Origin and decline of a village

This report does not claim to be complete or accurate. Nothing has been written down about the history of our village, we only have the oral traditions and the still visible remains from the miners' time. I would now like to try to contribute a small report for our younger generation, so that our former little village is not completely forgotten.

The settlement is probably connected with the development of the Hirschenstand or Frühbuß mining area, but only took place in the 17th century, when miners cleared the densely wooded high valley on the upper Rohlau and ran a small farming operation alongside mining. According to the dialect, the inhabitants probably came mainly from the Saxon region. The name of the village came from the first new house, which is said to have stood where house no. 37 (by the bell) was last located. At that time, the bell was rung at the wooden belfry at the beginning and end of the shaft work. There was the forge where the miners' tools were overhauled. The tin-bearing ore was first dug in the open pit. As witnesses to this we have the so-called "Tischerhalden", which extend west of the Kellerbach into the Frühbußer Forest. It is likely that this tin-bearing rock was "saifed", i.e. washed, in the Kellerbach stream flowing past. Another clue is the "Saifenbachl", which flows halfway towards Neuhammer from the Hirschkopf into the Rohlau. Here, along the stream and to the left and right of the road, are the cone-shaped, now overgrown rock dumps that remind us of that time. Later, horizontal tunnels were dug into the mountain. A visible remnant of this was still behind house no. 91 at the "Schmiedantonich-Daniel".

The adjacent "Lichthäusi" (transformer house) stood on the heaps of rock that were later levelled. These were taken out of the mountain. Our oldest citizen, the merchant Berta Fickert, writes in her report in our local history book that this place used to be called "beim Pucherich". "Pucherich" or "Pocherich" was the dialectal name for a water-driven punching hammer with which the ore lumps were crushed. Such a hammer may have stood there, driven by the water power of the nearby Tannel or Rohlaubach stream. In the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where the earlier extraction of ore is shown in such detail, such a primitive punching hammer driven by a Hasser wheel can be seen in a picture. In the forest, near the road to Hirschenstand, you can still see the elongated hollows of a sunken shaft tunnel. The water ditch that supplied the north-eastern houses of the village with drinking water from Schwabhaus downwards comes from this gallery. At the highest point of Hirschenstander Street, near the wayside shrine "Beim Bild", lies the funnel-shaped colliery hole, popularly called "bei der Zach", where a vertical shaft once led into the ground. In our Neudek local history book, where Mr Bleilöb describes the history of mining, it is written on page 327 that in 1864 the last Neudek mining foreman entered the Hirschkopf mine for the last time and is said to have sawed off the rungs of the ladder above him when descending, so that he could no longer reach the light of day. He was unable to overcome the decline of mining.

Also noteworthy is the former artificial ditch that branches off from the Kellerbach stream and runs along the southern slope of our village "am Grabenwinkel" and through the forest with a slight incline almost to the eastern Trinksaifen. I wonder if it was built by the charcoal burners? In addition to mining, charcoal burning was an important occupation at that time; the charcoal was used to smelt the ore in the blast furnaces. Many so-called healing sites in the forests still tell us about those times. There must still have been wild animals at that time; the footpath leading to Trinksaifen in the south-east of the village was called 'Bärensteig', the path from the Bastei bridge to Frühbuß was called 'Am Wölfel'.

When mining became unprofitable and dried up, a time of hardship came. The main occupation was lace-making, which for over two centuries provided the population with a secure, albeit modest, income in addition to the meagre agricultural work. It was a beautiful and clean job that required a lot of skill and dexterity and was learned by girls and boys from the age of 6; at first only with simple narrow braids and later with large patterns that were sewn together to make tablecloths, bedspreads and the like. Yes, one had to be industrious. These handicrafts were then sold by the merchants in the large towns of Bohemia and Saxony. This work was very sociable, and people would take turns going from one neighbour to the next in the "Rockenstube" (skirt room) with their "Klöppelsack" (lace bag). There were stories and songs along the way, and the younger ones in particular played a few tricks. The men and boys usually only made lace in the winter months and when you consider that the first snow fell on All Saints' Day and stayed until the end of April, that was a long time. May, with the variety of flowers in the mountain meadows, soon made us forget the winter.

Another source of income in the summer was the gathering of blueberries and cranberries, with which the surrounding forests are blessed. These were then sold by berry merchants in the nearby industrial towns of Saxony. The mushrooms from the forest were dried and then hung in the "Schwammersack" (mushroom bag) in a warm place above the cooker, a welcome addition to the menu in winter.

Our village was situated in an extension of the valley, which closes off with a narrow valley in the east towards Neuhammer and in the west towards Sauersack, with the side valleys of the Tannel and Kellerbach coming from both sides, framed all around by mountains with high spruce forest. The highest elevation is the ridge of the Hischkopf with 940 m, the average elevation of the village itself was almost 900 m. In the eastern centre of the former village is a wooded area, the "Haad", on the highest point of which is a quadrangular rock, the so-called "Steinfels" which is adorned with a cross. On the meadow next to it is another rock in the shape of an upright egg about 4 m high, a sight we didn't pay much attention to back home. The houses were individually scattered in their grounds. The buildings from the Wilhelminian period were still made of wood, the stable connected to the house was made of granite stones. Above the rooms was the hayloft, which kept warm in winter. Behind the house was the wood yard, where the wood fetched by young and old from the forest was chopped. In autumn, the piles of wood set up in the shape of a pile showed the diligence of the woodcutter, for in the past little coal was bought.

In the period between the First and the end of the Second World War, the spinning mill in Neudek provided employment for some of the inhabitants. In addition to the home work of lace making, there was also the glove sewing, where the already cut parts were sewn together, embroidered and finished. Some of the men were lumberjacks, many were employed as craftsmen in Neudek and in nearby Saxony in the industrial towns. The latter usually left on Sunday evening and did not return to their families until the following Saturday evening, so it was a hard life.

There was a sawmill, which used to be a mill, a few merchants and businesses and, remarkably for the village, five inns at times. Guests from neighbouring villages often came to the Götz dance hall and it was quite a fun place to be. The agricultural land offered dairy farming and the cultivation of potatoes; grain no longer matured. The forest provided wood for sawmills, for wood grinding mills and for the paper mill in Neudek.
Neuhaus belonged to the parish of Hirschenstand. Around 1900, the village became an independent municipality and is said to have been administered by the Sauersack municipality in the meantime. According to tradition, the mayors were:

Johann Fickert (Tischer Johann)
Josef Ullmann No. 17 (Gaql Seff)
Josef Ullmann No. 23 (Girchadel Seff)
Ernst Fickert No. 1 (Tischer Ernst)
Josef Ullmann No. 21 (Peterschuster Seff)
Leo Fickert No. 10 (Adolfen Leo)
Rudolf Wohner No. 24 (Paulhansen Rudolf)
Josef Ullmann No. 97 (Pilzen Pepp)

The school, which was also rebuilt around 1900, only had two classes with a total of four sections, but was always staffed with good teachers. Before that, classes were held in house no. 33. The district road that led through the idyllic Rohlautal from Neuhammer via Neuhaus to Frühbuß was built 3,900 years ago. The road used to go from Kreuzweg via Trinksaifen to Neudek.
At the time of the resettlement, the village had 80 houses, two of which belonged to the Frühbuß parish. There were 367 inhabitants, 21 of whom were killed in action or missing. 76 families were resettled in the Federal Republic, 15 families in the Eastern Zone, one family was kept behind and later came to the Czech area. Now the inhabitants are scattered to the winds, the meadows and fields once tended with so much love are overgrown with wild grass, the houses razed to the ground. Forest growth grows on the scars left by the houses. Only the remains of the schoolhouse and the sawmill can be found. With some wistfulness, some may think back to their youth, when we roamed our mountain forests in search of berries and mushrooms in summer, when we skied and tobogganed over the snow-covered meadow slopes in winter, when we sang the first home songs in our little village school. What has become of you, you little village in the Rohlautal?

Ernst Ullmann


The miner's song,
that was still sung back then:

Once again from the shaft
The bell's soft tinkling,
Let us hurry, no more hesitating,
Let's go to the shaft.
To our loved ones give the farewell kiss
and part with the miner's salute,
That's the way of our fate.
"Good luck, good luck, good luck, good luck".

Farewell, my dears, do not weep
Death is a miner's duty, don't be afraid.
We'll go up to the sky.
"Good luck, good luck, good luck, good luck".