Our Romanian & Transylvanian Family Roots (Pt 2)


This is a very long post, so please bear with me!

Our “Fleger” family line emanates from modern day Rescita, Romania (see red flag in the map above – click map to enlarge). That is the location from where this line left Europe to come to Cleveland, OH and begin a new life here in America. In a prior post (see here) I explored the history of this region of Europe at the time the family emigrated, which was in 1903-1904. At that point in time the region was under the Austria-Hungary Empire:

… the Austro-Hungarian Empire in English-language sources, was a constitutional union of the Austrian Empire (the kingdoms and lands represented in the Imperial Council, or Cisleithania) and the Kingdom of Hungary (Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen or Transleithania) that existed for 51 years from 1867 to 1918, when it collapsed as a result of defeat in World War I.

Emphasis mine. I found it very intriguing in the prior post that the region of Romania where the “Fleger” line is from was at one point part of the Princedom of Transylvania. As was outlined in other prior posts (see here and see here) the “Fleger” line is actually comprised of at least three biological surnames, none of which is “Fleger” (Joseph Fleger was my great grandmother’s second husband, who adopted her children from her first marriage).

Through newly digitized Romanian marriage records (which list the parents and the ‘origin’ of the husband and wife) I was able to trace the surnames to three locales near Rescita. It seems these individual family lines came together in Rescita where everyone married and had their children.

The prior post also touched on the political environment which likely initiated the migration to America – something called Magyarization. Basically, this political directive forced the region to become a Hungarian-centric society, rejecting the many minorities who had lived in the region for centuries. This included the native Romanian serfs (who seemed to be regularly oppressed and restricted from the varying ruling/political classes in power), the Serbians and the Germans. This Magyarization (“Magyar” is another term for Hungarian) caused a mass migration of  ethnic minorities from the region to the United States between 1880 and 1912, in which our family was swept up.

This is what we had learned so far. But where do these three family lines come from? Are they Hungarian, Romanian or German? To explore our roots further back, we have to understand the history of this region, which has changed hands many times over the centuries.

Before we do this, we need to define some anchor points that will keep us oriented as we got back in time. It turns out the origins of the family names provide these very anchor points. Here are the family surnames we can trace, and a series of maps showing where these locales are:

  • Herczog: From Tirol (Romanian), also known as Kiralye-Kegye (Hungarian) and Koenigsgnad (German).
  • Naszt: From Lugoj (Romanian), also known as Lugos (Hungarian) and Lugosch (German).
  • Hollendschwandner: From Valiug (Romanian), also known as Ferencalva (Hungarian) and Franzdorf (German).

First, a close up map of the region with the family names associated with the “origins” identified in the marriage records (click all images to enlarge):


This post is dedicated primarily to the Herzcog and Hollenschvandner lines and locals. I hope to pick up the Naszt line in a later post.

The next two views zoom out to give a more regional and global perspective, respectively:



The anchor points that we will see through history are Lugoj and Rescita, since these were major settlements and cities in the region. The other two family locations are much smaller and rarely show up on historic maps, especially since they were established during the Austrian/German migration after the Turks were pushed back by the Hapsburg Monarchy:

The Habsburg Monarchy (German: Habsburgermonarchie) or Empire, occasionally also styled as the Danubian Monarchy (Donaumonarchie), is an unofficial appellation among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg until 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611,[3] when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[4][5]

To unravel the history, and hopefully our roots, we have to look at the region and its people from various different geo-political perspectives.

What I have been able to confirm is that the native tongue and ethnic background for the Naszt and Hollenschvandner lines here in America was “German”. This was designated by the individuals on census forms, passenger liner manifests and naturalization papers. This aligns with the history of the locals we traced them to.

The Herczog line is from what is now called Tirol. But this town also went by the name Hungarian name of “Kiralye-Kegye”. Kiralye-Kegye was  used on the marriage license between my great grandmother Hermine Naszt (the middle) and my great grandfather Antonin Herzcog. She was from Rescita, he was from  Kiralye-Kegye. The same origin was listed on his death certificate. It is not clear if Herzcog was Hungarian and used that variant for his home town, or this selection was simply part of Magyarization in play,  where all official records were to be Hungarian.

The Herczog “current domicile” was listed in both documents (3.5 years apart) as “Romanian Rescita”. We learn from this website this refers to the original city/town of Rescita, which was later expanded to become and industrial center in the region:

The city was first mentioned in the 15th century, under the name of Rechyoka an Rechycha. In 1673 it is mentioned with the name of Reszinitza. At that time, its inhabitants paid dues to the Timisoara Eyalet. In the 1690-1700 period, it belonged to the Bocsa District. In 1717 it appears by the name of Retziza, then Reschitza (1738), and Olah Resicza (Romanian Resita) (1779).

The city started its industrial development after 1769, becoming on July 3, 1771, the home of the oldest and most important metallurgic center on the European continent. Initially, two villages in close proximity existed, the Romanian Resita and the Mountain Resita. The factories were placed in Mountain Resita, that was initially, the home of Romanian coal miners. In 1776, however, 70 German families originating from Styria, Carinthia and Upper Austria were colonized here, while in 1782-1787, German families from the Rhine region settled here.

Emphasis mine. Rescita is definitely one of the locations settled by Germans, but it was not originally settled by any the three branches of our family as far as I can tell.

The town of Tirol [Kiralye-Kegye (Hungarian) or Koenigsgnad (German)] where my great-grandfather Antonin Herzcog is from is thought to be named after the Tyrol Region of Germany. This website (again, requiring translation) provides a good history on the town:

The settlement was founded in 1811 , during the reign of Emperor Francis I, by colonization [from] with native Austrian Tyrol. To accommodate the settlers broke in border administration and Doclin Fizeş 96 sessions earth. Originally called Tiroler Dorf (Tyrolean village) or Neu Tyrol and in 1812 [it] was given the name Königsgnad in honor of Emperor Francis of goodwill [who] which was established [the] settlement. Settlers have moved here because of persecution [by] of French dominion because they supported the Tyrolean hero Andreas Hifer shot in 1810. [They] lived in [the] Banat, received land, housing, agricultural implements and tax exemption for 6 years.

This gives us a good hint on where the original wave of Germanic people in Tirol, Romania came from, which is the Austrian region of Tryol:

It comprises the Austrian part of the historical Princely County of Tyrol. It is a constituent part of the present-day Euroregion Tyrol–South Tyrol–Trentino (together with South Tyrol and Trentino in Italy). The capital of Tyrol is Innsbruck.[1]

Unfortunately, there were many other waves of immigration (going back to prior source):

By 1820, [what] the colony remained of [the colony of] Tirol not only one family of [Asutrian] Tyrolean [remained] and most of the houses were deserted.

The departure of the settlers who founded the village caused a new wave of colonization of the village. [Beginning] Since 1814 begin to moved instead [immigrants came from] of their German, Austrian or Bavarian homeland or [came] come from other regions of [The] Banat. [In] At 1818 [came] sits and several Serb families. In 1821 , most of the houses are occupied vacant after here sits a group of 55 families originating from Wurtemberg [arrived]. [They] No they do not have much luck because of the climate and spread throughout other parts of Banat or die from the disease.  Albeit late nineteenth century, the population finally stabilizes and begins to thrive. 1880, Alto had 1,425 inhabitants, of which 1,094 were German, 137 Slovaks, Hungarians and only 7 Romanian.

So we cannot be sure yet if our family line came from the original settlers from Tyrol Austria or one of these later waves that came from other areas of Austria/Germany. At least for now.

Interestingly, Joseph Fleger – who lists his ethnicity as German on his passenger registration when he came over to America – also came from Tirol, Romania (per Romanian records). Except in his case the German name of  “Koenigsgnad” was used in his documents. Given there was some relationship between Hermine [Naszt] Herczog and Joseph Fleger in the old country, it seems logical the Herzcog line is likely Germanic.

Moving from the Herzcog line to the Hollenschvander line, we know Valiug (a.k.a. Franzdorf) was established through the 2nd of three main waves of Germanic people into the region of The Banat. (reference, but you need to use Google Translator to get into a variant of English):

Văliug (dt. Franzdorf, ung. Ferenczfalva) is a municipality in Caraş-Severin County, Banat, Romania. It is located in the valley of the river Bârzava in 550 meters above sea level, in the Banat Mountains, at the foot of the Semenic Mountains.

Franzdorf was founded in 1753 by the establishment of 71 German families from the Salzkammergut in Austria, who had been called by the Territorial Administration management to be active in the carbon [editor: charcoal] production. The coal was for the steelworks needed in Resita. The settlers were consequently mostly Köhler [charcoal makers] by profession. They gave the place the name Franzdorf by [in honor of] Francis I, Emperor of Austria and 1792-1835, [and] King of Bohemia, Croatia and Hungary. [In] 1795 arrived Romanians from Oltenia that [who] before the Turks had fled, and settled in the village. They built their houses on the mountainside above and below the German settlement.

The rapid development of industry in Resita necessitated the construction of a paved road for the wood or charcoal transport. So the road [between] Văliug-Resita in 1802 [was] built. [In] 1803, in the district Hommerschupfen, the first blast furnace [was] in operation. [In] 1855 [a] street [between] Văliug- was Wolfsberg [was] built, this [was extended in] 1899-1903 to Slatina about Brebu Nou (dt. Weidenthal) extended, which access by Caransebeş and Băile Herculane (dt. Herkulesbad) enabled. All this meant that new workers were employed. Between 1858 and 1859 a further 40 German families from Austria were settled.

According to this source, the original settlers came from Salzkammergut in Austria in 1753.  This aligns with the 2nd of three big migrations into the Banat from Austria, per this history of the region:

The Austrian Imperial Army commanded by Prince Eugene of Savoy was finally successful in driving them [The Turks of The Ottoman Empire] out. A peace settlement at Karlowitz in 1699 brought Hungary, except for the Banat, under control of the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I. Later, Price Eugene captured the Banat, and the province was ceded to the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI after the Treaty of Passarovitz. The Banat was considered a crown territory of the Holy Roman Empire from 1718 to 1778 and was administered from Vienna during that period.

Although there had been German emigration to Hungary prior to this time, the expulsion of the Turks resulted in an organized settlement program sponsored by the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs had three aims: to fortify the land against invasion, to develop farm land, and to further the Roman Catholic Religion in Eastern Europe. Thus they offered Catholics of the southwest German states inducements such as free agricultural land, homesites, construction materials, livestock and exemption from taxes for several years.

This is clearly the impetus for how our German family roots ended up in what is today modern Romania. My research indicates the locales where our roots point to are also locales of German settlement. We still need a little more context from this source:

The colonization of the Banat was entrusted to Claudius Florimund, Count of Mercy, general under Prince Eugene of Savoy. Mercy sent agents to the Habsburg territories in the region which is now western Germany. Settlers came from the regions known as Baden, Wuerttemberg, Alsace, Lorraine, the Rhinelands, Westphalia, Bavaria and Swabia as well as from other areas. Although they came from various regions and spoke various dialects, the Hungarians called them Swabians, and the name came to be used in reference to all of the Germans who settled in the Danube valley. Most were poor peasants who had farmed the land of feudal lords, and who had been subjected to heavy taxation and military conscription.

Emphasis mine. While not really helping to nail down where our Germanic roots lead, at least we have some leads to explore in the future.

The colonization came to be known as “der Grosse Schwabenzuge” or the “Great Swabian Trek.” The majority of the migration took place in three phases which were named after their Habsburg sponsors:

1. The “Karolinische Ansiedlung,” or Caroline colonization, which occurred from 1718 to 1737;

2. The “Maria Theresianische Ansiedlung,” or Maria Theresian colonization, which occurred from 1744-1772; and

3. The “Josephinische Ansiedlung,” or Josephine colonization, which took place under Joseph II from 1782 to 1787.

After 1789, the government-sponsored colonization was discontinued, but some settlers continued to arrive in Hungary until 1829, after which only those with 500 Guilders cash were allowed to migrate. During the colonization period, people of other nationalities also settled in the plains of the Banat. Among them were Serbs, Croatians, Bulgarians and Romanians, and to a lesser extent, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Czechs and a few French and Italians.

Each one of these “phases” pulled from different areas in Austria/Germany. The first wave was pretty much annihilated by war and disease:

Many of approximately 15,000 German settlers from the first colonization were killed in Turkish raids, or died from bubonic plague. Thus, the second wave of approximately 75,000 German colonists had to rebuild many of the settlements.

As noted above, the Valiug settlement clearly lines up with the second wave, but I can only find variants on the Hollenschvandner name going back to the 1790’s.  So it is possible that line was part of the 3rd wave of immigration.

This website is full of resources on both the Swabians of Romania and The Banat region into which they migrated. A pertinent excerpt:

What induced German farmers, craftsmen and southeastern Banat miners to leave their homelands? They wanted to escape serfdom. The “Colonization Patent” of Emperor Leopold I (1658-1705) in Vienna contained tempting inducements which made it easier to give up the old homelands and to depart: tax exemption for three years, free land and the right to build. They were exempted from serfdom of any sort. Some were lucky, but others were disappointed. The work of the settlers was repeatedly disrupted by invading Turks and by roving and plundering rabble (mainly of Hungarian and Romanian nationality). The first settlers came to Banat after 1719. Among the first established settlements were Werschetz, Weiss kirchen and Kudritz, with settlers from Lorraine and the headwaters of the Moselle River. Hard times, wars and sicknesses (the plague, cholera and swamp fever) were overcome. The Temes Canal (1723) and the Bega-Berzowa Canal (1768) were constructed; Germans drained the swamps and turned them into fertile, arable land. Around 1790, the charcoal burner Matthias Hammer found hard coal near Steierdorf. They started again to work the ore mines around Reschitz, Steierdorf, Anina and Orawitza which had been known since Roman times.

But let us return to Valiug/Franzdorf. This website – again requiring translation – has more detail on the history of this settlement.

The village [Valiug] has been officially mentioned since 1792 as the first 72 families from Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol. On 28 June 1792 the Emperor Franz I, at the court in Vienna, received the 72 families. In his address, he said, “Go down there my beloved, down into the wilderness, build your houses there, and give the place my name.” Thus the name of the place arose. The leader of these settlers was Loidl Egidius from Ebensee.

The hike took 2 months, on the Danube to Basiasch, from there with horse-drawn carts to the foot of the Semenik mountains. The area was densely wooded by beech forests, well suited for the production of charcoal.

In the settlement year a school with a room was built. The first teacher was Anton Josef Priklmayer, who worked until 1808. In 1807 a new school was built which served its original purpose until 1962. The teaching language was German. In the same year a wooden prayer house was built. The first priest was Benedikt Braun, who until 1818 provided the church pastoral care.

Around 1795 came the first Romanians in the place who had escaped from the Turks. The church was built in 1861. In 1879, the church received an organ, a gift from the then bishop, Alexander Bonnaz, built by Anton Dangl’s son.

In the years 1858-59 came another 40 families from Austria into the place. A further 20 families came to the Josefinental, a district of Franzdorf, in 1872. The founder of this colony was Georg Brenan, head of the StEG Society from Reschitz, who dedicated the name of his wife Josefine.

In order to facilitate the transport of timber to Reschitz, the road from Reschitz to Franzdorf was built in 1802.

As can be seen, we get more hints on where our Germanic roots came from. But in this source the timing lines up quite well with the 3rd wave with a bit later origin for the town (1792 vs. 1753) than the other source.

Following this source, the Hollenschvandner line most likely came from Styria, Carinthia or Tyrol.

But this next web site included a very interesting web page on the region, and a refinement of what drove our family to migrate to this locale in Romania.  First a map, which identifies a region called “Bergland” (mountain area), and the Banater (people) of that region:

From Clipboard_2

I added in some of our family anchor points in red that were included in the map: Konigsgnad, Reschitza and Franzdorf/Valiug. Here is the translated text that went with the topic:

There was also the need to take security measures at the border with the “Ottoman Empire”. At first, craftsmen and traders, but later mainly mountain and mountain people were settled in the Banater Bergland. The first German settlers came before the Turks were finally expelled from the Banat. There were 13 Tyrolean mountain squares which arrived in the spring of the year 1703 in Orawitz. They were followed by immigrants from the Spits, Lower Austria, Tyrol, Styria, Upper Austria and Hungary, but also from Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden and Bohemia. The land was cultivated and numerous villages were built; But a new Austro-Turkish war (1737-1739) devastated the country.

In order to secure the development of the mining industry, experts from the Alpine countries, mainly from Styria and Upper Austria, were relocated. Orawitz became the administrative center of the entire mountain region and in 1771 the blast furnaces and the Reschitz ironworks were put into operation. In 1790 powerful and valuable coal deposits around Steierdorf were discovered. A larger number of miners had to be recruited for the expansion of the coal industry. First came immigrants from Upper Austria; The recruitment had to be extended to Bohemia, Moravia and Slovaks. The numerous mountains from Rußkberg over Reschitz to Bokschan, from Karansebesch over the military border to the Danube port of Orschowa, with numerous different types of mining, smelting, plant equipment, domain equipment and hydraulic engineering, shaped and shaped the Banater Bergland in such a way that the German specialists became the social order factor and economy Of the region. Banat Berglanddeutsche designed an independent alpine habitat until the destruction of the double monarchy

Again we have some strong hints on where our roots may lead back to.

A bit of a side bar: In my research I realized the fact that very few people could read or write in these days, and whoever recorded the records would probably need help spelling the names. I found a large variety of spellings for “Hollenschvandner”, including “Hollschwandner”, “Holschvadner”, Holleschvander”, etc.

In addition, it is clear many of these Germans had very distinct dialects and pronunciations.

So I began to think HollenSchvandner was actually two words merged, and maybe not the words being spelled out.  Especially after I ran across the Swabian royal family “Hohenzollern”, and realized how close it looked to Hollenschvandner

“Hohen” in German means “high”, and is phonetically similar to “Hollen” – possibly a difference in dialect. Exploring further I learned “Schvandner” can be translated in some dialects into “meadow” or “field”. In fact, I discovered “Schvandner” surnames in the German Swabia region’s genealogy records. In Europe family some names were tied to locations as much as anything else. So Hollenschvandner could mean “of the mountain meadow”. Something to explore in the future.

Anyway, my final trove of data comes from another site dedicated to the Swabian migration to modern day Romania, and The Banat region in particular. On that site I discovered this webpage, replete with an in-depth history of the Swabian Trek to The Banat:

Not all of the Banat was the like the fertile lowlands historically associated with the Danube Swabian settlements in the 18th century but also included the highlands and mountain region where a well developed mining industry attracted the Austrian Alpine colonists.  Over one third of the Banat consists of the Carpathian Mountains and their attendant forests, uplands and highlands.

Their mountain towns were later destroyed by the Turks and the territory was incorporated into the LugoschKaransebescher Banat and made part of Transylvania.

Prior to the Peace of Passarowitz in 1718 and for the next century the Royal State Chancellery in Vienna was occupied with the recruitment and settlement of peasant farmers for the Banat.  But Alpine settlers were also in demand, especially from the Tyrol in order to re-establish mining and small industries in the Bergland.

Emphasis mine. We now see all these dots connecting up. We have the re-population of The Banat by Germanic people from Austria/Germany in the 1700’s after the Ottoman Empire was forced out. We know the first wave was decimated, but the second and third waves created a farming and industrial powerhouse.

We also know that while a lot of literature focuses on the migration of “Swabians” to the lowlands of the Banat, our family roots are clearly in the mountainous “Bergland” region, which forged a distinct path through history.

It [Bergland] became an autonomous district in the Banat directly answerable to Vienna.  Some 10,000 settlers were involved in moving into this impoverished and backward region known as “Little Austria in Wallachia.”  They faced an enormous and difficult task.  While this was happening a new war with the Turks was just around the corner.

Despite countless losses to Turkish raiders and their Wallachian (Romanian) allies the Alpine settlers persevered and formed a new “folk group”, a “second” German group in the Banat.  They maintained contacts with their ancestral homelands as well as forming relationships with the Banat Swabians to help form a mutual buffer amidst the Magyars and Romanians and provided mutual protection.

By 1733 the Bergland was providing over 50% of all of the copper in the Habsburg domains.  The major mining centres were at:  Russberg, Reschitz, Steierdorf, Bogschan, Lugosch and Orschowa.

As noted earlier, Valiug was a place that provided charcoal to the iron works of Rescita/Reschitz – and supplies to Lugosch (where the Naszt family line comes from).

This development would result in the largest complex of heavy industry in south east Europe at the time of the fall of the Dual Monarchy.  During this period a kind of invisible “border” was evident in terms of the Bergland Germans and the Swabians.  Their origins and traditions differed greatly as well as the basic urban/rural lifestyle and economy.  But their natural linguistic and social ties were kept up.

Following her father’s death, the Empress Maria Theresia’s coffers were empty and in order to carry out her colonization of the Banat she put a priority on the redevelopment of the Bergland and using its resources to bail out the enterprise.  She planned to get settlers from the Alpine provinces of Austria.  She also strengthened the Military Frontier District first established by her father shortly before his death in 1740.  This strengthening of the frontier not only provided security against incursions from the Turks but also kept the Romanians in their place in the Bergland.  The stabilizing effect of her policies resulted in an expansion of the mining industry.  Many of the new settlers who began to arrive came from the Steiermark and Salzkammergut.  The iron works were later converted to munitions and armaments manufacturing when political conditions necessitated it.  Between the years, 1773-1774 an additional three hundred German families from the Steiermark and Upper Austria settled at Orawitz.

Under pressure from Hungary, Maria Theresia gave up the Banat as a Crownland and placed it under Hungarian jurisdiction in 1778 but this excluded the Bergland.  As a result there was great unrest among the Romanians and one of their leaders Horia led a peasant’s uprising that was [put] down ruthlessly by the Hungarians.  In their convoluted way of thinking they blamed the Germans and their hatred for them only increased.

Apparently, we are not truly Romanian or Swabian. We are Berglander’s of The Banat. Our family lines converged to Rescita where they intermarried, and then they later migrated to America. Below is a picture supposedly of the the Banat Bergland to give a feel for our homeland.

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