Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Novi Bečej and Vranjevo after the expulsion of the Turks from Banat

Not much time passed after the conclusion of the Karlowitz Peace when a new war erupted between Austria and Turkey (1714–1718). In this war, the Austrians liberated Banat, the eastern part of Srem, captured Belgrade on August 15, 1717, and then took control of areas south of the Danube and Sava rivers, all the way to Niš.

Through the peace treaty signed in Požarevac on July 21, 1718, between Austria, the Republic of Venice, on one side, and Turkey, on the other, Banat and the entire Srem, along with the cities—Belgrade, Šabac, Bjeljina, Brčko, and in southern Serbia up to Paraćin, were ceded to Austria.

The western, flat part of Banat was settled by Serbs after the Turks withdrew, with only a small number of Romanians residing in the mountainous foothills. Hungarians were known to live only in the Small Sombor settlement near the Moriš River at that time.

It is believed that there were 200–250 almost purely Serbian settlements in Banat at that time, with only a small number having a mixed Serbian-Romanian population. In the districts of Čanad, Bečkerek, and Pančevo, there were about 9,000 Serbian households. The lowlands were represented by marshes and swamps, and the people largely led a nomadic life, raising small cattle and pigs, with only a negligible number engaged in agriculture.

After the expulsion of the Turks from Banat, the earlier residents of (Banat's) Bečej returned from Đak and settled in the place where Bečej had once been. This settlement was named Novi Bečej, while the part that remained in Bačka became Serbian, later known as Stari Bečej.

Novi Bečej was rebuilt after the expulsion of the Turks in a location near the Tisa River, around a small church (monastery). Around the monastery, there was also a cemetery. Until the construction of the railway line Veliki Bečkerek – Velika Kikinda in 1883, opposite the monastery, in the house later owned by Staud Karolj, there was a post office. The vacant space that existed until recently between that house and Laza Krstić's house, at the corner of Jaša Tomić Street and Revolucije Street, was the so-called "mezulana," where postal horses were exchanged.

Expanding further north and a little beyond the Tisa River, a new large Orthodox church was built in that part. Near the church, a new cemetery was founded, which was moved east of Novi Bečej somewhere in the 1880s, where the old Orthodox cemetery is today, and not far from it, a Catholic cemetery was also founded. Behind the Catholic cemetery, towards the railway line, a new Orthodox cemetery was established.

Near the large Orthodox church, according to tradition, there was a Turkish well built of bricks with a diameter of three meters. Allegedly, there was also a wall about five meters high from the Turkish period at that location. Hungarian authorities built a fire tower on that site, with a height of fifteen to twenty meters, square in shape with sides about five meters long. The fire tower was demolished in 1966–67, and a building for the People's University was erected in its place.

From the expulsion of the Turks, it can be seen in the documents of that time that the name "Turski Bečej" (Turkish Bečej or Torok Becse) began to be used, and sometimes Novi Bečej (Uj Becse). Maria Theresa elevated it to the status of a market town, granting it the right to hold fairs.

At that time, the settlers of Novi Bečej were exclusively Serbs, who already had their parish in 1685 and built a church in 1731. In that year, there were thirteen priests and three deacons. One of the priests was a protopope, and one a protoiereus, four jurors of the holy seat, and the remaining six were ordinary priests.

In 1717, after the expulsion of the Turks, Novi Bečej had only twenty households. Ten years later (1727), there were forty-five, and for the next ten years (1726/37), fifty-six taxpayers. The new war of 1737–1739 reduced the household numbers to fewer than after the expulsion of the Turks in 1717. In that war, the Turks took fifteen families into slavery, and seventeen people died from the plague. The heads of families in that year were Knez Živan Šević, Mitar Kiselički, Stojko Marić, Mihailo Racković, Pavle Udvarski, Stefan Luxin, Stefan Segedinčev, Jovan Racković, Marija Berovica, Ostoja Baschonin, Nikola Rajin, Damjan Rajin, Petar Milošev, Raka Kapetan, Radovan Gluhi, Jovan Ružić, and Vijat Rajin.

On the northeastern part of the present-day territory of the village of Vranjevo, above Kerekto, a branch of the Tisa River meandered towards the south (today the remnants of this branch are called Mali Begej) and, in front of the large warehouse, likely where the remains of the swamp "Venecija" are today, flowed into the main course of the Tisa. Once, this branch of the Tisa was navigable.

On the left side of this Little Begej, a wasteland called Vran, today called Vranjak, stretched. There was a settlement there since the Bronze Age. During the Turkish rule, Serb shepherds lived in that area, as confirmed by the Peć Patriarchate register, where the place Vranova with thirteen households was recorded in 1717.

According to tradition, Vranjevo got its name from the thousands of crows that inhabited the area. In archival material, there is a report from the district chief in 1782 stating that 9,623 crows were killed in the forest between Bečej and Vranjevo.

In the territory of the village of Vranjevo, there were several inhabited places: Arača, Šimuđ, Matej, etc. After the liberation from the Turks, Šimuđ had nine households, and before the war of 1737–1739, that number increased to thirty-four taxpayers. In that war, the Turks took eleven families from Šimuđ into slavery, and eleven people died from the plague.

In Šimuđ, in 1739, the family heads were mentioned as Knez Mijat Vuković, Dimitar Stanković, Mihajlo Mulić, Lazar Rakić, Trifun Skeledžić, Života Vojmović, Stojša Radić, Jovan Markešević, Miloš Filipović, Stojan Šoljmošaniin, and Subota Bojić.

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