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WHEN OUR LAST NAME WAS PFENDTNER

By today´s knowledge, the first written evidence of our ancestors can  be found on 24 May 1630, when a David “Pfendtner” and his wife Regina spent 65 Gulden to purchase a farm at the village of Pehendorf, County of Rappottenstein in the “Waldviertel” (wooded quarter) of Lower Austria. Pehendorf is located 60 miles northeast of the city of Linz. The village was first recorded in the year 1371, but the names changed in the course of history. In 1539: Behanndorf, 1556: Behenndorf and 1643: Pohaimbdorf. The name means “village built by Bohemians or village facing Bohemia.”

Due to the fact that our last name was and still is absolutely rare in Austria, there are strong indications that the first traces of our family even reach back as far as 1449. In that year the oldest find of a “Pfentter” is documented in Pehendorf´s neighbourhood: It can be seen in the land register of the nearby city of Zwettl. Furthermore, members of the “Pfentter” family can also be found in land registers of the years 1470 (at Imbach, near Krems) and 1497 (at Maissau, roughly 20 miles east of Pehendorf).

Copy of the document which states the purchase of a farm at Pehendorf, Lower Austria, by David Pfendtner in 1630. The original record can be found in Lower Austria´s archive at St.Poelten today.

In contrast to the secular entries, the ecclesiastical (catholic) documentation of births and deaths in the Rappottenstein area only started after the year 1640. But then protestant life had already been extinguished and our ancestors had  left the region. As already mentioned on the page before, our ancestors had to leave Lower Austria and went to Franconia (Germany) around the year 1650 because of their Lutherian believe.

Since no further “Pfendtner” could be found in Austria and our earliest confirmed ancestor moved to Germany with his closest family, one could draw the conclusion that at this time propably parts of the family had also fled to nearby Hungary. There, protestants were as welcomed as in Franconia. However the Pfendter in the Budapest area are obviously “Danube Suebians” who settled there at the beginning of the 18th century and who originally came from the Biberach area in Wurtemberg, Germany.

Our last name, no matter how it is spelled nowadays, can no longer be found in Austria. However, it continues to exist there through the Pfaender mountain near Lake Constance and is thus preserved in a unique way.

In 1630 the Lutheran owners of Rappottenstein Castle were also the rulers over the territory around the castle. However in 1664 they had to sell their property to a Catholic owner due to the ongoing persecution of Protestants - and left the country for good..

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