History of Wasserau

Wasserau is located in the northernmost section of the bohemian forest, three kilometers west of Muttersdorf, six kilometers from the Bavarian frontier and at exactly 600 meters above sea level. It was founded in 1180 by Mutina von Bukowec but by 1379 it is referred to as "desolated." [abandonned] It was most likely destroyed by the frequent military campaigns in the district. In 1400 the place was resettled but in a deed dated 1560 it is again called "desolated." About 1510 the von Wiederspergs of Muttersdorf resettled it once again.

The livelyhood of the inhabitants was generally gained through agriculture. Small land-holders [HaŸsler] who could not make a living from their land alone were also busy as masons, carpenters or unskilled day-workers in Vienna or Saxony and, after the creation of Czechoslovakia,1918 in Eger or Asch. They also sought work as lumberjacks and seasonal workers harvesting grain, beets and hops. Lace-making also brought extra income and was pursued by all of the women and girls and even by some men and boys.

The following crops were raised: Rye, barley and oats. In fields here and there there were also potatoes, herbs, beets, Dorschen [a fish, probably pond-raised carp], and clover. Flax was raised until 1920. Until 1925 certain fields were left fallow every year. After 1925 the use of chemical fertilizers increased production and profits. Until 1930 the harvest was brought in without the help of machinery. Grain was mowed with special sickles designed for that purpose. The first threshing machines were pulled along by draft animals. In 1928 Wasserau received electric power and many changes followed.

There was one cabinetmaker, one tailor, one carpenter, one wagon-maker, one blacksmith, one general store and two inns in Wasserau. Most of the houses were built of brick or stone. There were a few wooden houses, covered with shingles. There were two community halls available which could be used free of charge. When the elderly folk became too fragile to care for themselves the townsfolk would take turns visiting their property and providing for them.

The "Weiler Engelhaus" and hamlet of Platten also belonged to Wasserau. Originally the place had been divided into two parts, each of which belonged to a different Herrschaft [dominion]. During the Reformation the inhabitants endured great suffering since Wasserau was called a Lutheran community because that was the belief of their overlord. In 1848 the two sections of Wasserau were finally united as a single community and joined to the jurisdiction district of Hostau.

The two "Armenha"user" [poor-houses] still remind us of the olden days. >From 1739-1753 and from 1805-1813 there was a customs station in Wasserau There was a winter school which was open between November and March until 1890. In 1918 Wasserau got its own one-room school and in 1920 a schoolhouse was built.

Wasserau holds 232 hectares of land and in 1921 there were 56 houses and 312 residents. The population was virtually unchanged until 1945. There was a volunteer fire department ever since 1895, a "Deutsche Bšhmerwald-gruppe" ever since 1918 and a "Deutsche Kulturverband" since 1920. These community associations guarded old cultural items and traditions associated with festivals like Fasching and Pfingsten [Pentecost]. For example they kept a tradition in which some youths were disquised with straw covering them ... or the butcher, the inkeeper, the ... Kaminkellrer... and the Jew appeared in [very old masks depicting runners, Turks, and clowns.

According to the old traditions "Faschingsmolntag" [the Monday after Fasching] gave married couples first rights to the dance floor. Back then there were still "Hutscha" and "Reckenstuben" [social nights at home]. Young men and women met at a given house in the evening. The girls brought along their lace-making custions and worked industriously while old tales were repeated -- tales about goblins, ghosts, the "Weissell Frau," the "Wild Hunt," the "Hojmann", the headless man and the lost wanderers. Crosses called "RolsstrŠnke" and "kalte Marter" were erected on country lanes where ghosts had been seen -- the later was on the road to Weissensulz. There had been great battles near both these crosses during the Thirty Years War. Occasionally those who worked in the vicinity would hear the clatter of horseshoes -- and these reports have been confirmed as accurate.

Many folksongs were sung and there was also dancing in the "Hutschastubrl". There was never a lack for musicians in Wasserau. Church festivals were also grand occasions. And so life in Wasserau was full of hard work but it was also very rewarding and happy.

German-Bohemian Heritage Society

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