Gyomaendrőd is a small and quiet town located in Békés County, South-East Hungary on the left bank of the Hármas-Körös River. Its climate is continental and the count of sunny hours is 2000 per year. This is very much the national average as only Szeged and its vicinity has more sunshine, around 2100 hours per year. The average rainfall is around 600 mm in a year. The town has an easy access by transport both on highways and railroad as route 46 trunk-road and route 4 Budapest – Szolnok – Békéscsaba – Lőkösháza long-distance railway pass through it.
Archeological excavations clearly proved that this place has been populated for a very long time. Numerous villages and crockery from the Stone Age are found by archeologists gives the conclusion that there was an emerging civilization in this region. This seven thousand year old civilization is regarded as the aboriginal population of the area. Historians titled this civilization simply the Körös-civilization. The peoples of Körös-civilization may had had advanced agriculture and stock-farming techniques, yet they were bound to leave their domicile time to time as they depleted the land available for cultivating. They tilled the soil with rudimentary tools, didn’t fertilize and fallow it.
The once prosperous settlements of the area ceased to be exist by the late Stone Age almost entirely. New, more combative clans arrived in place of them and built earth lodges and tried to settle here thus started to create tools and apply a primitive rotation of crops. The Copper Age (2500 – 1900 BC) started to expand very slowly and never took a real shape generally. The Bronze Age had much more importance (1800 – 750 BC). The use of bronze items became widespread in the area and gave a huge momentum to the agricultural development. Besides the advancements in farming, trading gained a higher importance, as well. In this era ( 750 – 500 BC) are dated the first peoples regarded as ethnic groups: the Illyrians and the Thracians. These peoples couldn’t enjoy peace for long as from the east the Scythians appeared using iron arrows and they represented a more and more formidable threat. In this period more ethnic groups appeared in the region: first of all the Dacians and the Sarmatian clans but even The Celts took their visit here. During the transmigration they were followed by the Huns, the Avars and the Pechenegs. The many peoples and remnants of peoples living here started to form a unit and they strived to live peacefully besides each other. This aspiration gained a huge impetus from the Hungarian conquest in 896 AD. The occupation of the Carpathian Basin took 100-150 years and the peoples already settled here proved to be willing to live together with the Hungarians and later melted into the Hungarian nation.
The history of Gyoma
Although since January 1st 1982 we speak of Gyomaendrőd, it is worth surveying the history of the two settlements separately as there are huge differences both as regards religion and economics.
The history behind the name “Gyoma” has two known explanations. According to the first theory “Gyoma” means mouth, influx as the village was built not too far from the River Körös’s confluence. According to another explanation “Gyoma” was a personal name and probably the first owner of the settlement was called Gyoma. Comparing these two conceptions probably the latter is valid since the junction of the rivers is to be found 12 km from Gyoma and at the time of Hungarian conquest and in the ensuing times usually the villages got their names after their owners. Authentic sources mention it for the first time in 1332 as “Gama” then in 1444 already as “Gyoma”. Based upon our today’s knowledge Gyoma’s first owners were the Iktári Bethlens. Due to chronic financial problems the settlement first was impawned many times and its proprietors were changing frequently. Thus may had happened that from the ownership of the Bethlen family the village got into the hands of the Neczpáli family then during the conflicts with the Turks the Dóczys on Ferdinand’s part acquired it.
The Ottomans were blockading the Castle of Gyula in 1534 and eventually seized it thus signing the doom of the region. During the time of Ottoman occupation the history of Gyoma wasn’t very different from the fate of many other settlements on the Great Plain. Its population had been decreasing continuously and eventually almost entirely became depopulated. This is founded by the fact that it wasn’t even registered in the assessment of lists in 1564.
After the expulsion of the Turks and Rákóczi’s War for Independence Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs. The imperials gave the land to Baron János György Harruckern. Harrcukern had an important role not only in the resettlement of Gyoma and Endrőd but in Békés and Békéscsaba, as well. He offered various privileges for the settlers though he looked to it that people belonging to the same denomination settle in the same village. Due to this the populace of Gyoma is mainly still Reformed while Endrőd is mostly Catholic.
The year of 1830 is another important date in the history of Gyoma as the settlement attained the rank of a market-town and this is the year when Tamás Csepcsányi populates the town with Germans. After the resettlement the development of Gyoma was continous. By the mid-1800s it already had a kindergarten, a school and a brick church. The progression wasn’t even stopped by the The Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence (1848-49, which the town supported as much as it could. Following the abolition of serfdom the land got into the hands of smallholders and medium holders and farming gained ground.
Regarding Gyoma’s industry basically it was handicraft, small-scale industry. The main employers were the flour-mills, the Ailer Brickworks and the Kner Printing House. The Kner Printing House through the leadership of Izidor Kner and his son Imre Kner obtained world fame and gave a huge impetus to the development of Gyoma as it reformed printing.
The 1800s was the age of huge building constructions in Gyoma. From 1858 the town already had the railroad and railway station then a bridge was erescted across the River Körös that intensely integrated the town into the region’s economy.
The Körös River continually caused huge troubles with its frequent floods and due to this arose the possibility of the regulation of the River Körös but the work gained a real momentum only from the great floods of 1844-1845. The regulation was realized in the spirit of István Széchenyi by Mátyás Huszár and Pál Vásárhelyi. It gave an incredible dynamism to the region as this was the costliest and hugest project of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The unemployment practically ceased to exist in this territory and though the building works had gone on for a long time, by 1895 the dikes were finished and interconnected. Thus the Körös River was “steadied down.”
The First and the Second World War meant huge casualties for the town but fortunately didn’t cause permanent damages in the infrastructure. The Soviet occupation after 1945 was crucial in Gyoma’s history. In the agriculture the former world of independent farms started to get deteriorated after two collective farms had been established by the leadership. These were the Győzelem (Victory) and Alkotmány (Constitution) co-operative farms. Around this time the town attained its current face. The Liget Thermal Bath was built in 1954. In 1949 a municipal library was built then in 1967 the Gábor Bethlen Vocational School of Agriculture was reinstituted. In 1970 the Kner Printing House set up a printing museum. The Change of Regime changed theagriculture first of all as the co-operative farms were dissolved and the land was privately owned again. Nowadays a lot of small parcels are cultivated.
The progression and development is continuous as there are always new building constructions in town: the bridges undergo renovation and the thermal bath is getting expanded. By joining the European Union Gyoma may get access to new financial sources through tendering and this way it can reestablish its position and further increasing its incessant development.
The history of Endrőd
Endrőd is located to the west from Gyoma on the left bank of the Körös River, as well. Its past has a strong resemblance to Gyoma’s. It was named probably after its owner or inhabitant called Endre. The name Endrőd is mentioned for the first time in a charter from 1416. The village must had been developing intensely since in 1425 it was already referred to as a significant settlement where 33 family of noble birth was living. After the fall of the Gyula Castle the population of Endrőd was likewise decimated then almost entirely outmigrated like it happened in the case of Gyoma. The recolonization started at he beginning of the 1700s and similarly to Gyoma it was accomplished by János György Harruckern, also. Basically Catholics settled down here and this was characteristic later, too - the biggest divide between Gyoma and Endrőd till our days. Faithfully to the catholic traditions the families in Endrőd had 6-8 children but it wasn’t rare to have 10 children. The consequence of the demographic explosion at the beginning of the 19th century enhanced Endrőd to be the most populated village of the region. The steep expansion of its population was favorable for farming agriculture. The number of its inhabitants reached 16000 by the 1930s and more than half of the people lived in farms and cultivated land, raising stock. However land was finite and the increasing population bore an ever growing unemployment. Many started to work as day-laborers and diggers or went to the neighboring Gyoma in the hope of getting sharecrop. Although the regulation of the Körös River decreased unemployment, after completing (1895) the task discontentment was on the rise and it caused outmigration and finally led to the famous volley firing by the gendarmes of Endrőd in 1935. For the memory of the eight casualties of the volley firing eight stone coffins were laid on the main square of Endrőd that is still there.
The economy of Endrőd was based on agriculture but besides this fact it’s important not to forget the small-scale industry serving it. Many famous coachmen, boot maker, smith craftsmen lived and worked here.
Regarding the culture at the beginning of the 1900s there were 11 reading circles in the web of farms; Endrőd had a journeyman school, vocational school of agriculture and grammar-school. Its healthcare system was more advanced than its neighbors - including Gyoma – since it had a maternity home, a poorhouse, an isolation hospital and three pharmacies. Endrőd was among the firsts in the county to open a cinema hall and by the beginning of the 20th century it already had a petrol station.
The two world wars – their memorial is to be found at Endrőd’s main square – caused serious casualties in the ranks of its population then the Soviet occupation in 1945 and later the socialist regime changed the scenery of Endrőd, the county and the whole Great Plain equally. The flourishing world of private farms gave its place to the co-operative farms. In Endrőd two large co-operatives were established: the Lenin and the Béke (Peace) co-operative farms. The collective farms attracted many while others left the region. Many moved to the west, others emigrated abroad, chiefly to the United States.
As a result of the socialist industrial development the Enci Shoemaking Company opened its gates in 1949 and soon became famous both in Hungary and abroad with its high quality products. Nowadays the only thing remained is the fame of the once renowned shoemakers since they couldn’t compete anymore with the multinationals and the cheap shoes manufactured in China. Unfortunately due to the limited opportunities the population of Endrőd is still decreasing as the youth tend to leave after finishing school locally. The village that had 16000 inhabitants in the 1930s has only about 6000 people nowadays.