Verderber world-wide (in Gothic type letters).

Verderber world-wide

A virtual Family Meeting in the Net

Horizontal rule.

Start, Biographies

Thomas Verderber (19/12/1793–13/5/1886) and the Verderber House in Retz (Austria)

German flag. Deutsche FassungFrench flag. Version française

Photo: The Verderber House at Retz (Austria).
Photo: The Verderber House at Retz (Austria).

The following article was published at the Gottschee Newspaper (Gottscheer Zeitung) of November 1975. The article was on the pages 1 and 8 of the newspaper. The following is a translation of the German original text.

Thomas Verderber

A summarising report about live and work from Franz Pickert

Thomas Verderber was on the way in a little village near Vienna with some gulden of capital, a totally filled back-basket and a lot of commercial thinking in his head when a horsemen detachment covered with dust passed him and pushed him aside. The date can be stated, it was on 12th or 13th may 1809. “The Napoleon is coming!” the anxious people whispered. Thomas who got curious remained near the street to see from the nearest position the man who gave so much topics of conversation. The detachment had passed, an inconspicuous rider was passing, followed by a party of splendid decorated officers. – “Now the Napoleon will come!” Thomas thought. But only simple soldiers came and then obviously baggage-train. Thomas was near to cry when he heard that the inconspicuous rider had been the great Napoleon.

Then he reached the city limits and a customs guard refused him the entrance because his legitimation had been issued by the French government of Laibach (today Ljubljana – annotation of the editors of Verderber world-wide); to such persons the entrance to Vienna was denied. Thomas told later, that he threw his back-basket onto a passing carriage and then hided by the carriage he entered the city along the customs guard. His brothers Josef, Leonhard, and Johann managed a peddler’s business (manufactures and fancy-goods) with position in Vienna. Because Leonhard retired in 1810 and devoted himself to the agriculture in his home village Nesseltal No. 7, the youngest, Thomas, born on 21. December 1793, moved up to his place. The three brothers, which extended their association to the visit of fairs, founded in 1815 the recorded firm “Gebrüder Verderber(Verderber Brothers). In 1822 the peddler’s business was totally given up, and the selling only happened on fairs. The journey were burdensome, indeed, but the profit was plentiful. In Retz, a town which they knew already well, they founded in 1829 a fix business place. This is the later “Verderberhaus(Verderber House) at the Hauptplatz (Main Place) which they bought in 1848. It is still today a place worth seeing, and it is worth to describe it detailed.

The Verderber House

developed from the former tower house, the Gewelibhaus (1437). Originally there were three houses, today the pinnacle-crowned building has the house numbers 15 and 40.

In 1495 the respected citizen family Paschinger were owner, in 1583 the house belonged to the treasurer of the count Julius, Hans Fierennez from Görz. This let built the splendid renaissance building with the great decorating pinnacles which is still existing today. The name of the creator is perpetuated in the stone relief above the flying buttress, and also his motto “Alles mit der Zeit(All with the time). This is heard still often in Retz today. Inside of this motto there is a coat of arms, to the right and left there are allegoric figures in long clothes with flowing hair und a crown on the head. The right figure is holding cup and crown, the left scales and sword. On the sides one lion is seen, respectively, and, above the middle panel, the civil crown and two winged griffins. Inside the coat of arms there can be read as well the name “Fierrenez von Görz(Fierrenez (Fierenze, florens, to bloom) from Görz) with the year-date 1583 as the name “Geb. Verderber von Gottschee(Verderber brothers from Gottschee).

After the death of the older brother (1842) there was an agreement that Johann took the purchasing in Vienna and the agencies outside, but Thomas the management of the city business in Retz. Thomas regarded correctly that Retz was producing very good wine and so he concentrated to that since his relatives in Nesseltal were trading wine. In 1862 Johann Verderber died, and the whole enterprise got property of Thomas. He worked in trade, wine-growing and agriculture, and that without a correct school education, but his memory enabled him to the most complicated calculations. Besides the real estates in Retz he owned six houses in Vienna. He strictly traded with wine, and he brought the pure gulden vine from Retz far to the north and east by horse-drawn vehicles; it is said, that he even reached St. Petersburg. The original wine sold fast, so he not only did good business but also helped the “Retzer” to get a good reputation. On the way back he bought linen cloth in the weaving regions of the Sudeten (a mountain region between Bohemia and Silesia) what he sold profitably in Vienna where he had a great ware house a the “Tuchlauben” .

To his house in Retz a wine cellar belonged with a capacity of 1000 hectolitres. – In Retz every house disposes of an own cellar with an entrance from the house. The cellars are 12 to 16 metres deep and lined with bricks. But a lot of tunnels, they are called “Röhren(Pipes) here, simply run in the hard sand, often far outside the house borders. Something really worth to see!

The live in the house of Thomas Verderber was patriarchal. All members formed a family, and the male employees sat along the long table in the eating room at noon and evening. The eldest of the brothers which meanwhile followed, the retired parson Georg Verderber, took the highest place. After his death in the year Thomas moved up to the first place, on his side there sat his widowed sister Maria. According to the duration of their period of service the employees were placed. At the lowest places there sat the apprentices which moved up by the course of the time; so, for example Matthias Jonke, a meagre gigantic figure (“der große Mattl(the great Mattl)), who made considerable means at Verderber and went back to Gottschee, his home, as pensioner. Or Josef Misson who then founded himself a commercial house; his son belongs with his book “Der Naz” to the best-known Austrian dialect poets. Verderber helped a lot of employees to get independent, for example Matthias and Georg Verderber in Retz, Jakob Sontschitsch in Theras, Josef Hosp in Schrattenthal, Alois Richter in Pulkan, Johannes Verderber in Großweikersdorf, Franz Krzandalsky in Wullersdorf, Eduard and Josef Verderber in Retz, and Jakob Schmuck in Gnadendorf.

Thomas Verderber – a benefactor

Thomas was also known at his home as benefactor. He bought the house and ’s Schtekhle (No. 34 and 35) from a relative, Maria Stonitsch (Mrirsch Mine) in Nesseltal, and donated it to the commune with the condition that the poor of the village were allowed to use the rooms and the church visitors to warm up in winter. The church, fire-brigade and the music band of Nesseltal appealed repeatedly to their wealthy countryman for support; they never begged without effort. He patronized actively the painter Karl Meditz, a son of his relative Gertrud Verderber, married Meditz. And the “Judenbrunnen(Jew’s fountain) in Nesseltal remembers with an inscription to him: “Andenken an Thomas Verderber, Retz 1873(Memory to Thomas Verderber, Retz, 1873). Moreover he spent a foundation of 10,000 gulden to support the poor of the village; in 1918 the money dwindled to nothing. About all of that his last will may give more information. The great benefactor was conferred the freedom of the town Gottschee.

From the town chronicle of Retz

Thomas Verderber took great interest in the development of the town’s community. The introduction of the weekly market, the foundation of the savings bank and of the town’s fire-brigade, and various institutions of public interest, they always had his goodwill. Therefore he was well respected. Up to his death he was president of the savings bank, up to the age of 90 he was member of the town council.

In the year 1844 a mighty storm threw the iron flag including knob, helmet pole, and eagle from the tower of the town hall; with 100 gulden the Verderbers took the half of the costs to gild the eagle.

On 25th July 1866 the best four horses were requisitioned by Prussian troops, two of them from the merchant Verderber.

At the Wine Congress in Vienna in 1870 the silver drinking-cup, which was given by the town Retz, was adjudged to Thomas Verderber and so came back to Retz. When crown prince Rudolf reached Retz on a tour of inspection, he was served wine from this drinking-cup; since that time it was called “Kronprinzenbecher(Crown Prince Cup). Where may this cup be today?

Thomas Verderber gave a lot of clinker stones for road building and not only therefore, but above all for his social attitude a street of Retz was named after him. Thomas Verderber declared that his family did not come from Nesseltal, but from Verderb, parish Mösel. By her researches about painting behind glass in the village Außergefield (later written as Außergefild) near Winterberg, district Prachatitz, CSSR, Mistress Dr. Maria Kundegraber discovered the peddler Michael Verderber married there whose son Johann Verderber (1793 to 1870) took over the production and selling of pictures painted behind glass with religious motifs in great style (he should have learnt the handicraft in the neighbouring Raymundsreut (today Raimundsreut) in Bavaria).

There are mentioned further peddlers from the Gottschee region, and that: Paul Janke (Jonke); Johann Stephandl, born in Verderb, who got an inland passport on 12th November 1823; Peter and Andreas Schuster, born in Schlechtbüchel; Andreas Meditz from Büchel; Deutschmann.

The progenitor of the Retzer Verderbers was called Andreas Verderber; he should have been a brother of the Michael Verderber mentioned above, so this was un uncle of our Thomas. Andreas Verderber had 13 children; the following came to Vienna and Retz:

Thomas Verderber was a confirmed bachelor. He said, he had had never time to think about marrying; moreover the woman sows the seed of discord and disunion. Therefore the nephews who were admitted to the firm were not allowed to marry. When the religious and strongly believing catholic died on 13th May 1886, four nephews married on the same day and likely were married by the consistory councillor and dean Anton Richter, a brother, in Feldkirchen.

To the name sequence Verderber–Richter

Already during the years of Thomas Verderber’s life a Richter, who had married Maria Kraker, helped in the management; he would get the progenitor of the Richters. Maria Kraker, whose mother Maria Verderber was a sister of Thomas, married a Kraker, a Gottscheer according to his name. While the family of the Verderbers came from Verderb, commune Mösel, and likely gave the village its name, from which it is to conclude that they were so-called knight-citizens, hereditary citizens, patricians or citizens as witnesses and sealers and after an information of Lm. OSR. (presumably meaning compatriot higher supervisor) Matthias Schneller they also officiated as local judges and wore a necklace as a sign of their office, the family of the Richters came from North Bohemia or Saxonia. The progenitor was the organist and schoolmaster Anton Richter, an efficient man who married Maria Kraker, a daughter of Maria Kraker, born Verderber (as given above a sister of Thomas Verderber), at Nesseltal. From this marriage ten boys sprouted; one of these ten is Karl Richter, at this time senior partner of the firm Gebrüder Verderber (Verderber Brothers) in Retz.

And the land register tells us that the Verderber House No. 15 today belongs with 3/8 to Karl Richter and Gottfried Richter, respectively, and with 2/8 to Peter Richter; the Verderber House No. 40 with 1/4 to Friederike Richter and with 3/4 to Ingeborg Dotti. Moreover there is a Maria Schneller in the Znaimer Straße (Znaim’s Street) as owner of the House No. 38.

The Mausoleum in the cemetery of Retz

The genealogist also investigates again and again for epitaphs. When I saw the beautiful Gothic tomb chapel at the cemetery of Retz, I was convinced that it only could be that of the Verderbers. I opened the door, saw a covered room and a catafalque in the middle: Therefore a hall for putting on the bier! I made inquiries, it was really the tomb chapel of the Verderber-Richter which was left by the familiy to the town until this would be able to build a hall itself. At the third visit when the gravedigger pulled for me the cloths from the walls, I could study the immured marble slabs. On the first I read:

Hier ruhen in Gott
und harren der seligen Auferstehung
die fünf Geschwister Verderber.

(Here the five brothers and sisters Verderber are resting and waiting for the blessed resurrection.)

There are ten slabs fixed with twelve names, I noted them all; but it would lead too far away, if I would tell all inscriptions. It should only be said that the family name Verderber is mentioned seven times, that of the Richters five times.

The families Richter play an important role in the community of the town Retz, too. From 1900 to 1906 an Alois Richter was burgomaster (mayor), he equipped the museum and later was decorated with the Goldenen Verdienstzeichen (Golden Merit Sign) and was conferred the freedom of the town. Today a son-in-law of Karl Richter, diploma merchant Herbert Stegmüller, is managing the wholesale business with circumspection.

About Thomas Verderber may be said:

Simple you were in the life,
great in helping
and quiet in dying.

At my researches in the town of Retz the following gentlemen helped me exceedingly:

I lay them under an obligation.

(A journey tip: The town Retz is surely worth a journey with the only wind mill in Austria which is ready to work, the expansive wine-cellars, the Calvary, and not least the Verderber House.)

In this Article there is a contradiction concerning the birth date of Thomas Verderber, but after a pedigree we have he was born on 19th December 1793 (and not on 21st December 1793).

Please note the supplements under the income informations, too.

Horizontal rule.

To the top of the page. Back to top of this page

Normal page.

Normal page.

Overview page. Back to the table of contents

Start page.Back to the start page