy.

As early as September 17th 1715 the priest in Pincehely lodged a complaint at the General Assembly of the County that the Lutherans who had recently settled on the prairie at Gyönk had called and installed a preacher.  He made his protest in the name of Cathedral Chapter of Pécs and the Vicar General and asked the General Assembly to order the removal of the preacher.  The Assembly instructed their Administrator, Johann Kaufmann to carry out the expulsion of the preacher immediately after his return home.  Since the appointment was probably made under the supervision of Kaufmann he did not take any action, with the result that on the 2nd of April 1716 a protest was filed again with the Assembly because he had not carried out the expulsion.  On this occasion the Vice Sheriff was commissioned to remove the preacher who failed to comply promptly with his urgings.  According to Bárány’s report, Molitoris was then banned from all church activities in 1717 and in order to save him from incarceration the officials of the County were given various gifts from their hunting efforts.  However, the preacher was still sent away from the village in that year because he was rarely found at work in his parish because of his drunkenness and did not fulfill his duties.

His successor in office as pastor was Bárány himself who reports his appointment and arrival in Gyönk very vividly in the cited document but does not cite any convincing reason for his leaving within a year and moving to Györköny.  We can assume that the nobleman and landowner Magyary-Kossa who was a Reformed Superintendent and Báránya a leading Pietist differed greatly in their theological views to such an extent that it made friendly co-operation impossible.  For that reason Bárány probably preferred to accept a pastorate with the Lutheran nobleman János Meszlényi who was the landlord in Györköny.  The Pietistic movement was fiercely opposed within the rigid orthodoxy of the Protestant churches.  In the year 1715 Judith Sándor and the widow of her brother, Maria Péli, protested against the takeover of their property rights by the Treasury.  On the 23rd of March, 1716 they received confirmation that they had proven their claim for the cited communities with the exception of Gerenás, and a month later the lands were given back to the legal heirs by Kaufmann, the Administrator of the Royal State Chancellery.  Gerenás, however, remained in the hands of the Treasury for the immediate future.

From this point onwards it was important and necessary to strengthen their claims on their property and defend it against any foreign claims.  This would prove to be difficult to do from far away in Aranyos in Komorn County where Judith Sándor and her husband the Superintendent Peter Magyary-Kossa resided. 

Towards the end of the term of their free years from taxes their subjects in Gyönk were given a contract dated on the 10th of November in 1717 in Aranyos. In this contract the date of their settlement in Gyönk is indicated as June 4, 1714.  It is a relatively short agreement with only six points.

(1)     According to the custom of the land they have to pay the ninth from all of their income and earnings from their agricultural products and any increase in livestock.

(2)     They will pay one Thaler to the Domain for one team of draft animals.

(3)     Inhabitants without draft cattle will pay 50 denari

(4)     Twice annually they should offer an appropriate gift in Aranyos.

(5)     New arrivals in the year 1718 will receive two years of freedom from paying taxes.

(6)     Newly laid out vineyards will be tax-free for six years.

A year later Peter Magyary-Kossa complained that the County did not respect the borders of his estate and property in Gyönk.  He appointed István Székely to act as his authorized representative to protect his interest with the County.

When Magyary died in 1720 he left his widow behind with five children.  The youngest was only four years old.  With great determination his widow took on the full responsibility for the fortunes of the whole family.  In the years following that she managed the family property with circumspection and toughness.  On March 20, 1722 she leased Gyönk and all of its landholdings to the widow Maria Sokorai and György Halai for an annual lease in the amount of 200 Rheineland Gulden.  This superb contract also cited the reasons that had led to the leasing of the estate:  Gyönk was too far from her place of residence and she could hardly farm it or make use of it.  The colonists remained in her debt in terms of paying her an annual Arenda (fee in lieu of taxes) and also neglected to present the appropriate gifts to her at Christmas and St. George’s Day and had also proven themselves to be rather ungrateful in manner towards her.  She authorized the leaseholders to conclude a new contract with their subjects according to their wishes.  Her one special condition was that the leaseholders would have to provide her with twenty head of cattle if the villagers of Gyönk were unable to provide them.

In April of 1723 Maria Sokorai handed over the lease to the Supreme Court Judge, Mihály Keöszeghy.  In 1724 this new leaseholder wanted to have the lease renewed.  In a letter to Judith Sándor he promised to renovate the mill in Szabaton and also sent her some venison as a gift.  The mistress of the Domain and her son Adam who in the meantime had come of age, consent and the lease agreement remained 200 Gulden.  Keöszeghy, however, had to see to providing the forty head of cattle.  Shortly after that, on May 26, 1724 the village was given a new contract, which now involved fifteen points.  Judith Sándor and her son Adam also signed the document.  The conditions are formulated more precisely and compared to those in the contract of 1717 they are much more stringent and demanding.

On May 9, 1724 the owners concluded a detailed lease contract with the new lease- holder but it is not available, so we do not know what sort of privileges he gained from it.  Shortly afterwards quarrels broke out between the owners and the leaseholder.  In August, Judith Sándor sued the leaseholder bringing her charges to the Vice Sheriff of the County claiming he had taken three loads of hay out of Szabaton on three occasions.  Szabaton was not included in the lease and therefore the hay belonged to her.  But Keöszeghy made his case to the County that the matter was covered in the contract and that she had no claim as the property owner.

It was the subjects who had to suffer because of these quarrels.  In the fall of 1725 Peter Magyary-Kossa Junior, who had also reached his majority, appeared in Gyönk for the purpose of collecting the Arendas that were in arrears from the villagers, which the lease- holder actually owed him.  When the leaseholder, who was not present at the time, moved back to the village and learned of the affair, he had the Richter and village council members who had approved of young Magyary-Kossa actions with regard to the payment of arrears, slapped in irons and locked up in prison in Högyész for six weeks.  In addition the Richter had to pay another fine and he had a cow and calf taken from each of the council members.  The petition sent by the villagers was of no use.  The County supported the decision of the Supreme Court judge and the fine was validated.

On August 2, 1725 Keöszeghy concluded a new contract with the Germans who had moved into the area that keeps to the terms and conditions of the contract of 1724.  This contract is written in Latin and contains the following points:

(1)   Like the Hungarians they have to pay one Gulden and fifty Denari for every team of oxen or three horses to the Domain per year.

(2)   According to local custom they are not entitled to a year free of taxes but on the other hand they can freely move away after prior registration of their intent; but whoever moves has to pay the rent for the current year.

(3)   They are obliged to build good homes that they may sell on leaving.  But they have to pay half of the selling price to the Domains treasury.

(4)   They are to lay out vineyards for themselves; after seven local tax free years have passed they have to pay the ninth from the wine they make.  They are free to sell their wine.

(5)   Like the Hungarians, they have to do five days of free labour to the Domain.

(6)   The butcher shop and public house belongs to the village and will operate during the entire year but the Domain will receive the ninth of its profits.

(7)   Hunting is forbidden for the villagers and infringement on those rights will result in a fine of four Gulden.  The new settlers are, however, obligated like the Hungarians to help with their noble landlord’s hunting activities.

(8)   Whoever moves away secretly or surreptitiously looses his full possessions.

(9)   They will not provide a tithe but like the Hungarians will pay the ninth according to the conventional custom: from their crops of all sorts, from bees, hemp, corn and pigs not yet fattened.

(10)  Like the current Hungarian inhabitants every home has to provide a pair of capons.

(11)  Finally, they must promise that everyone and every individual will intend to live in harmony with the Hungarian inhabitants and will not bother the Domain with trivial matters.  They will have house lots in the village of Gyönk next to the prairies of Nagy and Kisszabaton as well as half of the open lands of Gerenás for their use and cultivation.

The new settlers did not get any tax-free years.  The relatives of the first group came from the County and therefore they were not entitled to any free years as well.  The conscription records of the County give us an idea of how the community developed and expanded at this point.

The tax conscriptions of the County for 1725 that were transcribed in the late fall of 1724, register twenty-three Hungarian taxpayers.  The surviving documents for the conscription in the year 1725 cites that next to the thirty-three Hungarians there were sixteen German taxpayers that had come from Cikó and Varsád. 

According to the later spelling of their names they were: 

Kaspar Trapp Heinrich Neller Johann Eberhard Keil
Johann Christoph Kolb Jakob Jeckel Johann Schildwächter
Thomas Polch (Polt) Peter Muth Johann Penton (Pentrin)
Konrad Krähling Johann Gebhardt Joh. Heinrich Petermann
Wilhelm Balthasar Schmidt Andreas Schauermann Peter Klener (Kleener)
Heinrich Meinhardt    

Andreas Schauermann came from Varsád, the others all probably moved to Gyönk from Cikó. 

One cannot give any more precise details because the conscription registers for Cikó are missing for the years immediately preceding this migration.  Once again the conscription list for 1728 gives a reference to their origin.  After the listing of their names, with several deviations from the register from the year 1725, is the remark that they were dealt with as new arrivals in their earlier place of residence in Cikó where they were included in the conscription immediately before they left and are therefore still entitled to (illegible) tax free years.  On the basis of the County’s decision which had been handed over to them they were supposed to be deleted from the tax register for the current year as a substitute for the free year that they lost due to their move.  According to a later report on the part of the colonists that free year was never granted to them.

The conscription registers of the following year show an uninterrupted influx of settlers from other Counties and Germany while there was also a migration away from Gyönk.

When the quarrelsome, ruthless young Peter Magyary moved to Gyönk and took over the management of his estates in 1735 (or perhaps earlier in 1734) a difficult period began for the colonists.  The majority of the Germans at one point, some thirty families left and found a new home out on the wastelands of Mekényes on the Eszterházy Domains.  Those who remained carried on despite various injustices their landlord caused them and owing to a further large influx off settlers a strong German community developed in the following years.