Pastor Reichardt’s Letters from Banat

Pastor Reichard’s letter from Banat to Pastor Surdorff in Adelsheim,

3rd of June 1724[1]

“That I did not write sooner as promised it is because we arrived to Walachia (today’s Romania) later than anticipated. We were delayed often on this voyage, sometimes because of the pass controls, sometimes because of the change of the ship personal in Ofen (Pecs) and Wien (Vienna), and sometimes because of the strong winds, which prevented the continuation of the trip, so that we arrived 8 days ago and not on the 23rd of May as planned.

At Marxheim, which is a village 2 hours below Donauwörth where we embarked, we had to wait for eight days because of the incredible mass of people, which waited there. Just like a small army, even though some departed daily, it was just as noticeably as a drop of water taken out of the river.

Here in Banat the Germans are 10 full villages strong, only around Ujpalanka. Around Temesvar there are just as many, and now a whole new city, Arad, is being constructed. My apartment is in Langenfeld, a pretty place of 113 souls, where I was accepted by the Emperor’s administration and have also to look after a similarly large place three hours away as a filial, the town of Petrillova because of the close by copper mine worked by the Lutherans, including the mine director and the office personnel.

The parish notified my arrival to the commander Saalhausen in Ujpalanka, who notified Mr. Field Marshall Mercy, who arrived the other day and to whom I had to report. It took 5 days to straighten out with the Oravicza mine, where I had to stay on Mr. General’s order 3 days until I received the attached instruction in which foremost the mine was under my care. Otherwise I like it here very much, as I will not miss totally the conversation with wigged[2] people.

There is no shortage on food, and I can have whatever I wish. Lobsters, fish, rabbits, wild chickens, pheasants, all are easily available at little cost, some of which I shall have today presented to me in my honour. My only wish is that I could have you as a guest.

The nicest water that one can find anywhere in the German Principalities we have here, a stream coming from the hills – and a pleasantly gurgling river from the mountains, rich on lobster and fish makes our place and area charming, so I am not sorry to have undertaken this trip, where thanks to God I arrived healthy even if it was quite strenuous. I do not have to worry about my food, as I can see that God is presenting me with more than I am worth or need.

I wish you could have seen the delight of the Lutheran people at my arrival who are already seven years in this land and there are many in the cities, and I will not talk about their other needs but their spiritual need so will throw myself eagerly into my work. Even though it is very difficult, I do it happily, because I feel I am greatly needed, and God plans in the future to achieve even more through my efforts.

There is only one thing I am sorry about, as I was expressly advised that I would be the only pastor tolerated in all of Banat. So I will have all the work on my shoulders, but I hope that the Owner of the Harvest, whom we shall ask for favor, will provide more workers to his Harvest. His harvest is very big.

Our Germans settled here nicely already, and it is a great delight to see a field worked the German way, which has to be admired because of its lushness and diversity. The soil is a little darker than ashes. What is grown back home under difficulties I have seen here on a river island grow wild and in profusion like grapevines climbing the trees like hops with the nicest grapes hanging from it. Wild asparagus, which I ate, is just as delicate as our cultivated one. Wild cherries on the small trees taste just like the Weichsel cherry and have the shape of the sour cherries. I found lots of them in the bush on the Heide.

It is almost unbearable hot here, and it did not rain for quite some time. Nights are quite cool hereabouts, and quite hot during the day. There is also a glass hut not too far from here. One cow with the calf is sold for 5 Gulden, one plain horse between 10 to 15 Gulden, a nice one about 20 Gulden, of which I have acquired one. Anyone wishing to move here has to prove at the Danube to have 200 or 150 Gulden and to pay for the ship trip, because at first the people traveled at the Emperor’s expense, but disembarked in upper Hungary and settled down on the landholdings of Barons and nobility. Now 1 Gulden has to be paid per person for transportation, and they can disembark where they wish. The upfront costs is supposed to prevent beggar people from coming here, as they did so in the beginning, however, I have not seen any beggars yet. Anyone coming even with a little bit of cash can easily find its way.

There is nothing I miss here, except that I could bring one of the Marian nuns to keep my house. I also wish to be able to share one hour with you to tell you all about those miracles, which I have seen here. Alas, that is hardly possible.”

[1] The letter is in the Family Archives of the Freiherren von Berlichingen zu Jagsthausen.

[2] Educated people


In his book “Die Erlebnisse in Ungarn”, which the Prälet Diehl published in the ‘Evangelischen Gemeindeblat für Friedberg und Friedberg-Fauerbach’ in 1724, Pastor Reichard wrote on 3rd of June 1724 from Banat:

“We continued our trip to Banat and reached Langenfeld[1] on 15th of May. As soon as I arrived his Excellency General Field Marshal Count Mercy as administrator of Banat in Vipalanca[2], whom my arrival was notified, requested my credentials, which I also had to present to the President of the mine in Orawitza, and if I were not able to fully confirm my credentials, I would not have been accepted but would have been sent back, to which I must confess I had the greatest desire. However a written instruction[3] did arrive  (which was sneakily taken away from me at my departure) and solely because of the Lutheran miners was a Lutheran Pastor accepted by the Emperor’s ‘hochlöbliche’ Administration. That I was not for long tolerated[4] at this place confirms the military court’s decision….”

Pastor Reichard was only able to do his pastoral duties in the German speaking communities of Langenfeld and Petrillowa for nine moths, before he was banished on insistence of the Jesuits. With the help of Count of Mercy himself, and disguised in the uniform of a K and K officer, Pastor Reichard managed to flee to Count of Mercy’s own domain in Tolna, where he became pastor in the German speaking Lutheran villages of Varsad and Kalazno.

Back in Ober-Ramstadt in Hesse, Pastor Reichard sen. wrote in Ober-Ramstadt’s Lutheran church book for births, marriages and deaths for the years 1617-1712 on page 737 the following:

“In spring of anno 1724 received my eldest son Johann Carl Reichard from the Langenfeld’s evangelical community in Hungary a Vocation[5], which he graciously accepted, after thinking it over with God’s help, and after a travel of 6 weeks he arrived safely in that community, which also paid for his traveling expenses. The Emperor’s administration accepted only him and no additional pastor[6] and gave him the administration of the Langenfeld’s parish, the Petrillowa filial as well as the mine[7], the miners included. It is in the Temesvár area of Banat 12 miles from Belgrade and from Temesvár and because he ventured in God’s name to look after the poor souls there I trust in God that He will protect him as long as he performs his duties correctly, that He will give him His grace and blessing, this is wished from heart by his father Reichard.

P.S. 1725 transferred west by 50 miles and became pastor there.”

Pastor Reichard’s arrival in Banat started an avalanche of counter-reformation by the Jesuits. Langenfeld’s teacher Mr. Boy, who witnessed the happenings, wrote to his Vogt[8]:

“…soon after his safe arrival at Langenfeld escorted by the Bürgers[9]we notified the commander (Saalhausen), who said that it was God’s will since he was sent from so far, but as soon as the Catholic monks will hear about it,  there will be much noise, and when on the third day his Excellency General Mercy arrived unannounced, the noise really started, there was much running and going back and forth, their rage was incredible. Mr. Reichard had to be brought from Langenfeld immediately. He arrived fearlessly, was greeted friendly by the General and the Emperor’s administrators, was however sharply examined, so his Excellency the General said that he can see for himself that he is now here. He promised to the mine director that he would send him the first Lutheran Pastor who arrived in Banat, since the miners were all Sachsen, but when our Forman as well as Kaspar Mehrberg mentioned that now they would have to come up with the costs, so the plans were changed that he should go to Peter Illowa, which is between the mine and our town Langenfeld until it was finally decided that he should held a sermon every 8 to 14 days in Peter Illowa where also the mine’s administration has to report to hear God’s word and receive the holly sacraments. Mr. Reichard had to go immediately to the mine, where he had the opportunity to be introduced, where the miners received him with great happiness, assuming that he would stay with them.  The General with his escorts as well as the all the local Emperor’s administrators were present while Mr. Reichard started with his instructions.”

[1] Langenfeld in southern Banat.

[2] Vipalanca = Ujpalanka, New-Palanka on the Danube in Banat

[3] This instruction was an order how a Lutheran Pastor in Banat had to conduct himself. It was sent by Banat’s highest administrator and dated June 1st 1724.

[4] As a Lutheran Pastor

[5] Vocation = a parish job

[6] For the whole of Banat

[7] Orawitza mine

[8] Vogt = principal, boss

[9] Bürger = free citizen