The social strata of farmers in Eastern European villages

                           It's hard to visualize the concept of serfdom. The people in Slovakia, Hungary and many other countries in Eastern Europe were under serfdom till 1848 ( Bosnia was the last country to abolish serfdom in 1918 ). Jabloncza was in the process of freeing itself from this model of economics after so many centuries . The changes must have rippled through the landowners as well as the former serfs, eventually setting the stage for immigration to America .

                           Written in the Jablonca census  and church records, there are people listed with the occupation of ZSELLER which translates to " tenant farmer " or cotter . It can mean two things if one finds an ancestor listed as a " zseller ".  I quote from Felix Game's treatise on social classes of the farmer in Austria - Hungary: " The cotter was not part of the first wave of settlers, and had to take smaller, and less well-located acreage, but had the same obligations as the tenant farmer, although in proportion to his smaller holding. Usually occupied a small building on a small parcel of land, on which he grew little beyond his family's personal use.  The zseller worked for others as day laborers, or tradesmen. "  The other occurance is when they are zsellers but not on their own land, or sharing a small building with another family while working as day laborers . Sometimes this happens with extra members of a family who have no inherited land or a newer immigrant to the village looking to work in a vineyard or farm.

                           The Keller family listed below not only had a  "katona" - soldier - living with the second family in the same house at Jablonca # 77 but they worked as day laborers. Sometimes day laborers  or tenant farmer is written in latin as " inquilineus "

                          NOTE : For anyone interested in Felix Game's research or his great articles, they are still posted at


House No. Family No. Individual No. Surname Name M F Birthyear Rel. Status Occupation work Birthplace Native absence Literacy Notes
77 1 1 Keller Janos M   1828 REF Married Zseller dayworker Jablonca Native   reads/write  
    2 Rakai Erzsebet   F 1833 REF Married Housewife dayworker Jablonca Native   reads  
    3 Keller Janos M   1856 REF single Zseller dayworker Jablonca Native   reads  
    4 Keller Maria   F 1860 REF single     Jablonca Native   reads  
    5 Keller Julianna   F 1869 REF single     Jablonca Native      
  2 1 Bazin Istvan M   1845 REF Married Zseller dayworker Jablonca Native   none Military Soldier
      Matyus Julianna   F 1845 REF Married Housewife dayworker Jablonca Native   reads  
      Rakai Istvan M   1866 REF Married