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Children of the Danube

Children of the Danube

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Children of the Danube

742 pagine
11 ore
Jun 14, 2004


Numerous histories and studies of the Great Swabian Migration of the 18th century have been written and published, and the tragic fate of many of their descendants in our own time has also been chronicled. Most of these are available in languages other than English. Much of that research forms the backdrop of Children of the Danube, which is the authors attempt at telling the stories behind the history. Personal stories that weave the tapestry of the lives of his extended family with those of the other families and individuals who joined them after venturing down the majestic, sometimes turbulent, Danube River, taking them on a quest that is common to all people: the search for the Promised Land.

That is what they sought in the devastated Kingdom of Hungary, recently liberated after an oppressive one hundred and fifty year occupation by the Turks. Leaving the Danube River behind them, they would be confronted by a wilderness, disease-ridden swamps, dense forests, isolation, primitive living conditions, marauders and brigands. They would find themselves at the mercy of greedy landowners and rapacious nobles, and would have to endure the final onslaught of the Counter Reformation in their pursuit of religious freedom. This is what awaited them, in responding to the invitation of the Hapsburg Emperor Charles VI. It was hardly what the handbills circulating throughout south western Germany had promised.

How they would respond, who they would become as a result of it, and what sustained and formed them into the Children of the Danube, as a distinctive and unique people among the Danube Swabians will unfold, in the telling of their tragic and yet heroic story.

Jun 14, 2004

Informazioni sull'autore

Henry A. Fischer was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He is the son of Swabian immigrants from Hungary whose lives and family history form the backdrop for the trilogy Remember to Tell the Children that followed the publication of Children of the Danube, his original historical survey of the Great Swabian Migration of the 18th Century into Hungary. The trilogy is written in the form of historical fiction but it is based on extensive historical research and family tradition. Although it focuses on the authors own extended family it is a reflection of the broader historical experience of all the families who shared it with them as Children of the Danube. The Pioneers, the first book in the trilogy, dealt with the early settlement years of the first three generations and Strangers and Sojourners which followed highlighted their coming of age as a distinct society within the wider context of life in Hungary up until the mid 19th century. Emigrants and Exiles, the current work, is the last in the series and follows their ongoing quest for the Promised Land that leads to emigration to the Americas and the tragic fate and dispersal of the exiles following the Second World War. He and his wife Jean reside in Oshawa, Ontario. Following his ministry as a Lutheran pastor he was a co-founder of InterChurch Health Ministries and introduced Parish Nursing Ministry to congregations across Canada during his first retirement. His writing career followed after years of historical research. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. His other vocation is being Ota to his four grandchildren.

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Children of the Danube - Henry A. Fischer



The Cradle


Just south of the shores of Lake Balaton, and its blue placid waters, the verdant green rolling hills of northern Somogy embrace a village, deep in one of the valleys, watered by a fast flowing brook and some tributary creeks. The soil is rich and red, and row upon row of vineyards snake their way across the hills rising up to meet the next incline and plunge back down to the valley floor where the village lies nestled around a church. At the crest of another hill the baroque tower of a different church stands as a sentinel over the valley. The outline of a chalice is cleverly designed into the upper portion of its doorframe. It is the sign of its identity, and the identity of the people who came to this valley and founded the village of Kötcse.

Kötcse is the cradle of the German settlement of Somogy County, in south western Hungary, part of an area often known as Swabian Turkey. This is where four families will meet, whose stories will weave a tapestry of a common heritage shared by all of those who joined them on the trek down the Danube River in the early 18th century into a far off land known as Hungary: the Fischers, the Frischkorns, the Bitzs and the Tefners. Each family, in its own way, is related to the life, history and faith of this obscure, out-of-the-way village and its people. Yet, although Kötcse lies only some thirty miles north of where the major Swabian settlements would later thrive, it was all but forgotten in their memories, recollections and oral history. This is where we took root, grew, eventually flourished and spread. This was the place of our infancy in Hungary: our cradle in the land we had hoped could become a home for us.

The story of the founding of Kötcse is of course, part of a much larger epic in the annals of the tumultuous history of south eastern Europe. It is but a brief chapter in the Schwabenzug… the Great Swabian Migration of the 18th century.

Following the defeat of the rampaging Turkish hordes laying siege to Vienna in 1683, the Imperial Austrian Army hurled them back throughout south eastern Europe. The liberation of Hungary after 150 years of rule by the Turks, exposed the ultimate results of their occupation: devastation, depopulation, wasteland, swamp and wilderness. The Hapsburg Emperor Charles VI sent out the call for colonists to reclaim the wilderness, and to develop economic life and a new society, in this extension of his domains that now enveloped the Danube basin. The call was extended and heard throughout what was then the Holy Roman Empire, which included vast areas of what is present-day south western Germany. Small principalities, fiefdoms, Episcopal sees, provinces and districts related to the Empire were invaded by public relations officials who told the land-hungry, peace-starved, over-taxed peasants bound to feudal masters, of a new life, and new hope, and new opportunities in Hungary. Wherever, that was. They could buy land of their own. They would not have to pay taxes for a given period of time. There was less annual free labour owed to their landlords. And there was so much more. All of the handouts told the same story, Go east young man! And the way to go was down the Danube River. That is how we became the Danube Swabians: The Children of the Danube.

At Ulm, and Regensburg and other ports along the Danube, immigrant groups assembled to be loaded on rafts, boats and barges to float down the river to Vienna, then on to Buda. Finally they would come to liberated Temesvar, the gateway to the Banat, the new Crownland desperate for colonists now that it was recently cleared of the Turks. But there was only one obstacle in our way: Protestants need not apply. We began our career as the Children of the Danube, both as illegal immigrants, and as political and religious undesirables.

But it is important to mention at the outset that we were not Swabians either. Very few of the Danube Swabians were. There are many theories as to how we were lumped together with this one designation, since only a very few of the settlers came from Swabia or Württemberg, the homeland of the Swabians. It appears that the first settlers at the turn of the 18th century, were actually Swabians, and the Hungarians called them Svabok, and after that, in their minds, we all were. We are Danube Swabians very much like our first cousins, who immigrated to America at the time, who ended up as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Lutherans and the Reformed in Hungary had undergone two centuries of cruel unrelenting persecution at the hands of the Hapsburgs allied with the Jesuits, the shock troops of the Counter Reformation, who operated alongside of the military, in achieving their joint aims throughout the Emperors’ domains. The last thing on earth they needed or wanted, was any more Protestants in the Empire. Yet Charles VI granted some religious concessions, to allow his agents to lure and entice the peasantry in Hesse in particular, because their rulers Landgrave Ernst Ludwig and Karl were emphatic about securing such rights for any of their subjects who would emigrate. To a great extent, our four families are descendants of these original Hessian immigrants as well as some who came from Württemberg and Baden. From within Hesse itself, many originated in the countless villages huddled in the deep valleys of Upper Hesse, the densely forested mountainous Odenwald, and the fabled towns of the Duchy of Hanau, all of which we will discover as their emerging story unfolds.

The massive immigration into Hungary began in 1722, when Charles VI opened up the Banat to settlement. But not only the Emperor was interested in securing settlers, the landowners and nobles of Hungary also wanted to redevelop their lands and were in competition for settlers. At the head of the immigration movement was the Governor of the Banat, Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy. He was the Emperor’s official representative, and one of his tasks as the colonizer of the Banat, was to make certain that no Lutherans entered the area. But, Count von Mercy, was also one of the new landlords in Hungary. He had bought extensive estates situated in the County of Tolna, and searched for industrious, conscientious, German colonists to develop his lands. He sent his adjutant Vatzy to Vienna to recruit and enlist would-be settlers on their way to the Banat to consider his master’s offer to settle on his private estates in Hungary instead. When knowledge of this spread, it greatly displeased the Viennese court officials, but what perturbed them even more, was the fact that this agent went out of his way to find Lutherans among the emigrants. In fact he seemed to show a preference for them.

The Hessians had been selected for settlement in the Banat, but von Mercy’s agents and others coaxed them off the boats along the Danube to settle in Hungary. However, over 600 Lutheran families from Hesse did go on to the Banat. All of their attempts to practice their Lutheran faith and establish church life were met with the fierce resistance of the Imperial Administration and the Jesuits. Many of those who settled in the vicinity of Langenfeld, later fled into what is now Yugoslavia, and attempted to return home or sought refuge in Hungary in those settlements that other Lutheran families had been able to establish. The only other alternative was conversion to Roman Catholicism. As for those who remained, their communities, which they had founded in the wilds of the Banat were completely destroyed by later Turkish invasions, and most of the people were massacred or carried off into slavery.

At the river ports along the Danube in Hungary, at Harta, Paks, Dunafoldvar and the town of Tolna, nobles or their agents were stationed. They were in search of settlers, who would leave the royal transports to settle on their lands. Some agents were successful and persuaded many of them to give up the Banat as their destination. They left the ships and were taken overland in wagon trains, and settled on abandoned and undeveloped estates in the deeply forested wilderness of Tolna County and became their initial home in Hungary.

The German communities that were later located in Somogy County, with the exception of Felso Mocsolad, were colonized by these Hessians, who had first settled in Tolna County following their arrival in Hungary. These other German colonists arrived in Felsö Mocsolad as early as 1721, while the district Lutheran Church records indicate that a Lutheran congregation existed in Kötcse as early as 1725. The latest possible date for the settlement of Kötcse is 1730, and it appears that the Hungarian magnates recruited the Hessian settlers from various communities in Tolna County, basing their operations in Paks on the Danube.

But it all began in Regensburg, which was part of Bavaria, and the northernmost river port on the Danube. And it could have happened like this:


The city of the hundred towers came into view as Konrad reached the crest of the hill. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand and pushed his three cornered hat to the back of his head exposing his thick auburn hair and his broad forehead. He caught sight of the massive stone bridge across the onrushing Danube River that was now just ahead of them as he and his family, along with the others who had left the Schwarzenfels district of Upper Hesse ten days before, trudged along the stone road towards Regensburg. He reached out for his five-year old nephew Adam, who was sitting beside his mother on the cart on which they were riding, amidst the bundles of bedding, clothing and provisions. His sister-in-law, Elisabeth smiled at her youngest brother-in-law, while she nursed young Baltasar at her breast. She found Konrad’s excitement and enthusiasm contagious. He was so unlike her husband Killian, his older brother, who was somewhat rigid, reserved and rather stern.

Holding the youngster in one arm, Konrad pointed to the city that was coming into view as they reached the top of the hill.

Look over there Adam. Count them. The golden stone bridge has fifteen arches. And look at the towers of the cathedral, how majestic and tall they are. And see the old Roman walls, he said excitedly. Then his attention was drawn to the river, the flow of which was dark and deep, swift and broad, as it ran beneath the bridge. He knew that his future was linked with this waterway, as was the destiny of all of them, as they took this next step on their journey into the unknown, to the land of Hungary.

Romans who, Uncle Konrad? Adam asked, not at all certain what he should know about them.

Konrad often forgot himself like this. Unlike most of the others in his family, he had gone on in school, and his love of history and learning, were not much appreciated by his older brothers. A long, long time ago, a Roman Emperor, named Marcus Aurelius built a fort here and later it was called Ratisbon. Some of those walls are still standing… he said, pointing in the distance.

And so are you, young man, an obviously irritated man said from behind him. Move along. He pushed his handcart around Konrad and scowled his displeasure about the inconvenience the tall slender young man created by standing there in the middle of the road creating an obstacle for the rest of the trudging crowd following behind him.

This brief encounter did not pass by unnoticed by Konrad’s brother Killian, who gave him the look with which he was all too familiar and he quickly moved along, first depositing Adam back on the cart with his mother, and taking his place walking alongside them, while some others passed by, or jostled their way past him eager to get to the passport control station in the city before the rest of them arrived at the assembly area. Konrad shifted his haversack on his back, to rest his left shoulder that had borne the brunt of the weight for most of the day.

Passing through the ancient city gate they joined a steady stream of other would-be emigrants for Hungary and simply followed those who were ahead of them who seemed to know where they were going. Coming upon one of the broad spacious squares where there was an open market, they met their other two brothers, Johannes and Johann Adam. They were surrounded by a bevy of boisterous teenage girls and young women, who had been part of their travelling group for the past several days and the two handsome Tefners were obviously the centre of attention. Johannes seemed to be in his element as he flirted with them and with his flashing and winning smile and dark good looks attracted more interest than his brother Johann Adam thought he deserved. Both brothers were stocky and sturdy, with the same broad forehead that was characteristic of all four brothers, but unlike Konrad they were much darker in colouring and lacked his finer facial features.

On seeing Killian coming their way, they abandoned their most recent conquests and joined their family. They knew that their older brother did not approve of their fleshly pursuits as he was often heard to say. There was a streak of uncompromising Calvinism at the heart and centre of Killian’s approach to life. Konrad felt relieved that his brothers now had Killian’s attention rather than himself.

Konrad shyly glanced in the direction of the group of young girls who gave every indication of their feelings of rejection because of their abandonment by the Tefner brothers. One in particular looked more than crestfallen. She seemed devastated. Konrad remembered seeing her before. But the longing look in her eyes was a clear indication of her feelings for one of his brothers. He wondered if he would ever see that kind of look directed towards him. It was at that moment that their eyes met for only an instant, and then they looked away both pretending it had not even happened.

As she walked away, Konrad noted that she was taller than most and carried herself well, and even with her layers of skirts she was not as broad in the hips as most of the other girls, which was considered the height of physical attractiveness on the part of Hessian men and society, which was a view that Konrad did not share. But then, he was often out of step with life around him. For what he remembered most about her now that she was out of view was that she was vivacious and pretty in a delicate kind of way, like the fine porcelain he had read about. He was convinced that her eyes were a sparkling bright green. At least that’s what they appeared to be from a distance.

Passing through one spacious square they found themselves in another, with churches and chapels, ornate patrician houses of the wealthy merchants, immense statues and flowing water fountains which seemed to be about everywhere. It all appeared so opulent, sumptuous and affluent. The citizens of the town on their part, were well dressed, the women in particular, and all of them gave the strangers passing through their city wide berth, except for some enterprising merchants who sought to sell them goods, or barter away some of their possessions. While others were taken in by the splendour of it all, Konrad could not help noticing the numerous narrow alley ways that led off of the squares, which were surrounded by hovels and shacks as shelter for the poor. There was a smell and a distinctive odour emanating from the dark alleys resulting from the lack of any attempt at draining the sewage in those quarters of the city. Not to mention the filth, refuse and debris that was strewn about.

There were countless dirty little urchins along the streets dressed in grimy, oversized garments, begging pitifully and if they were unsuccessful, they would probably turn to stealing. It was these contrasts and disparities, between the rich and the poor, the nobles and peasants, and all of the other class distinctions of the rigid social order of the times, that Konrad abhorred, and which had played a role in his decision to join his brothers on their quest down the Danube.

Turning from the square in front of the cathedral with its virtual forest of stone figures, of carved animals, faces, and monstrous creatures, which Killian avoided looking at with every fibre of his being, the Tefners found themselves coming to a halt at the next street. It led them down a stone staircase towards the teeming docks of the river port. The narrow street was packed with people, and the local officials cordoned off one side of the street for people to pass through, while the others were queued in a long line facing the passport control office. Now there was nothing to do, but to wait. Killian used the opportunity to instruct his three younger brothers on the procedures that would follow according to what he had learned when he had first applied to the Imperial emigration recruiters who had visited in the Weigersbach area, where his wife Elisabeth’s family resided.

So let me do the talking, Killian said evenly, looking directly at Johannes in particular. All of their lives there had been a rivalry between the two of them for ascendancy in their relationship. But it was only a matter of exercising personal authority, since their older brother Valentine had inherited the family farm, both by tradition and the law in Hesse, which had provided the major impetus for their leaving in search of better economic prospects for themselves in Hungary, which for them meant owning land of their own.

The wait now provided an opportunity for some interaction with the families grouped both ahead and behind them. They were surprised to discover another set of brothers, the Ferbers, from Ostheim, which was just outside of Hanau, and like the Tefners, Reformed to the core. There were three of them, along with a sister and their numerous young children outnumbering any of the other family groups in line. From Johannes and Johann Adam’s perspective it was unfortunate that the pretty sister, who was of marriageable age was already spoken for. Nor did the Rosenbeckers ahead of them offer any prospects either.

On reaching the wooden shelter along the docks, which served as the passport control office, Killian stepped forward, removed his three cornered hat respectfully, while his brothers stood in the background, with Konrad holding Adam in his arms, while Elisabeth cooed and rocked little Baltasar to sleep.

Without looking up from the documents spread out on his desk at the stocky young Hessian peasant, the Imperial agent barked, Show me your manumission documents.

Without speaking, Killian removed them from the deep pocket of his long walnut coloured brown coat and handed them to the official, who then finally looked up. He took the document and read it quickly and again without looking at Killian, said, Where are your tax receipts? Again without speaking, Killian handed them to him.

You are Killian Tefner of Weigersbach, the official said, rather than asked, as he wrote his name on the passport he was now preparing. And your age?

Twenty seven years, sir, he replied.


My wife Elisabeth and two sons…

Names? He asked, somewhat irritably.

Adam and Baltasar, he replied.

You. Step forward, he motioned to Elisabeth, who did as ordered.

It looks like there’s another one on the way. You Hessians are like rabbits.

What amount of funds are you taking with you? he demanded, rather than asked.

Twenty Gülden, Killian answered proudly. The agent wrote down the figure in the appropriate place without a comment.

Then making a gesture with his quill in the direction of the three brothers he said, And these?

My brothers, Excellency, Killian answered respectfully.

Somewhat miffed, he responded, Sir will do, young man. Then looking at Johannes he asked, Name and age?

Johannes Tefner, twenty four years.

And you? he asked, pointing his quill at Johann Adam.

Johann Adam, 22 years.

And now, what about you? The official asked, nodding in Konrad’s direction.

Unlike the others, Konrad removed his three cornered hat and replied, Konrad Tefner, aged 19 years, sir.

Looking at Killian and chewing the end of his feather quill the passport officer remarked, I take it that these brothers of yours are not married.

No sir, Killian replied deferentially.

I cannot issue them passports to Hungary unless they are married. But should they marry before entering Hungary they will be given a pass. Looking at them, I doubt that any of them will be unable to find a bride in this lot, he commented with a sweeping gesture of his quill over the assembled would-be rag tag emigrants who seemed to be all over the docks. I will issue a pass for them to Pressburg, the entry point into Hungary.

Thank you, sir. I am certain my brothers will do their best to meet the requirements, Killian said, while Johannes and Johann Adam grinned.

Turning the documents he had been writing around so that they faced the would be emigrants, he said, Now each of you men sign the document, giving your full name, age, place of birth and destination. Killian bent forward and began to sign, writing painstakingly and slowly. When he finished, he showed it to the official. Then the agent indicated, You need to include your religious confession as head of this family.

Straightening up, Killian replied, Reformed.

All of you are Reformed? he asked as he began to write with a flourish on Killian’s passport.

All of us, Killian said, and then looked over his shoulder into Konrad’s eyes, and added, Except for my youngest brother who now thinks he is a Lutheran.

He thinks he is? questioned the official, who was chewing the tip of the feather of the quill again.

He’s been to one of their schools sir, Killian answered and then folded his hands and looked upwards towards the sky, the sign of derision that was used in Hesse to designate those who had become part of the Pietistic movement.

Konrad’s face was flushed and he bit his inner lip. He was accustomed to this coming from all of the family members, ever since returning home from school. But now to be exposed like this in the presence of a stranger, and in public, made him feel embarrassed.

Well don’t just stand there, the agent indicated to the three brothers, Come and sign. Can’t you see how long the line still is?

Like Killian, the two older brothers signed their names with some difficulty, but managed it. The official then handed the quill to Konrad. He looked down and began to write in his best Gothic script. Wrote his name, then his place of birth, followed by his age. And then for the first time, he acknowledged who he had become, and wrote Lutheran in a firm hand with a flourish. It was his testament of faith. Another new beginning he was undertaking.

The Bavarian passport control officer examined Konrad’s passport and noted his fine penmanship and looking up at Killian commented, I see we have a scholar among us.

Or a dreamer, Johannes commented without being asked for his opinion. Konrad clenched his fists and swallowed hard but did not say anything.

Report at the docks at sunrise tomorrow, and be prepared to pay for your passage to the ship owners, the official directed.

Where can we stay for the night? Killian asked hoping that some arrangements could be made.

Under the stars for all I care. Get used it. You’ll be doing it a lot, the official snapped back. Then he said, Next…

They had separated and undertaken different tasks. Killian had found accommodation for the night and went out to purchase some more provisions and dispose of the wagon and horse. Johannes and Johann Adam went out to see the sights of the city, which meant they hoped to make contact with some possible wives or at least some companions to enjoy along the way. Konrad, as usual, chose to be on his own. He asked for directions to a printing shop and made his way there through the shoving crowds in the market place, and went past the cathedral where a procession was in progress. He discreetly removed himself to avoid any contact with them, knowing that Lutherans were few and far between in this city now that the Counter Reformation had been enforced here as well as in all of the rest of Bavaria.

He bought some apples for later and purchased a salzstangel from a vendor and bit heartily into the bun, unaware that he had even been hungry. After several failures at finding the printing shop he was eventually successful. He glanced around the shop and spied a small book with a leather cover almost hidden from view on a dusty shelf. He discovered it was filled with blank pages as he had hoped. It was not as large as he would have liked, but it was all he could reasonably afford. The printer anxious to be rid of it referred to it as a fine Buchlein, which was the German diminutive for a small book. But Konrad was convinced it would meet the purpose for which he bought it. He bought some additional paper, charcoal, a number of quills and two containers of dark acidic ink that would last. He counted out the coins carefully, knowing that his resources were meagre and he would still have to meet the costs that were ahead of him.

On seeing him exit from the printing shop with his purchases, most passers-by assumed that Konrad was one of the students at the local university. The women in particular noticed that there was something intriguing about his looks, his broad forehead and tapered face and high cheekbones. His fair colouring was unlike most of the Bavarians in Regensburg or the Hessians back home. His intense amber eyes and curly lashes were perhaps one of his best features. Yet his thick soft lips always on the brink of a smile had an enticing quality. He wore his three cornered felt hat well back on his head, and his thick auburn hair was tied with a black velvet ribbon at the nape of his neck. He wore a vest like jacket and a linen earth tone coloured shirt with long sleeves beneath it. Around his neck he wore a simple white kerchief like tie. His woollen trousers were dark brown and his knitted woollen stockings came up to his knees enclosing the bottom of his trousers. His shoes were leather with a brass buckle. It was the only affectation he wore. He was lithe and slender, although his shoulders were broad. Tall but not imposing.

Konrad found it more difficult to find his way back to the docks than he had imagined. Then it was a matter of getting his bearings and finding the place where he would overnight with the rest of the family. Approaching the street that he recognized was the place for him to turn, he was met by a lot of laughter coming from a nearby tavern. The laughter was over a drunk who could hardly navigate his way along the street. From the fashion of his clothes, and the dialect that he spoke, as he rained down curses upon his tormentors, Konrad recognized that he was a Hessian and probably one of the would-be settlers going off to Hungary. It was apparent he was taking the curse of the Hessians with him: drunkenness.

In spite of their industriousness and thrift, the Hessians were notorious drinkers. Hesse had more than its fair share of drunks. It was one of the issues the Pietists preached against because of its effect upon family life and relationships, not to mention the economic stability of the home. As a result, they often alienated many of the Hessian men.

The man stumbled and fell in a stupor and hit his head on the cold stone pavement. While the other bystanders laughed, Konrad approached him and lifted his head and wiped away a trickle of blood from where his head had impacted the solid pavement and as the man mumbled coming back to consciousness, Konrad asked him where he was staying. The group of young people standing outside of the tavern were watching him, and then one of them stepped out of the shadows and said, Konrad leave him be. He doesn’t need anything you Pietists can give him. What he needs is another drink. Johannes laughed, he thought what he had said was hilarious, and the others joined in. Konrad looked up and saw that Johannes had his one arm around the waist of the young girl he had noticed earlier, who had apparently been successful in gaining his attention after all. But this time, Konrad was careful to avoid looking directly at her.

Helping the man rise to his feet, he saw a woman and a teenage boy approaching them. From the look on their faces, it was evident they were his wife and son, and Konrad committed him to their care after the wife thanked him for his efforts. The group of young people returned to their former reveries as Konrad walked away and his brother Johann Adam called after him, Remember now to get enough sleep for tomorrow, little brother…and remember to say your prayers.

He felt demeaned and humiliated, but he walked with his head erect and his shoulders thrown back and made his way to their quarters. The young people began to sing a rather bawdy song while the young girl with Johannes’ arm still around her waist was watching his figure retreat into the early evening darkness. There was something about him that she could not identify and wondered how he could be so different from his brothers, and what it was, that was taking him to far off Hungary.

On arriving in their quarters, Konrad placed his purchases in his haversack, hoping not to attract Killian’s attention. He would not want to have to try to explain why he had made the purchases he had. But Killian did not say anything; he was much too preoccupied with packing provisions in the bundles of bedding for the journey ahead, after having sold his cart and horse. He knew he had not done well because there was glut on the market with so many others offering their wagons and oxen and horses now that they had arrived in Regensburg the northern most river port on the Danube for the journey that would take them to the farthest reaches of the Hapsburg Empire.

Sensing that Killian was assuming responsibility for the whole family for the journey ahead, Konrad sought to indicate to him that he was prepared to do as much as he could to help. Little Adam sought comfort on his lap, as Konrad sat on the floor on his straw mattress that would serve as he bed for the journey ahead and for tonight. He leaned his head against the wall behind him and tentatively asked, Killian, what did the Imperial agent mean when he said we should get used to sleeping out under the stars every night? He asked because he was concerned about the children and especially Elisabeth who was in the advanced stages of her pregnancy. It was still early spring and the weather was treacherously variable at this time of year.

Pausing from his work, he looked up at his younger brother and knew deep in his heart that Konrad was the brother he felt closest to, in spite of the differences between them that were beginning to emerge day by day. Taking his wife Elisabeth’s hand in his own while he spoke, Konrad felt strangely touched observing this show of affection between them. It changed his perception of his brother and his feelings for his family.

I wondered what he meant as well, his brother Killian replied. I spoke to some of the other men, and the Ferber brothers told me that they had spoken to some of the oarsmen who travel the river, and they said that they only travel by day. At night they dock at smaller river ports or Customs houses along the way. But there will be times when we will have to make camp along the riverbank out in the open. That will mean some of us will have to stand guard at night. There are brigands and marauders about in some areas. While he spoke, he felt Elisabeth’s hand tighten on his own. We will be safe, dear Elisabeth, with Konrad and the others to help us. We must trust in God…

Konrad knew to the core of his being that Killian meant it when he spoke of trusting in God, for Killian was a man of faith. He expressed it in ways that Konrad could not emulate but he never doubted the sincerity of his older brother’s beliefs and convictions. He watched deeply moved as Elisabeth placed her hand over Killian’s, and wondered if some day there would be a woman like her in his life who would share everything that was important to him and offer the support and love and affection that she bore to Killian and her children. Konrad almost felt like an intruder and decided that they needed some time to themselves and after sharing one of the apples with his nephew, he indicated he was going to take a walk along the river front to prepare himself for tomorrow. Killian nodded understandingly. He knew Konrad needed to pray and get himself ready for the journey ahead.

Glancing up at the towering hills around the city and the ruins of ancient castles that once guarded the Danube valley from invasion, Konrad strolled along the banks of the swift flowing river that would bear him and the others into the unknown. There were still times when he did not know why he had made the choice to accompany his brothers to Hungary. There was little to hold him back in Hesse now that his father was gone. But he knew that his hopes and dreams could never be realized there, while on the other hand could they be realized anywhere. Maybe I am just a dreamer, he thought and felt the sting of tears in his eyes, but still, he was determined to live the dream. Then looking into the night sky he spoke to the One who was at the source of his dreams…

There was noise and confusion everywhere along the dock, and then there was pushing and shoving, with some eagerly boarding the rafts, while others stepping cautiously on board carrying their often pitiful bundles that contained all of their worldly goods. Little children crying, older boys racing around the ship or raft that they had boarded, frightened little girls clutching their father’s hand. Men depositing and arranging their bundles in a safe place removed from the raft’s edge, or from the low railing of the barge. While mothers and grandmothers sat on their bundles to protect and claim them and for what little comfort they could provide as a seating place, clasping the younger children and infants in their arms. The oarsmen simply stood watch and awaited the orders to cast off, while the agents collected the passage money and counted heads. There were usually thirty to forty people on board the low-bottomed ships, and forty to fifty assigned to the open rafts, usually with fewer children on board. The barges were more spacious and carried fifty or more.

Killian carried two large bundles, one over each of his broad shoulders, while Konrad carried little Adam in one arm and hung on to a bundle with the other, with his packed haversack on his back, walking cautiously behind Elisabeth bearing a wailing Baltasar proclaiming his protests as she clutched him in her arms and gingerly took the first step on the plank and then stepped down into the boat. Konrad followed right behind, and they found their way to the spot that Killian had prepared for them. Johannes and Johann Adam were still on the dock, taken in by all of the activity and Johannes had his eye out for the girl again. She was nowhere to be seen.

The sound of chanting voices drifted across the docks and the smoke of incense rose skywards as a procession of priests and choir boys went down along the docks and the priest blessed the boats and passengers sprinkling them with holy water, while the people knelt and crossed themselves. On reaching the barge docked next to them, the procession was met by the united voices of the Upper Hessians and Odenwalders on board who sang:

"If you but trust in God to guide you,

And place your confidence in Him,

You’ll always find Him there beside you,

To give you hope and confidence within…"

The women knelt and the men bowed their heads as they sang, and the priests unceremoniously passed by, and then approached the next vessel and Killian began to join in the singing followed by Konrad’s clear tenor and then the others on board accompanied them, while the resounding refrain was picked up in the raft beyond them. The procession then halted at the end of the dock, and Johannes and Johann Adam were the last to board the ship, as the emigrants to Hungary took their leave of their homeland and all they had ever known, forever.

The raft was the first to enter the swift current propelled by eight oarsmen, the ship followed close behind them, as the boatmen steered it manually and unfurled the sail. The barge followed after them with its contingent of oarsmen and then quickly passed by the ship that was slow in getting under way. Konrad walked over to the side of the ship and watched the barge move by them and as he did he looked into the green eyes of the young girl who had captivated him the day before, with her felt cap unable to hold back her honey blonde tresses and the long braid that hung across her shoulder. Their eyes met for the second time. Konrad looked away first, and heard Johannes calling with his hands forming a funnel around his mouth, Magdalena, I’ll see you when we dock at Staubing. She smiled and nodded her head affirmatively, while she watched Konrad move to the back of the ship.

He saw that Adam was perched on his father’s knee as Killian spoke to him and pointed out different sites that drifted by as the ship glided into the swifter current. Elisabeth was changing Baltasar’s diaper, while becoming acquainted with the wife of Daniel Ferber. Johann Adam was becoming enamoured with one of the daughters of Heinrich Felde and she was obviously enjoying his attention. Johannes seemed lost in thought and stood at the prow of the ship and kept a close watch on the barge that was hugging the opposite shore. Finding an isolated spot on the ship was a rather formidable task and yet Konrad found one. He took off his haversack and removed his Buchlein, found a quill and one of the containers of ink and sat down among some bundles, watched the wake of the ship and began to write:

I take up my pen, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we begin the journey to Hungary from Regensburg by ship. It is March 25th, 1723 AD. I, Konrad Tefner write this for my children and my children’s children, that they might know and remember…

Their first overnight at Staubing was without incident. Both the ship the Tefners were on and the barge that had escorted them for most of the day were docked here. Some of the younger men including both Johannes and Johann Adam took advantage of the proximity of the nearby village and a contingent of single young women joined them, much to the annoyance of Killian. Konrad alone stayed behind and helped prepare for their overnight stay in one of the Customs sheds. When he finished with that, he strolled out along the steep bank of the river and enjoyed the silence and welcomed the solitude after spending the day in close quarters.

He inadvertently came upon Johannes and recognized the girl, who was with him, engaged in an animated conversation. They were by themselves, and that in itself was breaking the hard core of Hessian tradition, being unsupervised and alone together like this, without either parental or community approval. In an attempt to hide in the shadows and find a gracious way to exit, he heard her say, I don’t want to marry that badly.

With those words she tried to walk away, but Johannes grabbed her arm and pulled her back and up against himself and said, If I don’t ask, who ever will? With that he kissed her roughly, while she struggled in his arms and managed to push him away, and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. She sobbed and ran away, almost past the spot where Konrad stood. He did not know what to do, but he was aware that his hands had become clenched fists and he was in touch with a kind of anger he had never known before. He watched his brother stand there, shake his head and laugh and then walk off.

Konrad’s experience of life at this level was minimal. It had been a matter of family, church and school. Followed by discipline, order, tradition, and duty. And he had to admit there had never been anyone like her in his life before, and he could not explain to himself why he thought about her all the time.

They had never even really met. That’s just how much of a dreamer I am, he admitted to himself as he made his way to the Customs shed.

In the morning, getting on board the ship, Konrad made his way to his private place, that everyone on the ship had recognized was his by now, as each family had staked out their own territory. As he opened the Buchlein, he noticed that the Rosenbeckers were still not on board. That was not out of the ordinary, they were usually late. But, then he heard a youngster shout, This way Magdalena. It’s a perfect spot. A bright blonde haired little girl with a round face and rosy cheeks smiled at him and said, You won’t mind if we take these places, will you?

Polite as ever, even with children, Konrad said, By all means, but usually the Rosenbeckers sit here.

They’ve gone on the barge. My mother is not well, and my father thought it would be better for us here in the ship and he paid the Rosenbeckers to change places, the child said with her eyes shining with excitement. I know who you are, she then announced.

Since you know who I am, can you tell me who you are? Konrad asked.

I am Anna Catharina, and my father is Kaspar Aumann. But I didn’t mean that I knew your name. I just know that you are the Dreamer, she announced.

Who told you that? Konrad asked feeling hurt that even children perceived him that way.

Our Magdalena told me, she replied with a knowing smile.

And Magdalena is your sister? Konrad suggested.

She’s my cousin. But I love her like a sister. She was an orphan and we made her part of our family, Anna Catharina informed him, feeling rather mature to be talking to a relative stranger and an adult at that.

Konrad had no idea of what to do with the information the youngster had shared with him, and simply looked down as if he was preparing to write.

Anna Catharina, I told you not to be a nuisance. I’m sorry if she has bothered you, a flustered Magdalena said appearing out of nowhere.

We were just getting acquainted, Konrad said coming to her defence, and then proceeded to walk on water relationally, saying, Something I’m afraid, I have neglected to do as far as you are concerned. I am Johannes’ brother Konrad.

Yes, I know, she replied without making eye contact with him.

If you will excuse us we need to get settled in. With that she terminated the conversation and left Konrad with a lump in his throat.

He was not aware he had done so badly in what he had said. He looked down at his book once more, as Magdalena arranged some bundles and spread out a feather tick as her foster mother seated herself and covered her with it, while Anna Catharina cuddled up to her mother, and Magdalena took her place by the rail of the ship and crossed her arms over her bosom hugging her black shawl over her shoulders and looked out at the river as the ship was casting off. Konrad tried not to watch her, but was unsuccessful. Johannes sauntered over and stood beside her, and tried to place his arm around her waist as he began to talk to her in a whisper, but she straightened up and moved from there and came and sat down next to Konrad. Johannes shrugged his shoulders with his hands in his pockets and walked off.

Magdalena was only too well aware that Konrad had noticed what had transpired between them, and rather than upset herself any further she said, So what is it? Are you a scholar or a dreamer?

Aren’t they the same? Konrad replied looking straight ahead at the river behind them.

I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I had no right to say anything like that. You don’t deserve it.

In a situation like this Konrad wondered what he did deserve under the circumstances. He decided to say nothing.

If I may ask, Magdalena said contritely, What is it you are writing?

I’m just keeping a record of our journey to Hungary, he answered rather matter of factly.

Why? She asked, still sitting next to him, so that their shoulders brushed up against each other.

So that in the future, people will know where we went and why went there and what we found when we arrived, he answered.

Who would want to know that? She asked sceptically.

My children, Konrad answered sheepishly.

What children?

Yours and mine, he wanted to say and was shocked how quickly he had responded inwardly like that even if he did not say it.

The children I hope to have some day, Konrad said evenly.

You are a dreamer, she said. She rose to her feet and extended her hand to him and shyly he took it into his own, and rose to stand up in front of her. Their eyes met deliberately for the first time. They were green. His bottom lip trembled as he tried to find words to speak. Will you walk me around the ship and talk to me as if we were the only two people on board?

If that’s what you want me to do. I’m sure Johannes will take notice, Konrad rejoined hesitatingly.

His sensitivity and awareness startled Magdalena at first. He knew that she was trying to use him, but he willingly gave himself to doing that for her sake if that is what she wanted. This dreamer was more than met the eye after all.

Uncle Kaspar, she said as he took his place and sat next to his ailing wife, This is Konrad Tefner and we would like to have your permission to walk about the ship together.

Old Kaspar Aumann had been aware of Magdalena’s interest in the Tefner brothers, but hardly this one. Knowing only too well the affairs of the heart, he gave his blessing, But remember to invite him to eat with us tonight.

Neither Magdalena nor Konrad had contemplated anything like that.

Please come and join us Konrad. I am afraid, it will not be much, her aunt indicated.

Looking at Magdalena, he considered what his acceptance would mean and how this could affect Magdalena’s relationship with Johannes and for that reason he was hesitant to respond.

Of course he will come. Won’t you Konrad? she asked with a conspiratorial look in her eyes.

I will be happy to join you, Konrad replied. But can I bring something?

Ever since we have met you people from Upper Hesse, we have heard about your kartofelwurst. Do you have some? Kaspar Aumann asked hopefully.

I would not have left for Hungary without it, Konrad said happily.

So can we go for our stroll? Magdalena asked as she squeezed Konrad’s hand in hers. The effect was something that Konrad was unable to articulate. He was simply lost in the feelings and emotion he was experiencing. They proceed around the ship making their way among the passengers and bundles of provisions strewn about, talking animatedly, as Konrad regaled her with the history of the Danubian frontier during the Roman occupation, while Johannes glared at them from a distance, but refusing to have eye contact with either of them. Passing by Killian and Elisabeth the first time around, Konrad paused to introduce them, and little Adam looked at Magdalena and asked, Are you going to become my aunt?

Konrad blushed, while Killian covered his mouth with his hand to hide his laughter and Elisabeth smiled knowingly at Magdalena and the two communicated something that would bind them for the rest of their lives. Magdalena squeezed Konrad’s hand, and they continued on their stroll, and both of them began feeling more at ease with one another. But it was Magdalena who had to struggle most, because of what was happening to her.

They had passed the large sprawling town of Deggendorf early in the afternoon, and went on to Osterhofen where they docked for the night. The crew had hoped to make it to Vilshofen, but it was getting dark and there were a series of rapids ahead that they would not hazard at night. The majestic spires and towers of the churches in both communities had been impressive, changing in character as they drew nearer to the Austrian frontier. The form and architecture of the buildings struck Konrad in particular in light of his studies to prepare him as tradesman and builder. But he kept that to himself for now. It was part of his plans for when he reached Hungary.

Supper that evening with the Aumanns was hardly festive due to the limitations of their provisions, but their hospitality and acceptance of Konrad was something he had rarely experienced before. His contribution of a ring of smoked kartofelwurst was greatly appreciated, and Kaspar Aumann was especially interested in the making of it. Poorer families who need to stretch out the sausage supply during the winter months, added potatoes to the ground meat. Usually one third potatoes, but some poorer families are forced to use even more… Konrad indicated.

But still it tastes so good, Magdalena interjected in an attempt to make Konrad feel at ease, just in case he was referring to his own family, by his final remark.

I am certain we all can learn from one another, as we travel together to Hungary, Kaspar mused as he smoked his long stemmed pipe.

I understand that you had vineyards back home, Konrad began. I’m afraid we know little or nothing about that, because our climate could not sustain grape growing in Upper Hesse…

When the time comes I will teach you, Kaspar assured him.

I will look forward to that, Konrad replied and for the first time realized that their futures were somehow to be joined together, and that this relationship that had begun had a future. Sensing that the Aumanns were tired after a long day’s travel, he took his leave and Magdalena seemed relieved that he was leaving, but she walked with him to the door of the Custom’s shed where they were housed for the night. Konrad put on his three cornered hat and politely said good night, touching the brim of his hat with one hand in doing so, as he had been taught. Magdalena did an imitation of a curtsy and giggled. Konrad chuckled and left.

Entering the hut that he shared with his two brothers and two other single young men, he could sense that Johannes was angry with him, or at least perturbed. But neither said anything, and Konrad retreated into his thoughts as he spread out his straw mattress and lay down, and tried to recall as much as he could about some of the houses he had seen and how to replicate them in some way once they arrived in Hungary. Sleep came quickly.

The next day was hardly like the one before. He spent most of it alone. All of his attempts at concentrating on his writing or drawing outlines of houses with his charcoal had little to offer in terms of results. The Aumanns were cordial as always, but Magdalena gave him wide berth, and Johannes was quick to fill the vacuum. He just always seemed to be there wherever she went and Konrad had to admit he found himself constantly watching them and getting in touch with feelings he had heard about but never felt before. Only Adam managed to penetrate his isolation and took his place on his lap and asked him to tell him about the Romans again. Unknown to Konrad, one of the oarsmen was also an attentive listener.

In the afternoon they approached the vicinity of Vilshofen, which they had hoped to bypass and move on to overnight in Passau, but the ship developed rudder trouble. They managed to steer to the shore and the barge and raft continued on to Passau without them. This created a lot of anxiety for some of the families, who were now separated from relatives or friends, but the oarsmen assured them that eventually they would catch up with the others.

This meant that this was their first night under the stars, and Konrad was assigned sentry duty for the first watch. Huge bonfires were built and for the first time, they were able to enjoy a hot meal, and it was surprising what the women were able to do with their limited provisions and prepared a feast which they all shared in together, including the boatmen. After supper, Killian and the Ferber brothers set up some tent like shelters for the women and children, while Johannes disappeared and Johann Adam went for a stroll along the riverbank with the Felde girl who had apparently won his heart along with her father’s approval. And of course it was no surprise to Konrad that Magdalena had joined the ranks of those who had disappeared.

He added more wood to one of the fires as more and more of the people went off to sleep for the night. There was a chill in the air, and he was concerned for Elisabeth and the boys, but he was certain that Killian would look after that as best as he could. To his surprise one of the younger boatmen who had no responsibility to provide sentry duty came and joined him.

They stood side by side and looked out across the Danube at the adjoining shore, when the boatman said, Tell me more about the Romans…

His name was Christian, and he hung on every word that Konrad spoke. He was fascinated and asked perceptive questions that only heightened Konrad’s appreciation of the subject matter. As full darkness spread, the moving shadows of those who now prepared for sleep slowly disappeared.

She came back early, Christian said, as they still stood side by side.

Konrad did not have to ask who she was. It was obvious that Christian did more than simply steer the rudder of the ship all day. Feeling no need to respond, Konrad said nothing.

I hope I did not speak out of turn, Christian said apologetically.

I was not aware that you kept such close watch on her. I suppose you are interested in her, Konrad replied.

Not that way. I have a girl waiting for me in Linz, he confided almost sheepishly.

And as you can see, Magdalena’s interests lie elsewhere.

That may be. But if you ask me…

No one is, Konrad replied defensively. I should not have said that. I apologize. After all, he is my brother.

I think I understand, Christian said. Maybe it would be better if we talked about something else.

You mean the Romans? Konrad answered chuckling, surprised that he was taking this so well after all.

Actually, I wondered if you would consider teaching me how to read. I have never learned…

We’ll start tomorrow, Konrad promised, just as they saw their relief coming towards them, to spell them for the rest of the night. It was Johannes and Johann Adam. Johann Adam looked ecstatic, while Johannes seemed out of sorts again. None of them spoke to one another except for a hurried goodnight.

After a short stop at the Customs control office at Vilshofen they went on to Passau and fought the rapids along the way. There were several times when Magdalena was tempted to engage Konrad in a conversation, but he was pre-occupied in animated conversations with the Austrian boatmen at the rudder. On the other hand, she found ways to avoid being with Johannes or speaking to him, and began to engage herself in knitting long wool stockings like most of the other women. It passed the time, but every once in a while she would look up when she heard Christian laugh or make some exclamation about something Konrad had said.

They arrived in Passau late, and hardly found a place to dock, but to their consternation and delight they immediately recognized the barge and raft of the other Hessians and Odenwalders. Some of the men

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