According to the book, Heimatkries Tetschen-Bodenbach, Städte und Gemeinden[1], Steinschönau began in the 1200s.  The village, while it had 30 buildings and a church, was so poor that in 1352 it was referred to in documents as “Sonow pauper” or “the poor Schönau”.  It would be in the 1600s, that the reference to the humble beginnings of the city would give way to the name known by our ancestors – Steinschönau. 


The earliest written documents naming individuals in the City are to “Niclas der Richter” in 1393 and then to “Adam der Richter in 1477.”  In the Schöppenbuch (Communion Register) is where the names of the families as they first appear are recorded:



Hauer – also the Pastor




Scheithauer - teacher






















Haintschel – Pastor



Bohemia was somewhat protected from the havoc that ravaged Central Europe as a result of the 30 Years War.  After the Battle of White Mountain, where the Protestant Army of Frederick of Palatine, recently choosen as King of Bohemia by the Protestant Estates in Prague, was defeated by the Catholic Army of Count v. Tilly at a site near Prague.  The impacts of this November 1620 success resulted in the execution of leaders of the Protestant government, Frederick fleeing in exile, and the forced exodus of an estimated 50,000 to 150,000 protestants and much of the nobility who refused to follow the Catholic faith.  The Bohemian portion of the war was, for the most part, ended with the signing of the Peace of Prague in 1635. (For more see the on-line article of Giucchino Urso).  Bohemia would be subject to the rule of the Hapsburg family for nearly 300 years.


It would appear that Steinschönau was relatively isolated from most of these events in that the village grew in size and the beginnings of the glass industry were noted 20 years later.  In other parts of Europe, Hesse for example, some villages lost 60-70% of their populations due to war and disease during the 30 Year War Period.


The Tax Roll of 1654 lists 96 houses made up of 64 cotters (Häuslern), 30 farms (Bauern), and two gardeners (Gärtnern).  The cotters lived in their homes in exchange for services rendered to the farms.  Two Knechtels are listed as working in the glass industry – Andreas, see Erich Knechtel’s line, and his son Matthias.  In addition, there were 54 single people who did not own land or houses, nor having leaseholds on either.


The names associated with the houses were (# after name indicates the number of families listed with that name):


Bauern                    Gärtnern                         Häuslern

Vetter 8                    Kreibich                           Dörnich

Helzel 4                    Kreibich (w/ a mill             Füller

Knechtel 2             on the Fiedler           Hainisch

Weidlich 2             farm                         Heinz

Weigel 2                                                Heids

Wetzig 2                                                Heintschel

Fiedler                                                   Jäckel

Horn                                                      Jahnel

Kittel                                                      Lorenz

Palme                                                    Pietsch

Terme                                                    Pilz

Ullman                                                   Schmied

Zöllner                                                   Schuster








As far as the cotters, none of the surnames given in 1654 had been previously recorded in Steinschönau.  In addition, 2/3rds of all of the inhabitants used the following as their surnames:


Palme (42)

Vetter (16)

Kreibich (14)

Weidlich (10)

Helzel (9)

Knechtel (8)



[1]   Herr, Alfred, ed. Heimatkries Tetschen-Bodenbach, Städte und Gemeinden, Heimatverband Kries Tetschen-Bodenbach e. V., Nördlingen, 1977.  Steinschönau information is found on pages 199-224.  Also, special thanks to Heinrich Lerch from Fulda for help with a rather complex sentence that was beyond my ability to translate.