On the waves of the Tisa: A historical view of the past of the city of Novi Bečej

Discover the history and spirit of Novi Bečej through the visual treasury of the past 120 years. Our publication provides a unique opportunity to get a more complete picture of life in our city through documents, photos and postcards. Sail into the past and feel the pulse of its culture, trade and important personalities. Available to all lovers of local history!

Preface

Preface

Over the past two decades, much has been written, and numerous books have been published about the history of Novi Bečej. The written word has taken us back to the past, attempting to describe and present our town, capturing the spirit of that time.

There have been writings about the Tisa River, culture, notable individuals, markets, and generally everything related to our place. Alongside some of these texts, one could find a few photographs, postcards, or documents from the described period.

While reading these books, I had a sense that there might be room for a publication focusing specifically on these elements that have been explored in the texts so far. That's when I began to review and systematize my small archive about Novi Bečej, deciding to make the more valuable part of the archive accessible to all interested fellow citizens.

Readers of this publication will have the opportunity to gain a more complete picture of our town over the past 120 years through the provided documents, photographs, postcards, and more.

Location and Origin of the Place

Military topographic map of Novi Bečej with the surrounding countryside from the year 1883.Novi Bečej is situated in the central part of Vojvodina. Its territory encompasses the northwestern part of the central Banat. As it is built along the Tisa River, it belongs to the group of Pannonian settlements. The geographical center of the settlement is intersected by coordinates 45° 36' north latitude and 20° 9' east longitude. In other words, Novi Bečej is located 66 kilometers from the confluence of the Tisa River into the Danube.

According to the results of archaeological research in the current location of Novi Bečej and its immediate surroundings, settlements have been discovered dating back to 3000 years before the common era. The oldest and best-explored sites in this region are Borđoš to the southwest and Matejski Brod to the northeast of Novi Bečej. The distance of these sites from the present settlement is approximately 6 kilometers.

The first written mention of our place dates back to the year 1091. In a document written in Latin, among the settlements on the Tisa, Bechey is mentioned, where the Kuman tribe was defeated by the Hungarian army. In a deed of gift from the Hungarian king Béla IV in 1238, our place is mentioned as Willa Wechey. Also, as a fortified town, Castellanum Beche, it is mentioned in a document from the year 1342.

The Tisa River

The Tisa River

High Water Levels of the Tisa River in the 1930sThanks to the exceptionally fertile Banat soil, the region was rich in abundant and high-quality grain. The credit for the fact that almost all of this grain flowed into our area goes to the Tisa River. Probably the quantity and quality of the grain, as well as the fact that the (New) Bečej lies on the very banks of the Tisa, provided favorable conditions for the establishment of the largest grain market in the Monarchy. From the early 18th century until the mid-19th century, our port was the most prominent for grain distribution. In order to promote river transport in the Monarchy, Joseph II issued a decree in 1786, stipulating that pulling boats is the heaviest punishment for forced labor on public works.

Our port was crowded with boats, and around them, sweating laborers-loaders performed their job. During that time, crews and merchants found solace in numerous cafes and inns. Work was done, meals were eaten, drinks were consumed, and there was revelry.

Town on the Tisa

Commemorative plaque marking the 900th anniversary of the first written document about our town, installed in the summer of 1991 on the walls of the town on the TisaThe town on the Tisa (the ruins of the fortress) is located about one kilometer northwest of the center of Novi Bečej. It lies on the left bank of the Tisa River between the 67th and 68th kilometers from the confluence of the Tisa River into the Danube. In fragments from the history of the Bečej fortress in 1991, Dr. Aleksandar Kaša wrote the following about the Bečej fortress: "Thanks to the meticulousness of engineer Kolet (Colett), we have preserved a description and plan of the Bečej fortress, which is now kept in the Kriks archive in Vienna, and which was rescued from oblivion by Rudolf Šmit, writing about this town. According to them, Bečej was a typical medieval water town." The fortress (town on the Tisa) was completely demolished in 1701 according to the decision of the Sremsko-Karlovac peace treaty of 1699.

Little Boat

Little Boat

The small boat, known as "Mala lađica" by the people of Novi Bečej and Bečej, was a vessel named "Jelena," owned by Jozef Švejcer and Mladen Krstonošić. It was acquired in Slavonski Brod in the 1930s. Its future owners found it there as the wreckage of a dilapidated yacht owned by a Dutchman. They towed it to our port and converted it into a tugboat. The boat was given the name "Bačka" and, under that name, performed tugboat operations along the rivers and waterways of Vojvodina and beyond, until the beginning of World War II. During the occupation, the Tisa River served as a border, and there was no passenger traffic on it, while freight traffic was difficult.

Arach Church

Arach Church

Postcard issued in 1996 by the Janoš Hunjadi Scout Society from Novi SadThe Arach Church, as the best-preserved medieval monument in the Banat region, is located north of Novi Bečej at a distance of about 12 km. The Arach Church is named after the nearby settlement Arach. Regarding the Arach Church, Milka Čanak Medić writes the following in the collection of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts for Fine Arts, No. 10, from 1974: "Based on available historical data, the exact time of its construction cannot be determined. Monuments belonging to the Lebenjska architectural group (building school in Hungary during the 13th century) were built from 1212 when the Lebenj Church was constructed, almost until the end of the 13th century. All these churches, including the one in Arach, belong to the transitional Romanesque-Gothic style: the arches are still semi-circular or gently broken, windows narrow, also semi-circular, and the walls are massive. The church's floor plan and spatial composition indicate that it was founded by the Benedictines."

Monuments

Until 1918, in the center of Novi Bečej stood a monument to Hungarian freedom, topped with the Turul bird
Until 1918, in the center of Novi Bečej stood a monument to Hungarian freedom, topped with the Turul bird
Polet
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Polet

"Polet" Istvan Vagner was the owner of the primitive brickyard in Turskobec until 1922. At that time, Mihajl Bon Jr. purchased the brickyard and gradually transformed it into a proper brick and tile factory. His father, Mihajl Bon Sr., the founder, established several brickyards in these areas. He founded a brickyard in Kikinda in 1866 and 1867, and in Zombolj in 1884.

After the Second World War, Bon's factory was named Toza Marković, and from the summer of 1947, under the name "Pollet," it successfully continued the production of bricks and tiles. In the 1960s, it expanded its product range with molds, blocks, and keramzit. In addition to the well-established and high-quality production of coarse ceramics, "Polet" established a factory for ceramic tiles in 1980.

Pearl Island

Pearl Island

In the 1830s, a young captain from Veszprém, Leopold Rohonci, met one of the three granddaughters of the Turkish-Bey ruling lord Pavel Hadžimihajlo, Klara Sisany, at a ball in Pozsony. From this acquaintance, a love was born that would lead Leopold Rohonci to Turkish Bečej.

Entering into marriage, Leopold Rohonci decided to settle in our town and dedicate himself to organizing the cultivation of the land, as Klara's dowry of 2,000 acres of land. He built a house at the present location of the cinema next to the Dolma. On his estate on Pearl Island, he erected a small castle with a wine cellar and stables for racing horses that successfully competed in Europe.

The Story of Giga Jovanović
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The Story of Giga Jovanović

(1875 - 1944)
In Novi Bečej, from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, there were two printing houses. One was owned by Branko Pecarski from Vranjevo. The other was a branch of the Kikinda printing house owned by Jovan Radak, which later came into the hands of Giga Jovanović. After the end of World War II, Giga's printing house became a cooperative under the name "1. maj" and operated until the end of the 20th century.

...It begins with his arrival in Novi Bečej. The year marking this event is 1898 when Jovan Radak, a printer from Kikinda, brought Giga to Novi Bečej and opened a branch of his printing house and bookstore. Giga started working in the bookstore and printing house, which allowed him to gain knowledge and experience in these matters. Eventually, he became the owner of Radak's bookstore and printing house. His printing mark was mainly found on office materials used by courts, municipalities, schools, and shops.

Education
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Education

Teaching staff of the National Elementary School in Novi Bečej, school year 1934/1935.According to the decision of the Ministry of Education of Austro-Hungary from Budapest, on September 6, 1908, the Civil School in our town started its work under the then name STATE NATIONAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL or CIVIC SCHOOL. The first director of the Civil School was Dr. Kencel Jozef. There were separate girls' and boys' departments. Until the construction of the present Elementary School "Miloje Čiplić" in 1910, classes were held in the building of Dunđerski, located at the site of the "Tiski Cvet" hotel. Since 1921, the school became coeducational under the name STATE CIVIC SCHOOL, and classes were conducted in the Serbian language. One of the first and longtime directors of the school was Vuk L. Radović.