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The Rear Chapel

by Theresa König last modified 2007-02-19 13:57

The Rear Chapel

For some of the older people, the stories that have been passed down about the seasonal migration of the chldren – not only those in the Montafon – are remembered as a dark part of the local history.  Between the 17th and 19th centuries, many children between the ages of 10 and 16 had to work in Swabia.  Some of the children that spent their summers there came from Paznaun.  The arduous journey led them over the Zeinisjoch and then through the Montafon.  The children were accompanied by their mothers or fathers as far as the Zeinijoch and then they were taken over by strangers for the rest of the journey.  They were then led to Tettnang or Ravensburg where they were taken to the market and handed over to the farmers.  In payment for the work they did on the farms, the children were given food and shelter and a small wage.  The word “rear”, means cry in the local dialect and the name of the chapel is meant to remind us of the tear filled good-byes of the “Swabian children” from their parents.
It wasn’t only the children in the Montafon that had to go away to work.  For centuries it was the custom for the adults to go to neighbouring Germany, Switzerland and especially France as seasonal workers to help supplement the meagre earnings from farming and/or Alpine agriculture.  The most important jobs the men found were in construction.  Some of them went as scythe mongers or cabbage pickers.  The cabbage pickers even developed a type of union in which the individual workers secured the area that they worked in.  Many of the women also went to work making hay in Engadin, which can be seen in connection with the immigration of the people from Wallis – which started in the Rhone Valley.  It is assumed that the target areas of the hay maker women were usually the places that they came from in Engadin.


P17-1 The Rear Chapel.mp3

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