The first Lutheran Pastor in Banat:
Johann Karl Reichard (1700-1753)
Rosina T. Schmidt
In the Hessian Staves Archives of Darmstadt (Abt.XI. Fol. 61-64) is the original letter to be found written back on 20th of April 1722 by the Emperor Karl VI of the Austrian Empire to his uncle the Landgrave Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt in which he invites his uncle Ernst-Ludwig to send him 600 of his subjects to his Domain in the Banat, even though the Hessians were of Evangelical faith as their Landgrave himself.
Miners were needed foremost for the silver and copper mines around Banat’s southern Military border, north of New Palanka on the Danube, which were re-opened by 1722. Lieutenant Johann Franz Krauss suggested establishing freehold German mining cities in Orawitza, Lippa and Moldowa, as the Serbs and the Romanians already worked the surrounding farmland.
As the copper, iron, lead and silver mines were re-opened new towns were established in Lugosch, Boksan, Dognatschka, Gallina, New-Moldowa, Reschitza, Szaszkabanya,Devitsch, Hauerdorf, and Orawitza. The first ethnic German villages were Denta, Langenfeld in 1717, Facsad in 1718, Kudritz in 1719, Neupetsch, Groda, Jahrmarkt, Detta, Burzias in 1720.
The first settlers arrived from the area of Upper Hungary, from Siebenbürgen, the Zips and lower Hungarian mining towns as well as from Sachsen. The Sachsens were Lutherans, as well as the newest settlers coming from Hesse and Franken (upper Bavaria) duchies. After his arrival in Banat, pastor Johann Karl Reichard wrote on 3rd of June 1724 to the pastor Surdorff in Adelsheim, Hesse: “Around the Pajlanka here in Banat are already 10 German village established.”
The Lutherans of Langenfeld invited Pastor Reichard to be their spiritual leader and with the permission of Count of Mercy young Pastor Reichard left his hometown of Gross-Rohrheim in the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and together with other 18 families (all together 82 members) headed for Banat.
Those 18 families were the following:
- Johannes Orth with wife and 5 children;
- Johannes Knorr with wife;
- Johannes Baumann with wife and 2 children;
- Heinrich Östereicher with wife and 5 children;
- Hans Peter Rindfuss with wife and 5 children;
- Conrad Rindfuss with wife and 1 child;
- Heinrich Schmitt with wife and 5 children;
- Johann Schmitt with wife and 4 children;
- Johann Jacob Weiss with wife and 2 children;
- Hans Seebold Lass with wife and 6 children;
- Georg Niclol Ramge (died AD 1724) with wife and 4 children;
- Peter Kroh with wife and 3 children;
- Heinrich Schönbein with wife;
- Anton Kohl with wife,
- Nicolaus Handschuh with wife and 3 children;
- Nicolaus Daub with wife and 1 child;
- Gertrud Freiler von Franenhausen, single;
- Ludwig Gottfried Guth (he returned home in 1725)
Pastor Reichard held the first sermon in Langenfeld on the Turk’s cemetery on the 5th Sunday after Trinitatis. From all six German villages, from Langenfeld, Petrillowa, Orawitza, Russova, Hauerdorf and Saalahusen streamed the faithful to be part of Banat’s first Lutheran sermon. The contemporary letters of those days describing the event mentioned that more than 600 souls attended, most of them in tears and some even crying loudly.