By Henry Fischer

Researching in the Swabian Turkey is often confusing, as the church books were kept at different localities from time to time. Most of those settlements were of Lutheran or Reformed faith, whose churches and pastors were persecuted prior to the Edict of Toleration in 1784. The information below should help the researcher to find out where the church books were kept for individual localities at various times in the County of Somogy.

Bonnya, Somogy County
Although there were both Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Bonnya, they were both filial (daughter congregations) of a Mother Church in the vicinity.  If you are tracing your family members who were Reformed, they would be included in the records of the Reformed Church in Flesö Mocsolád.  The vast majority of the Reformed families migrated to Bonnya from Nagyszekély (Gross Säckel) in Tolna County at the beginning of the 19th century and information on those families previous to that time would be found in the Nagyszekély Reformed Records.  Some Reformed families also migrated to Bonnya from Gyönk and are included in the Gyönk Reformed Church Records.

The Lutheran families settled in Bonnya shortly after 1730 and some early references can be found the Roman Catholic Church Records in Kisbarápati.  Some references to the Lutheran families in Bonnya can be found in the Roman Catholic Church Records in Törokkoppany.  The vast majority of the entries associated with the Lutherans in Bonnya are in the church records of the Lutheran Church in Somogydöröcske (usually referred to as Döröcske) after 1787, which later officially became Bonnya’s Mother Church in 1806 after a large influx of settlers from Somogydöröcske.

While visiting in Bonnya a number of years ago I discovered an old journal that had been kept by the Becht Lehrer (teacher) in a wooden box in the Reformed church.  The journal records births and deaths of the Reformed congregation from 1900-1941 and the Lutheran records from 1893-1941.

When there was intermarriage between Lutherans and Reformed, the marriage is usually registered in the church records of the bride.  When searching for the children of a family in a mixed marriage, the girls were usually raised in the religion of their mother, and the boys followed the religion of their fathers and as a result you will have to look in both sets of records to get a picture of the whole family.

Ecsény, Somogy County
The origins and beginnings of the settlement of the village by German Lutherans from Tolna and Baranya County cannot be determined, but is estimated between 1750-1760.  The Lutheran Church Records begin in 1784, which followed a massive influx of new settlers as part of the Josephinian Phase of the Schwabenzug. Few if any of these settlers came from the German areas but from the Tolna and Baranya.  In addition to the village itself the Mother Church here also served numerous filial congregations in the area, including Ráksi, Somogyvámos, Polány, Hács, Somodor, Toponár, and German Lutheran families living in Felsö Mocsolád.

Felsö Mocsolád, Somogy County
The first settlers here were Reformed Hessians who arrived in 1723 and a congregation was established during that year.  Later, Hessian Lutherans joined them, most of who came from Tolna County.  Among their numbers were Heidebauern from Moson County as well.  Hungarian Reformed settlers followed from Zala County and gradually became the majority.  The congregation became a Mother Church and served a filial congregation in Bonnya that consisted of German settlers from Nagyszekély and Gyönk in Tolna County in the early 19th century.  The congregation also served the Reformed families who lived in Ecsény.  Eventually the German population moved elsewhere or assimilated with their Hungarian neighbours often changing their family names.

Gadács, Somogy County
The inhabitants of the village referred to their community as Gadatsch in their local Hessian dialect.  Settlers established Gadács, from nearby Somogydöröcske in 1814.  Like the families in their former community they were Lutherans and became a filial of the Mother Church in Somogydöröcske.  Later, settlers from the Tolna also moved into the community.

Hács, Somogy County
This community was mixed in terms of religious confession, but all families were of German origin.  The first settlers were Roman Catholic who were joined by Lutherans from Tolna County and other communities within Somogy County around 1828.  The Lutherans were numerous enough in 1855 to build their own church but remained a filial congregation of Ecsény.

Karád, Somogy County
This Hungarian Roman Catholic parish included under its jurisdiction the German Lutherans in nearby Kötcse after 1745 when the congregation that was organized there in 1725 was outlawed and the original church records were lost.  The German Lutherans formed their own congregation after the Edict of Toleration in 1784.

Kisbarápati, Somogy County
The records of this Hungarian Roman Catholic parish include entries related to German Lutherans living in Fiad, Bonnya, and Felsö Mocsolád beginning in 1741.

Kötcse, Somogy County
This German Lutheran and Hungarian Reformed community was founded in the mid 1720’s.  The original records of the Lutheran congregation have not been located but existed up to 1745 at which time the Lutheran Church was burned down by a mob and the congregation was outlawed and placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic parish of Karád up until the Edict of Toleration.  The congregation was legally established after 1784 and the Church Records were begun again.

Magyarod, Somogy County
This small community was established in a puszta east of Somogyszil in the late 18th century and attracted German Lutheran settlers, primarily from Somogydöröcske and Kötcse.  All references to it are to be found in the Somogydöröcske Lutheran church records.  When Gadács was established in its near vicinity the German Lutherans left Magyarod and re-settled there.

Polány, Somogy County
The village had a mixed population of Hungarian Roman Catholics and German Lutherans.  The first Lutheran settlers came from Tolna County and Somogydöröcske around 1780 and a second wave of settlers arrived around 1860 with most of the new families coming from Somogyszil, Somogyvámos and Lajos Komárom (Veszprem County).  The Lutherans formed a filial congregation connected to the Mother Church in Ecsény where all the information with regard to the families can be found.

Ráksi, Somogy County
The village was mixed in terms of nationality and religious confession.  There was a Hungarian Roman Catholic majority and a German Lutheran minority, most of who settled there after 1850 and originally came from Ecsény.  They formed a congregation and became a filial of the Mother Church in Ecsény where all entries about these families can be found.

Somodor, Somogy County
This puszta was first settled in 1834 when the first German Lutheran family arrived and in the next few years one or two other families joined them.  In 1847 a larger group arrived from various other communities, including Keszö Hidegkut and Gyönk from Tolna County, and Ecsény and Somogydöröcske in Somogy.  Within five years there were over fifty families that had settled there and become a filial congregation of Ecsény.  This German Lutheran community vanished within one generation because of the limited opportunities to buy land and the need to provide for large families that led to another migration, primarily to Slavonia.

Somogydöröcske, Somogy County
Although many official histories of the village indicate it was first settled in the 1750’s the Roman Catholic Church Records in nearby Törokkoppany include entries for German Lutheran settlers living in the newly emerging village as early as 1738.  The Lutherans were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Törökkoppany until the time of the Edict of Toleration when in 1787 the Lutherans were allowed to form an official congregation and call a pastor.  All of the early information on the families can be found in the Roman Catholic Church Records as indicated.

Somogydöröcske would become a Mother Church and included the following communities as part of its parish:  Magyarod, Bonnya, Gadács and Somogyszil.

Very few of the families who settled here came directly from Germany, the vast majority came from various communities in Tolna County, while a significant number came from Kötcse to the north in Somogy County, the first German Lutheran settlement in Somogy County.

Somogyszil, Somogy County
This was a large Hungarian market town prior to the arrival of the German Lutheran settlers. The first known German Lutheran settlers who arrived in Somogyszil were Nikolaus Stickl and Johannes Wolf, both of Somogydöröcske in 1830.  The Taubert family from Felsö Nána followed who publicized the availability of land and positions in Somogyszil, which led to a massive influx of German speaking settlers from Tolna County, especially from Izmény.  In addition to these settlers there were also numerous Heidebauren families who settled here from Lajos Komarom in Veszprem County.  The vast majority of those families had previously lived in Pusztavám in Fejér County.

Somogyszil was a filial of Somogydöröcske and contains the entries for the Lutherans in that community.

Somogyvámos, Somogy County
It was often simply referred to as Vámos by the German population.  The Hungarian Roman Catholics formed a majority in the village.  The first German settler was Philip Bruder from Ecsény in 1814 and he was soon followed by many more from the same community and they formed a filial congregation of the Mother Church in Ecsény where all of the information for these families can be found.

Tab, Somogy County
A Slovak Lutheran congregation existed here early in the 18th century and became an Articular Church, which meant it was one of the two legal Lutheran congregations in Somogy County.  Throughout its history there were German Lutherans who also lived in the town and were members of the congregation.  In addition there were others who lived in nearby Kápoly, Nagócs, Torváy, Totker, Kötcse, Somogydöröcske and Zics. 

Toponár, Somogy County
There were Lutheran settlers living in the village, Hungarian, Heidebauern and Hessian German families.  They formed a small filial of the Mother Church in Ecsény where the family information can be found.

Törokkoppany, Somogy County
This Roman Catholic parish from its inception following the expulsion of the Turks had the German Lutheran settlers in Somogydöröcske and Szárázd under its jurisdiction up until after the Edict of Toleration in 1781 and the two communities later were successful in establishing legal congregations of their own.  These earlier records begin in 1738.  There are also entries for Egres, Bonnya, Felsö Mocsolád, Karád, Andócs and Ecsény.