“Settlement of German Farmers in the Nineteenth Century,”
The Settlement of Bukovina since its Annexation by Austria:
With Special Emphasis on the Settlement of the Germans
from Raimund Friedrich Kaindl, Das Ansiedlungswesen in der Bukowina seit der Besitzergreifung durch Österreich: Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Ansiedlung der Deutschen pp. 440-448 Innsbruck: Verlag der Wagner’schen Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1902
After the settlement of German farmers in the 1780s, almost a half century passed without further colonization of that type. Only after settlement had been proposed in 1827 and knowledge of this was disseminated by the 1830s did new waves of Germans arrive, especially from German-Bohemia, prepared to be settled as farmers. On June 16, 1835 first nineteen and then fifty-four German-Bohemian families applied to the Solka Office of Economic Affairs for settlement on state lands. A comprehensive account1 of these fifty-four applicants reveals much information about them and their dependents. All came from the Prahin District, although not all were born there; often there were Bavarians among them. Only five were single; forty-nine came with their dependents, usually with wife and children. Fifty applicants were males, among whom five were unmarried and forty-five were fathers of families. There were only four women without husbands, of whom two had one daughter each and two had one illegitimate son each.
Most brought quite large families with them: Georg Schaffhauser came with fourteen people ranging in age from three to forty-eight years. Children under one year old could also be found among the migrants. All together there were 252 people, of whom 124 were male and 128 female. Because Joseph Stingel did not register his family, they appear not to have been included. The heads of families and single applicants for settlement were for the most part in their prime years of thirty to forty, ten were over forty-five, including one each of sixty-five, sixty-eight and seventy-two years. Many of the applicants, although seeking farm land, had some sort of trade: among them were one carpenter, two butchers, one blacksmith, one cooper, one cabinetmaker, one shoemaker, one baker, four weavers, two masons, one smelter, one wheelwright, one tailor, two manual laborers, and five lumberers; twenty-six were classified as day wage laborers and four without any specific trade. Christof Reichhardt, Georg Hellinger and Johann Schaffhauser represented the applicants. It is with these men that Administrator Koch of the Solka Office of Economic Affairs negotiated.
As we know,2 the Solka Office of Economic Affairs had designated the Solonetz Valley for German settlers as early as 1832; but in 1834 Slovaks had applied and thus this area had been allotted them although the Office of Economic Affairs had made them several other offers. Next in consideration for settlement were the forested regions of Warwata, Glodischor, Strigoja and Igoja. After a preliminary inquiry (15 July 1835), Administrator Koch went there with the petitioners, but on the one hand these lands of 599 yokes 546 square kilometers were too small and also, as was earlier noted, not entirely appropriate for settlement, aside from which they had already been put to other use. The forested areas of Glodischor and Stigoja, already cleared by 1820, were being used by the community of Unter-Pertestie as pasture, and without them they “could not maintain the necessary amount of livestock for running the Kaczika Salt Works.” Moreover, there was also a shortage of water. Igoja had good stands of beech trees which could not be touched, since they were claimed by the Kaczika Salt Works. Moreover, these sections were too distant from Kaczika, where the colony was to have its school and church. Finally, Warwata was likewise for the most part used by the villagers of Pertesti, leased by them and with access through difficult terrain. Also the small Pojana Lake, which likewise was among the places designated for colonization, did not come under consideration for the German settlement.3
Then the administrator proposed the region around the mouth of the Bori Stream of the Humora. There 900 yokes (thirty farmsteads each of thirty yokes) were to be set aside for the settlement plus twenty-eight yokes 526 square klafters of meadow land belonging to the community of Kloster-Humora, which was to receive in exchange twice as much on the Warwata4 for clearing and use as pasture land; 93 yokes 1557 square klafters wooded land which had been leased through 1845 to the same community for a tax of six crowns per yoke and which they were to relinquish for property of similar value for the forested tract of land on the Warwata; finally 777 yokes 1117 square klafters of forest to round out their holdings. The land here was covered by beech and some fir trees. Dense forests extended all around. The market for lumber in the flat land was limited, since forests adjacent to Kapukodrului, Illischestie and Solka covered local needs. The wood from the settlement lands could be utilized for construction of the colonists’ homes and to satisfy the various needs for wood with the rest to be incinerated for the potash refinery in Frassin, less than one hour away, giving the colonists a source of income. The soil was deemed fertile and suitable for cultivating grasses, in addition to which the Humora had an abundant supply of fresh water. The village of Humora, destined to be raised to a marketplace, was close by so that its school and church would be readily accessible to the Bori colonists.
The road to Transylvania facilitated the sale of produce; craftsmen had an opportunity to earn some money in Humora. Moreover, the villagers of Humora would be able to assist with quartering and generally helping the colonists. Legal matters and police protection could easily be carried out from Humora. A subsidy of wheat and seed grain could be given the colonists from community resources. The settlers had no need of a cash advancement; they would earn their living by lumbering and incinerating wood to make ashes. Clearing the land necessitated great effort; therefore, a property tax of twenty crowns per yoke was deemed sufficient. Annually each settler (who had received thirty yokes) was to pay ten florins. In addition, until the state established the property taxes, each settlers was to pay one florin thirty kreutzers in cash to the Administration, and one florin for the use of firewood. For the land and wood tax every homestead was also obligated at the request of the Administration to supply sixty-six Lower Austrian klafters of split beech logs, namely sixty klafters for the land tax and six for the forest tax. The last was to be delivered as soon as the Administration was able to sell wood, i.e., when Humora became a marketplace. (At that time the production of one Lower Austrian klafter of firewood cost twelve crowns.) The colonists were to have six free years before the above taxes were due with payment to begin on the day they received their full endowment. Before surveying the settlement the forester was to designate the most appropriate location for the village and along this clearing immediately allot each settler four yokes of property for house and garden (i.e., twenty-eight yokes 525 square klafters of meadowland and the ninety-three yokes 2557 square klafters of wooded land.
The District Administration approved these proposals and signed a protocol with the petitioners on July 1, 1835, confirming the above conditions. This protocol substituted for a temporary contract. On September 21, 1835 the District Administration directed the matter to the Tax Office (Gefällenverwaltung). In the meantime, the County Office, no doubt moved by the entreaties and distress of the fifty-four petitioners,5 sent a reminder to the District Administration on September 12, 1835 that when they received information about the fifty-four homesteads and signed the contract, they should also see to lodgings. The settlements were necessary in order to provide security. As a result, on September 21, i.e., on the same date as the above-cited report to the Tax Office, the District Administration commissioned attorney Uhlig in Humora at least to put up the colonists in earthen huts and to sustain them from community funds. By October 16, 1835 the District Administration already directed the County Office to allot 122 yokes of land and forest to the thirty colonists that they might construct homes and assure their means of livelihood for the next year and in addition to give them wood from the Warwata for building purposes; they would earn their living by lumbering. The settlers received provisions of food from the Germans in Illischestie. For the winter they were accommodated in earthen huts and got firewood free of charge. The remaining twenty-four petitioners were provided for at a later time.6 Several weeks later, in a decree on October 24, 1835 the Tax Office issued the general conditions for settlement previously discussed. This necessitated renewed negotiations with the colonists which took place on March 4, 1836 during which the thirty petitioners declared that they would accept the changes demanded by the Tax Office relating to the general conditions of settlement it had stipulated as well as all subsequent changes. Whereupon by the decree of April 5, 1836 to the County Administration, the Tax Office temporarily approved the settlement. Final endorsement rested with the Exchequer (Hofkammer) to which the Administration turned the same day.
In the meantime the work of laying out the settlement had begun. In March, as we know from a report of the Solka Office of Economic Affairs dated March 8, 1836, the thirty settlers requested the property endowment and the building timber. After being granted this request, they fully established themselves in Bori during the course of the summer. The houses were constructed of poor quality wood. As noted in a report of the Solka Office of Economic Affairs on October 10, 1836, a portion of the wood had been reduced to ashes; from its sale to the potash processing plant in Frassin as well as from the harvest of their gardens and from forestry, and colonists covered their immediate needs. On October 15, 1836 the District Administration ordered Chief Forester Niederthal immediately to distribute to the colonists the ninety-three yokes 1557 square klafters of forest in geometric parcels; apparently the latter were already using the twenty-eight-yoke field. The following winter the colonists then very diligently cleared these stretches, which the District Administration reported to the Tax Office on February 26, 1837. To the extent possible, the colonists continued to receive aid from the Germans, especially those of Radautz, Illischestie and Humora.
And so the settlement gradually developed. On August 24, 1838 negotiations were reopened by County Commissar Hoppe who represented the commission in charge of settlement matters. Up to that time the settlers each had only four yokes of property which they had cleared. It was pointed out that the six tax-free years would begin from the day of the endowment of the various land parcels. The settlers asked that the contractual amount of grain be calculated based on the price averaged over a ten-year period, otherwise they would suffer a setback in years of poor harvest. They also filed a request to receive the balance of their endowment. The Commissar issued them a certificate stating that their “praiseworthy ambition and strenuous effort vouched for the prosperity of the settlement.”
Proceedings were above all hampered by thorny issues. First, the local authorities delayed granting them their entire endowment; they would receive this only when the Exchequer had confirmed the fulfillment of the conditions of settlement, which, as we already know, continued to be delayed. That under these circumstances the colonists lodged repeated petitions and complaints is self-evident. Eventually the County Office took up the matter, and it is thanks to this intervention that on June 22, 1841 the Tax Office, simultaneously with the approval of the settlement of Schwarztal and Buchenhein (Pojana Mikuli), also extended temporary authorization for Bori, and consented to the granting of the endowment of up to 6 yokes, which then took place immediately. The second difficulty lay in the limited potential for livelihood in the mountains, so that the settlers declared they could not remain on that land but had to move to flat land and would only return after they had earned enough to be able to dedicate themselves to the task of making the land arable.
In order to secure a livelihood for these settlers as well as for those of Pojana Mikuli which would at the same time enable them to clear the land, the Administration, after prolonged negotiations, constructed two potash huts in the Humora Valley (1842)7 The settlers immediately began to prepare the land for cultivation and incinerate the wood to ashes, dragging out the production of ashes as long as possible so that by 1843 they were in a position to sustain themselves on their own settlement while continuing to clear the land. Twenty years later the settlers did not yet received their full endowment. We have noted in an earlier section that they did not yet have it by 1861. With domestic reforms leading to the non-encumbrance of property and the end of compulsory labor service, they, as well as landholders elsewhere, were able to enlarge their property. The settlers also complained about the fact that for church and school they were incorporated into the Humora, ¼ mile away. If the Humora Stream overflowed its banks, the children could not attend classes. Moreover, the settlers wanted a German school. Eventually they received six yokes 1559 square klafters of land for a school.
In 1890 Bori numbered 296 people, including 294 Germans, all of whom were Catholic. A researcher familiar with conditions in German-Bohemia said the following about this colony:
The village of Bori lies directly on the boundary of Gurahumora, with which it appears to form a complete unit. It is an entirely German-Bohemian settlement. Already two days after my arrival, I set aside a day for a visit there. Bori lies at the foot of a rather steep mountain, scenic enough, as though one were not to walk there often. At the bottom of the valley flows the silvery Humora Stream. A large wide well-cared-for street intersects the village. The houses, naturally mostly of wood, are well built: in most of them I found the distinctive characteristic of our native villages: St. Johann von Nepomuk, carved or painted. I thought of him when I encountered the first flaxen-haired youth: his name was Johann. His brother was called Wenzel, and, as his mother noted, he was named after his father. There was no further doubt that I was in a genuine Bohemian village. The houses line both sides of the street.8
With the establishment of Bori thirty German-Bohemian families found accommodations. The twenty-four others, who came with them, were provided for in another way. Most of them found a new home in Lichtenberg.
1Because of its length, this account cannotbe reprinted here.
2See Part I, P. 2i9; Part II, p. 142 ff.; and Part V, p. 186 ff.
3It had from the beginning been intended as a national settlement. See p. 18 ff.
4The above-mentioned Warwata is not intended here, rather the stream opposite Bori which empties into the Humora.
One Square Klafter = 4.3 square yards.
5Until October (see text below) the colonists stayed in Radautz and supported themselves through their labor. According to a report, one of these, who had been destined for Bori, (Zoglauer), returned to his homeland.
6According to a notation in Wickenhauser, of the fifty-four petitioners for land listed in the large registry, only twenty-eight were destined for Bori; two not listed therein were added later. The first twenty-eight included: Johann Haas, Franz Rippel, Christof Reichhardt, Sebastian Wällisch, Georg Brandl, Wenzel Hilgarth, Josef Günthner, Georg Hellinger, Jakob Gerhardt, Veit Seidl, Josef Brandl, Christoph Meidl, Josef Hoffmann, Johann Joachimsthaler, Johann Lang, Johann Stauber, Franz Klostermann, Josef Schaffhauser, Sebastian Hartinger, Johann Schaffhauser, Lorenz Zoglauer, Josef Binder, Johann Schätz, Josef Schätz, Anton Tischler, Josef Pilsner, Georg Schaffhauser, Anton Schätz. To these came the following two colonists who are not recorded in the large registry: Michael Kisslinger and Jakob Koller; both came from the Prachin District of Bohemia and brought their families with them; the first was “officially classified as disabled.” Every colonist was to get two yokes for house and garden, eight yokes of fields; twenty yokes of meadowland, and pasturage; according to other sources: two yokes for house and garden, ten yokes of fields, ten yokes of meadowland, and eight yokes of forest land for pasturage. See also the signatures of March 1836 on appendix 19 plus notations. It must be pointed out that shifting for the settlement of certain families took place so that not all intended for one colony remained there. For example, the three colonists surnamed Schätz named above, later appeared as colonists in Lichtenberg. Most of the families listed in the large registry and not settled in Bori wound up in Lichtenberg.
7For more on these potash huts see below under the history of Buchenhain.
8J. Loserth, Deutsch-Böhmische Colonien (Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Deutschen in Böhmen 23. B. 1885), p. 377. An observation on the history of this settlement is contained in the otherwise uncritical article “Bori” by E. v. P. in the Bukowiner Boten (Czernowitz), No. 31, 1900.