Durch 4 Jahrhundunderte auf den Spuren Haselbacher von Fritz Hasselbacher

(Translation of the introduction by George Aronoff.)

The reason and cause of our first family meeting in Oberrossbach outside of Neustadt on the Aisch (River) on the  6th of  October, 1996,  are, among other things, the attendance of  the former Ruth  Hasselbacher, who maintains close contact with the Hasslebachers living in the USA. With regards to our meeting, it falls to me to report briefly to those who are interested what is currently known about the origin of our Hasselbacher ancestors.

We selected Oberrossbach for our meeting, because more than 300 years ago Wolff and Andreas Haselbacher, after their classification as Exulanten (Protestants that were forced to leave Austria in the 16th-18th centuries) gained a foothold and lived here. From this place in Franconia (it was Franconia then, but now its Bavaria) began the spread (literally "propagation") of our family (kinship) in all directions. Since the earliest recordings are about our ancestors in Gresten, I would like to briefly describe this place that is so interesting for us.

The Market Gresten

The starting point of our journey through time is the pictorial market Gresten on the "Small Erlauf" (This is the name of a stream or river in Austria) in Lower Austria. The market is mentioned for the first time in documents dating from 1260. The village sits between Sheibbs and Waidhofen on Highway 22.

Along this busy road, about 8 km southwest from Gresten, lie the Haselgrabens (I think these are small streams or ditches), on which our forefathers lived and cultivated the land from the 16th to the middle of the 17th century, until they were driven out and emigrated.

South of the market was the former Burgveste (This is an architectural term that I think is a small castle or country home, likely with some sort of wall around it) of Niederhausegg, built at the end of the 13th  century. This ruin was the seat of the Barons of Zinzendorf. They exercised rule over the citizens of the Market and the farmers of the surrounding area.

In the 18th  century the family von Stiebar (likely some minor nobleman) acquired the property (the Burgveste) and archives. They built Schloss Stiebar (literally a castle). Today these extensive castle archives and earliest records of our ancestors are no longer accessible.  These refer among, other things to debts (literally "delivery obligations") and also to so-called "criminal offences". It is hardly comprehensible from today's view, with what penalties and punishments may have been meted out for these slight misdemeanors, since corporal punishments may have been used at the time.

We owe a lot to Pastor Georg Kuhr for what we know about effects of the Reformation and the Re-reformation on the people of Lower Austria, particularly in the Gresten/Reinsberg pastoral area. From intensive research for many years, he gathered names and facts from the church registers and castle archives which also refer to our ancestors.

Here I would like to mention a word about Mr. Wolfgang Martin, who wrote among other things the following in the pages of a piece on Frankish family research in 1979 under the title "on the traces of the religious refugee family Haselbacher":

"From Pastor Gg. Kuhr comes the following references to the old homeland of the Haselbachers as well as the derivation of their surname:

The Haselbacher family name came to exist approximately between 1550 to 1600. It is based on the region from which they emigrated and referred to as Ober-Haselbach at the Haselgrabenbach, which is today in the municipality of Gresten, in the region of Lower Austria (Niederoesterreich), referred to as upper property (perhaps slight hills overlooking the road and streams) at the road of Gresten near Ybbsitz. The different properties, on which Haselbachers as owners and inhabitants are mentioned between 1600 and 1650, and likely come from the Haselgrabens, They lived near the modest houses of the families Sonnleiten, Groessing, and and Kobathlehen.. The property of the family Holzapfel extends to the lowlands (Grestengrundes) lowering to the east toward Gresten.

(This was a tough paragraph to translate. I think it means that the Hasebachers lived on the highlands overlooking these other properties that descend to road that leads to Gresten. Haselgraben and Haselgrabenbach refer to ditches or streams that likely drain the higher ground on which the Haselbachers lived. You can postulate that the Haselbachers controlled the drainage and may have had the more valuable property. Maybe that's why they were thrown out and were persecuted for their religious beliefs for economic reasons. These streams and ditches were obviously important enough, perhaps for the proper drainage of the fields or as sources of water that the families that had property there took their names from that feature.)

Since it is customary in the alpine to call houses by a name, today in the Schadneramt region we still find the names for the houses, like "Ober-Haselbach", "Rait-Haselbach" and "Mehl-Haselbach". One still sees in these areas the name Hasselbach as a property designation. (Look over the front door of some of the large farmhouses and you can see that they have a name over the door.) Descendants of our kin no longer live in Gresten and the surroundings.

Cause and Impact of the Emigration of Lutheran from Niederoesterreich

On January 4, 1652, Kaiser Ferdinand III published an important proclamation regarding the Reformation, among other things, that stated: "that once and for all it is decided that each and every  non-Catholic should convert to the only truly holy catholic faith. --- that it is forbidden to read non-Catholic books, to sing non-Catholic songs, and so forth."

Because of these radical restrictions of their religious freedom, most of the Lutheran subjects reluctantly resigned themselves to leave Austria and emigrate with their compatriots as religious refugees into Franconia among other foreign lands. They came into a country devastated by the 30-years war and had to build a new life for themselves there.

After this introduction, I would like to present to you, dear readers, our forefathers and their families in the following description:

Another 20 pages of material follows.

Originally posted by Peter Hasselbacher
Louisville KY
Feb 7, 2007