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EXULANTEN - THE FAMILY´S HISTORY

OUR NATIVE HOMELAND

It is historically proven that our ancestors settled in Lower Austria until the middle of the 17th century. In those times one also spoke of the “Land unter der Enns” (country below the Enns river) when referring to Lower Austria. Stretching roughly along 160 miles, the Enns river is a southern subsidiary stream of the Danube river. It has its spring south of Salzburg in the “Radstaedter Tauern” mountains and flows into the Danube near the city of Linz.  The Enns therefore builds a natural borderline between Lower- and Upper Austria. That is why one speaks of Austria “above the Enns” and “below the Enns”.

But what made David Pfendtner and his family leave the farm at Pehendorf which they had acquired in 1630? As mentioned in the beginning, Austria, and also its neighbouring countries were in the center of utmost religious disorder just after the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-48). The first name of our ancestor “David” leads to the conclusion that he was already baptised as Protestant. In those times the first Lutherans preferred to give names from the Old Testament. However the religious turmoil and the increasing catholic yoke of this period must have prompted David Pfaender to finally flee his home in Pehendorf, Austria. And those were the reasons:

FORCED INTO EXILE

Resulting from Martin Luther´s Christian Reformation movement, protestantism spread rapidly over Austria since the year 1520 and was well supported by the local nobility. Reformation questioned the old authoritarian structures and finally led to social disorder.  Austria was in danger of losing internal stability. In the wake of the just ended Thirty Years War (1618-48) the Counter-Reformation began smoothly, but since 1652 the country was reconquered by the Roman-Catholics with utmost intensity. Thousands of subordinates who would not give up their Protestant believe had to leave the country. Among those expelled were also our ancestor David Pfaender (1595-1672), a master tailor, and his wife Regina. They must have left the “Land below the Enns river” already before the year 1652 because of their Lutheran believe. The couple settled hundreds of miles to the north near the “Freie Reichstadt” (free town in the German Reich) of Rothenburg ob der Tauber , where there was nothing to fear of
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NEW HOME IN CENTRAL FRANCONIA (BAVARIA)

Sometime before the year 1652, the “Exulanten” family Pfaender settled in Unter-Woernitz, a tiny franconian village close to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The following immigrants from Lower Austria are mentioned: The already married sons Johann and Martin, their wifes and their younger brother Michael. They were accompanied by the nearly 60 year old father David and very likely by their mother Regina.

Of David and Regina Pfaender´s children all 3 sons had learned their father´s profession as a tailor. When looking at Woernitz´s vicinity, one can see that David´s male offspring and their wifes all settled in the nearby villages and continued to work as master tailors there. Here one can still find his descendants today.

During the centuries our ancestors moved from Woernitz to Erzberg and later on to the neighbouring village of Hausen am Bach. From the early 18. century until 1875 our family lived there. All males were also occupied as master tailors. Woernitz and Hausen am Bach are located roughly between the cities of Heidelberg and Nuremberg in the southern part of Germany. As result of Emperor Napoleon´s policy, the free town of Rothenburg was merged with the state of  Bavaria in 1805. The villages of Woernitz and Erzberg (also to Bavaria) and Hausen am Bach (to Wurtemberg) were therefore separated by newly created inner German borderlines.

From here the descendants of the Austrian Pfaenders mainly moved to the state of Wurtemberg (e.g. cities like Heidenheim, Ulm and Stuttgart) but also to countries abroad.

Above map shows villages where births, baptisms, marriages, deaths or burials where recorded in church books. They have not necessarily been dwelling-places.

If the statistics are true, only 2.300 people bearing the last name “Pfaender” are living in Germany nowadays. Most of them still reside in todays´ state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Quite a few can be found outside Europe, mainly emigrants to the United States of America. But there there are also Pfaenders in Brasil, France, Namibia and Australia..

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