The village, located in a flat hollow and on a hill made of shelly limestone, is one of the 70 locales in Germany’s southwest, which are named after monks’ enterprise that controlled the income from the widely scattered property of a monastery. These villages were built in the 7th or 8th century A.D. In addition to the popular folklore, a disk grave in the spruce fields provides proof of this early birthdate of Peterzell. The mother monastery of the monks’ enterprise is still unknown, but the latest research points to Gengenbach in the lower Kinzigtal, which was, in turn, probably founded by Pirmin in the 8th century. There is a saga of Peter the monk, who discovered the spring below the church by walking upwards along the Zellerbach. The Benedictines’ monastery Gengenbach sold its property in Römlinsdorf to its sister monastery in Alpirsbach in 1422.
In 1275, Peterzell was mentioned in a document for the first time in the famous Liber Decimationis, the tax book of the diocese of Konstanz. The church, whose patrons are also the patrons of Gengenbach, Petrus and Paulus, was an averagely endowed vicarage compared to its neighboring churches. According to the fragment of a late medieval calendar, a Duke of Teck and his wife Ute may have been the founders of this church and its vicarage. This could explain their close connection to Gengenbach, which was once under the authority of the Dukes of Zähringen. After 1218, their property belonged to the Zähringian side line of Teck, which gained extensive property in the upper Neckar area centered around Oberndorf in the 13th and 14th century.
It is not known exactly when the Peterzell church came to the Counts of Hohenberg. However, we know that Marshall Wolfram sold it with the approval of Count Rudolf I (1302-1366) in 1316 to the monastery Alpirsbach, which gained the church as well 30 years later. In 1337, the growing abbey acquired “the lain good of Peterzell and the court, people and all rights, money and profits which belong to it” from Mr. Rüti, ministers of the Dukes of Teck. Fourteen years earlier, Johannes of Brandeck had sold his property in Breitenwies to Alpirsbach, which had already acquired the property of Falkenstein in Hönweiler in 1297. In 1416, the abbot was able to acquire the remaining property of the three from the patrician family Häck (Haug) of Rottweil, so he became the only Judge, Feudal Lord and Serf Lord of Breitenwies, Hönweiler and Peterzell. The remains of a fish pond dam in Hönweiler, which supplied the monks with their favorite Lenten meals until 1714, are a reminder of the monastery.
In conjunction with the reformation of the monastery, Peterzell became part the Dukedom of Württemberg for good. One of the first priests, Ulrich Rumler (1555-1560), had been a serf in 1535, when he was a monk in Alpirsbach. Around the middle of the 16th century, Peterzell took over the administrative functions of Reutin beneath Hönweiler, including responsibility for the Breitenwieser’ Farm and Römlinsdorf; five of the 24 farms belonged to his staff (Eich, Birk and Greut farm and two Lindenbruch farms).
The 30 year war hit the village very badly. The losses of Peterzell after the battle of Nördlingen (1634) ran up to 5,000 fl (96,000 fl loss to all the monastery’s property), so that one year later, the administrator had to report to Stuttgart: “More than a half of the men were lost . . . of horses and cattle, nothing is left…”. The loss of population did not stabilize until 1681, but in 1653/54 lessons were held at school again. The Visitations Report of 1742 described Peterzell as “a very little village, but with good cattle breeding”, and Hönweiler as “a little hamlet, consisting of five wealthy farms and three mills”. The wealthiest man was Johann Georg Trick (1764-1840), who could pay 100,000 fl in cash for his farm on the Rossberg with its big forest, and who was additionally able to acquire two farms in the Kaltenbrunner Valley. He associated on the same level with Duke Friedrich, the first King of Württemberg. In his day, his father, Andreas Trick (1722-1788), had already been able to afford to donate an organ to the church of Peterzell. The old vicarage was replaced by a new one in 1712. Its dignified half-timbered construction is still a special jewel of the village. It has a precious collection of books of the 17th and 18th century, thanks to a longtime schoolmaster of Peterzell, Johann Friedrich Heyd (born in Dornham in 1766).
After the abolition of the church establishment of Württemberg in 1805, Peterzell initially continued to belong to the now secular office of Alpirsbach; but in 1810 it was transferred to the head office in Oberndorf. In 1833, the school building and the town hall, which had already replaced another one, were rebuilt. Since 1962, this building has only been used for the administration of the village; the school is now located in a new building with a modern multiple-use-hall.
The legal and economic reforms of the 19th century led to freedom of trade on one hand but, on the other hand, they destroyed the old fiefs of the monastery and were partially responsible for the poverty caused by bad harvests (weather and pestilence) forcing many inhabitants to emigrate, especially to the U.S. With the reformation of the counties in 1938, Peterzell was referred to the county of Rottweil. During the further reforms of 1972-1974, Peterzell was integrated into the county of Freudenstadt. This restored century-old connections. In additional to the traditional farming and forestry, since the end of World War II, Peterzell is also home to polymer processing, a middle class industry.
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