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.

Vranjevo and the Disarmament of the Potisje-Pomorišje Border

After the Karlowitz and later the Požarevac peace treaties and the expulsion of the Turks from Banat and the northern part of Serbia, the need for the Potisje-Pomorišje border ceased. The resulting period of calm suited the Court to carry out the colonization of Germans, and for the Serbs, it meant a delay in the disarmament of the border and their transformation into serfs under Hungarian nobility.

Allegedly, Maria Theresa did not want to annex the territories of the Potisje-Pomorišje border to the counties, but under pressure from Hungarian nobility, she did so in 1741. The real disarmament of the border occurred only in 1750, and the Serbs were offered the option to move to Banat or stay in their current places but under county administration. Around this time, there was a campaign led by the Catholic Church to convert the Serbs to the Catholic faith (unionization), further unsettling the Serbs, leading to discussions about emigration to Russia.

Those who did not want to go to Banat or join the counties in their places decided to migrate to Russia, especially as Russia was actively recruiting them with various promises. To stop the emigration to Russia, the Court ordered the counties to treat the peasants more carefully, and a proclamation was issued that no one would be allowed to force the Serbs into religious union, and their privileges would not be revoked. Those who did not want to stay could move to Banat where there was plenty of free land. At the same time, a "punitive patent" was issued against agents recruiting the Serbian people for emigration to Russia. This patent involved the arrest of all agents and their assistants, and if their guilt was proven with two legal witnesses, they were to be sentenced to death by hanging.

Representatives of the Potisje-Pomorišje border, led by Chief Captain Gavril Novaković who later settled in Velika Kikinda, and Vice-Captain Laza Popović who later settled in Vranjevo, signed an agreement in Vienna on October 20, 1750, with military authorities regarding the rights and obligations of the border guards who moved to Banat. By the edict of October 23, 1751, the border guards were given three years to decide whether they would stay in the military class or become peasants.

As the Banat was liberated from the Turks, authorities did not want the settlement of Serbs in Banat due to the colonization of Germans. However, by the time of the disarmament of the border, around 2,500 Serbs had already moved to Banat.

For the maintenance of order, defense, and protection of the Tisza River, as well as facilitating normal traffic, six companies were formed in the northern part of Banat. One of them had its headquarters in Vranjevo, led by Vice-Captain Laza Popović from Vranjevo.

As Vranjevo was distant from the Tisza, the provincial government ordered the relocation of the so-called oberkapetanija from the Vran waste (Vranjak) to the ridge elevation, which extended from the ruins of the Bečej fortress to Lake Bakto (Pakto), near the Tisza port called Gustoš, just north of today's Veliki Magazin on the dolma. A village named Vranovo was later built there, called the ditch of Vranjevo.

After the disarmament of the Potisje-Pomorišje border in 1751-1752, Baron Engelshofen, the governor for the Tisza Banat, called on disbanded border guards who wished to remain under arms to move to the ditch on the left bank of the Tisza. Many Serb border guards from Stari (Serbian) Bečej, Bačko Petrovo Selo, and Mol responded to this call. With these settlers, the population increased so much that by 1752, Vranjevo had 578 inhabitants, and by 1758, 140 families (which then counted about six to eight members each).

The origin of the population of each place settled by former border guards from Bačka is estimated based on the origin of their priests and the baptismal records. Even long after the relocation in 1751, godparents from Bačka came to baptize children. It is known that Vranjevo was settled by border guards from Stari Bečej, Petrovo Selo, and Mol; Karlovo by border guards from Mol and Ada, Mokrin by border guards from Senta and Petrovo Selo, and so on.

After the relocation from Bačka, priests in Vranjevo were Filip Mihajlović from Stari Bečej, Teodor Petrović from Petrovo Selo, and Stefan Nikolić, originally from Ležimir in Srem.

The initial settlement of Vranjevo, in the area where it is located today, was, according to tradition, from the corner of today's Josif Marinković and Ivan Milutinović streets to the corner of Josif Marinković Street and July 7, i.e., along today's main street of Vranjevo, and later south towards Novi Bečej and north towards Mali Begej. The first church was located where the Serbian Orthodox Church is today. The first cemetery was from the corner of today's Josif Marinković and Svetozar Marković streets towards the former municipality at the corner of Josif Marinković and Rajko Rakočević - streets. Later, the cemetery was moved northeast of July 7th Street, and then west in Marko Orešković Street. After a hundred years, since the arrival of the border guards from Bačka in 1852, the cemetery was established where it is today, with the oldest parts already excavated and turned into a raw material base for the Polet Tile Factory. The first person buried in this cemetery was Mija Vlaškalin, the clerk of Vranjevo and a friend of Svetozar Miletić.

By the decree of the Provincial Government in Timișoara on March 31, 1753, newly established places in northern Banat were named after the baptized names of members of the imperial family. It is believed that Vranjevo was named Franjevo after Francis of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa. Although on the geographic-political map "Temišvarer Banat" from 1723-1725, the place where the settlement was once located in the wasteland of Vran was marked with "Franlevai Company."

From later data on Vranjevo, it could be observed that migration and the settling of new families from Bačka or other places in Banat where the border guards from Bačka initially stayed continued to be present alongside natural population growth. This was quite understandable, as even after twenty or more years, relatives and friends continued to settle closer to each other, which could not be fully accomplished in the first moments of relocation.

In 1771, Vranjevo already had 195 households, and in 1777 (the year of the uprising in Vranjevo), 1354 inhabitants were recorded. All the residents of Vranjevo up to that point were Serbs, and it was only in 1786 that the lord of Novi Bečej, Pavle Hadži Mihajlo, settled sixty Hungarians. The population increased rapidly, and by 1825, Vranjevo had 681 households with 5,361 inhabitants.

Later-settled Hungarians in Vranjevo, especially in the period 1820-1840, were mostly craftsmen, shipbuilders, and millers, and later gardeners and ditch diggers, whose work was in great demand. These were mostly Hungarians from the surroundings of Szeged, Hodmezovasarhely, and from Jaszag and Kunsag (two provinces in Hungary). Thanks to them, the rivers were quickly tamed, and their branches were returned to their beds, and many spacious marshy terrains were drained through channels.

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