Other interesting comments from the Contribution section. Information about our services.


   n   Inquilinus / zsellér / jeleri

In Banat, a zsellér is a serf with his own house and 1/8 Session1 of land [that means 7 Joch/iugăr [composed by: 5 Joch/iugăr agricultural land; 1 Joch/iugăr of grass-land; 1 Joch/iugăr land for the house]; but this is a very complex concept.

After the 1780 conscription [the "Conscriptio Urbarialis Banaticum" made by Count Kristóf Niczky's Commission using as example the already existing Hungarian one], there where 3 categories of peasants in Banat:


   -colonized peasants

   -contracting peasants.

The serfs where split in 2 categories:

   -sessionati [in Latin; serfs with land]

   -non sessionati [serfs without land].

If the serfs had less than an eight of Session but had his own house, he was named "inquilini / inquilinus" [jeleri in Romanian; zselle'r in Hungarian].

If the serfs lived in somebody's house, he was named "subinquilini".


Felix Game's Web Site has a page explaining these terms [for Hungary; this is a little different than in Banat but it is a good opportunity for making an opinion]:

   -The Farmer (colonus)

   -The Cotter (Hungarian: zsellér [or kishazos], Latin: inquilinus, German: Kleinhäusler).

   -The Subtenant (also zsellér in Hungarian, but subinquilinus in Latin and Holden in German)


In the dictionaries you can find:

   -Inquiliny [Latin] = alien/strain [tenant=chirias/lodger=chirias]

   -Inquilinus [Latin] means locatar [Romanian]/lodger [English], chirias/tenant, venetic/alien [figurative]


In Banat, the standard dimension and composition of a farm was:

-Peasant with a full Session = 34 Joch/iugăr [24 Joch/iugăr agricultural land; 6 Joch/iugăr of hay field; 3 Joch/iugăr of grass-land; 1 Joch/iugăr land for the house].

-Peasant with a half of Session = 19 Joch/iugăr [12 Joch/iugăr agricultural land; 4 Joch/iugăr of hay field; 2 Joch/iugăr of grass-land; 1 Joch/iugăr land for the house].

-Peasant with a quarter of Session = 11 Joch/iugăr [6 Joch/iugăr agricultural land; 3 Joch/iugăr of hay field; 1 Joch/iugăr of grass-land; 1 Joch/iugăr land for the house].

-Peasant with an eight of Session = 7 Joch/iugăr [5 Joch/iugăr agricultural land; 1 Joch/iugăr of grass-land; 1 Joch/iugăr land for the house].

[1] 1 Session (Ansässigkeit)=4 Viertel-four quarters=1 Joch/iugăr=0,575 Hektar/ Hectare [Ha] =1,43 acres
1/2 Session (Halbe Ansässigkeit)=2 Viertel-two quarters=1/2 Joch

1 Joch (Tagwerk) zu 1.600 Quadratklafter=0,575 Hektar=1,43 acres.

1 Joch/iugăr = 1600 Wiener Klfter2/stanjeni vienezi2=5751,7 m2

1 Wiener Klfter/stanjeni vienezi=6 foot/picioare =1,896 m

1 Schuh (Fuß)/foot/picioare = 31,6 cm

1 Quadratklafter - square fathom = 3,6 qm = 4,3 square yards
1 Motike (200 Quadratklafter) = 72 Ar = 0,18 acres
1 Viertel (400 Quadratklafter) - quarter = 144 Ar = 0,36 acres
1 Morgen = 0,26 Hektar = 0.64 acres
1 Acker - acre = 0,41 Hektar = 1 acre
1 Joch (Tagwerk) zu 1.600 Quadratklafter = 0,58 Hektar = 1,43 acres 
9 Ketten - chains = 1 Viertel = 1/4 Joch
1 Hufe = 10 Hektar = 24,71 acres
1 Ar = 100 qm = 120 square yards
1 Hektar = 100 Ar = 2,5 acres

Check here more on Old Measurements Units used in Banat.

   n   In Latin language do not exist the " J " letter! Even if this is not quit correct,  probably because in the priests handwriting almost always the capital " I " is like " J ", almost everybody [including us!] use the J instead of I when it comes to write the names in Latin language.

   n   [FYI]: In 1897 the Hungarian Parliament vote the Law on the Villages Name; according to this law, all the official names of the villages from Banat/Transilvania were to be [after 1897] in Hungarian language. So, this is one of the explanations for some “strange” names that will occur during the history. An another explanation is that the immigrants were using the names for villages in Schwobischen dialect when they talked about them or the phonetic transcription was used by the american customhouse officers or other american functionaries.

The Magyarization Process started long time before 1897 [check also our comment on this subject forwarded to Banat-L on 30 Nov 2000]. Even starting 1836 the Hungarian language was imposed in the administration and justice all over Banat/Transilvania. In 1839-1840-1843 the Hungarian language was imposed in all the churches; even the service was not performed in this language! So, starting 1843 the church books belonging to the German and Romanian villages are written in Hungarian language. In 1843 the Hungarian language is imposed in schools. The Magyarization Process will continue also during the 1848 revolution. In the period 1850-1866 the process will stagnate in order to become more powerful starting 1868 [with the law on the nationalities, the law on education, etc.]. This process will continue until the end of the WWI [1891-law for the kindergartens; 1907-the abolish of the confessional schools; etc.].        

David Dreyer [in his “Extractions of Banat Emigrants from Pre-1914 United States Customs and Immigration Passenger Ship Records. Background and Village Index"] has the following supplementary explanations:

"One can chart the increasing Magyarization of the Banat German surnames in the records as well as the increasing substitution of the Magyar version of given names for the German.

a. One consequence of the Magyarization is that in surnames containing the letter S, the S is substituted by Sz.

    For example: Siller is now Sziller, Theissmann is Theiszmann and Hess is Hesz.

b. A second change is the substitution of Cz for Z in names beginning in Z.

    For example: Czimmer for Zimmer and Czauner for Zauner.
The Magyarized versions were somewhat more pronounced among those Banaters leaving from Fiume where a Hungarian passport was required and it was more likely that clerks would substitute the Hungarian for the German version. After arrival in America the spelling usually reverted back to the German version.
Not only must consideration be given to a Hungarian spelling variant when searching databases but also to normal German spelling variations that occur when surnames and place names are spelled phonetically.


   n   The following guidelines cover the usual spelling variations that are encountered in German church books [and in the passenger ship records]:

1. German Phoentics The letter pairs B-P, W-V & T-D are frequently found interchanged leading to equivalent names:  Pulger / Bulger, Tolwig / Dolwig; Tipo / Dipo / Dibo, Vollmann / Wollmann (and even Follmann); Vetter / Fetter, Vetzler /  Wetzler and Schirado / Schirato.

2. Of lesser importance are the exchanges of the pairs:

    C-K, K-G [resulting in Gasko and Gasgo or Vigete and Wikete]

    Z-S [leading to Sauner and Zaune].

3. Vowels are exchanged in a bewildering fashion so that almost any combination is found.

4. Consonants are found doubled when only one is anticipated while, those customarily doubled are also found alone.

    For example: Pfeiffer / Pfeifer, Schaeffer / Schaefer and Doggendorf / Dogendorf.

5. The letter H is sometimes silent in German and, as a result, can appear or disappear from names in a disconcerting fashion.

          For example: Hehn / Hen, Bernard / Bernhard.

6. A terminal letter D in a word is pronounced like a T.

          This leads to spelling variations: Bernhard, Bernhart or Bernhardt; Quind, Quint or Quindt".

   n   The statements below are excerpted from "18th Century PA German Naming Customs" by Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.. Although Kerchner was specifically interested in Pennsylvania German genealogy, the statements apply to European Germans [included Banaters] as well:
    5. An "in" or "en", added to the end of a name, such as Anna Maria KERCHNERin, is a Germanic language name ending suffix denoting that the person is female. Thus the correct spelling of the last name in the example would be Kerchner, not Kerchnerin.
    6. An "er" or "ner", added to a surname based on the name of something, denoted that the person worked with that object or at that occupation, if the main portion of the name was an object or an occupation, or that the person was from that geographic location or city, if the main portion of the name was a geographic location. Examples: Forst is German for a forest, thus Forster is one who worked in a forest or with woodlands or was from a forest. Berlin is a city in Germany, thus Berliner is one who is from Berlin. Since English is a Germanic rooted language we do the same thing in English, i.e., Paint[er], Garden[er], New York[er].

The suffixes mentioned in 5. & 6. above are compounded in many cases.
The nouns Kirche and Kerche are German words for church. Thus for the surname spelled in an early record as Kerchnerin, i.e., Kerch[ner][in] we have a family name which means a person who worked in or near a church, and this particular person is female.

   n   "originally from" [i.e. place of origin / in Latin language: Locus Origins or "ex" and in Hungarian language: Szarmazási Helye] has a triple meaning in Banat's KB:
- that a person was born / baptized in a certain parish OR
- that a person is living in a certain village when a genealogical event [as B, M, D] occur OR
- that the person lived in another place before coming to a new parish [usually the place from where we have the information extracted] where he is involved in a genealogical event [as B, M, D].

   n   "the godparent / witness argument": usually, a godparent from one person's baptism / christening will be also the witness at that person's marriage. When the godparent died before his godson will marry, then the witness will be somebody from the godparent close family.
We discovered that, in the case of the Roman Catholic Germans / Schwab's from Banat, when all other detail are missing and there is no way to make a positive link between a person listed as married in a place and a person with the same first & family name, born in the same place and having a good age, we can use this "godparents / witness argument" for a positive link between the two persons.
oo 29.09.1846
-Caspar GERLACH, 18 years old, young boy unmarried, farmer
-Anna BECKER, 18 years old, young girl unmarried
witnesses: Caspar WOLTZ, Peter WAGNER

* 26.12.1827, Caspar GERLACH, son of Anton GERLACH & Elisabetha KIRI; godparents: Caspar VOLTZ, Catharina GERLACH
* 24.12.1825, Anna BECKER, daughter of Peter BECKER & Christina FLATON; godparents: Peter WAGNER, Anna MUHN

Sometimes this argument is not so obvious but, with a little work, you can find almost always the family relations.