Mramorak is a large village in the southern Banat. Before World War II, more than 3300 German people lived in the village. In addition, there were approximately 1200 Serbs and about the same number of Romanians. Most settlers emigrated in the years 1820 - 1821 from Hesse, Palatine, Alsace, and Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. After the expropriation and expulsion of the German population in 1945, there is no indication left today of the 125 year old vitality of the German people in Mramorak - no indication in the graveyard and nothing of the church which was demolished in 1959. The records of the church books are precious as a witness to the former virtually forgotten epoch of the Danube Swabian people and they put the settlement in its proper place in history.
History of the Filmed Church Books
At the beginning of 1940 in the middle of the World War II, the German parishes in the southeast European countries were requested to photograph their registers for the protection and custody of their content. Many of those responsible for the registers only made the oldest copies available because they were worried and maybe also a little fearful that the books with their irreplaceable records would get lost. Today, it is regretful, that the church-books of the German communities in the Banat were only filmed partially or not at all. The films received then are still stored today in the archives of the Institute for Foreign Relatives in Stuttgart. They give insight for posterity into the registers of the Protestant church community of Mramorak from 1821 to 1877.
Introduction by the Author
Originally my intention was to look through the individual photographed pages of the church books in order to pick out the genealogical data of my relatives. Soon however I recognized that it was awkward and took a lot of work to find names of certain families and ultimately I was not always satisfied.
It had become plain to me that probably the best solution in terms of time was to copy the films from beginning to end. Just as clearly I recognized the difficulties, that I would have, with the many almost illegible passages. If one considers however, that the photocopies of our church books were already more than 100 years old, and that the script was old, and add to this a technology which was obsolete compared to present-day standards, one must probably accept the quality of the films like they were. Despite many deficiencies that had to be overcome, I decided to do a total transcription of the most important data of the births, the deaths and marriages. I decided not to do the partially existing additional information, like the names of the godfathers, witnesses to a marriage or similar remarks, because the total scope would have become too big.
The easily-visible words or whole lines also took a lot of time because sometimes only parts were recognizable. Sometimes a great deal of comparison was required in order to figure out names or other data and still be certain that it was correct.
It was even more aggravating that the enrollments from May 1847 until September 1849 were done in the Hungarian language. Inevitably the first names were also changed because of this. I took the Hungarian spelling and for simplicity added the German name in brackets. For the years later, from the June 1853 until October 1862, the priests had to write their entries in the Latin language. Therefore the spelling of the first names changed again from Hungarian, however mostly by only attaching one final syllable. So for example Johann - Johannes; Heinrich – Henricus; Jacob – Jakobus; Martin - Martinus. Through all of this however, the names nevertheless remained easily comprehensible, and I considered a translation unnecessary.
Many surnames are written quite differently. At the time that I did this, the personal identification card that is customary today was not used. The writers wrote down the names according to the way they heard the name or the way they considered the name to be right, for example: Bohland or Pohland, Mergel or Merkel, Stehle or Staehle, to name just a few. At the start, I intended to write all surnames the way they were written in the table of our Mramorak home book. This however would have removed the different spellings of surnames and given names that were in use in that era totally. Therefore I decided with few exceptions, to use the original version of our descendants.
I would like to say thanks to Mr. Andreas Roedler of Franzfeld for supplying the data from the Franzfeld marriage registers. And I also thank my friend, Peter Schatz for his help.
In the end I was content with my work in that I succeeded in transcribing all three registers with a total of more than 3300 entries from the films into a clearly written, present day book form to make it accessible to a greater interested sphere of people.
This book with these records might give our descendants a retrospective view into the starting times of their ancestors who once came as settlers to Mramorak and give one or another genealogist searching for their predecessors, a helpful service.
Comments by the Translator
The primary reason for translating this book into English was to put it onto the internet where everyone may use the information in it. This translation from German to English was also done so that all of the original book could be understood and so that those who are not so familiar with the German language & the history of Mramorak and the surrounding region may also benefit from Peter Feiler’s work. The original German book is quite understandable without translation for birth, marriage & death information once the person’s occupation and the German titles to the various columns are understood.
I am deeply grateful to Peter Feiler, my cousin, for his tireless work in transcribing the original information from the microfilms. Many of us know how difficult and time consuming it is to read, decipher and screen the microfilms for pertinent information and then to prepare a book. Peter, thank you very much for all the effort you put into this book.