Discovering Novi Bečej: Stories, people, history

By the paths of the past: Discover the rich history, interesting events and unforgettable people who have shaped Novi Bečej through time, as we return together to the heart of this beautiful city on the banks of the Tisza.

Discover Novi Bečej & Vranjevo's history, from peasant uprisings to cultural luminaries. Uncover a legacy of rebellion and intellectual vitality.

Short Historical Overview of Vranjevo's Development

In the northeastern part of the current territory of the village of Vranjevo, above Kerekto, a branch of the Tisa River meandered towards the south, flowing into the main course of the Tisa in front of the large warehouse, likely where the remains of the "Venecija" marsh are today. This branch used to be navigable and is now referred to as Mali Begej. On the left side of Mali Begej, there was a wasteland called Vran, now known as Vranjak. This area had settlements dating back to the Bronze Age, and during the Ottoman period, Serbian shepherds inhabited the region. In 1771, during the Požarevac Peace, Vranjevo had thirteen households.

According to tradition, Vranjevo got its name from the crows (vranas) that were abundant in the area. In archival material, there is a letter from the district chief in 1782 reporting that 9,623 crows were killed in the Bečej-Vranjevo forest.

Due to its distance from the Tisa River, the provincial government for Tamiški Banat ordered the relocation of the oberkapetanija (frontier guard headquarters) from the wasteland Vranova (Vranjak) to an elevated ridge extending from the ruins of the Bečej fortress to Lake Bakto (Pakto), near the Tisa Gustoš port, slightly north of today's large warehouse. This relocation led to the establishment of the village of Vranjevo.

After the disbandment of the Potisje-Pomorišje border in 1751-1752, Baron Engeshofen, the governor of Tamiški Banat, invited disbanded border guards who wished to remain under arms to settle on the left bank of the Tisa. Many Serbian border guards from Stari (Serbian) Bečej, Bačko Petrovo Selo, and Mol responded to this call. With these settlers, the population increased significantly, reaching 578 inhabitants in 1752 and 140 families in 1758, each consisting of seven to eight members.

The initial settlement of Vranjevo, according to tradition, extended from the corner of today's Josifa Marinković and Ivan Milutinović streets to the corner of 7. jula Street and Josifa Marinković Street, along the main street of Vranjevo. Later, it expanded south towards Novi Bečej and north towards Mali Begej.

In 1786, the Novi Bečej lord Šišanji settled around sixty Hungarians in Vranjevo. Between 1820 and 1840, more Hungarians, mostly craftsmen (shipbuilders for repairing riverboats and millers), market gardeners, and bricklayers, settled in the area. Thanks to their efforts, rivers were quickly tamed, their branches returned to their courses, and many extensive marshy areas were drained through canals.

In 1776, with the establishment of the Veliki Kikindski District, Vranjevo became part of the district along with nine other Serbian (settled by border guards) villages in Northern Banat. The district's center was in Velika Kikinda.

Vranjevo became a rival to Kikinda, leading to a request from the District Magistrate to relocate the district center from Kikinda to Vranjevo. The request was rejected, and Kikinda remained the district center until its abolition in 1876.

Despite Kikinda retaining the district center, Vranjevo quickly progressed and rose above other places within the district due to its strategic location on the Tisa River and its branches. Like Velika Kikinda, Vranjevo was allowed to hold two annual fairs, and in October 1806, the District Senate declared Vranjevo a town.

Vranjevo became the main trading place for grain in the district. The main warehouse, known as "Veliki Magazin," was built there between 1778 and 1780, attracting traders from Zemun, Karlovac, Sisak, and other areas to buy and collect grains.

History of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo reveals a rich tapestry of peasant uprisings and revolts, particularly in this highly agricultural region. It seems that the people of Vranjevo resisted exploitation more vehemently than those in surrounding areas, being bold enough to raise a rebellious voice against oppression and exploitation among the first in their vicinity.

The peasant uprising in Vranjevo on February 20, 1777, was the first in the newly formed Veliki Kikindski District. The rebellious inhabitants of Vranjevo overthrew the authorities in their municipality and sought to inspire peasants in neighboring municipalities such as Kuman, Melenci, Taraš, Karlov (part of today's Novo Miloševo), and other places within the Veliki Kikindski District. This endeavor almost rivals the much more famous Timočka Buna in Serbia, which occurred a whole 106 years later.

The overthrow of authority received full support from the entire population of Vranjevo. The rebels issued a written proclamation, urging the residents of other places in the Veliki Kikindski District to join them.

Vranjevčani early on realized that the times had changed, abandoning the notion that "six horses in a carriage are better than six schools in the head." They actively sent their children for education, a rare initiative in many villages at the time. The children of Vranjevo's peasants became torchbearers of national thought and education in the new environment. They became close collaborators with prominent Serbs in cultural and political missions, standing alongside figures like Svetozar Miletić, Jovan Jovanović-Zmaj, and others. This friendship persisted even after completing their education and studies, as individuals like Svetozar Miletić, Zmaj Jova Jovanović, Đura Jakšić, and other leading Serbs of the time in Austro-Hungary visited Vranjevo at the homes of Vladimir Glavaš and Mija Vlaškalin.

Vranjevo gave birth to the scientist and academic Dr. Jene Sentklaraji (Evgenije Nedić), a parish priest in Novi Bečej who served as the editor of the daily newspaper "Torontal," published in Zrenjanin. He was also a lecturer at the University of Pest and one of the most renowned historians and historiographers of Banat. In Vranjevo, the famous Serbian composer and conductor, as well as a music professor in Belgrade, Josif Marinković, learned his first musical notes on tambura, accordion, and other instruments.

Many other prominent individuals of their time originated from Vranjevo, including Avram Branković, a writer and lawyer in Budapest, born in Vranjevo in 1799. He moved to help the newly liberated Serbia in 1830, but bureaucratic fear of his knowledge led him to be appointed as a municipal judge in the small village of Brusnica (the birthplace of Miloš Obrenović). Unfortunately, he died there in 1831.

Vranjevo produced several teachers and priests who ventured beyond the classical confines of their professions into the realms of literature and journalism. Jovan Nikolić, a Vranjevo teacher, was also an author of school books. Jovan Gavrilović, the parish priest in Vranjevo, was both a clergyman and a publicist. Younger individuals like Miloš Vlaškalin, born in 1862 in Vranjevo, published several articles about the village's history between the two world wars. Milivoj Jovanović, born in Vranjevo in 1874, was a catechist and writer. Damaskin Branković, archimandrite of Krušedol, born in 1834 in Vranjevo, was a rector of the seminary in Sremski Karlovci, finishing both theology and law, and authored books on marital law and affinity as an impediment to marriage. Vladimir Tordanski, born in Vranjevo in 1871, was a teacher and author of school books. Additionally, Vladimir Boberić, born in Srpska Klarija but spent his childhood and education in Vranjevo, became a bishop and composer.

This flame of intellectual and cultural vitality in Vranjevo persisted. During a later period, the village had several remarkable teachers who, beyond their professional duties, became true bearers of culture, earning the respect and admiration of the people.

All of this highlights the deep roots of Vranjevo's cultural tradition, emphasizing the importance of preserving it during the development of Novi Bečej, which is composed of these two places.

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