Pössigkau

History - Economy - Church and School

The village of Pössigkau is located on the northern edge of the district of Hostau, five kilometers north of Weißensulz, deep in the valley of the Lunzen-Hammer brook and surrounded by high green hills. It is bordered by fields belonging to the villages of Neudorf, Molgau, Zemschen, Weißensulz and Schmolau. On the east there is only a narrow strip of land separating the houses of Pössigkau from the houses of Zemschen. On the west the hills of Hennerbühl, Hofbühl, and Wistrej , with their field-covered slopes rising ever higher farther west until they butt against the main chain of the northern Bohemian forest, the Niklasberg, Plattenberg and the Walpertsberg. This makes quite a beautiful and romantic sight and it cannot be denied that the people of Pössigkau have one of the most beautiful spots on earth as their home. No wonder that people had already settled here in dimmest antiquity. The "Opferst stein" [sacrifice or altar stone] at the foot of the Niklasberg is undeniable evidence. Were they Celts, Markomanni or another people who came even earlier?

According to sources, the first historically documented settlement was in the 11th or 12th century by the Choden. They were Czechs who initially came to protect the frontier. Originally there were only about seven to ten farmers in each village. Later the Germans began to infiltrate the area and it eventually became more or less "Germanized" by growing numbers of new settlers from Bavaria. But the villagers were still always called "Choden." The Choden villages of Pössigkau and Zemschen belonged to the Herrschaft [noble dominion] of Pfraumberg. The Bohemian dukes and German emperor gave them many privileges. For example, they had the right to come and go without permission, permission to hunt and fish, and freedom from compulsory labor, duties and requisitions. In return they were obliged to maintain the defenses of Burg Pfraumberg [Pfraumberg fortress or castle], to occupy and defend it in the event of war and to lay out obstacles against invasion -- like abatis -- in frontier forests. Approximately nine square kilometers of mature timber forest as well as the Niklasberg and the Häusberg belonged to the villages of Pössigkau and Zemschen and it was this same area that they were bound to defend.

In 1596, Emperor Rudolf II sold the Pfraumberg Herrschaft. In the course of the 17th century, Pössigkau along with Zemschen and their forest lands was joined to Hostau. Then Hostau became a part of the Herrschaft of Bischofteinitz and that is how things remained until 1848.

There are now only rather slight traces of the Choden left in Pössigkau. With the exception of two field-names, Klentscher and Wistrej, all of the fields of Pössigkau have German names. Most of these names are related to beauty, such as: Huafbühl, Trift, Louh, Krommlbuahl, etc. Names like "Brenntlouh" and "Hachtnbrond" indicate that they were originally cleared by Germans. This clearly indicates that the Germanization of Pössigkau by Germans from Bavaria took place quite early. This may have already been accomplished by the time of the Hussite Wars (1419-1436) because a number of residents of Prschituller fled and resettled in Pössigkau after their village was destroyed by the Hussites. But they were always regarded as "foreigners" and never fully accepted. In later years no one wanted to say he was descended from a "Prschituller."

Of course, Pössigkau was also destroyed by the Hussites but it is possible that the cattle were saved. Pössigkau came through the Thirty Years War relatively well.

There was a terrible famine at the end of the 17th, beginning of the 18th centuries. Then it was the forest that saved them.

The gaze of the inhabitants had always been directed toward the nearby forest. Since they were Choden farmers they could take timber from the forest for their buildings, and as much firewood as they needed, and they could also get grass and hay for their cattle there. They were also allowed to take limited amounts of firewood and grass from the manorial forest. The also made income from charcoal ovens in the forest (giving rise to such surnames as Kuhlbauer, Kuhlseff), for transport of charcoal and timber out of the area, and also as gamekeepers (Hulzhojer). Up to twenty persons worked in tree- and plant-nurseries, including some people from Pössigkau. Finally, the people of Pössigkau were also kept busy as lumberjacks. In the late fall some of the cottagers would collect birch branches to be made into brooms during the winter. Others made brooms from the moss that grew as long as 50 centimeters in the Louh. Basketmakers dug out spruce roots and wove baskets and "Schwingel" from them. And there were always men kept busy in the flour mill and sawmills.

The oldest mill was probably the "Schlöglmühle." It was the only one with two water wheels and was capable of grinding grain and sawing lumber at the same time. However the sawmill saw little service in later years. The four newer mills which were located at "Neumühle" were expanded during the First World War. The waterwheel was replaced with a turbine engine and several other improvements were made. There is no longer a water source there. An attempt to supply water via a cement aqueduct from the Herrenweiher [nobleman's pond] failed so a steam engine was installed. The engine was shared by the mill and the expanded sawmill which could now increase production of lumber. During the dry years following 1918 the mill ran day and night. Farmers came from villages as far away as twenty kilometers to process their grain in the "Neumüuhle." It was a virtual gold mine.

The majority of the people in Pössigkau were employed in the modern sawmill. They guided the raw lumber through rough-cut plank saws. Day after day boards would be loaded at the Zemschen station as the saw continued to turn out sturdy planks. Then, on June 27, 1929 a huge fire destroyed the building and its machinery as well as the administrative offices, residence, stables and barn. The owner at the time did not rebuild. That was a disaster for the village.

In 1924 the "Intermühl" [lower mill] was renovated and was then able to satisfy the needs of the former clients of the "Neumühl." The "Honsadlmühl" was also renovated and enlarged around the same time.

Experts from Tachau came to instruct local people how to do wood turnings in the sawmill. A steam engine was also installed to power the lathes. Colorful wooden beads and buttons were produced. Broom handles were also produced, but the main product of the lathe was alderwood turnings for pencils, all of which were shipped to Nürnberg.

The expanded sawmill also began to produce boards once again and soon did as much business as had formerly been done at Neumühl. This provided income for a large number of workers right up to the time of the expulsion.

Prior to 1914 many men from Pössigkau worked in Saxony from springtime until early fall. They were masons, carpenters and handworkers and had earned a good living, but after 1918 many of them were unemployed. Women and teenagers would sometimes spend a few summer weeks in the district of Saaz to harvest hops and beets, but there was not a lot of that sort of work. It was more common for women and children who had finished their housework to sit making lace or embroidery until midnight. Some spent the whole day with their "Koppelsack" [lace-making cushion], especially during the winter, and they were completely engrossed by in it. Everything they produced was delivered to the Firma H. Wild in Weißensulz. The payment they received contributed to their livelihood .

When employment was again available in Germany after 1933, many men who went there to work came back with good income but also with new ideas about their own situation. These people were not thinking in terms of politics, only that they did not want to continue to exist "from hand to mouth." With a little bit of judgment and kindness the Czech government would have been able to avoid the conflict that arose.

The forests of Pössigkau with the village included 1205 hectares. The village had 94 houses and 460 residents in 1945. Agricultural production was not very good because most of the fields were on steep slopes and very difficult to work. There were three inns in the village, 2 groceries and a bakery.

Church and School

Ever since the 14th century, Pössigkau and Zemschen belonged to the parish of Heiligenkreuz and probably even before then. During the 16th century Protestantism had a strong foothold here and it was not until the counter-reformation began in Heiligenkreuz around 1629 that a few registered Catholics appeared in the church records. In 1786 Pössigkau was reassigned to the Weißensulz parish and then to the parish of Tutz to which it has belonged ever since 1815. The first formal school attended by the children of Pössigkau was the school in Tutz where they began to go to classes in 1784. In 1836 the two villages got their own school. It was not built as would be expected between the two villages, rather in the neighborhood of a "Gotteshaus" known as the Hurber Chapel in Zemschen. The school stood on that site until 1945 and had three rooms ever since 1913. There were about 110 pupils and the greater number of them came from Pössigkau. Some local children attended the Bürgerschule in Weißensulz. 1946.



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