Gyonk Settlement

The Settlement of Gyonk After the Turkish Occupation

Contributed by

Henry Fischer

In the year 1699, some officials of a County Commission indicated that Serbs had occupied the estates of Kety, Gyonk and Tabod, plus some others for some time.  The landowner was Gergely Szili, and even during the Turkish occupation he raised taxes from his peasants.  These lands came into the possession of Istvan Sandor whose first wife was Szili’s daughter Eva.  The Sandor family lived in Komarom, and placed Istvan Szekeli in charge of the estates on their behalf and gave him full power and control over them.  The Szekelis had a small estate along with their manor house in Simontornya and owned the prairie known as Varsad around 1700.  Istvan Sandor already died in 1700.  His heir Istvan Sandor junior and his sister Judith, both married into the Peter Magyari-Kossa family, who was the Reformed Superintendent (Bishop) for the Upper Danube Region.  In 1702 the value of the undeveloped estate was put at 12,000 Gulden.

In 1703, Gyonk was inhabited by sixteen Hungarian families, which however, fled from the area during the war years of the Kurucz Rebellion under Rakoczi.  Only one of their names would later appear in the taxation lists:  Andras Balocsfodi.  In 1715 there were several other families identified:  Bosnyak, Irsai and Safar.  The Royal Chamber official in Simontornya, Johann Kaufmann was ordered to carry out a conscription survey of the village of Gyonk and its environs for the government in Ofen (Buda).  This document provides a description of the tilled land, meadows, and pastures and forests, and the very small number of inhabitants.  In this survey there were six registered Hungarian families living in Gyonk.  All of them had cows, calves and five families had either oxen or horses in their possession.  Later in 1715, one of the families left.

With regard to these early years of settlement our chief sources are the history of the Tolna Lutheran Seniorat, written by Gyorgy Barany Szencize, its first Senior, who wrote it in 1742, as well as some entries in the Protocols (Minutes) of Tolna County.  According to Barany, Lutherans lived scattered in the area among Roman Catholics and Reformed when they first settled there as a group from Papa in Veszprem County, on what would later become the estate of Gyonk.  In an effort to avoid conversion with the other confessions, they sought sanctuary in the forest, and lived as hunters, rather than farmers.  They approached the Inspector of the region in Buda for permission to install a Lutheran pastor to serve them.  As a result they issued a call to Andras Molitoris, the former pastor of the Lutheran congregation in Varpolata, who in coming to Gyonk was also accompanied by several other Lutheran families.  The scattered Lutherans in the area now streamed into Gyonk to worship there, which greatly disturbed the Roman Catholic priesthood in the area.

Consequently, on September 17, 1715 during the general assembly of the County, the priest in Pincehely complained that a group of Lutherans had settled in Gyonk recently and had installed their own preacher.  He protested against this in the name of the cathedral chapter in Pecs, and the vicar-general and challenged the assembly to order the expulsion of the preacher.  The assembly ordered, Johann Kaufmann, the authority who was in charge of the village to see to Molitoris’ exile, upon his return home to Gyonk.  Because the calling of a pastor had been done with the full knowledge of Kaufmann, it was probably the reason why he did nothing about it, so that on April 2, 1716 there was another complaint lodged at the County Assembly because the expulsion had not been carried out.  This time the vice-governor was charged with the task, which was also proved rather tardy in his response.  According to Barany’s report, in 1717 Molitoris was forbidden to carry out any religious functions, and in order to save him from imprisonment, various authorities of the County were bribed with fresh game from the hunt.   But later that year, the congregation because of his alcoholism, which prevented him from adequately serving his parishioners, sent the preacher away.

His successor in office was Barany, who reported on his coming to Gyonk in great detail in his history, but gives no indication or reason for his quick departure a year later to serve the congregation in Gyorkony.  We can assume that the landlord in Gyonk had something to do with it.  He was the Reformed Superintendent and fiercely Calvinistic, Peter Magyary-Kossa, and Georg Barany the Lutheran pastor was a Pietist, and the two men differed greatly in their theological outlook and teaching, so that a “friendly” atmosphere was hardly possible between the two confessions in Gyonk.  For that reason Barany accepted the call from the Lutheran landlord in Gyorkony, Janos Meszlenyi and took up his ministry there.  Pietists were also unwelcome in certain Orthodox Lutheran circles in Hungary as well.

In 1719, Peter Magyari-Kossa and his wife returned to Aranyo in Komarom County, from where he complained that the County did not respect the borders of his holdings in Gyonk.  He appointed Istvan Szekeli to look after his affairs in terms of disputes with the County, who like Magyari-Kossa was also a Calvinist.  Magyari died in 1720 and left a widow with five children, the youngest of which was four years old.  His wife now took over the affairs of the family and the family holdings and did so quite effectively.  She mortgaged Gyonk and some of the nearby holdings to the widow Maria Sokorai and Gyorgy Halai on March 10, 1722 for 200 Gulden for one year.

In the fall of 1725, Peter Magyari-Kossa the younger took over the family estates again, and forced his subject peasants to pay off the mortgage, which led to imprisonment for those who refused and fines and punishments for the others.

The Tax Conscription list for the County in 1725 (which information was collected in the late fall of 1724) identified 23 Hungarian taxpayers in Gyonk.  The census of 1725, however reports, that in addition to the 33 Hungarians living there, there were also Germans who came from Ciko and Varsad, both in Tolna County.

There were sixteen German taxpayers:

  •   Kaspar Trapp
  •   Heinrich Neller
  •   Johann Eberhard Keil (Kehl)
  •   Johann Christoph Kolb
  •   Jakob Jeckel (Jackl)
  •   Johann Schildwaechter
  •   Thomas Polch (Polt) (Pall)
  •   Peter Muth
  •   Johann Pentom (Pentrin)
  •   Konrad Kraehling
  •   Johann Gebhardt
  •   Johann Heinrich Petermann
  •   Wilhelm Baltasar Schmidt
  •   Andreas Schauermann (Sauermann)
  •   Peter Klener (Klenner)
  •   Heinrich Meinhardt

Andreas Schauermann came from Varsad, the others apparently all came from Ciko and re-settled here because of pressure to convert to Roman Catholicism.

The Conscription Lists of 1728 provides one clue to their place of origin, which validates that they had been newcomers in Ciko and had simply moved on after a very short stay there.

In 1735, and probably already in 1734, the quarrelsome Peter Magyary-Kossa (the younger) moved to Gyonk and took over the administration of his landholdings and began to institute measures that were very difficult for his colonist subjects.  The majority of the Germans, about thirty families left, and found a new home at Mekenyes which was part of the Esterhazy estate, and from there they pressed charges against their former landlord because of the many injustices they had to suffer at Magyary-Kossa’s hands.

Through the ongoing arrival of more and more German families in the next years, strong German communities evolved in both places, but with Gyonk being the larger.