Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

Eugen Nedić

Eugen Nedić

On the occasion of the 170th anniversary of the birth of Eugen Nedić – Dr. Jene Sentklarai (1843-1925), Doctor of Theology and our distinguished historian

Our renowned historian, Dr. Jene Sentklarai, was born in Vranjevo on January 21, 1843, as Eugen Nedić, to father Naum Nedić, a Serbian of Vlach origin, and mother Žofija Salai, a Hungarian from Čantavir. In the house, whose present address would be Svetozara Markovića 24, both Serbian and Hungarian languages were spoken. Jene Sentklarai (then still Eugen Nedić) completed elementary school in Vranjevo, in the Serbian language, while attending high school in Veliki Bečkerek in German.

Dr. Jene SentklaraiHe passed his final exam in Hungarian at the Piarist gymnasium in Szeged. He was active in literature and even one of the founders of the literary association "Cvetovi nade" (Flowers of Hope) in Szeged. During this time, his interest in history and archaeology increased. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849, his parents lost their property, jeopardizing Eugen's further education. Consequently, he went to Timișoara and attended a free school for priests. He continued his education at the Scientific Institute in Budapest, where he completed philosophy. He obtained his Doctorate in Theological Sciences in 1866.

In Novi Bečej (then Turkish Bečej), in the Catholic church of St. Clare, on the church's feast day, called buč, in 1866, he became a priest, and the following year he changed his name to Jene Sentklarai. According to some, he did so at the request of his mother, while others believe it was a gesture in response to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise. Research by our fellow citizen Ištvan Sekereš also confirms this information, so it can be accepted with certainty that the surname change occurred in 1867. He spent two years in the mining settlements of the southern Banat as a chaplain, and in 1868, he became the director of the Velikokikinda Main Elementary School, where he also taught literature and Hungarian language. Sentklarai's public appearances began in 1869 when he became a lecturer in philosophy and Latin at the Timișoara Main Gymnasium. At the request of the Šišanji family in 1873, he came to Novi (Turkish) Bečej to take over the Catholic parish as a priest, a position he held until 1893. In the same year, he became one of the founders of the South Hungarian Historical and Archaeological Society, serving as its secretary. He was the editor of the "Historical Monthly Messenger" from 1871 to 1873. In 1872, the newspaper "Torontal" was founded in Veliki Bečkerek, initially as a weekly and later a daily. Sentklarai participated in its creation from the very beginning and became its chief editor in 1879. In the newspaper, he published articles on local history, archaeology, and folklore. During this time, he visited archives in Vienna, Budapest, Sremski Karlovci, as well as state and church archives, conducting thorough research. The results of these studies were reflected in various published historical and scientific articles written in Serbian, Hungarian, German, and Romanian.

At the well-known archaeological site of Borđoš near Novi (Turkish) Bečej, Sentklarai found a large earthen fortification in 1875, about which he extensively reported in a volume published in Timișoara. During the second excavation in 1879, he discovered 74 bronze fragments representing tools and parts of a bronze foundry. Immediately after this discovery, the Borđoš finding became a term in professional literature. At his own expense, he organized and conducted the first official and scientific archaeological research at Arača in 1877. The excavations, which began in the morning, were attended by gentlemen and interested people from Veliki Bečkerek, Melenci, Franjeva (today's Vranjevo), and Turkish (Novi) Bečej. After completing the work, Sentklarai gave a lecture on the history of the Arača church, emphasizing that Arača is the oldest architectural-historical medieval monument in these parts of Southern Hungary. The translation into Serbian was done by Đorđe Nikolić, and into German by Lieutenant Milenković. The archaeological finds from this and the following excavation in 1878 were transferred to Timișoara.

He worked intensively and successfully on other South Hungarian sites, in Banat and Bačka. While writing the history of Zrenjanin Fortress (Bečkerek Fortress), he extensively researched the historical past of our city. Written traces of the history of Novi (Turkish) Bečej and Vranjevo can be found in various scientific and historical works, but only in fragments. Unfortunately, he left us without a monumental historical monograph of our town.

After the decision of the Ministry of Commerce in 1889, which moved the course of the Tisza River a few kilometers away from Novi Bečej, the citizens of our town reacted quickly. In addition to a letter, they sent a three-member delegation to Pest, led by Dr. Jene Sentjklarai. Thanks to the abilities of the delegation members, the Ministry considered their pleas and arguments, and Novi Bečej remained by the Tisza River, never to give it up. The obituary he wrote on the occasion of the death of Dr. Vladimir Glavaš in 1909, which is very significant for us, was published in the South Hungarian Herald with valuable descriptions and information about our great benefactor.

In 1899, through Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, and Germany, he traveled to France to attend the World Exhibition held in Paris. Taking advantage of the proximity to England, he visited London, where he stayed for an extended period. After these travels, he published a travelogue titled "Pictures from an Educated West."

In 1882, Jene Sentlarai was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Just a year later, in 1883, as an associate professor, he taught modern history at the University of Budapest. He was elected a corresponding member of the Serbian Learned Society in 1885, and Matica srpska chose him as an honorary member in 1910. He was also elected an honorary citizen of Vranjevo in 1916.

His significant works include "One Hundred Years from the History of Southern Hungary" and research on "Memories from the History of Hungarian Serbs," "Serbian Monasteries in the Territory of Hungary," "Migrations of Vlachs in the Territory of Southern Hungary in the 18th Century," "History of Danube Flotillas," "Fortress of Bečkerek," "Monuments and Remains of Ruins in Čanad County," "Ancient Settlements along the Tisza in Torontal," and others.

Thanks to his extraordinary knowledge of Serbian, Hungarian, German, Romanian, French, Slovak, Latin, and Old Slavic, he studied available historical sources in Southern Hungarian areas without any problems. He made great contributions to the study and writing of the history of Hungarians, Serbs, Germans, and Romanians in the 18th century. During his stay in Timișoara, he actively participated in the establishment of cultural institutions. As an active member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, he made an invaluable contribution to the Historical Committee and Historical Society, the Historical and Literary Department of the Sent István Association, the Archaeological Society, and the Heraldry and Genealogy Society. He was also a member and president of the literary society Aranj Janoš in Southern Hungary.

Dr. Jene Sentklarai was appointed canon of Čanad in 1893 and abbot in 1895. He died in Timișoara as the great provost of Čanad in his 82nd year of life on October 12, 1925. He was buried in the crypt of the Timișoara Cathedral.

Used literature: Zrenjanin Archive, Archive of the Novi Bečej Catholic Parish, Šamu Borovski, Jožef Belovai, Zoltan Kalapiš-Életrajzi kalauz 2002, 2003, Zoltan Kalapiš-Történelem a föld alatt, 1995, Banat Historian-Dr. Jene Sentklarai, Borbeni Novobečejci-Endre Ištvanfi, Ištvan Sekereš Gelert-Chronicle 2009

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