Our German Bohemian Legacy
Robert J. Paulson
The town of Grafenried is located in the southwest corner of the Bischofteinitz district. After the Sudetenland was annexed to Germany, it was administered from Waldmünchen in the Oberpfalz, Bavaria. In 1939, Grafenried was a good size village with a church, a churchyard with a manse, school, 40 houses and a population of 222.
In 1925 the Waldmünchen vicinity celebrated their 1000 year existence; that far back Grafenried might have been what is recorded by the name of "Grauenreuth" and mention is made in the year 950 AD as being situated in the area of the Ringberg. It belonged to the Forest Waldmünchen and was destroyed by the army of the Bohemian King Premysl Ottokar II in 1266. In 1282 we are finding a listing of village names in the Lower Bavaria Urbarium: Grafenried, Anger, Seeg, Haselberg, which represent the demarcation around Grafenried under the auspices and administration of Waldmünchen.
Even in the dark Middle Ages this area is of strategic significance and is revealed by geographical names like "Spielberg" which comes from the Latin word "spicula" meaning an observation tower. Then there is "Hundsmarsch" carrying a verbatim meaning in English of "dog-march" but that word in Old German signifies a battle field. This is verified in the chronicles by Sommer's Schematics of 1839, where he states that farmers plowing the fields along the wall above the village of Anger exposed a find of many old coins, metal pieces, as well as flat and broad horseshoes. Finally there is the name "Mausturm" which means a toll station. Grafenried was the first village in Bavaria and they must have charged a toll fee.
We can assume that the many times destroyed village was located elsewhere than at present, and this is revealed by Wolf Pelkhofer, who was either a forester or caretaker when he wrote this in his report on the 12. January 1631: "On Wednesday after Ursula anno 1541 Pfalzgraff Fridrich bequeaths to Georgen Thomas von SchšnlŸndt a toll-house, where the Toll Guard live, and which is situated before the forest, including a glass manufacture nearby, plus 80 Tagwerk field and 80 Tagwerk hay-meadow and he grants this area to be called Grauenrieth. And just as Grafenried changed its locality between destruction and rebuilding, the borderline around this hard-fought piece of earth changed with the times. In 1708 it became part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, in 1938 it returned to Bavaria and in 1945 it was made part of Bohemia again.
After the death of Georg Thumbs (Thomas) von Schönlündt, his son and siblings inherited the Grafenried Glassworks, which was sold to Georg Pelhofer from Mooswang in 1580. The latter was an excellent businessman and enlarged his possession and it became free-land. In 1613 he bequeathed his farm estate to his son Wolf Eytl valued at 5000 Gulden, but he retained the glassworks as well as fields and meadows for his pension (Ausgeding).
Wolf Eytl Pelkhofer von Mooswang established the villages Anger and Seeg. But because he was a Calvinist he was forced to leave the estate which deteriorated quickly. In 1634 he returned with the Swedes. But the Swedes plundered and finished the last of what was of value on his estate, so that he wrote to the Margrave: "The military has plundered and destroyed my Grauenreith estate to such a magnitude, that (God hear my misery) it has come to a wretched end." He died 1635 and in 1637 his widow, Anna Margaretha Pelkhofer, ne Stuissin von Görnitz of Grauenreith sold it to Georg Gerl, glasswork-master of St. Katharina under the Crown of Böhaimb (Bohemia) for 3000 Gulden and 50 Reichsthaler in installment payments.
Gerl improved the estate and the forlorn glass works were moved into a forest near Seeg. He raised sheep and built sheep pen for his serfs. In 1652 he bought additional 30 Tagwerk land and settled serfs at Anger and in 1656 at Grafenried. He rebuilt the brewery and transferred his holdings to his daughter Maria and to her husband Georg Werner, glasswork master of Schönau. He died in 1677, but the widow continued to work the estate until her son Hanus Thomas Werner was old enough to take over. In 1697 and with a deposit of 400 Gulden he was granted tax exempt landownership.
In 1708 a contract between Graf Heinrich Stadion and Johann Thomas Werner eliminated forest harvests by Werner from an area between Arnstein and Grafenried, instead he received the entire forest area behind Grafenried in unlimited ownership. With this, Grafenried became a very respectable estate with large forests measuring 1300 Joch. In 1713 the son, Franz Xaver Werner, took over the estate and in 1718 the Werner family was lifted into the baronial category, "Freelord of the Realm" (Reichsfreiherrnstand).
The estate was run by Franz Xaver Werner in equal share with his wife Barbara Rebekka Voith von Voithenberg until 1764, and after that, their daughter Anna Katharine and her husband Otto Heinrich Müller von Altammerthal and Frohnhofen inherited the land. Otto Heinrich Müller died in 1772. His widow, and mother of their son Franz Xaver Müller, operated the estate until her son came of age in 1790. In the same year Franz Xaver married Countess Maximiliana von Überacker and Sichartstein and took the helm, but he too, died too early, in the year 1783, leaving his widow and two daughters. Then, the estate was returned to the Widow Baroness Anna Katharina Müller ne Werner and she ran the estate until she died in the year 1796. Thereafter, the girls' guardian, Christof Freiherr von Wiedersperg, managed the estate until the oldest daughter Maria Theresia Mller von Alternmerthal and Frohnhofen married Josef, Baron Voith von Voithenberg auf Herzogau, who became co-owner.
The estate was entered in the land register valued at 30,406 Gulden 42 Kreutzer when Baron Voith handed the estate to his son Josef Voith von Voithenberg in 1842, and who sold the estate to the Czech count Belcredi, estate owner at Mcel for 205 000 Gulden on April 8, 1872.
On January 7, 1874 the coop of the Grafenrieder farmers and house owners, 78 of them, purchased the estate for 148,000 Gulden, and on June 29, 1876 they voted on a partitioning of the estate. In 1872 the areal amounted to 97 Joch, 924 Quadratklafter fields, 73 Joch 413 Quadratklafter Meadows, 1 Joch 460 Quadratklafter gardens, 14 Joch 1099 Quadratklafter pastureland, 809 Joch 1150 Quadratklafter forest. The net revenue: 2533 Gulden Austrian Valuta.
Although the Grafenrieders were members of the Bohemian Crown, the also were landowners sunder the Margrave of the Oberpfalz, because a part of the estate was situated in Bavaria and, they were land-sworn to the Oberpfalz.
In the year 1688 they constructed a chapel at Grafenried, obviously erected by Georg Gerl after the thirty years war. As of 1750 Franz Werner was able to hire a priest at his own expense, and in 1751, and the little church at Grafenried is described as the "very old St. Georgi Kirchel." In 1753 they finally received permission to celebrate mass on Sunday and holidays and the facility became much too small for the congregation. This little church was originally appended to the parish of Waldmünchen, and thereafter to Ast, and after that the Grafenrieder's church was appended to the village of Wassersuppen between 1782-1786. Baroness Anna Katharina Müller von Altammerthan and Frohnhofen was instrumental to replace the existent chapel at the manor with a newly built church for the entire locality and the church was elevated by royal decree to the standing of "parish" on September 28, 1808.
The church stood to the right of the street between Grafenried and Anger on top of a hill. The altar was dedicated to St. Georg. The right apse had an altar to St. Mary with a painting of the Mother of God and Jesus, as well as a portrait of the "Beautiful Maria of Grafenried". On the left side there was a side altar with a baptismal font. In 1906 the church was renovated and received a beautiful lofty painting. The bell came from the old Chapel but was recasted and enlarged in 1775 by Johann Erhardt Klissner. The bell was decorated with the Werner Family coat of arms and a picture of St. Johannes of Nepomuk. This same bell was once more recasted and enlarged to 95 kg by R. Perner at Budweis in 1905. The second bell came from an abandoned Dominican cloister at Pilsen and was decorated with the pictures of the trinity and St. Petrus & Paulus and had been recast in 1884. The third bell, a smaller one, had been casted by Silvius Kleeblatt of Amberg in 1740 and came from the Blasius-chapel at Pilsenetz to Grafenried. Two bells were sacrificed during the First World War. The church had an onion shaped cupola with a cross with three horizontal bars. Inside the church there was a Bavarian and a Bohemian sacristy. The last German priest was Josef Gerl.
Before 1740, the nobility provided schooling and later the lame Paul Lugschneider from Haselberg taught for 27 years. In 1874, the castle with its garden was dedicated to become the school for the villages of Grafenried, Anger, Dietlhof and Seeg with all farms in between. The last dean of this school was Oberlehrer Heinrich Schödelbauer.
Voluntary fire fighters were established in 1883 and were equipped with a hand operated pressure pump. In 1892 Freifrau Therese von Stein donated a valuable flag. There were 84 voluntary fire fighters in 1913, 28 members belonging to the field and forest association, and 25 members forming the local choir. In 1880 Grafenried received its first Police station. It was served by two railroad stations; the more convenient station was at Waldmünchen, the other was at Ronsperg.
There were 24 house numbers in 1789, by 1839 it had increased to 31 houses with a population of 305; in 1913, there were 39 houses and a population of 289. The area of the entire village community was 1435.50 ha in 1937, where 274.48 ha were fields, 230.97 ha meadows, 3502 ha pasture, 845.81 ha forest and 10.47 ha gardens. (ha=hectares).
The neighboring villages Anger, Seeg and Haselbach with all farms in between were administered from Grafenried and therefore, the total number of houses in the year 1939 was 147 with a population of 801.
On April 15th and 16th, 1945 the American artillery bombarded Grafenried from Weiding. One village member was killed, and the church, as well as a few houses, were damaged.
In 1959 the St. Georg Church at Grafenried was detonated by the Czech military and of this barbarian act there are still visible ruins to this day.
Josef Bernklau and Alfred Piwonka with sources from Josef Vogl.
Translated by Aida Kraus