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This comment is written using special romanian characters having diacritic marks [brave for A, cedilla for S and T, etc.] for the official name of the places in today Romania. If you will see some "?" on your screen, this means that you do not have install all the fonts on your computer.



1] see Jacob STEIGERWALD’s book “Donauschwäbische Gedankenskizzen aus USA. Aufsätze, 1968-1982 - Reflections of Danube Swabians in America, Articles, 1968-1982” /i.e. Reflections of Danube Swabians in America. Articles, 1968-1982, ed. Winona, MN, 1983, 130 pages, ISBN 0-9615505-0-3]. The author refers to Johnny WEISSMÜLLER as "the best known American descendent of Danube Swabians " and mentions Freidorf as the native village of his family before emigration.

The following persons brought important contributions for the correct location of Johnny WEISSMÜLLER’s birthplace:

the Romanian sports journalist Victor BĂNCIULESCU, who in 1940 published, in a Romanian magazine issued in Bucureşti, the news that Johnny WEISSMÜLLER’s origin could be in the Banat [see his memories “Am dat mîna cu ei” /i.e. I shake their hands …, ed. Sport-Turism, Bucureşti, 1977, 200 pages] and, especially

the Romanian journalist and writer of Swabian origin Nikolaus BERWANGER [B 5.07.1935, Freidorf; D 1.04.1989, Ludwigsburg, Germany], who already in 1968 published in the German weekly magazine “Karpaten Rundschau“ from Braşov, a relevant article entitled Wo Tarzan das Licht der Welt erblickte. Later, he approached this subject in two TV reports [presented by the Romanian television in German and Romanian languages], as well as in a book published in 1974 [Der sonne nach. Banater durchreisen, entdecken, erleben die Welt, Mit Beiträgen von Nikolaus Berwanger, Heinrich Lauer und Ludwig Schwarz, ed. Kriterion, Bucureşti, 1974, 100 pages]. Being born in Freidorf, it is not surprising that Nikolaus BERWANGER knew many things about Johnny [especially from his grandmother, as he mentioned; the Berwanger house in Freidorf was right next to the Jacob WEISSMÜLLER's house on Contemporanul Street. In fact, the two families were also related trough marriage].

   During their investigations, both journalists received the support of Jacob WEISSMÜLLER, Johnny’s first cousin. He was born in Freidorf on 25.03.1913, being the son of Wilhelm WEISSMÜLLER & Elisabetha WENDLING. Wilhelm was the younger brother of Peter WEISSMÜLLER, Johnny’s father. On 16.02.1935 in Freidorf, Jacob married Elisabeth PORSTHER and at the end of the ‘70’s he was still living in Freidorf [at no. 2 Contemporanul Street]. He worked at the Fabrica de Tutun (tobacco factory) in Timişoara his entire life. Jacob praised his famous relative, but unfortunately certain information he made public during the time were only  “family stories”. Among these, he used to say that his house [located today at no. 2 on Contemporanul Street in Freidorf] was the house in which Johnny WEISSMÜLLER was born.

Following certain detailed investigations in the existing records [church registers, old maps, cadastral papers, etc.], this information proved to be false [new] even if it was quoted in almost all the articles published in the Romanian newspapers during the time. In the last tri-lingual booklet dedicated to Freidorf [Freidorf, by Johann DIRSCHHL & BOÉR Jenö, Timişoara, ed. Solness, 2003, 93 pages, ISBN 973-8472-77-6]  [at page 48] the picture of another house [today at no. 114 on Ioan Slavici Street] was published as Johnny place of birth; just another wrong info!

It is very interesting to note here just one of Jacob's true stories: Michael WEISSMÜLLER Jr., Peter and Wilhelm’s elder brother, visited his son Adam WEISSMÜLLER [B 18.05.1899, Variaş; welter weight wrestling champion of United States; D 8.03.1937, USA] in the United States after the First World War. On this occasion, Michael met with his younger brother Peter WEISSMÜLLER, Johnny’s father.

the Swabian journalist Ludwig KLEIN published for the first time Johnny WEISSMÜLLER’s Roman-Catholic birth certificate on 29.06.1979 in the Timişoara newspaper Neue Banater Zeitung as well as the marriage between his parents. The article was entitled "Der Tarzan stammt aus Freidorf" and n Freidorf’s monographic book Heimatbuch der Deutschen Gemeinde Freidorf im Banat Druckerei Weigand, Wasserburg, Germany, 1985,

2]Water, World and Weissmüller”, Vion Publishing Co. Inc., Los Angeles, 1964.

3] Freidorf [i.e. “free village” in German language] is the German name for this village which was also known under the Hungarian name of Szabadfalu [meaning also “free village” in Hungarian language].

4] today Timiş County, Romania.

5] Vendelin OCHSENFELD was born on 27.03.1847 in Variaş. He became a priest on 4.09.1873 in Caransebeş where he served until 1875. Between 1875-1885 he was a school professor in Timişoara. In 1885 he served for a short period of time in Nagytószeg [German: Heufeld; Serbian: Novi Kozarci]. Between 15.05.1899-20.10.1913 he was Freidorf Parish’s vicar. He retired on 1.10.1913.

6] the same thing happened also in the case of Johnny’s family name which is spelled under the Hungarian form of WEISZMÜLLER instead of the original WEISSMÜLLER and at the first name of his parents which are spelled also under their Hungarian form: as Péter instead of Peter and Ezsébet instead of Elisabeth.

7] the house in which Johnny WEISSMÜLLER was born [new], the old no. 84, is located presently at no. 8 Piaţa PETÖFI Sándor [i.e. PETÖFI Sándor Square] in Freidorf, Timişoara [the old house in which Johnny WEISSMÜLLER’s was born does not exist anymore]. The previous name of the square -before 1989- was Piaţa Eliberării. The house existing at this address was initially an “Urbarial Kleinhaus” [municipal property?]. “Kleinhaeusler” in Austrian German is a farm that is too small to make a living. For instance a small house with ½ hectare of land as garden. The first owner [or only inhabitant?] of the house was the SCHALIO family [Valentin & Barbara born MOLLINGER] and the whole estate had 1178 bécsi öl [i.e. 2240,44 m2; 1 öl (old measurement unit) = 1901,9 mm]. Already in 1858 the house and the estate [plot no. 212-213] was in the property of the PERCZEL Johann and his wife Margareth. It changed property [? or the estate was split in smaller parts and new houses were build on it] at least for 2 times up to 1895; in 1865 the new owner was KUMMER Paul and his wife Anna; in 1874 SCHALIO Valentin and his wife Barbara. Then in 1895 the estate was split in 3 parts and another 2 houses were build. The 3 houses were owned as follows:

-at plot no. 212-213a by several members of the KRISPIN family [Johann KRISPIN married with Anna MOLL; Elisabetha KRISPIN; and Jacob KRISPIN]. In 1971 here lived Johann KRISPIN / CRISPIN Jr. and his wife Anna NN. Johann died in this year. On 11.04.1972, the house was donated by Anna NN, widow KRISPIN, to Peter STUPRICH and his wife Magdalena PORTSCHELLER. Between 1972-'79, the old house [in which Johnny WEISSMÜLLER was born] was demolished and a new house was build by the STUPRICH's. This house was "give up" to the Romanian State in the summer of 1979 when the STUPRICH's will immigrate to Germany;

-at plot no. 212-213b by KUMMER Paul and his wife & KÁRÁSZI Josef and his wife Catharina;

-at plot no. 212-213c by PERCZEL Peter and his wife Apollonia.

8] Variaş [in German: Warjasch; Hungarian: Várjás] is a village located also in Banat, at ~40km NW of Freidorf. The village was established in 1787 by Swabian settlers.

    Grabaţ [in German: Grabatz; Hungarian: Garabos, Grabacz, Grabac; Variants: Grawatz] is a village from Banat, located at ~40km E from Freidorf. The village was raised in 1768 by Swabian settlers.

    Comloşul Mare [German: Großkomlosch; Hungarian: Nagykomlos, Bánátkomlos] is a village located  5km SE from Grabaţ. The place is known as far back in time as 1446. In 1717 it was a Serb village and it was colonized: with Romanians from Oltenia region in 1743 and 1745; Slovaks from Bekes Comitat in 1782 (in 1788 the Slovaks moved to Stamora); and ~1785 with Germans/Swabian’s from Luxemburg and Upper Hungary.

9] i.e.: the REITER téglagyar [téglagyar is tile factory in Hungarian language] and the LATTER Mihály téglagyar from Chişoda [or Chişoda Veche; in German: Kischoda, Altkischoda; Hungarian: Oteslöd; located at ~5km SSE from Timişoara and today also a quarter of Timişoara city].

10] Until 1905 Peter WEISSMÜLLER was citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. After WWI, Freidorf was located in the Banat’s part that was to be united with Romania. In his Petition for Naturalization dated 11.02.1937, Peter WEISSMÜLLER will sign the following statement: …”It is in my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign princes, potentates, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to CAROL II, KING OF ROMANIA of when (which) at this time I am a subject (or citizen)…”. But in order to became a Romanian citizen after WWI, some legal steps were needed in a court of law. It is obvious that he never fulfilled these steps in Romania. So, a question is quite logical: in fact, in 1937, who’s citizen was Peter WEISSMÜLLER?

11] Since 1908 the Kozma village [or Cusma, Kis-Kozma] was called Vérteskozma. In 1929 the village was united administratively with the village of Gánt [from Fejer Vármegye], being located North of Székesfehervár, in a Hungarian region called Schildgebirge. Count Ferenc ESZTERHÁZY colonized the village in 1742 with 60 German families.

12] according to Fritz BRAUN & Franz RINK’s “Bürgerbuch der Stadt Kaiserslautern 1597-1800”, Selbstverlag der Stadtverwaltung, Kaiserslautern, 1965, on page 67 and Eugen REIS’s “Kaiserslautern im 18. Jahrhundert: die Menschen, die in den familienkundlichen Quellen der Stadt erwähnt werden; Einheimische, Eingepfarte, Fremde”, Pfälzisch-Rheinische Familienkunde Kulturamt der Stadt Kaiserslautern, 2000, at page 633, ISBN 3-9805946-6-1.

13] Question: are all the WEISSMÜLLER’s from Banat descendants of Johann WEISSMÜLLER & Magdalena RIEDER?

      Answer: no, but they are all descendants of Johann Paul WEISSMÜLLER & Elisabeth METSCHANG.

In Grabaţ came also other 2 members of the WEISSMÜLLER family:


B 1.11.1774 in Kozma, son of Peter WEISSMÜLLER [B 25.09.1742, Harsberg, son of Johann Paul WEISSMÜLLER & Elisabeth METSCHANG; M 1.02.1768, Kozma; D 1.03.1786, Kozma] & Margaretha KLEIN [B~1761; M2. 6.02.1787 in Kozma with Johann KINDL / Kendl / Kindel / Gindel / Gündel; D 27.05.1794 in Kozma]

M 17.01.1803 in Grabaţ with Barbara SEVER / SCHERBER

5 children in Grabaţ

~1811-‘12 moved to Zichydorf, Banat

5 children in Zichydorf

D 5.06.1830, Zichydorf

Zichydorf [German: Zichydorf; Serbian: Plandiste, Mariolana, Zici Selo; Hungarian: Zichyfalva; Variants: Banatsko Plandiste, Veliko Plandiste] was founded in 1787 and is located at 60 km ESE of Zrenjanin in today Serbia.

More enigmatic, because we do not know much about him yet, is:



M 14.11.1826 in Grabaţ with Anna Maria ZWERKAL

10 children in Grabaţ

14] Johann OTT was a day-worker B 20.03.1876 in Sânmihaiu German as the son of Josef OTT & Veronica DINJER / DINGER / TINGER. He married on 14.05.1899 in Freidorf to Eva KERSCH [B 20.09.1877 in Freidorf, the daughter of Conrad KERSCH & Elisabeth PICHER / BÜCHER]. The family had one child in Freidorf in 1900 and 3 children in USA. Their exact date of emigration to USA is not known yet by us.

Sânmihaiu German [German: Deutschsanktmichael, Zilasch; Hungarian: Németszentmihály; Variants: Sînmihaiu German] was re-colonized in 1808 trough the efforts of cavalry Captain Johann Nepomuk Rauth of Temesvar by Schwabian colonists from Banat and is located at 17km ESE of Timişoara.

15] Germanberg is a missnomer; there is no such place -and never was!- in Romania or Austro-Hungary.

16] see also Johnny WEISSMÜLLER Jr. & William REED’s Tarzan, My Father”, ed. ECW Press, October 2002, 230 pages, ISBN 1550225227.

17] see also David FURY’s Johnny WEISSMÜLLER: Twice the Hero”, ed. Artist's Press; May 2000, 360 pages, ISBN 0924556021.

18] according to Dr. BÁRÁNY István’s memories published in the 1980’s in the Hungarian weekly newspaper “Képes Sport” from Budapest. Dr. BÁRÁNY István [B 20.12.1907 in Eger as BÁRÁNY István Géza Gyula; D 21.02.1995 in Budapest] was one of Johnny’s competitors at the Olympic Games in 1924 and 1928.



NN = abbreviation on the Latin "Nomen Nescio" = Name Unknown [usually the family name]

B = born

M = married

D = death

g = grand

Jr. = Junior [this notation is not found in any of the official records; we used it only to facilitate the understanding of the relations inside the same family]

no. = number of house

S.S. = Steam Ship

[??] = when & where

[?] = supposition

~ = approximately

Picher / Pücher / Bicher / Bücher are just spelling variations of the same family name as these were recorded in the original church books during the time. During the time, the Weissmüller name was recorded as: Weissmuller, Weissmueller, Weiszmüller / Weiszmuller, Weißmüller, Weismüller, Weismuller.

We used the European Timing: date / month / year




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