Szilágyballa: Past and Present
The first written source to the
village dates back to 1341 and refers to it under the name of Barla. Allegedly Barla is an allusion to
‘barlang’ (i.e. cave), where inhabitants used to retreat from waves of Tatar
invasions. Excavations however revealed that the area was populated already in
the Bronze Era, and some artifacts are even dated back to the Neolithic Era.
The Szilágy-prefix was
assigned when the train station was built in 1913, referring to the
Around 1450 the village was property of the Várad (Oradea) bishop, who participated
on the side of Hunyadi in the battle of Belgrade, and fell hostage to the
Turks. Afterwards the village was owned mostly by the Bánffy family until the early 20th
The population started to grow beyond the low
hundreds in the 19th century when paved road and the railway
arrived. Presently there are some 1600 souls in the village, with:
~ 200 Gypsy (Roma)
20 Romanian ethnicity,
Religions: ~1250 Reformat (protestant), 290
Baptized and ~ 100 Greek Orthodox (mainly from the Gypsy community). The
reformation wave must have hit the village in 1556, due to the influential work
of Szegedi Lajos, a reformant priest from Kraszna (Crasna). The baptized church
has been formed in 1904. Few Jews did live in the village (as in most villages
in the area), which were deported during the Nazi occupation in WWII. Those
surviving did not return to live in the village.
After the Trianon treaty, the communal center has
been moved to the - population-wise smaller – Bocsa.
Local education has its roots in
church-owned educational institutions, with written records are of 1852. The
present school has been built in 1970, mainly by local effort. The old school
building is used as nursery school. Classes are held mainly in Hungarian,
except for the Roma community, for which one aggregate class of the first
elementary grades is maintained. Afterwards pupils travel to the neighboring
Bocsa to study in Romanian.
Balla is considered an important
vine-region for the Szilágy
area. While wine cellars next to the
vineyards do not have a tradition (as in other vine-cultivating locations, like
and Szilágysámson) the
soil is allegedly more acidic which produces a more mature and full tasting
vine vs its local competition. The local vine production is excercised by
individuals on small scale, and has observed both a small renaissance - due to the organization of a vine contest,
and prizes won by local producers on domestic competitions - as well as a
setback due to recent falsification scandals by producers who capitalized on
the recent recognition of the local wine.
While the local population has seen a
steady growth during the communist era, presently we experience an exodus of
the youth towards mainly Hungary. A significant part of the working population
earns a living in Hungary and abroad. Excepting the Gipsy community, the
population recently is in decline.
Very recently the village has met some
notable developments, when after many years of lobbying and tireless work of
enthusiast volunteers, and IMF grant, and not least the contributions of the
inhabitants made it possible to pave the streets with a thin layer of asphalt,
and consecutively the fix phone coverage has arrived. A water-duct network has
also been deployed, but this one is not yet commissioned, pending the
deployment of a sewage system.
Entrepreneurship is lackluster in
Balla, with most the youth gone to Hungary. Recent signs are shoving some
revitalization of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Present leaders of the community are:
BÓNÉ Vilmos, school director
BOROS Árpád, Reformat
Tibor, Baptized priest