History of Kostel from the end of 15th Century to the end of the 19th century.

Dr. Stanislav Južnič

Family names recorded in the urbar for 1494 do not enable us to present a complete description of ethnic movements in Kostel during the settlement of the Uskoks from the March of Cetine (Cetinska Krajina) that occurred in June 1531 and the less successful attempt of August 1539, nor from Srb and Obrovac in 1538. Those places were Catholic and used a word »ča« for »what« until they were overruled by Turks: The Orthodox Uskoks had just gathered at Srb (before or in the year 1540), Unac (before or in the year 1528), Glamoč (1516) only temporarily on their way across the border of the Habsburg Empire.

The Uskoks settled only in a few houses and villages in Kostel. They didn’t settle in crowds as was, for instance, recorded in urbar of the domain of Sichelberg (Žumberk) for the year 1498.

Resettlement of Uskoks continued at least up to the battle of Sisak on June 22, 1593, but possibly also during the displacement of the Uskoks from Zengg to Sichelberg and surroundings of Otočac in 1617. Vlachs from Bosnia were settled not only on the Croatian area of later Military frontier (Vojna Krajina), but also in Kostel.

In the 20th century, and especially after the Second World War, new changes in ethnic structure of Kostel occurred. So among the 108 family names in modern Kostel there are 60 new ones that were absent before the second half of the 19th century.

We reviewed 337 family names that were recorded in Kostel during the last 500 years. Many of the once numerous Kostelan family names are no longer present in Kostel: Miheltschitsch, Cherne, Juraj, Vuk, Marincel, Petrina, Verderber, Pleshe, Gotenc, Gasparac, Jakuletich, Lipan, Abramovich, Frisig, Holovich, Petran, Panjan, Springer, Jakljevich, Kusolt, Vuciagk, Krismonich, Groman, Pete(r)lin, Lok(er)majer and Ausperger. Family names are written in decreasing order of number of their records in documents. Some persons with these family names still own houses in Kostel, but they are domiciled elsewhere (Capodistria, Gottschee, Laibach, Croatia, etc.). Some of the family names are still preserved as house names: Mlinc, Lokmajer, Panjan, Lipen, Snidar(shitsch), Shushtar(shitsch), Zibar, Chop. Other family names were preserved as names of hamlets and villages: Petrina, Gotenc, Frisig.

Most family names that were rare in the 19th century simply disappeared. Among them the most important are: Juraj, Holovich, Petran and Pleshe,. The same is true for Groman and Pete(r)lin. Family names of the inhabitants of Market Kostel - Vuziagk, Springer and Krismonich - disappeared after the destruction of castle in 1809. Between the years 1818 and 1869, the population of Market Kostel decreased by half, from 98 (+17) to 46.

Only for the families of Panjan and Lisac can we establish that they were among the earliest subjects in Kostel and that they later emigrated from Kostel for a few generations and then returned. These families can be traced in the urbar for the year 1494 and in Liq.Ext. for the year 1681, but not in the urbar for the year 1570. However, they were not settled in the same villages they left in the first half of the 16th century. In 1494 both were settled in upper part of Kostel (Stelnik and Nova sela). In 1681 they were recorded among the »Pobrežci« (Riverbank people) in the villages of Vas, Fara, Slauskilas and Poden.

Inhabitants of Fara, Slauskilas, and Market Kostel were not recorded among the subjects before the Liq.Ext. of 1681 because of their supposed special status.

Among the residents of Kostel in the year 1494 we can find 9 family names (tribes): Kerk, Jurich, Snajder, Panyjan, Piskur, Jaksich, Jurkovich, Lisac, »des Marin Sun« (Marinch), and Kajfes. They are written in ascending order of frequency of their enumeration in documents of the last half of the millennium.

Panians, PanY ans, and Pannians were also recorded in Tannzperg (Tanzberg, Tanča gora) in the urbar for Polland for the year 1576 and in the urbar of the domain of Möttling for years 1593, 1610, and 1723. Today they still live in valley of Polland, some of them in the village of Sodevci.

We can find the family Jurkovitsch all along the area where the Uskoks were settled. Juritsch was also recorded in the urbar of the domain of Möttling for 1610. Merchant Juray could be find in Zu Schutzen (Šujica near Laibach) in the urbar of the Deutsche Ritterorden (Order of German Knights) for 1490. Pischkhurs and Pischkürs were recorded in the urbar of Polland for 1576, in the urbar of the domain of Weinitz for 1674, and in the urbar of domain of Mötling for 1723.

Marinsch was recorded in Grabauetz (Grabrovac) in the urbar of the Deutsche Ritterorden for 1490 and Mrincz in Neslthal (Nesselthal) in the urbar of Gottschee for 1574. Marinč is the original Kostelan form of today’s very common family name Marinič.

Kajfes and Snajder were not recorded in White Carniola or in the 1574 urbar of the domain Gottschee, nor in the adjoining Croatian Gorski Kotar before the 18th century. Both family names are common in Carniola and could be of German origin. The Kostelan Kajfes were prosperous in the 19th and 20th century.

The approximate number of Uskok cattle and people that immigrated into Kostel is known. Those numbers were certainly often arranged to fit the interests of reporters, for example Katzianer (Kacijanar) in 1531. We also know the family names of some Uskok commanders.

Uskoks were nomadic cattle-breeders and they continued this vocation when they came to Kostel. Kostel is definitely too small an area for the exact counting of settled Uskoks who frequently changed their residences. Only from the records written in the period after the Uskoks were converted into agricultural subjects, at the beginning of the 18th century, are the numbers of Uskoks reliably correct. Some information about their number is however attainable by counting last names of Uskok origin and in changes of the proportion between cattle-breeding and agriculture as registered in the urbars.

During the first wave of immigration before the organized settlement of the Uskoks in the 1530s, at least 55 persons were registered with family names among a total of 102 persons in the Kostelan urbar from the first half of the 16th century. Besides those 55, there are also some names in other records that could be interpreted as family names of persons whose Christian names were not written. Twenty-three of these names could be connected with later surnames in Kostel or nearby regions. Seven assumed family names were related to professions. So between 1494 and the first half of the 16th century the following new family names appeared:

Brigar (later Briski, 3 records), Kolmanich (2), Krizmonich (2), Fabjan (2), Cimerman (2), Weber (2), Hodnik (2), Klementschitsch (2), Delach (1), Osanich (1), Grybez (Grbac), Krabat (meaning »Croatian«), Mauter (later Zolner, 1), Vischer, Tishler, Shushtar, and Shnajder.

During second wave of colonization, mostly in June 1531, the following new family names appeared in Kostel and are listed in descending order of number recordings:

Majetich, Papes, Sdraiouitsch (Sdravich), Mlinc, Klarich, Mavrovich, Butina (just a mill), Miheltschitsch, Glad, Juraj, Petrina, Maverc, Smauc, Gotenc, Frisig, Petran, Kusolt, Mavrin, Klapshe, Rabe, Pelegrinitsch, Marititsch, Huete, Kuplenovich, Drvodelar, Praps, Nuntschitsch, Maltn, and Linhart.

The third wave of colonization could be set in the restless years between the Battle of Sisak in 1593 and the displacement of the Uskoks from Zengg in 1617. Between years 1570 and 1681 the following new family names appeared in Kostel, again in descending order of number recordings in Kostel:

Sidar, Gergorich, Rachki, Sagar, Klobuchar, Pirshich, Belan, Bauer, Ofak, Zherne (Cherne), Zurl (Curl), Stephantschitsch, Cetinski (Zetinski), Jusnich, Kerkovich (instead of former Kerk), Vuk, Spiletich, Osterman, Kuselichki, Marincel, Obranovich (Croatian variant Abramovich), Gregorich, Nagl (also Naglich), Rugale, Pleshe, Jakuletich, Padovac, Shafar, Schneperger, Holovich, Petranovich, Simonich, Vuziagk (Vuciagk), Heront, Vidmajer, Manze, Burza, Shushtar, Sdenich (Zdenich), Susha, Stayer, Snefer, Raker, Parisdavich, Miletschitsch, Mautschitsch, Matich, Kriser, Hualka and Glorec.

Besides these, there were some additional settlers in Kostel in the first half of the 16th century who were absent in 1570 and then reappeared again in 1681: Briski, Klementschitsch, Delach, Shushtar(shitsch), Krismon(ich), Ribich and Grybez (Grbac). Some of those could have been living in the parish property around Fara (e.g. Stephantschitsch, Jusnich) or in Market Kostel (Vuk, Vuzhiag Krismonich) where they were not recorded by urbar for 1570. Uskok origin can be attributed, however, but only to a small part of immigrants who came between 1570 and 1681.

Between 1681 and 1719 there were just a few Uskok immigrants, among them family Jurjevich that supposedly came from Ponikva across Bojanci in White Carniola. The majority of new family names came from the nearby regions of:

Ossiuniz and Suchen (Hodnik, Rugale, Stimac (B)).

Gorski Kotar (Skender, Lipen, Mulc, Golik, Bukovac (B), Jakovac, Ciglich, Benich, Donkovich, Turkovich).

Gottschee (Stajdohar, Ferderber, Stanfel, Springer, Volf (B), Groman (B), Fabjan (B), Retl, Sporer (B), Munih (B), Sgainar, Burger).

Reifnitz (Pintar (B)).

Between 1720 and 1759 Losar, Hochevar and Erent immigrated to Kostel from Gottschee region. Polanc, Medved and Koze were probably from the domain of Poland and Muhich immigrated from Croatia. Among them only Ložars still live in Kostel; they were recorded in urbars of Gottschee for the years 1498 and 1574.

Between 1759 and 1818, the families of Jakljevich and Rauch from probable Gottscheer origin immigrated from Gorski Kotar. The families of Petelin and Lok(er)majer also settled in Kostel during that period, along with Janes from the district of Ossiunitz and more than 100 less frequently mentioned family names, mostly from Gorski Kotar.

The number of immigrants was approximated in the following tables as a part of all the inhabitants of Kostel. The number of inhabitants with a certain family name was estimated as a relative frequency of their records in documents:

YEAR: Total Urbar Baptism Sponsor »Ad stante« Witness Marriage Funeral Voter
1494 700 39
1st half of 16th century 400 4
1570 550-630 8.6
1681, 1702-1719 1500 5.3 1.9 1.8 9.4 7.5
1759, 1766-1789 2000 9 1.0 2.3-2.1 1.4
1991 683 1.1


Frequency of the most important tribes (family names) in Kostel during 500 years:


1494 1st half of 16th century 1570 1681 1702-19 1759 1766-89 1789-1818 1991
Kajfes 1 0 9 50 55 90 114 136 9
Marin(ch) 1 0 18 30 66 99 100 125 21
Briski/Brigar 0 12 0 58 63 63 67 51 12
Majetich 0 0 17 37 36 72 69 67 11
Lisac 1 0 0 35 30 27 39 47 14
Papes 0 0 9 5 46 90 69 67 1
Sdravich 0 0 60 37 44 18 44 44 9
Sidar 0 0 0 16 38 45 82 43 14
Mlinc, Muler 0 0 17 58 63 54 42 40 0
Jurkovich 1 0 36 60 53 45 36 21 12


0 0 0 85 49 63 43 61 8
Klarich 0 0 9 64 57 90 52 34 15
Rachki 0 0 0 5 25 36 33 62 15
Osanich 0 4 17 48 36 36 47 47 16
Mavrovich 0 0 9 5 15 36 49 42 14
Sagar 0 0 0 11 23 54 43 39 16
Jaksich 1 0 18 30 17 18 38 45 16
Klobuchar 0 0 0 32 34 90 34 39 7
Chernkovich 0 8 34 32 28 18 39 27 11
Piskur 7 28 18 10 10 18 22 27 2
Butina 0 0 9 26 17 27 47 25 5
Pirshich 0 0 0 16 19 18 29 49 8
Mihelchich 0 0 9 11 19 27 39 27 0
Belan 0 0 0 5 8 36 23 24 5
Bauer 0 0 0 16 11 29 41 18
Hodnik 0 8 0 0 11 24 44 1
Ofak 0 0 0 32 38 54 10 40 4
Cherne 0 0 0 21 4 43 42 0
Glad 0 0 17 16 11 36 30 32 5
Klemenchich 0 8 0 42 27 54 15 24 0
Zurl 0 0 0 48 15 45 30 22 3
Juraj 0 0 9 5 27 9 29 14 0
Stephantschitsch 0 0 0 26 23 36 13 27 11
Cetinski 0 0 0 11 15 18 27 21 3
Jusnich 0 0 0 11 9 9 16 8 13
Delach 0 4 0 32 15 18 24 13 3
Kerk(ovich) 1 4 ? 21 17 17 20 2
Vuk 0 0 0 21 21 36 16 21 0
Spiletich 0 0 0 5 15 45 24 12 7
Osterman 0 0 0 26 28 36 15 3 1
Skender 0 0 0 0 26 45 15 17 7
Kuselichki 0 0 0 5 13 27 14 19 1
Marincel 0 0 0 11 13 9 18 16 0
Zolner/Mauter 0 4 9 26 30 9 2 7 3
Obranovich 0 0 0 11 9 11 14 16
Staidohar 0 0 0 0 64 18 18 12 2
Petrina 0 0 17 21 4 6 8 0
Jurievich 0 0 0 0 21 18 10 10 10
Ferderber 0 0 0 0 11 9 15 11 0
Nago 0 0 0 16 9 12 11 9
Maverc 0 0 17 0 15 12 4 0
Kesele 0 0 0 0 37 27 15 12 1
Rugale 0 0 0 5 6 18 12 7 6


By using the archival sources in Rijeka, Fara in Kostel, Ljubljana, and Graz we have described the development of Kostel during the four centuries following the 1490s. Most of the archival sources are used in this historiography for the first time. The assembled information enable us, among other things, to survey of the development of the villages in Kostel.

The earliest urbars show the names of the villages and the personal names of their inhabitants. These urbars constitute the oldest records about the subjects in Kostel. The use of family names in Kostel gradually came into existence later, between the years 1494 and 1570, and in some cases even as late as the year 1681. During that era, the names of the villages became constant as did the borders between them.

Among the oldest villages in Kostel are surely those that gave their names to the six townships that were established in the 18th century when the regional administration at Rudolfswert (Novo Mesto) and the district administration at Gottschee were also created. The original six townships in Kostel were: Banja Loka (1,746 hectares), Suhor (1,166 hectares), Kusel (Kuželj, 835 hectares), Verch (Vrh, 611 hectares), Pirche (Pirče, 600 hectares) and Fara (264 hectares). The townships have also colloquial names: Banjci, Podreber, Kusel (Kuželjska) valley, Gorenjsko, Pobrežje, and Breg, respectively. The names of most of the inhabitants of the township of Vrh are the same as the names of the villages in which they live, and this is probably due to the change in village names in this area in the 16th century.

Some parts of Kostel belong to townships outside of the domain. Supposedly this is because they were part of the neighboring domain of Gottschee prior to the 18th century. Thus, part of Srobotnik (270 hectares) belongs to Wossayl (Bosljiva Loka); a part of Šajba (92 hectares) to Reintal (Rajndol); and a part of Grgelj (83 hectares) to Unterlag (Spodnji Log).

The townships usually got their names from the name of the largest village in the township. The exception is the township of Pirche which contains the larger village of Vas.

Several modern villages of Kostel differ from those of the 15th and 16th centuries. For example, the village of Am Furtt with two hides in the years 1494 and 1570 was rechristened with the name Petrina in the year 1681. In the 18th century, the area of old Am Furtt was divided into two villages named Petrina and Pirche each with the single hide.

Between the today’s villages of Colnarji and Fara there were four villages in the Urbar for 1494. Some of them had Slovene and others German names that described mountains in the area (Verch, Perg, Alben). The village of Naverche which had three hides in the year 1494 was combined in the Urbar for the first half of the 16th century with the villages of Am Pergk (1 hide), Am Perg (2 hides), and Naverchi (1 hide) to constitute a village Auff dem Perig, which contained 12.25 hides. These hides included the area of what is today the villages of Dren, Colnarji, and Delač.

When the Turkish and Uskok disturbances ended in the Urbar for 1570, there were five hides left in the village of Am Berg and three in the lower village of Drenng. In Am Berg there was also the hamlet of Jelenadräga between today’s Oskrt and Tišnepolj that is preserved today only as the name of a fallow field.

The village of Am Dren had two hides in the Urbar for 1494 and three hides later. By the year 1681, there were three villages in the same area consisting of a single hide each in Drön, Zollner and Dellaz. Zollner and Dellaz were named after their residents.

In the year 1681 the village of Am Berg was re-divided into the villages of Kherkhouischin (1 hide), Am Perg (1 hide), Poden (2 hides) and Oskert (2 hides). The today’s village of Vrh with two hides evolved from Am Perg. From the 18th century to the present, the two hides have carried the names of their inhabitants, Jurjevich and Marinch.

The two whole hides in Boden/Poden bore the names Gotenc and Piskorin after the family names of their inhabitants. The first hide developed later into the independent village Gotenc, some of the communal property of which is still in the area of Poden under the main road.

The fact that the connection between the villages of Gotenc and Poden runs through the villages of Vrh and Oskrt is not a unique occurrence in Kostel. The communal lands belonging to the village of Drežnik are similarly divided. The center of the Dresnik is some distance from its hamlet of Pečunak on the east side of the modern highway, where one must enter it through the village of Briga. Similarly, the remote hamlet of Grbac, which belongs to the village of Krkovo, lies below the village of Tišenpolj. Villages with remote hamlets came into existence before the modern road from Brod to Gottschee was built, and during the times when older roads had a greater influence on village development.

In Emperor’s cadastrial map, the village of Poden is written in the German as Boden. But in the urbarial and parish records it was spelled Poden. Boden is probably the older version, but Poden could be just a old German variant used in the Gottscheer dialect. It has a similar meaning in both the Slovene and German languages. Many villages in Kostel at one time had old German names, and some have persisted even today, e.g., Aibelj, but today nearly all have Slovene names. Sometimes, the German names were simply translations, such as in the Urbar for 1570 where Podstene was called Stainewenndt and today’s Jakšiči below Planina was called Unndter der Alben.

The communal area of most of the villages in Kostel has not changed significantly for the last five hundred years. New villages were established above Kusel (Rake, Rachki Potok, and Kuselich), above Potok (Steyer (Štajer) and Planina); along the left bank of the Kolpa (Mauerz with hamlets that were later combined into the village named Saga (Žaga)); and Podrebrjo (Lipovac).

We have no direct sources for the family names of the participants of some particular settlement wave in Kostel. That is why, with the changing of the settlement of hides, records of the changing of family names in the urbars are the most valuable for estimating the movements of people and families in Kostel.

The greatest changes in the ethnicity of Kostel took place in 16th century. The population was largely stable for the next three hundred years, until after the year 1848, and especially at the end of the 19th century, when Kostelans began emigrating, primary to the United States.

The settlement of Uskoks in the area of Kostel was organized by the emperor and the estates general (Landstände) of Carniola between the years 1531 and 1538. In the year 1538, settlement of Uskoks from the regions of Srb and Obrovac was halted by the lord leaseholder of Kostel, Baron Adam Langenmantl on his own authority rather than by resolution of the Carniolan estates-general or by Emperor Ferdinand I.

The lack of suitable pasture land in the regions of Kostel and Osilnica (Ossiunitz) forced some Uskoks who had come from the March of Cetine (Krajina) to resettle in the lower regions of Kolpa in August 1539. Further bad conditions forced other Uskok settlers to leave. In the year 1585, ten Kostelan families of Uskok origin emigrated to the domain of Maichau in Lower Carniola, and in the year 1590, five more Uskok families emigrated from Kostel to deserted lands in the villages of Dolenje and Gorenje Moravice in neighboring Croatia. These lands were controlled by Prince Juraj von Zriny and were later in 20th century in Yugoslavia called Brod Moravice and Srpske Moravice, respectively.

Hence, many Uskoks who were initially settled in Kostel later moved to other regions. The number of inhabitants and the changes in their family names are a good source for the determination of the extent of the settlement of Uskoks because direct sources are so rare. Urbarial records show us that the number of hides in Kostel was not considerably changed between the years 1494 and 1570, for example in the village of Baina Loka. In those times hides in the villages of Briga, Puc, Dresnik, Jesenov Vrt, Kuselich, and Rake were already inhabited, although they were still described as "new" in the church urbars for the years between 1734 and 1768.

Church records for the year 1768 also quoted some hides that were extinct in dominial urbars for the years 1494 and 1570. New hides were established in the villages of Vimol, Baina Loka, Dren, Jesenov Vrt, Kuselich, and Verh. A half of a hide was added to the village of Suhor in the meantime.

It seems that emigration from Kostel because of the Turkish danger was only temporary, of which the experience of the upper Croatian town of Delnice is an example. The inhabitants of Delnice, who lived mostly around the church, fled from the Turks and lived in safer areas nearby, including Gottschee, for up to a whole generation. When the Turkish danger passed at the end of 16th century, many returned to their former homes in Delnice. The same phenomenon occurred in Kostel.

The Turkish threat was also diminished by changes in the ethnic composition and robbery customs of the Turkish attackers. After the 16th century, there were fewer ethnic Turks and more bandits from the border regions of Bosnia and Croatia who posed as Turks even though they were Christians. As irregular Turkish troops called Martolozi, they frequented the border areas and robbed their neighbors.

We suppose:

1) The so-called Uskoks were mainly Catholics who emigrated to Kostel in the 16th century, and they mainly replaced native population losses caused by the Turkish assaults.

2) In the middle of the 18th century, about half of the Kostelan family names were of the form used in nearby southern regions. That portion is less today.

3) Uskok traditions did not considerably change the economic habits in Kostel. Although they paid the one-tenth tax on their livestock on all hides in Kostel, agriculture - and not the herding of cattle as was the usual Uskok custom - still predominated.

Data in the urbars show us that the numbers of hides was not considerably changed between the year 1494 and 1570 as might be expected with the arrival of substantial numbers of immigrants. Thus, the settlement of Uskoks in Kostel was not followed by the change of the number of inhabitants in Kostel, nor by any trace whatsoever of their supposed Orthodox faith. Uskok settlement can be traced only by the change in customs and some family names in Kostel that resemble family names in the nearby areas of White Carniola, Croatia, and Bosnia. But those changes could even be caused by many centuries of local migration and normal intercourse in this border region. These changes did not occur in just the few decades in 16th century.

According to the Kostelan church Urbar for the years between 1734 and 1768 tributes in cattle were considerably low. Hides gave only a the tithe of their lambs as part of their much higher agricultural taxes. So we are free to assert that the settlement of Uskok herdsman did not considerably change the agronomy in Kostel. To make it clear, in the year 1768, more that two centuries after the settlement of Uskoks, the residents of Kostel were paying the traditional dominical taxes.

It looks like Kostel was not suitable for the settlement of Uskoks in many ways. After some years of living in that region most of the Uskok residents left for the better grasslands on the lower Kolpa, especially at Sichelberg, leaving in Kostel only a few family names, some historical memories, and above all, a certain common influence with White Carniola and the neighboring region of Croatian Gorski Kotar that have lasted for a long time.





AS = Arhive of Slovenia in Ljubljana

Legacy inv. = Legacy inventories, a part of archive of land law court for Carniola for years 1544-1813.

Liq.Ext. = Liquidations Extrat.

RDA = Theresian cadastre for Carniola, Rectified Domain Acts.

Vic. = Archive of viceroy’s office of Carniola.

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Inventarium und Urbarium, Pfarr Kostel. June 18, 1768. Archive of the parish Fara in Slovenia.

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