Re: Travel between megyes (and towns in Austria) #hungary


Hi All,

My g-g-g-grandfather Abraham Kohn (1808-1847) of Mattersdorf, Hungary (now
Mattersburg, Austria) was a "hausier" (peddler). He received permission in
the form of a Schutzbrief (letter of protection) >from Baron Dopplehof, the
ruling aristocrat of Baden bei Wien, Austria, to live and work in Baden
during the week but not on Shabbat. Additionally, Baron Dopplehof granted
Abraham permission to have hausierer-private customers whom he could visit
from house to house-but Abraham was not allowed to set up a shop. So he
rented a room in Baden, or perhaps one in the countryside >from a friendly
farmer, and used it as his base of operations. He returned every Friday to

During the work week, Abraham Kohn traveled >from house to house in Baden and
the surrounding villages, selling cloth (linen, cotton, and wool, but he was
not permitted to sell silk); feathers of varying quality for bedding;
needles, pins and thread; and other dry goods. Many of his customers were

In February 1847, Abraham died at age 38 >from typhus, and his wife Johanna
MUELLER took over his peddling business. At that time, their oldest child
Meyer Wolf, was 10, Jakob (my great-great-grandfather) was nearly 8, Sali
was barely a year old, and Joanna was either still pregnant with Sofie or
had just given birth. How did the woman cope?

While the details of how Johanna juggled widowhood, motherhood, household
management, and a job that kept her on the road five or six days a week have
been lost to history, we know that Johanna was an educated women, able to
read, write, and do math computations. Following the business practices of
her deceased husband, Johanna bought dry goods >from manufacturers in Vienna
and sold them to the customers in Baden and the surrounding area along the
trade route her husband had established.

In 1859, Johanna was finally allowed to live in Baden. She opened a dry
goods store Baden on the corner of Wassergasse and Grabengasse and lived
with her children in an apartment overhead. She started the business with
her second son Jakob, who was only 20 years old at the time. They sold the
same kind of products that Johanna had peddled, but later added ready-made
clothing, such as pants and short coats for farmers and other manual
laborers. For wealthier clientele the clothes were made to order.

The metrical and military records >from Mattersdorf sometimes listed the
profession of individuals and I encountered the term hausier many a time,
so I assume that the experience of Abraham and Johanna were not uncommon in
the Austria-Hungarian empire.

Carole Garbuny Vogel
Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

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