Rathaus-Geschichte-Englisch - Stein-Bockenheim

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Rathaus Geschichte
by Ruediger Benda, Stein-Bockenheim
translate by Sigi Edwards, Cairns, Australien

The heraldic figure of Stein Bockenheim is the capricorn. However this animals bears no relation to the true origin of the name as the contemporary name does not appear until the middle ages in it’s current form –but without hyphen. In the first recorded document from the year 784 the parish called it” Buckenheim”. The end syllable “heim” points towards a foundation by the Franks (heim = heimat (homeland). The pre syllable “Stein”(stone) was assumedly added to separate the name from similar sounding places in the Pfalz and Hunsrueck and can most likely be traced back to the original owners the” Rheingrafen zum Stein”. It is unlikely that the pre syllable “Stein” can be linked to the stone quarries which are mentioned since the 15th century.

Where today we see fertile fields and vineyards, rolling hills and forests, 55 million years ago existed a large sea. Numerous finds of shells, snails, crocodile remains, sharks and turtles give testimony of this seascape. Who ever walked up towards the gently rolling hills behind Stein-Bockenheim and let the eye wander over the scenery can imagine how the forces of nature have formed this landscape. Even the river Rhine once flowed not far from the village, in his original riverbed from the town of Worms towards the town of Bingen. Today we get this reminder from the gravel, pebbles and yellow sands mined near Eckelsheim and Sprendlingen. However a lowering of the riverbed changed the course of the Rhine and left our village to its further history. Numerous ground movements and the enormous influence of the ice age are ultimately responsible for the final structure of the landscape, were about 600 000 years ago saw the slowly changing process of the region into an area practical for the current conditions. Early human settlements (already in the early Stone Age ~ 4000BC) were favoured by the land – and climatic conditions. This early stone-age time brought along the knowledge of agriculture and animal husbandry and the combination of several settlements into larger communities as a result of this new way of life. But times were not always peaceful. New tribes displaced the former ones and the discovery of fortresses and metal weapons bear witness to this. The Celts became the dominant tribe in ~ 500BC to 200 BC and left a legacy of the highly cultured influences of the Mediterranean region. Arts and trade were booming and a real consumer industry was established. Coin money was introduced and the art of writing became more sophisticated.

From the south the romans advanced and conquered the land up to the area of the river Rhine, they would determine the future of the region for the next centuries. Gallien – and our homeland- were, like all the not quite pacified border provinces to the celt and germanic tribes, directly under the imperial administration and occupied by troops. Initially just a region for passing through, our homeland became an economically intensively used area. Trade boomed, animal husbandry increased markedly, and around 200 BC the first vineyards were planted by the romans. Stone quarries already existed in pre roman times producing mainly millstones, presumably in our area as well - near Neu Bamberg. The romans left their traces in the parish of Stein Bockenheim as well. Coins found from these times demonstrate this impressively. Single buildings or settlements could so far however not be found. Germanic tribes – Franks and Alemannen- forced their way ~300 BC into the roman occupied areas. This resulted in romans fighting internally with each other and a decrease in living standards for the general population. Increased taxes created a climate where the upcoming Christendom became popular. The romans finally lost control over the region after the historic march of the Vandalen, Alanen and the suebischen Quaden (406) and the occupation by Burgundy in the year 407 BC who acted as roman governors from time to time.

The Huns, Burgundy and Alemannen tribes had marched through the land causing widespread destruction, until in the 5th century the Franks under King Chlodwig secured the reign for the coming centuries. Christianity spread and the influence of the church, aided by the Bishops, increased. The foundation of the monastery of Lorsch, north of the Heidelberg, plays an important role. Many pious donations and a planned fiscal policy continuously increased the estates of the church at the expense of the secular. The regal empire of Karl the Great at Ingelheim was the secular centre at that time. The first documented mention of Stein Bockenheim is in a deed of donation from the year 784. The translation from latin is: Donation of Wanbertus, in Sowelnheim. I, in the name of god, Wanbertus donate a third of my property to Richbod, with residential and official residence and 20 days of farmland in Sowelnheim and Buckenheim, one meadow and two vineyards according to the arrangement. Recorded at the Lorsch monastery during the reign of Karl the King. The abbot of Lorsch was the above mentioned Richbod, who was most likely donated the above property in Buckenheim on the day of the holy Nazarius. The also mentioned Sowelnheim is the council of Saulheim.

The contract of Verdun (843) saw our region allocated to the East Frank Empire and hereby to the central country of the spreading German reign. Secular and church claims of authority saw alternating alliances in the coming years. First the House of Salier, later the House of Staufer and also (in the 12th Century) the Wild – und – Raugrafen und the Archbishops of Mainz were struggling for power. Blood relations and the common interests between the Archbishop Gerhard of Mainz and the House of Wildgrafen as well as further alliances saw the expiry of the Staufer authority. When in 1283 the Wild – and Rhine Dukedoms obtained possession of Stein –Bockenheim it was due to their close relationship with the Archdomain of Mainz to which they were fiefs.

The Wild Dukes emerged from the Emichonen family, a name derived from the Duke Emicho who is documented for the first time in 960/61. Stein – Bockenheim, in tenure of the Lorsch monastery since 784 had possibly passed to the Abbey of St Maximin as the Wild Dukes emerged as reeves of this abbey and eventually the parish ended up in their possession. Towards the end of the 13th century a fight over the fiefs broke out between the Wild Duke Gottfried von Dhaun and his nephew Gottfried Rauf. They agreed to a division of their holdings on 14th March 1283. A document dated the same day decreed that Emicho would hand over his half of the village of Stein- Bockenheim for 20 pounds. In a document from the year 1331 Stein-Bockenheim is encountered as “Bockinhem”. On the 5th June the sons of Heinrich Schieles von Montfort, Ulrich Schieles and Heinrich Zolnhere, sold their complete holdings in Stein-Bockenheim, village and farmland, which they leased from the Wild Duke, for 130pfd Heller to the Wild Duke Friedrich of Kyrburg. On the 10th April 1355 the Duke Johann Schweuferoseln of Partenheim declared that the letters which he received from the Wild Duke Friedrich of Kyrburg regarding the Village and Court of Stein-Bockenheim and the Mill of Weidestevn (Wollstein) were null and void and all these tenures had to be returned. From these documents it is evident that Stein-Bockenheim belonged to the Wild Dukedom. Initially, since 1283 to the Kyrburg part of the parish of Flonheim (Flonheim was Head Village for Stein-Bockenheim and eight further villages). Documents of 1515 acknowledge the Wild Duke of Kyrburg’s jurisdiction and reeve of the court. Owners of a house and 3 ½ acres of land were taxed by their sovereign for 5 bales of oates and a chicken. Who did not own this amount of land, was taxed 6 pound, a chicken and the forester had to be given one bale of oats. In the document of 29th August 1515 Stein-Bockenheim was awarded to the Wild-and Rhine Duke Philipp von Dhaun. It was he who, during the process of the Reformation (1552) introduced the Lutheran religion in Stein-Bockenheim. The Wild Duke had an estate and the 10th and taxable property in the parish. The administration during this time was the Dukedom of Kreuznach, the law and order centre was the Castle of Rheingrafenstein. The year 1576 changed the rules of possession once more. One half of Stein-Bockenheim belonged to the Prince of Salm, the other to Kurbaden. Whilst the House of Kurbaden probably obtained possession through pawning, the Prince of Salm managed it through his own efforts. (The year 1904 still shows the emblem of the Prince of Salm, two silver coloured salmon in a red field with silver crosses). An upper and a lower court existed during the time of the Wild Duke in Stein-Bockenheim. Today a regional name bears witness to this. Following the way to Wendelsheim, one arrives at the “Galgenberg” where during the Middle ages the condemned were hanged. A document from 13th November 1328 signed by Johann, Wild – and Rau Duke, contains a sentence against three serfs for forest crimes. “ We have plausible reports that our serfs Simon Lorman, Hans-Walter Riegel and Johannes Becker have acted in an undignified, rebellious and careless way by causing our forester Belarius all kinds of mischief and inconvenience. For this outrage we fine them 20 pounds each, payable within eight days. Our forester can rely on our full support and justice. And everyone can take an example from this, now and in future. Stein-Bockenheim 13 November 1328.

Our homeland belonged to the most affected areas of the 30 year war. Between 60-70% of the population was believed to have fallen victim to the war. Foreign powers determined the course of history during this woeful time: The Habsburg family from Spain and Austria, the Swede King Gustav Adolf and Ludwig XIV from France. During various construction pr
jects an underground tunnel system was found in Stein-Bockenheim and was presumably leading to Beller church near Eckelsheim. However no definitive proof has been established. There is no doubt however that a wide spread network of tunnels existed, whose existence can be traced back to the very difficult conditions of the population during the 30 year war. These tunnels lead to homes and were excavated from clay and also hard rock. In many places these tunnels have unfortunately caved in or were deliberately filled in and it would be extremely ifficult to reconstruct the total system. These tunnels offered shelter and a limited abode to the initiated. They were accessed trough the floor of a room in the house with ladders and ropes or via a cellar directly.

France regarded the River Rhine as it’s “natural” border since the succession wars (1689) in the Pfalz. During the years of 1792 – 1797 the French occupied what is know today as Rheinhessen. Looting and abuse were the order of the day. The residents stored the debenture documents received from the French for promised deliveries for a long time in their Bibles. Worthless documents, they bear witness to this difficult period for a long time. The French were also accommodated in Stein-Bockenheim, to this day a list of services rendered exists. Grain and other foods had to be delivered and who possessed a carriage had to oblige. After being servants to the Wild Duke, the population of Stein-Bockenheim therefore ended up under the dominion of a new master. They may have understood the Poet and Farmer Isaak Maus of Badenheim (1784-1833) very well when he complained bitterly about the conditions in a pamphlet. It was written: “Should we rejoice that for 50 years we worked hard in sweat and tears to cultivate our fields only to feed the pigs and rabbits to his Excellence? Or should we rejoice when we were forced to abandon our daily work to built large houses under compulsory labour for the officials and bureaucrats and to create comfortable roads leading to their stolen property?” The end of the 18th century saw the emergence of numerous and increasingly cheeky villains, the most famous of these being the “Schinderhannes”. Despite the fact that he and his accomplices were taken to court in 1803 it did not solve the problem. To counteract this, each parish, including Stein-Bockenheim, formed a security guard which included the most respected and reliable men. Their weapons were rifles and under the direction of an elected leader they patrolled the area and arrested suspicious people. The time of the French occupation also brought some novelties popular with the local population. They residents were allowed a departmental adviser who was involved with the administration of the country. How much these civil liberties would be defended by the population would be clear in 1816 when the Arch Dukedom of Hessen came to power. During previous times the hoop iron was attached to the town hall, the fustigation was order of the day and the 10% tax was a burden for the farmers, all this was abolished during the French reign and the residents developed a civil confidence. Even agriculture changed, the previous custom to leave part of the fields untilled was soon forgotten. The fields once used for sheep grazing were now planted with potatoes, beets and clover. The farmers did well under the French. The price of wheat was high, imported goods and tobacco were highly taxed. Instead of coffee they drank a brew made from yellow beets and instead of sugar they used honey. In the meantime Napoleon began the war with Russia and his defeat also sealed his fate in our region. The French undertook a program of road construction in the parish of Stein-Bockenheim in the first decade of the 19th century. The Wendelsheim path, Beller path and Kreuznacher street were sealed. In consequence of their high earnings many farmers enlarged their properties or built new barns. These buildings were often massive and because of the french “windowtax” they had few windows. The property re distribution was strongly affected under the French dominion. The government-, church-, and monastery buildings as well as the manors of the aristocracy were declared state property and were later sold as freehold. Through this it was possible that even in Stein-Bockenheim several small farmers could purchase a property which supported their families.

After a 2 year provisional administration Rheinhessen was, on account of the decisions of the Vienna Congress, united and on the 12th July 1816 taken into possession by the Arch Duke Ludwig I. From this date the region was known as “Rheinhessen”, even though the Hessens never formed part of the population. The rule of the French republic was consequently finally broken and Stein-Bockenheim did not belong to the Donnersberg section any more. The “Rheinhessen” defended their civil rights obtained by the French reign. The Dukedom co-operated and through a decree of 11th August 1818, the former section chief was re established under the title of “Provincial councillor”. To this provincial assembly belonged the Mayor of the time, Franz Brunck of Furfeld, as regional representative. The recent past was relatively prosperous but the miserable year of 1816, described in detail by the poet and chronicler Heinrich Bechtolheimer of Wonsheim in his book ”The Hungeryears”, led to widespread misery. The cause was heavy thunderstorms in the month of June destroying most of the crop. These events not only impacted on Rheinhessen, but also on the rest of Germany, parts of Austria and Switzerland. To ease the poverty, the taxes from the distilleries and vinegar production were made available for the poor. From the year 1822 heavy thunderstorms were also reported. In addition a mouse plague in 1819 and 1822 made its effects felt and developed into a “pharaonic plague” as a chronicler of the times describes. People tried to regain control over events through possible means. Mouse burrows were laced with arsenic and the pigs were not allowed on the fields during these days. A decree was passed later on that each farmer, depending on the size of his fields or the taxes paid, had to hand over mice. The same happened with the sparrows in the 3rd decade. For each mouse a certain amount of money was paid. Glazed pots dug into the fields was another method, the mice running across the fields falling in and dying, as people of Bechtolsheim reported. The administration of the Arch Dukedom tried to ease the poverty through various measures. Road construction became an important source of income. The road from Alzey to Erbes-Budesheim, Wendelsheim, Wonsheim, Furfeld, Freilaubersheim, Hackenheim until the Prussian border near Kreuznach was constructed. According to historical reports Stein-Bockenheim had to raise 1374 gulden and 48 kreuzer for these roadworks, but only earned 195 gulden and 19 kreuzer which left a discrepancy of 1179 gulden and 29 kreuzer.

To this day, whilst walking through the forest of Stein-Bockenheim, one can see the old mining entrances to the mercury pits. It is uncertain at which date the mining of mercury began. First written documentation appears in the middle of the 15th century where the mercury pits in the vicinity of the Daimback Abbey are also mentioned. In the middle of the 16th century difficulties in the mining process were experienced. The tunnels had to be dug deeper and deeper, and finally water entering the pits, removed by horses powering pumps, meant that the extraction process was fraught with difficulties. Later they tried to control the ever increasing amounts of water with extra tunnels. This increased the danger of flooding for the vicinity. Ultimately mercury mining became uneconomical and towards the 9th century operations ceased.

With the Romans the grape vine arrived at our region. The beginning of wine growing in Stein-Bockenheim cannot be dated exactly, however in connection with the first documented charter in 784 it was mentioned that apart from the farmland, 2 vineyards were in possession of the Lorsch Abbey. The first exact numbers about the size of the parish and the allocations comes from the year 1830. The township encompassed a total of 1239 “hessische acres”, farmland was 835 acres, meadows were 16 acres and vineyards 2 acres. The remainder was the forest with 386 acres.

Since the 15th century old documents mention the existence of extensive stone quarries. At times 12 stonemasons with their apprentices were in operation. Horse carriages carried the popular material to Kreuznach, Bingen, Ingelheim and Mainz. In 1478 Prince Philipp von der Pfalz bestowed to Johann, Wild Duke to Dhaun and Kyrburg and Rheingrafen zum Stein, for his services to the region, to which belonged Stein-Bockenheim, half of all quarries. On 12th August 1779 the Ingelheim mayor Roeder and the Stonemason Nikolaus Hauburger of Stein-Bockenheim concluded a contract – “about 4 fieldstones”. For centuries these stones were used by men and women to rest the heavy burdens they carried to markets of Mainz and Bingen. These stones comprised of a lower and a higher bench to rest for a while. Until this day such a stone is in existence and reminds us of the stonemason Nikolaus Hauburger of Stein-Bockenheim.

The highlight of each year was the parish fair and was celebrated in Stein-Bockenheim on the 8th September. The traditional Beller market was also conducted near this date and was famous near and far. Located near the church it started on the Tuesday after the day of “Mary’s birth” and lasted for 3 days. This market was ancient, even the Wendelsheim born Friedrich Christian Laukhard made a visit in the 18th century. A lot of wares were on offer and when it came to an end on the Friday, the responsible parishes of Eckelsheim, Wendelsheim, Stein-Bockenheim and Wonsheim made a profit. Towards the end of the 19th century the Beller Market discontinued for reasons unknown.
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