Thursday, December 19, 2013

See you in January 2014!!

I am officially going to take a blogging hiatus until January 1st. My whole immediate family is coming here for Christmas and there is a lot left to do to prepare.

Right now I need to focus on my living family more than my dead family.

But don't worry, I have a goal to blog every day in 2014!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How should I respond when I find out someone's ancestors were on Schindler's list?

I had an interesting genealogy experience yesterday. I did some transcription work for a Jewish man whose recent ancestors were on Schindler's List. I've been thinking about this question ever since - what is the correct response to learning this?

Obviously, you can't say, "That's awesome." It isn't. The fact that Oskar Schindler saved ~1,200 Jewish people from terror and death in concentration camps during the Holocaust is still very messed up. This should not have happened, period. Someone involved in a terrible famous historical event that should not have happened is not awesome.

You can't say, "That's terrible!" It also isn't. His ancestors were rescued. They did not perish. So, it is good they were "Schindlerjuden."

I didn't want to say nothing, because that also does not seem like the correct response. This horrible thing happened, and saying nothing might be interpreted as ignoring it. We should not ignore the Holocaust. We should learn everything we can about it, and do everything we can to ensure it never happens again, to any people.

I finally settled on, "I can't imagine what it would have been like to live through some of the things your family has gone through." Others in his family lived in the town of Oswiecim - in German, Auschwitz. I'm still not entirely sure if that really was the correct response.

I have been to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel. It was an experience will never forget. I have no known Jewish ancestors whatsoever, but that didn't matter. It was still extremely horrific. You don't need the human context to find a way to connect to the Holocaust; the magnitude of the evil is just mind blowing.

My first experience of learning anything about the Holocaust was to read, "The Devil's Arithmetic" by Jane Yolen. I remember that my mom would not allow me to read this book in 3rd grade. She said I had to wait until I was in 5th or possibly 6th grade. I read it, and found it horrific. I then read Anne Frank's diary, "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry, and several other books that I don't remember right now. Then, by 7th grade, we starting seeing some of the terrifying clips of bulldozers shoveling Jewish corpses into huge piles. I remember having to leave the room, it was so horrific to me. Just now, when I typed the Polish word for Auschwitz, I did a search on google maps. Seeing the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial's aerial view is chilling. Really scary.

The most recent book I read about the Holocaust was about a year ago. It was the diary of Rutka Laskier, the "Polish Anne Frank." The diary was hidden for over 60 years, only uncovered a few years ago, in 2007.

Anyway, I would really love to hear what others think about this. What do you think is the correct response to learning that someone had an ancestor on Schindler's list? Or is there one? I realize that all people are different; some people might choose not to talk about it. I think we should. But, I also want to be respectful of people who feel otherwise.

Hmm. I just don't know.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Frančiscuš [Černy] birth record

The Roman Catholic Parish of Zbečno (Zbečno, Raknovík, Czech Republic), Zbečno Deaths 1844-1869, digital image 49, page 46, first entry, Frančiscuš [Černy] entry, 18 December 1856; “Zbečno 08”, State Regional Archives of Prague (SOA Praha), Praha, Czech Republic; SOA Praha, Acta Publica ( : accessed 13 December 2013).

Rok, měsíc a den
narozeni a křtu
18 Prosiněc
rozeny 20he

Year, month and day
Born and Baptized
18 December born
20th [December] baptized

P. Jos:
Name of the person baptizing
F[ather] Jos[eph] Malý
[some kind of clergy title]

po křtěnce
Name of the person being baptized

katolického /
Catholic [yes]

mužského /
male [yes]

manželské /
legitimate [yes]

Jméno. křtící a příjmení otce, stav, charakter neb řemeslo jeho. Paklí že se otec dítěte nemanželského přihlašuje a zapsanou býti žádá, má se státí osobně u přitomností dva svědku, jenž to, jakož í že tentyž jest, jehož jmeno a stav udává, vlastnoručním podpísem stvrdíti maji.
Černy Wáčlaw obečnj
pastsýř na Sykořiči N C : 9
syn Frantjsska Černyho
bezvaleho plosčhy ve obec-
ný N C: 13 bezvaleho kři
voklátsko panstvi;
křivoklátsko okresu
krajského kraje, a
Anny dčery Jakuba [R]ocis[k]a
z Kalubic N C: 4
Christian name and Surname of the father, his condition [married or unmarried], and the nature of his work. If the father of a child born out of wedlock requests to be registered, his identity shall become logged in the presence of two witnesses, that he is the same, and their handwritten signature and condition [or job] shall confirm they have [witnessed it].
Černy Wáčlaw
General shepherd of Sýkořice # 9
son of Františka Černy
of the former general area of #13,
in the former Křivoklátsko Estate;
Křivoklátsko district, Krajského region,
and Anne, daughter of Jakub [R]ocis[k]a in Kalubic # 4. 

Jméno. křtící a příjmení matky, totéž jejiho otce, stav, charakter neb řemeslo, panstvi, přibytek a čislo domu, tež jméno a přijmeni matky, misto a čislo domu, odkudž pochodi.
Barbora rozená
Dlouhá dčera Jána
Dlouhyho sedláka na
Sýkořičí N C: 9 13 bez
waleho Křivoklátsko
ho panstvj; kríwo
klatskeho okresu
krajskeho kraje a
Trezye dčery Jaku-
ba Rybáčka z Neza-
budič N C: ignorat.
Name. Mother's Christian name and surname, her father, his condition, the nature of his work, manor of residence, house number, and either the surname of the mother or the house number where she was from
Barbora née Dlouhy
daughter of Ján Dlouhy,
farmer in Sýkořice # 9 13
of the former Křivoklátsko
estate, Křivoklátsko district,
Krajskeho Region and
Th[e]rezye [Theresie], daughter of Jakub
Rybáčka in Nezabudič # : unknown

Jméno a čislo domu
Name and House number

Podpis jejich vlastnoručni, aneb vlastnoručnim znamenim křiže stvrzený podpis.
Wojtiečh Holub
Jan Limnij
Mar[je] [Črec]
domkař za
[Zassusni] za
Their handwritten signature, or a handwritten sign of the cross countersignature
Wojtiěčh Holub, smith
Jan Limnij, cottager
Mar[je] [Črec], cottager's [wife] in

křtící jméno a příjmení. Jeli zkoumaná, čilý ne.
sa e
Christian Name and surname. [?]
Maria Prosěc

pří dětech nemanželských nepřítomný otec je tehdáž zapsán budiž, když právni pisemnost od téhož vyhotovená se předloži
ad 1876
70 Ad 1875
If the absent father of illegitimate children is written, so be it. If legal documents drawn from the same be submitted to the: [?]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Surname Saturday: "Kreczmarska"

This post is about the surname "Kreczmarska", otherwise known as Krečmar.

My fourth great grandmother was Anna "Kreczmarska".

This is the spelling variation that was in the records my dad gave to me when I first started doing genealogy. This spelling is probably based off information found in the book, "A History of the Sumbera, Mozisek, and Kruppa families, Volume II." This book was written by Carolyn Heinsohn, who is a director of the Fayette County Chapter of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas. She and her family have done a lot to help out the TCHCC.

Czech Parish Records were not very accessible at the time that this book was written. With so many records digitized and made available online, I was able to find some new information about our family and trace this family back a generation further than I had thought.

But I don't want to blog about it because I want to use it as part of my BCG application! 

Krečmarsky, Kreczmarksky, Kreczmarksa - none of these spelling variants were found on the kdejsme site. So, I tried Krečmar.

Compare this to where Anna Kreczmarska was born, in Nová Bělá, right outside of Ostrava.

Either my line of Krečmar***s ended, migrated, or I'm getting the spelling wrong. I think it is most likely that that particular paternal line ended, but hmm.

I have spent the last two hours trying to relocate the Nová Bělá census records. They used to be online on the City Archive's website, but it is all being transferred over to a new site called More on that later. But I wish I could find the censuses again. Does anybody else know how to find them?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Excerpt from "Bohemia and the Čechs" that discusses land ownership

Here is a really interesting excerpt from the book Bohemia and the Čechs, the History, People, Institutions, and the Geography of the Kingdom, Together with Accounts of Moravia and Silesia, by Will Seymour Monroe. This book was published in 1910. I have found it a fascinating read, especially from my vantage point in history. There are quite a few anti-Semitic comments, and he sometimes portrays Czech culture in black and white; it sometimes seems like he doesn't really believe Czechs are people - more like animals in a zoo to be studied. As long as you remember that this author had his own personal biases, and you remember that everything that he says might not necessarily be true, there is a lot of fascinating history to learn from what he wrote. It will be extremely useful to you in your pursuit of your family history to understand the history of the region, and this book does it in an interesting way, written over 100 years ago. Plus, it is in English.

"Bohemia is the richest agricultural kingdom in the Hapsburg empire. Its soil is fertile, the climate is favourable, and the country is well watered. More than half the area is devoted to agriculture; five per cent. to grass meadows; less than two per cent. to vegetable-gardening, and twenty-nine per cent. to forests. It will thus be seen that less than one per cent . of the total area of the kingdom is unproductive.

Unfortunately more than a third of the agricultural lands belong to the nobility. The emperor and the Roman Catholic church are also large land-holders. Five families - the Schwarzenbergs, the Lichtensteins, the Lobkovics, the Schönborns, and the Thuns - own nearly eight per cent. of the area of the kingdom; and seven hundred and seventy-six landlords, constituting less than one-tenth of one per cent. of the population, own more than thirty-six per cent. of the area of the country. "The state is still the tool of the noble." Yet the big estates yield only one-half in proportion to the acreage of the small holdings, which means that they are less intensively cultivated.

The big estates, it is charged, impoverish the people, since each of the feudal families has an enormous staff of overseers, labourers, and hangers-on, non of whom are nearly as productive as they would be on small holdings. Serfdom and labour dues, it will be recalled, were not finally abolished until 1848, and it was not until 1867 that the peasants were granted the right to emigrate. The demand of the Bohemians for the abolition of the robota (enforced personal service) was one of the causes of the revolution of 1848, and a patent issued by Emperor František-Josef the 4th of March, 1849, freed the peasants from al lobligatiosn to their feudal lords.

Up to this period agriculture was in a very backwards state. But the impetus given by the freedom of the serfs, and the subsequent introduction of the Bohemian language into the schools, made the dissemniation of agricultural knowledge possible. The peasants, it will be recalled, had never given up the Bohemian language for the German; but as they were not taught to read in the mother-tongue (German being the only language allowed in the schools), they had remained unfamiliar with the progress in agricultural and horticultural methods in other countries. With the study of the Bohemian in the schools, and the publication of agricultural papers in that language, marked improvement followed in the matter of stock-breeding, the care of orchards, rotation of crops, and the improvisation and purchase of modern farming implements. 

Before 1868 the peasant landlord was not allowed to sub-divide his farm. It could be bequeathed to one child only, and custom rather than law determined which child should inherit it. In case the peasant farmer died intestate, the children inherited equally, which meant that one of the children had to take the farm and meet the claims of his brothers and sisters. Otherwise it was sold as a whole. Since farmers were required to purchase tracts of land as wholes, the law made it impossible for the peasants to improve their condition by the purchase of a field or two at a time, with the added disadvantage that when farms were thus sold as wholes they were generally purchased by the nobles or the church.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Human Context for Austerlitz

I disliked "History" as a subject yet love Family History.

I was reminded of why this is yesterday while doing some research on Austerlitz.

In most of my High School/College History classes, there was a huge focus on political movements, aka wars. And I could never keep them all straight in my mind, because there were so many dates and places. Suddenly there was a whole new set of vocabulary that was really foreign to me. Coalition? Movement? Strategy? Battalion? Regiment? Conquest? Campaign? Sure, I knew what they meant by definition, but I had no connotations from which to derive real meaning. 

At some point, too much of these sterile, context-less words plus my habitual sleep deprivation combined in perfect harmony to put me to sleep. "'s so...boring..." I would think to myself. 

Which, if you think about it, war? Boring? Same sentence? Um...well, probably the actual reality of marching, waiting, eating crummy food, and watching was boring, at least for long segments of time. But the actual battles? Isn't life-changing violence and action the absolute antithesis to the blasé and humdrum? 

I still find myself nodding off when reading wikipedia articles on various battles, for example, the Battle of Austerlitz

I think the reason why I have found the study of war so boring is because it had always lacked a human context - a real person. A framework for the event which could help me, in such a distant time, place, and world, relate to their experience. 

I was researching some military terminology from some parish records for a friend, and I ended up researching a little bit about the history of Austerlitz. Of course I had heard "Austerlitz." I studied French History! How did I not realize before 2013 that Austerlitz is a place located in the present Czech Republic!? 

Suddenly, the event became real to me, because I had my human context. I started wondering about this man - did he really perish in the Battle of Austerlitz? If so, how would we know? What did he experience? What did he think about Karl Mack and his reforms (and "reforms") to the Kaiserlich-Koniglich Army? How much marching did he do? Was it freezing cold? Did he believe in the "cause" (which I couldn't seem to find - but then, that is a common theme I have noticed as I study war: so much of it seems futile and pointless). 

Mostly, I was surprised that there wasn't a list somewhere online already (that I could find) that enumerated which soldiers were in which battalions during the Napoleanic wars. I did find a rather detailed essay on the Austrian Army 1805-1809, but it lacked anything about my context, this common soldier in an Infantry unit. If we knew which company he was in, where was the list of the people for that company? Why couldn't I find it?

Before you laugh at my lack of understanding of military ranking hierarchy and overall general ignorance as to military records, I must confess, I have extremely little experience with military records of any kind. What records pertain to my own family that I have used are all World War II-centric, and mainly involve draft registration cards and things like that. But, having spent a considerable amount of time reading through Transitional Genealogists Forum posts, I do have some cursory knowledge about potentially available records caused by wars. Of note, American Civil War Pension records.

I have yet to learn about the wonderful world of Civil War Pensions, but I am sure that will be most enlightening for my Grandma Vasicek's side of the family.  All of my husband's and mom's direct line ancestors were in Utah during the Civil War. Most of my (paternal grandpa's) Czech ancestors immigrated ~1880's from Moravia to Texas, so they missed the Civil War. That leaves my paternal Grandpa's lines, which were mainly from Tennessee, Virginia, Illinois, and Kentucky. Their lives and experiences would be the perfect context for me to be interested and learn about the American Civil War.

Have you ever thought studying war was boring? Did adding a human context help you? Is it a little bit sad that we (or is it just me?) need to do this in order to make the subject interesting enough to absorb? Or is it sad that the way history is typically taught in American schools by necessity has to deprive students of any human context? 

I have been tested on the Battle of Austerlitz at least twice in High School and twice in College. How did I never realize my own ancestors were only an hour and a half away at the time?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mappy Monday: Finding House Numbers on

I found an interesting article about House Numbering on wikipedia, with a whole section for Czech House Numbers.

There are currently at least three kinds of house numbering in the Czech Republic:

Popisné číslo - This is the "old" or "descriptive number." Maria Theresa ordered the first descriptive numbering in 1770-1771. According to the article, "The series was given successively as the soldiers went through the settlement describing houses with numbers. Thereafter, every new house was allocated the next number sequentially, irrespective of its location. 

evidenční číslo - This is the "registration number." It is used for makeshift and "recreational" buildings, like weekend houses. They follow a different numbering series from the popisné číslo.

Orientační číslo - This is the "new" or "orientation number." They are arranged sequentially, unlike the popisné číslo. Buildings on the corner or with more than one front can have more than one orientační číslo. Renumbering according to a sequential order started in 1805-1815, and again in 1857. However, this was mainly confined to the larger cities. 

For the *most* part, house numbers in small villages in the Czech Republic have been relatively static. This means you can find your ancestor's house on a modern day map by using its "old" or "descriptive number" (popisné číslo). Here is how.

First, you have to know the house number. All parish records post 1770-1771 have house numbers, and they are usually accurate. Beware though - human errors can creep in! It is best to gather multiple records as a body evidence that your ancestor lived in a certain house number.

Once you have the house number:

>> Go to
>> Type # [house number] [village name] in the search box
>> click the search button that says, "Vyhledat na mapě"
>> On the side, a box will probably pop up that gives you two options: the č.p. (číslo popisné, or old number) or the ev. č. (evidenční číslo, or new number). You want the č.p. Click that option.
>> There you go!

If you want to take it to the next level, open up google maps and find the same location on street view. Many streets in rural Czech villages have street view available. It is really cool to "drive" through your ancestral village.

It would be even cooler to go there someday!!!!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Church Record Sunday: Valentin Folta's birth record

In keeping with yesterday's surname theme, I decided to do a transcription of Katařina Folta's father, Valentinus.

You can find his birth record here.

Born/baptized on 8 February [1799]
[Clergy who baptized him:] Christianus Wayn, coop [this is an abbreviation for some sort of clergyman]
house # 8 Vítkovice
name: Valentinus
Male, Catholic, Legitimate
Father: Wenzel Folta, bauer [farmer]
Mother: Theresia daughter of Johann Czaja, bauer
Godparents: Joseph Novak, Chalupner X [his mark]
Elisabeth, wife of Franz Ko[s]el, bauer [farmer] X [her mark]
[Midwife:] Katharina Miltschek of Klein Hrabowa [lower Hrabova] #42

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Surname Saturday: Folta

As part of geneablogger's Surname Saturday prompt, I have decided to start a series in which I post a little bit about each of my Czech ancestral surnames.

I decided to start with my 4th great grandmother, Kathařina Folta.

Folta is a fairly common surname in the Czech Republic today, as you can tell from the Czech surname density map at The most dense population of Folta's is found in okres (district) Valašské Meziříčí. This town is currently located in the kraj (region) Zlín. 

Kathařina Folta's birth record shows that she was born in #2 Zabřeh (nad Odrou - the village that is very close to Vítkovice) on 12 Nov 1822 to Valentin Folta, bauer [farmer], and Maryanna daughter of Wenzeslaus Novak, bauer v. hier  = farmer from here. Thank you Carl Linert!

Here is a zoomed version:

Here is how I am related to the Folta family:

Katherine Elizabeth Vasicek
Mark Edward Vasicek
Victor Frederick Vasicek
Elizabeth Agnes Michna
Anna Sumbera
Agnes Hruby
Katařina Folta

Are you a Folta? Are you Czech? Where are you or your Czech ancestors from?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Follow Friday: Carl Linert's Czech Land Record Research Tips

Hey everybody! Today I would like to spotlight a fellow Czech Genealogist named Carl Linert. He doesn't do social media, but is very involved in online Czech genealogy forums. He both answers and asks very pertinent questions, most notably about Czech Land Records (for example, this thread). I have come across his name dozens of time in various queries while researching my Moravian Texas Czech ancestors, and so I was thrilled when we actually struck up an email correspondence!

I asked if he would share some tips and advice with me for researching with Czech Land Records. With his permission, here is what he wrote: 

"When working with the land records, I transcribe a page first, then go back and take one word at time to translate.  After I have translated the words then I put them together in sentences.  Sometimes have to use Google Translate to make sense of the sentences.

There have been times when I have spent a hour or more trying to figuring out one word.  If I can't figure it out then I will look at it on another day.

It is good to know the currency that is used during the time period, such as Gulden, Thaler, Kreuzer, etc. and their abbreviations.

Make a list of words that are commonly used in the records.

Keep in mind when working with the German words you will see a "h" added after a "t", or "t" after a "d", "ÿ" instead of "i", "g" instead of "k", "p" instead of "b",  "w" instead of "v", etc.
With Czech words: chz = č, rz = ř, g = j, etc.

You may see some Latin words used usually at the end of the page refering you to another book such as "Gewährbuch" or Vormersbuch".

Sometimes the Gewährbuch is listed at the Familysearch site.

I find the following sites helpful to me:
Czech words:
German words:
Latin words:
Finding German words that don't exist in modern dictionaries:"

Thank you so much, Carl! I know this information will be useful to others with Czech ancestors who want to start delving into the land records, because it has already helped me do the same!


Today I made a ton of bread and kolaches. Technically these are klobasnik, but in Texas Czech culture, they are called kolaches. Aka pig in there blanket.

I used whole wheat flour. It is definitely not as silky delicious as a traditional kolache dough, but healthier and still very, very tasty. The sausage was from my neighbor's parents' farm. They have a meat locker business. It was quite delicious.

I like to bake a lot on one day. I can't stand planning it on a rigid, bi-weekly or monthly basis. I just bake when I feel like it.

Female inweibin, or hauslerin - the hired hands on a farm, were required to bake every two weeks. Something I think about now every time baking day comes around is what if they never felt like baking? It was still part of their job. I'm so lucky, with my flexible schedule and broad range of potential ways to spend my time or divert my attention.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Step by step transcription of interchangeable letters.

When analyzing old Czech records, expect certain letters to be interchangeable. For example, there wasn't a distinction between v and w. I have heard Texas Czechs from my grandpa's generation say, "Vesele Walentine's day."

Here is an example of a text that uses j, ý, y, i, and í almost interchangeably.

This is from a baptism parish register from 1859 in Sýkořice. This is the subheading under the Father's half of the "Parents" heading.

The first step in transcribing is to write exactly what you see. This was my first attempt:

Jméno. křtěcj a přiyměni otce, stav, charakter neb řemeslo jeho. Paklíže se otec djtěte nemanželského přihlassuge a zapsánu břjti žádá, má se státí osobně u přjtomností dmau svědku, genž to, gakož í že tentíž gest, gehož jmeno a stav udává, vlastnoručnjm podpísem stvrdítí magi.

Google translate tells me that I still have some work to do. Here is the first translation. I bolded the words that stood out as incorrect.

Name. křtěcj and přiyměni father's condition, because the nature of his craft. IF the father of an illegitimate djtěte přihlassuge a registered břjti asks the person is standing at přjtomností dmau witness, Genz's gakož and from tentíž gestures gehož name and status indicates vlastnoručnjm sign to confirm magi

Most of the words that I knew were incorrect were simply not translated yet. I used contextual clues for a few of them, like "gestures" and "magi." Yes, those are real words. No, they are not likely to be found in this section of a parish register.

Honestly, the real benefit of this step by step exercise is to explain the process of transcription and translation to others; having seen many, many, many Czech records, often without this subheading, I already have a lot of background contextual knowledge about the meaning of this text. But the process is the same, regardless of the text. Maybe you will be able to apply the same principles from this blog post to other Czech documents that are not in a columnar format - land records, for example.

I quickly noticed that almost all of the words that stood out as incorrect had the letters j, ý, y, i, í, and g in common.


The first step in decoding a text is to find all of the similarly shaped letters. What stood out to me immediately was the letter "g". Czech doesn't use a lot of beginning g's. Plus, I was positive that "magi" was not a word in this text. I found all of the letters in the text that looked like a g to me.

Then, I found the word that I already knew. "Přijmení" is Czech for "surname." This clue lead me to plug in the letter j in the places where I had previously put g's.

My text became:

Jméno. křtěcj a přijměni otce, stav, charakter neb řemeslo jeho. Paklíže se otec djtěte nemanželského přihlassuje a zapsánu břjti žádá, má se státí osobně u přjtomností dmau svědku, jenž to, jakož í že tentíž jest, jehož jmeno a stav udává, vlastnoručnjm podpísem stvrdítí maji.

The translation became:

Name. křtěcj and Father's name, status, because the nature of his craft. IF the father of an illegitimate djtěte přihlassuje a registered břjti asks the person is standing at přjtomností dmau witness that this, and that is tentíž, whose name and condition indicates vlastnoručnjm sign to confirm they have.

I knew that j and i are often interchanged.

I tried substituting the following words:

 křtěcj -->  křtěci
djtěte --> ditěte
břjti --> břiti
přjtomností --> přitomností
tentíž --> tentíž
vlastnoručnjm --> vlastnoručnim

The translation became:

Name . křtěci and Father's name , status, because the nature of his craft . IF the father of a child born out of wedlock přihlassuje a registered Brit asks , is the person standing in the presence of witnesses dmau that it , and that is tentíž , whose name and condition indicates a handwritten sign to confirm they have.

Making some progress! From a previous transcription project, I noticed that two s's together like this: "ss" was a different way of writing š. I made this change:

přihlassuje --> přihlašuje

Then, I noticed two instances of a letter I had never seen before.

It sort of looks like an n, but also a j or a y. I tried several combinations, until ý gave me the following translation:

Name. křtěci and Father's name, status, because the nature of his craft. IF the father of a child born out of wedlock and logs requests be registered, it shall become personally dmau in the presence of witnesses, who this, and that is the same, whose name and condition indicates a handwritten sign to confirm they have.

For "dmau", I guessed, "dvau". It turned out that "dva" is the Czech word for "two." That final "u" was probably some kind of case ending.

I knew that it was two, though, because every time the fathers of illegitimate children are recorded, they must have two witnesses attest to the fact that they are really the father.

And...for the first one...I cheated. Google translate suggested křtíci for křtěci. This would mean "Christian name" - or given name.

So my final google translation turned out something like:

Name. baptizing and surname of the father, the state, because the nature of his craft. But if the father of a child born out of wedlock and logs requests be registered, it shall become personally by the presence of two witnesses, who this, and that is the same, whose name and condition indicates a handwritten sign to confirm they have.

Then I cleaned up the grammar a little bit.

Christian name and Surname of the father, his condition [married, unmarried], and the nature of his work. If the father of a child born out of wedlock requests to be registered, his identity shall become logged in the presence of two witnesses, that he is the same, and their handwritten signature and condition [or job] shall confirm they have [witnessed it].

Well, it might not be a perfect translation. But all of the ideas are clearly there. First name, last name, marital status, job title. The identity of the father of the child born out of wedlock confirmed by two witnesses, their titles, and their handwritten signatures.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why You Should Index!

I'm going to step on my soapbox and give a plug for Familysearch Indexing.

If you have a computer and can read, you can index.

Indexing is the process of typing the information from records into a massive database so they become searchable. Every record you index is important. It can be the key for somebody else finding their ancestor.

Software developers are working to create OCR technology to automatically transcribe handwritten text, but the problem is more complex than you might think. They are making some great advances, but so far the human brain is still superior at indexing.

Thanks to indexing, the Litoměřice parish records from 1552-1905 are 78.57% complete!

There are great new changes coming to Familysearch Indexing in 2014, including the ability to select specific localities to index. This means that someday, when the Moravia-Silesia parish registers are being indexed, I imagine I will be able to select for places like Trojanovice and Frenštát, and index the names of my ancestors. This is totally to everybody's advantage because I am already highly familiar with the spelling patterns!

I know a lot of people that feel "genealogy guilt." They think that in order to make any kind of difference, they have to be certified professionals who can devote all their time and effort to the research. They have "expertitis", that stupid attitude of, "Well, if I can't be an expert, I shouldn't even try." Uh...I am not running a marathon any time soon, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to exercise every day! I'm not the world's greatest cook, but my family sure appreciates my efforts!

Sometimes, though, it really is hard to just jump in to a genealogy problem and feel like you are making any headway at all. Case in point: my husband's family. All of his ancestors joined the LDS church in the 1800's. This means there are many descendants who are working on researching the same lines. Hey, when you have polygamists on nearly every branch of your family, and the doctrine of redeeming the dead, what else would you expect? The "brick walls" have been around for a reason - they are very solidly made of brick. Others have tried to solve the research problems and failed.

They aren't impossible to solve. But, they do require a lot of thoughtful analysis and record gathering. This takes time, which is something my husband lacks. So, for him in his position in life right now being a young father who works full time, indexing is the perfect way for him to be involved in family history work.

I also know people who say, "Meh, genealogy is not for me." I know that my overabundance of enthusiasm on this subject is not always contagious to others; sometimes it can be off-putting. The truth is, everybody benefits from indexing, irrespective of faith, age, and enthusiasm level. Indexing just a little bit helps you gain some perspective on your own life. You learn more about the historical context of your world. You leave your own egotistical thoughts of self and start wondering about others - what was their world like? What on earth does that cause of death mean? Holy moly she died when she was 8 months pregnant! That is so tragic! You start to think about you own ancestors. You start to gain a feeling of connection to your own past.

Indexing is the best Christmas gift you can give to your deceased loved ones. Stop feeling genealogy guilt. Indexing is easy and fun, and everybody can and should participate.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Church Record Sunday: Johann Mladinka

Here's a registry entry from yesterday's post from the parish register in Trojanovice where so many died from Typhus. 

Here's a transcription:

[died:] 18 January 1848
[buried:] 20 January 1848
[some type of clergy?:] Franz Kaschek, ročz [?] 
[another type of clergy?:] Valentine Ziczek Řapellau [?]
[deceased:] Johann Mladinka, tischler [carpenter] Pasekar [farmer on cleared land] in Trojanovitz
Catholic, Male
[Age:] 50
[cause of death:] Typhus [probably actually typhoid fever]

Why were there two different types of clergy listed? What were their actual titles? Was one of them the parish priest who officiated at this man's last rites, and the other the one who officiated at the burial? Why would there be two separate people? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sympathy Saturday: The typhus epidemic of 1848

1848 was not a great year to be in Silesia. There was a massive typhus epidemic.

This typhus was actually probably typhoid fever. They are both caused by bacteria, though different strains. They are uncommon today in the developed world because of antibiotics like penicillin.

Here is a parish register page from 1848 in Trojanovice. Note how many people died from typhus!

Here is the best resource I have found to help determine old causes of death, especially those written in German: Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms, or Antiquus Morbus.

Here's the fascinating Report on the Typhus Epidemic in Upper Silesia written in 1849 by Dr. Rudolf Carl Virchow.

I am grateful to live in a world with antibiotics.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Can you get Czech Records that have not been digitized but are old enough to be made publicly available?

My Czech cousin answered a question I have had for a very, very long time. I thought it would be good to post this for others who may be wondering the same thing.

Privacy laws in the Czech Republic limit public viewing of records to those older than 100 years for birth records, older than 75 years for death and marriage records. If there is a register (a book) that has records (individual entries in the book) that are less than the required age, the register cannot be digitized and made available publicly.

The question is, what about the people inside the book whose records are old enough to be viewed? It makes sense that the registers can't be digitized until all of the records within meet the requirements. But how would you access the other records that do meet the requirements?

I suspect that practices *might* vary from archive to archive, just as they do from courthouse to courthouse in the United States. However, the general rule is that officials don't allow individuals to look at these registers. They make photocopies themselves. My cousin says that this is done only for direct descendants, and you have to pay to have it done.

But! The point is, it can be done. That is exciting.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 2013 List

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in America!

Here is a list of some of the genealogy-related things I'm especially thankful for this year.
  • OCR technology that allows me to search newspapers instantly
  • BYU's online German script tutorial that has helped me remember that German script does have patterns that are generally predictable
  • Online forums that allow me to connect with people
  • Relatives who are willing and able to take DNA tests
  • The technology that allows those DNA tests to help us trace those elusive branches of my family tree
  • Microfilm
  • NGSQ magazine
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Digitization projects
  • Familysearch Family Tree
  • Allen Peterson, CG - thank you for encouraging me!
And most of all, my Czech ancestors. Thank you for your resilience, your fidelity, your love of music, and your love of God and family. These traits are part of my heritage, my family history, and my own personal story. 

Here's to another year of technological advances, temple work, and transcriptions of parish records!

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Velkostatek: the Estate

The Czech word for "Estate" is Velkostatek. According to Wikipedia (as translated from Czech to English by Google translate):

"The estate is the name for a farm with an area greater than 100 ha [ha = hectares. 100 hectares = ~247 acres] agricultural area. In the history of this term also denoted a feudal estate .
In the Middle Ages, and especially in the early modern period the estate was the economic-administrative unit defined and managed by one owner or family of noble birth who had administrative and judicial authority over subjects living in the area covered by the estate.
Up to 18 century, the estate did not pay taxes[; these were] paid only from rustic [the countryside - the peasantry] . The imperial patent of 7 September 1848 abolished serfdom and in 1850 moved the political and judicial administration in the newly established district offices and courts. The estate then remained a purely economic entity and the concept of landowner no longer to refer only to the nobility. When land reform, which in Czechoslovakia took place in the 20th century, there were many feudal estates parceled out."
After some sleuthing, I found some a link to maps of the estates as they were in Moravia-Silesia in 1848, apparently just before the end of the abolition of feudalism.
These are available here:
Land Records are extremely valuable and important for Czech genealogical research. According to the familysearch wiki:
"Land records usually contain the following information:
  • A list of serfs with land rights, including their ages and type of obligations toward the estate owner
  • Residences and often relationship to previous landholder
  • Lists of all the inhabitants of the estate, testaments, debts, orphan matters, mortgages, marriage contracts, inheritance, and other matters
  • Changes in ownership of properties, succession of farmstead holders, prices and payments of property and goods"
It is likely that your Czech ancestors were tenants on an Estate. Knowing which Estate could greatly facilitate your search for their land records. As you can see from those map of the divisions of the Moravia-Silesia estates, the boundaries aren't always intuitive, or necessarily by village. 
Almost all of my direct line Czech ancestors are from the Hukvaldy Estate, or more precisely, "the Archbishop of Olomouc's Princely Estate of Hukvaldy, a Fief of the Crown Czech Lands." This article is very interesting; lots of information! 
It also contains the following population demographic table, which is also very interesting to me!
Locations on Hukvaldy estate and the population in 1835 [10]
BrušperkProtective city2781
FrenštátProtective city4483
Fork and spoonProtective city4760
Moravian OstravaProtective city1712
Great Kunéicevillage1311
Small Kunéicevillage342
Staříč (Old)village1229
New Staříčvillage208