Beregsău Mic is a village located in Timiş county, that only started to benefit from the presence of a Serbian population after the last waves of Serbian colonization, at the end of the 17th century. Today, the village has a population which is mainly of Serbian origin. This is also the place where we find an old mansion, which is not labeled, for now, as a historical monument. When comparing it to other ex-residences from Beregsău Mic, despite its advanced state of degradation, we discover that it was not abandoned, a local woman taking care of it and its owner taking a constant interest in it.
Beregsău Mic is documented in existence since 1317, with the name Nemti (Nemti Villa), in 1333 –Nemiti, in 1334 – Nempty, in 1335 – Nemethy, in 1462 – Kysberezo. In the 15th century, the village was known as Nemed. On Count Mercy’s map, the “oiconim” Nemet appears. In the year 1913, the Hungarian administration changes its name into Beregszonemeti (German Beregsău). Along the years, the village was known also as Nemici or German Beregsău, even though the Germans were never a majority of the population.1)Remus Creţan şi Vasile Frăţilă – Dicţionar geografico-istoric şi toponimic al judeţului Timiş, 2007.
In 1494, the king donates the village to Nagylucsei Ferencz. In 1514, during the peasant revolt of Gheorghe Doja, the village is destroyed by the rebels and, six years later, King Lajos II donates it to Bolyka Balint. The village is not destroyed during the Ottoman occupation of the Banat area and during the Habsburg occupation it belonged to the Timiş Committee2)Samu Borovszky – Monografia Comitatului Torontal, Budapesta, 1912.
In 1788, the Damaszkin Family owned Beregsău Mic. In 1838, the owner of the village was Simon Damaszkin. Since 1880, the village was divided between Gyula Csávossy of Bobda and Szima Mucsalov. In 1912, in the Beregsău Mic there were 242 houses and 1286 locals, a casino, guilds and credit unions. The post office was at Cărpiniş, the telegraph was at Bobda and the train station was at Beregsău Mare. In the same year, the landlords of the village were the heirs of the Csávossy Family, Ivan Mučalov and Badulov Vlasztimivnekand Braniszlavnak. The Serbian church, located across the road from the mansion, was built, between 1855 and 1860 by the Mučalov family3)Samu Borovszky – Monografia Comitatului Torontal, Budapesta, 1912.
The mansion from Beregsău Mic
The mansion from Beregsău Mic was built in 1788 by the Damaszkin family, and was afterwards bought by Ivan Mučalov. In 1949, the property was nationalized and turned into a IAS (collective farm). After 1990, it was returned to the Mučalov family’s descendants, who today are settled in Canada.
The mansion was given into the care of a local woman from Beregsău Mic, Ivanca Arsin, who has transformed one of the rooms into a topography office. “Here was the old IAS. The owner is in Canada. After this restitution, it’s in a state of… you can imagine. During the period of the IAS, only damages were done! In the old times, in every room, there were tile stoves of different models and colors. They destroyed all of it!”
Regarding its architecture, the mansion suffered a lot of modifications during the IAS period. One day, a nice and friendly man came because he wanted to see the building, but Ivanca sent him away. “I thought that they wanted to do a documentary or that they were friends of the owner. And then he tells me that he’s going to bring his wife from the car, that they lived here during the IAS. And I told him: oh, you were responsible for these damages?! Go away, and don’t ever come back!”
The pasture located on the land is rented to a shepherd for raising animals. “Further away, after the park, the estate has a total of 5 ha. The pasture I gave away to a shepherd, because he keeps sheeps and cows. Well, if I wouldn’t have come around and didn’t took care of this place, they would have stolen even the roof tiles! Anyway, it requires intensive repairs. The mansion also has a cereal deposit annexed to it. It had a model farm with 300 land yokes. Now, it’s gotten back only 50 yokes.”
The Merciful of Beregsău Mic
Ivanca told us that in the old times, when the wife of Ivan Mučalov would go out through the church doors, the gendarmes would shoot their rifles, as a sign of honor. “The people would call her Merciful, Miss Merciful. They were merciful, but had an administrator who used to suppress the people of the village. If the owner would tell him to give a certain amount to the peasant for his work, he would give him only half.”
There is the possibility of participing, if anyone is interested.
The owner would want to find a more ample function for the mansion, reason for which he allowed Ivanca ,through an attorney, to rent or farm out the mansion but not to sell it. “There is the possibility of participating, if anyone is interested. Now, he would have given it to a partner in order for it to be turned into an old people home. He said that if he finds a partner, who maybe has another idea, he would agree to it. But, there was no one, you know how it is here, in Romania… Everybody would like to buy it with just 1 leu.”
“He found a man, who works the land, and who advised him not to turn this into an old people home and rather make a guest house out of it. And he took him and brought him to a guest house, but, in the entire three hours that they spent there while having lunch, they were the only clients there. That guest house belonged to him, an engineer, who was an ADS director. He said that he would take care of everything, repairs and such but he wanted to own half of the property. Well, that way, anyone would have taken it. In a few months it can shut down or in a year the business goes down the drain and he’ll only be left with half of the property. And that’s when the owner gave up and never found a partner. Now, we shall see!”
Ivanca keeps in touch with Mučalov’s heir. “Every year he says: next year I’ll come! I’ll stay for two-three months! But, when he does come, he only stays for 2-3 hours. He says: I’ll come to your place! I tell him: you don’t come to my place, you come to your place!” she tells us, laughing. “Mučalov’s nephew is my age, 65 – 70 years old, but he doesn’t look older than 50. We are very good friends. My grandmother was a very close friend of his father. First they lived in Germany, but they didn’t like it there. The Serbians don’t like Germany.”
“In 1949 everything has been taken away from them, but they remained for a while. His father, Milutin Mučalov worked at the IAS. So, he was an agricultural engineer and he worked on his land. After that, they stayed in Timişoara, then in Braşov and from there they moved to Germany, after which, they went to Canada. They came around the 80s to the people of the village and they visited my grandmother too. I meet them through a relative of theirs which lived in Timişoara. I was also the one to help them with the papers so that they could reclaim the land. I made the request for them to receive back the mansion. With the IAS we had a few problems, but the City Hall helped us also.”
A bit of money from the lawyer, a bit of money from the client, we have to manage it! We vote for one, then for the other.
“I have a house in the village, but I spend most of my time here, at the mansion. ‘Cause if I stay in the village, you know how it is – children, grandchildren, daughters in law. I have a small pension, but I get by. I sometimes go out, measure the land for other people. I’m from the old guard, I have seen it all. I have maps, I have everything, so, I go sometimes and measure the lands. But, even that is almost gone, only if someone gets kicked out of an association and someone has to replace them, that’s when I have to go for the report. The topographic engineer tells me: you go and do it, I’ll take responsibility for everything! So, they know that I have the maps. At home I couldn’t host people (clients), because the children don’t like it when people come all hours of the day and honk at the door. A bit of cash from the lawyer, a bit from the client, and that’s how we manage. We vote for one, then for another.”
We noticed that the library from Ivanca’s office has many books and documents of the Romanian Communist Party. “During the ‘89 Revolution, when they threw them away from the schools in the fire from the middle of the village, I took them. Maybe, who knows… At home, I have all of Ceauşescu’s volumes. I took them because they looked pretty in the library, because they had red hard covers. The ones you get and read today, you put them in your library and they don’t look in any way, some of them even rip apart.” Near the library that contained the RCP documents was a really old desk, over which the maps of Ivanca were spread. “When the IAS left, they couldn’t get the desk out the door and they left it here. It’s from Mučalov’s time. It’s really, really old!”
Ivanca from Beregsău Mic
“My name is Iovanca, but everyone calls me Ivanca. It was a cool name in its time, after Tito’s Iovanca. If you ask anyone of Ivanca from Beregsău Mic, everyone knows me!” Before we left, we wanted to take a picture of Ivanca, but she refused us. “You know what you should photograph? The Triumph Arch. From the street you can’t see it properly, because of the trees, but from the yard you can.
Beregsău Mic is located 20 km away from Timişoara and you can get to it on two routes, through the Sânmihaiu German (see map) or through Săcălaz (see map), both access ways being in a very good state. Only a few km away from the Beregsău Mic is the Roman-Catholic Church of Bobda.
Written by Alexandra Palconi. Translated by Doiniţa Spuză.
Photo credit: Flavius Neamciuc