Rosina T. Schmidt
Hrastovac or Eichendorf in German was established in 1865 on the fertile, marshy flood plains between the great rivers of Drava in the north and Sava in the south, just a few kilometers east of the earthquake fault line of the Ilova River. This fault line was the divider between the old Kingdom of Slavonia on the east side and the old Kingdom of Croatia on the west side. Even during Roman times there were famous mineral baths in towns found along this fault line, including among them Daruvar, Toplice, Krapinska and Lipik.
In 1865 the landowner of that region, Baron Tikery, had the thousand-year old oak forest clear cut. Ox teams dragged the huge 2-3 meter diameter logs with great difficulty to the nearest train station in Sisak on the Sava River. Baron Tikery had the land surveyed and the village lots were soon sold to the sons and daughters of the German settlers in the Hungarian counties of Baranya, Somogy and Tolna, which comprised Swabian Turkey. A homestead in Hrastovac, a Lutheran evangelical village, consisted of 6.5 Joch of personal property and community ownership of 400 Joch, which was still a thick oak forest. The community land was used for grazing of cattle, horses, pigs and sheep. The purchase price for the homestead was 40 guilder or florins.
Our ancestral settlers erected the village out of nothing. The first night was spent under the clear sky and the first winter in rough log cabins. With a measure of prosperity and a feeling of accomplishment, the second generation of the original settlers took pride in knowing that their village had been transformed into a thriving agricultural community within a comparatively short period of time.
Drawn from memory in exile in 1955 by former Hrastovac teacher Mr. Erwin Englert.
Twenty years later with a new generation growing up, there was a lack of arable land. Other Lutheran villages were established near by: Kapetanovo Polje, Franjevac (Strižicevac), Mali Bastaji, Mlinska, Pašijan and others. All these new communities were branch parishes of the Mother Church in Hrastovac. A marriage could be performed only by the pastor of the Mother Church in Hrastovac and therefore most of the vital events of the branch parishes are registered in the Hrastovac church books.
A Google View of Hrastovac.
The fish pond is visible in the top-left corner.
The good life ended in 1944 when all of the villagers had to flee ahead of the Red Army. Today they and their descendants live in all corners of the world.