The Boundary Crossing was the Bridge

The founding of the Zipser Settlement near Cirlibaba

Dr. Claus Stephani

Neuer Weg, (Bucharest) Vol. 31, Nr. 9232, January 23, 1979, p. 6
Sophie A. Welisch PhD, Trans.

Posted  2 April 2004

Toward the end of the 18th century, 1797, on the left bank of the Golden Bistritz in the vicinity of the then hamlet of Cirlibaba (Kirlibaba) a silver and lead mine was opened by the Styrian industialist and landed magnate, Karl Manz, Knight of Mariense. By about 1800 the washing and smelting station of the Manz enterprise could be found on the banks of the Kirlibaba Stream.

According to oral tradition (Joseph Kirchdraufer, Anton Wonthus, Alois Beldinger) the first German miners and craftsmen, whom Manz hired for Kirlibaba, came from the Zipser towns of Käsmark (Kezmarok), Dobschau (Dobsina), Bartfeld (Bardejov), Deutschproben (Nemećka Prono) and Kremnita (Kremnića). They were the forebears of the families of Hodel, Baierl, Hielbel, Lerch, Beldinger, Keil, Gärtner, Knoblauch (also Knobloch), Watzin, Feig, Reiss, Schwartz, Oswald, Gailing, Wonthus (also Gwondhus, i.e., “Gewandhaus”), Feil (also Pfeil) and Greck. Zipsers also came from places other than the historic Zips (Slovakia), as for example from Oberwischau, Kapnik-Oberstadt, Jakobeny. The nicknames of the first German settlers on the upper course of the Golden Bistritz, still in use today, also reveal their origin: “Dobschauer” (nickname of the Wenzel Family), “Bartfelder” (Gärtner), “Kaschauer” (Wonthus), “Probener” (Beldinger), whereas, for example the family name of Kirchdraufer stems from the Zipser town called Kirchdrauf.

Between 1810 – 1820 Karl Manz also had German craftsmen from Upper Silesia (Tscherwensky, Mesabrowsky, Muschinsky, Kallowitsch, Hankjewitsch, Golatzky, Nickelsky and others) brought to the province. During the first half of the last century were added German-speaking workers from the region of Radautz and other Bukowinian towns.

Thus by about 1800 there arose on the left bank of the Golden Bistritz next to the Romanian village of Kirlibaba (on the Kirlibaba Stream), the Zipser village of Cirlibaba Veche (Mariensee, named after the owner of the lead and silver mines) and on the right bank — likewise through Zipser immigrants at about the same time, the village of Cirlibaba Nouă (Ludwigsdorf). But since Ludwigsdorf lay in Transylvania and Mariensee in Bukovina, ”the boundary” ran through the middle of the Golden Bistritz River while the bridge, which today unites both communities, was the “boundary crossing.”

In the course of the previous century German foresters also settled in surrounding villages, in Ţibău (Zibau – the families of Feldigel, Limbacher, Schnur, Kirchdraufer) and Edu (Jedt – the families of Bosetschuk, Käuser, Wenzel). The workers’ poet, Kubi Wohl, son of a woodcutter, was born in Zibau on August 31, 1911. Kubi Wohl, “an early-silenced poetic voice of the struggling proletariat” (Alfred Kittner), died on December 21, 1935 in Czernowitz (see “Neue Literatur,” No. 4, 1978, pp. 83-84). Worthy of mention is also Ferdinand Weiss, a friend of literature and the arts, who in about 1900 opened a shop in Mariensee where, aside from many colorful postcards of the picturesque region, he also printed several booklets with the texts of ballads.

When in about 1870 the Manz mining enterprises were finally shut down, the Zipsers had to learn another trade; they became woodcutters and rafters and found ill-paid jobs in the sawmill. Rafting took place either to Ortoaia (Orth am Schwarzbach) and Vatra Dornei (Dorna-Vatra) or down as far as Bacău. At that time villages and hamlets were established further upstream including Birşaba (Byrschau, Byrschawa), Lala (Lallathal), Rotunda, Valea Stindei (Hüttenthal) and Sesure (Schessu). Schessu – a settlement founded by the woodcutters Reitz, Duschek, Hellinger, Lemberger, Schnur, Kulinjak, Muschinsky (from Berschau), Wenzel (from Lallathal) and Häuser (from Hüttenthal), has retained its name: the river winding through the valley looks like a round bowl (Schüssel); “Schessu” is the word in the Zipser dialect for Schüssel.