Thursday, May 8, 2014

May Blogging Goals

Here are some new developments in my life:

- I decided to stop taking genealogy clients because I wanted to focus my very brief "genealogy time" on developing my BCG portfolio. I did learn that client work is definitely in my future, but I can't do anybody justice while I spread myself too thin.

- I became pregnant with child #4 in March. I am 8 weeks pregnant and E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D. It's about all I can do to keep up with my 4 year old, 3 year old, and 2 year old (yeah...we spaced our kids "Czech style" - a kid/a year. And then I had a small break), attempt to accomplish some semblance of my fitness goals, and spend some time with my awesome husband. A time and a season, a time and a season...

- We started a garden! A lot of my extra energy has been spent on learning about plants. PLANTS ARE AWESOME! And this is my excuse for neglecting my family tree (hyuk hyuk). Right now I'm hardening off all the plants I so lovingly planted, fed, and watered for the past 2 months while it was too cold to plant outside. Hardening off plants is really hard in Iowa because it. is. always. windy.

Some more Meta-Blogging thoughts:

I'm a complete ENFP. If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, you will know what the heck I'm talking about. I recently read some writing advice for ENFPs and they made so much sense! And baby, they were the exact opposite of the ideas for my INTJ husband!

- channel beginning enthusiasm/energy in to useful brainstorming
- avoid burn out by talking to others
- avoid burn out by taking breaks when you need to
- again, take a break
- again, get up, stretch, talk to somebody else, bounce some ideas off them, and take a break!

Okay, okay, I get it! I needed to take a break! And that is why I didn't blog for basically the entire month of April and the first week of May. I had been feeling like a complete failure and loser for not completing my dream goal of posting every day for a year. I lasted 1/4 of the year, if that.

But! This site keeps getting lots and lots of hits! Apparently my musings are being read. When I started this blog in 2013, the goal was just to write whatever (about Czech genealogy) whenever, because maybe somebody out there would find it useful.

I think I would like to attempt that goal again, and put a very small quota on it. I think I can manage posting once/week until my BCG portfolio is completed. Right? Right? You think I can do this? I hope I can. I will take more breaks and talk to more people. I will not take on new insane goals. That is not necessary.

But this blog? It really does help some other people sometimes. It is not worth quitting completely. I do not need to feel like a failure. I do need to keep writing.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yesterday's BCG work

Yesterday I was able to solve my missing marriage problem by translating one of these buggers.

At least reading these land records is a lot quicker than reading the 60+ pages of my "land records," AKA Wells Fargo Home Mortgage HUD.

Yay! I have a solid Case Study that I've solved and written a draft for! Now I just need to make it a whole lot better by writing and citing it up, and continuing to search for records and fixing my shabby translation. Sounds like I am going to be doing this for a reallllly long time.

But, hey, it's on my direct ancestral line, for my fourth great grandpa Wenzel Brosch. It feels awesome to put in so much time and effort on my own family research. It's just very meaningful to me.

I do miss client work, though. I think that 8ish month stint I had taking clients taught me two very important things: I can do it, and I really want to do it. It's almost like my end goal. I know, though, that I should become a CG first, and that because my available time to spend on genealogy is currently so limited, I have to prioritize. I choose certification first, business and clients later. I know that it will make me a much, much better researcher to have the experience of successfully passing this test behind me. This is mainly because the creation of this portfolio is the teaching.

To me, becoming BCG certified feels like a rigorous college course (much more rigorous than some of the ones I took, honestly!) in which the entire semester is creating a thing which determines whether you pass or fail. Dude, I would have worked a lot harder in some of my courses if everything I did had bearing on whether or not I passed or failed! I didn't take any difficult pass/fail courses; only super insanely easy ones where your attendance determined whether you passed. So, I don't know with any certainty that this comparison is valid, but I imagine it would be similar to some of those rigorous nursing or pre-med courses, or even board exams, where it is literally all pass/fail.

:::shudder::: I'm so, so, so glad to not be a doctor. I'll stick to dead people.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

BCG work

Today I spent about 4 hours searching for the marriage record for this couple in Světlov. I am hoping to use their case for my case study. I'm really annoyed that I can't find what I'm looking for. I started writing down EXACTLY what I did as I did it, so that later I can go back and reread it, and know what I've done. I should probably keep records like that for all my projects, come to think of it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

BCG Application Focus

I'm focusing all my genealogy energy this month into getting my BCG application completed! Even blogging has to come second to this, because otherwise another year will roll by and I will not yet be a CG. SO NOT HAPPENING AGAIN THIS YEAR. I'm going to do this!

So my blogging is going to be painfully dull for the next little while, as I use it to force myself to be accountable for working on my portfolio. Reporting, basically.

Today I worked on my case study. I discovered a land document that might shed a little light on the identity of a person. So that's great! Woohoo. Too bad it's in German and a zillion pages long.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why it's OK to include unsourced family trees in your research

Here's an article that sums up my opinion on why it is okay to include unsourced family trees from in my research. 

Basically: "Effective family historians...exclude no potentially useful source, and they trust no unverified source." 

USUALLY people have a reason for linking people in their online family trees. Maybe the reason is illogical, ill-thought out, or otherwise erroneous. 

Well, guess what? Maybe the original records themselves have errors. Humans make so many mistakes. How is it ever really possible to come to know the truth in genealogy?

Here's how: gather many, many records. Analyze the information. Consider the informant. Correlate the evidence. Realize that it is not the number of sources that state a fact, but the quality of the sources. Are they reliable? Are you reading a transcription? Genealogical proof is about gathering many records (including original records), correlating them, citing them, and coming to a written conclusion. 

I do think it's generally better to start with original records when you can, rather than to look at others' online genealogies. You can unknowingly introduce a bias in your analysis when you see something presented as "truth." 

There is a big family reunion on my husband's side of the family in June for the Challis and Wood families. One of the nights will be a family temple trip, and some of us are working on preparing some names from these families so that we can do temple work for them. I have been working on some Northamptonshire genealogy research, and a lot of it involves rechecking others' work. 

I love all of my ancestors. What's nice about Czech in comparison to English genealogy research is that so many original records have recently been made available for free online. English records are not even close to as accessible online, but there are many, many people who have been researching in them for decades (centuries!). Basically, there has been a lot more time for people to make erroneous conclusions, and it's a lot more inconvenient for modern researchers to recheck what has been done. 

Hip hip hooray for Czech genealogy! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Did Vlčovice records really begin in 1720?" OR Using finding aids on to undertand Czech Jurisdictions

I've been struggling with the idea of jurisdictions ins the Czech lands.

Jurisdiction is the official  power to make decisions. The jurisdiction matters in genealogy because most of the documents that are left behind are remnants of various religious or political events. Vital records were recorded both for religious reasons (the Bible illustrates the importance of record keeping in Revelation 20:15, for example) and political reasons, such as for military drafts (Empire level politics), and to make sure that the taxes and duties were performed (Estate level politics).

The land of my ancestors is old. OLD. Very, very old. Most villages in my corner of Moravia can claim things like, "the first known record of this village is in 1250 AD, when so-and-so conquered such-and-such neighboring village and built a fort directly outside of it, naming it after such-and-such place/event/person/thing."

 Here's the Czech wikipedia article on Vlčovice. It says that the first written mention of Vlčovice dates from 1437 (under the name "Velicovice").

Okay, so...why do the earliest available parish records for Vlčovice begin *only* in 1720? And why don't land records appear to begin until 1762 - for almost any village on the Hukvaldy estate?

As an American genealogist, it's actually pretty comical. Pre-1720 vital records? Uh...yeah, I don't think so. Yes, there are reliable records in the 18th Century United States - or Colonies - or whatever it happened to be called during the year of interest. That's just the main thing: from my perspective, jurisdictions change a lot.

So, I had been approaching this problem with the idea that, "Well, if I can't find pre-1720 records, but the village is clearly as old as 1437, and Catholics were probably keeping records in the 1650's (because other towns do have vital records that go back that far, and even into the late 1500's), then maybe I have the jurisdiction wrong."

Maybe the village wasn't called, "Vlčovice." Maybe the Vlčovice records were stored with the Hukvaldy Estate records. Maybe they are located in a completely different archive.

One thing that occurs extremely frequently in Czech history is village name changes. Depending on who has "official" jurisdiction over the land, German, Czech, or Russian names for villages may be used. And guess what; some of them are totally not similar in any way at all. But that is fodder for a different blog post.

I was puzzled, because I understand that the way works is to organize village records by the modern Czech spelling. This greatly facilitates searches, because a researcher may not know that the name of the village in the early 1800's was actually Kunzendorf, as opposed to Kunčice. So, apparently the archivists in the Regional Archives of Opava were thorough when they organized these records; I would assume that if there were any mention of Vlčovice under a different name, it would still get the label of "Vlčovice" on the record. were the other records?

I searched for "Huk" and really I could not find anything that I knew included records other than those for the village Hukvaldy. I felt like I was going around in circles. It's hard to find information about the Hukvaldy estate online in English.

So I started to search for information in Czech.

"Velkostatek Hukvaldy" is Czech for "Hukvaldy Estate." I happened to have one of the land record pages open. It was then that I noticed there, at the bottom of the page, in a list of, "Related Records" the words, "Velkostatek Hukvaldy."

I clicked it.

I found a link on the next page that said, "Finding aid's intro."

I clicked it.

And here we have 23 pages of detailed information about the Hukvaldy Estate holdings in the ZAO (regional archives of Opava)!! This is exactly what I had been looking for!!

At the end? A bibliography of books written about this place during this time. I don't know how I will find some of these books; they had better be digitally OCR'd or at least copy-and-pastable so that I can plug them into google translate, otherwise, even if I find them, they will be basically useless.

Which is exactly what I did to this document, and quickly learned that there was a huge fire in the Hukvaldy castle in 1762, which destroyed many records. That some did survive, but not very many.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmer. Almost 100% of my ancestors lived on this estate.

But hey, it answered my questions! And now I know how to use these great finding aids! And hopefully, so do you!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Land Records: Introduction

I often find myself in the position of trying to research something online, and not being able to find an answer. I then do my own research, and realize that if I share what I have learned, the next person who comes along might be able to build off the knowledge that I shared. Usually, an even more experienced person will comment and teach me more about the subject matter. 

Basically: I feel like I am not yet a "true" expert in Czech Land Records, but it is okay for me to share the knowledge that I have gained through my experience with them anyway because other people will benefit from my knowledge, and I will benefit from others' knowledge. I just feel like this is an important disclaimer that will help the readers of this post to understand the source. I love to learn. I'm always learning. I have a lot left to learn about Land Records. Yet, I think what I can share with you may be useful.

What is a Czech Land Record?

According to the familysearch article about the Czech Republic Land Records in their historical collections: 

The Czech name of land records has varied over time; however, the records listed in this collection are named gruntovní knihy. These books initially were kept at the landholder level, then at village level, farm level, and finally by a district administrator and his scribe. Land registers are written mostly in German, with some in Czech.

Although there are several different kinds of land records. We are going to start with Gruntovní Knihy because they are the most useful. There are other record books lumped with the "land records" that include lists of marriage contracts, lists of orphans, Urbary records, land holders, land lease titles, etc. 

What is in a Land Record?

Again, from that same article:

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
The further your go back in the parish registers, the more difficult it is to establish identity with certainty. When you don't have a house number, and the enumerator did not write down the names of the parents on every record, or even their profession, sometimes it can be impossible to know with certainty which person is your person. But land records often have lists of heirs to the estate, which is, in a way, its own kind of census. They can establish relationships, residence, and even ages. 

They are also really interesting records because they allow you to glimpse into the daily lives of your ancestors. What currency did they use? What farm implements did they have? What kinds of animals did they have? Were they overloaded with debt? Were they extensive land holders? Did others owe them money? 

Basically, a land record is a hybrid cross between a probate record and a deed. It is extremely fortunate that these were kept, and that many of them survive. The best part? Most of the have indexes!

Brief Overview of the Babinec project

So, you know how I mentioned that recently I've been focusing my efforts on getting my BCG portfolio prepared for submission? Well, I decided I would write about it on my blog.

One of the requirements for the BCG portfolio is that the work be completely your own; no critique, review, or help from others. The BCG wants to certify you for your own skills. It's not unlike a computer programming final exam where they expected us to not use the internet for help. In the real world, my computer programmer husband totally uses outside help. Crowd sourcing, forums, collaboration - these are just tools to solving a problem efficiently. They are also helpful in the real world of genealogy.

BUT...this isn't the "real world." This is the world of becoming certified by a world-class organization. Technically, I am allowed to publish posts on my blog that contain material that I would submit. However, when I do this, I get lots of feedback, lots of really great, helpful suggestions about what a word might actually mean, where to search next, etc. I don't want to do a ton of work and then have to not use it in my portfolio because somebody else gave me super helpful albeit unsolicited feedback. So, I've made a conscious choice to not blog the specific material that I want to submit in my portfolio.

Huh? I didn't I just say in my first paragraph that I want to write about my recent BCG portfolio efforts on this blog? Isn't that a contradiction? Why? Because all that work I spent the past two months on, yeah...all that work...pretty much all of it...I decided I can't use it in my portfolio. Lots of reasons, mainly: it isn't the best display of my work. I don't have enough varied kinds of sources. I don't have enough solid evidence to "prove" my theories. It's good work, but it's not really portfolio-worthy, and sadly, it probably can't be because of the lack of available records for the village of Vlčovice. The parish registers start in 1720 and the land records start in 1764 - well, there are some Urbary records in the 1500-1650's, but they are too early. There's a 70 year gap of records.

I actually feel satisfied because I learned a lot from this experience. I was given the advice to never, never, never submit your first-ever client report in the portfolio; I suppose the same is true with the case study portion. And, even though it's not as strong as I would like, I have a case study. I gained a lot of experience with land records.

And now I have fodder for this blog for the next few weeks! So, that's good. The feedback I will get from these blog posts will help me with my BCG portfolio work.

The Babinec Project
Here's a brief summary of the project that I was working on. A friend and client's ancestors came from Mniší, Moravia. I found the marriage record for her direct line ancestor, Margaret Babinetz, in the neighboring village of Vlčovice. I wanted to trace her family back. I gathered all of the records of the Babinec/Babinetz's in that village, and figured out how they relate to each other. I gathered land records, transcribed and translated them, and was able to learn even more about the family.

Many questions and mysteries remain, and I intend to blog about them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stay focused, Kate!

Hey blogosphere! I haven't posted in about a week, but it's because I have actually been working on some exciting genealogy work related to my BCG application.

I have a dream of becoming a Certified Genealogist. It started over a year ago. I have been plugging along on my portfolio since the beginning of 2013.

Well, that turned out to be the year we moved from Texas to Iowa, and life got really crazy. On top of it, I decided to start taking clients. I quickly learned that I love client work. It is fun, challenging, profitable, and best of all, I feel like I am really helping others. I love that!

I don't regret starting taking clients when I did. I had no idea what it would be like, and I had serious doubts that I even could. I learned a lot about myself; how I work, what kinds of projects I enjoy, and what I want my future goals as a professional genealogist to be.

The reality of my world is that my time is scarce. If I am going to become a CG, I need to focus all of my efforts and limited genealogy time on my portfolio. I know that I will be a better professional genealogist if I obtain this credential.

I have decided to temporarily "take down my shingle" and stop taking genealogy clients until I become certified.

I have decided to continue with my blog goals, though, so stay tuned :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another way of putting "illegitimate"

Scrolling through the parish registers, I found this entry.

"Spurius" is probably another way of saying, "illegitimate." The other big clue from this register is how his mother is enumerated; instead of listing a father first and then a mother, it's, "Apollonia, filia defti Georgii Lekesch" - Apollonia, daughter of the late George Lekesch.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where oh where did my little George go? Oh where oh where can he be?

You marry the widow of Franciscus Babinec who has 9 children in 1745. You have one child with your wife in 1747, and no others (probably because she is getting on in years and no longer in a fertile stage of life).

In 1755, your wife predeceases you. 5 of her children from her first marriage are still living and they are Veronica (32), Magdalena (30), Joannes (28), Rosina (25), and Jacobus (10). Your son Ignatius was 8.

Where do you go? What do you do with your life?

In 1787, the house transfers to Joannes, the son of Franciscus Babinec. All of the children (plus one who is probably a cousin) are enumerated in the exact order of age in this land record. Their marital status, spouse, and residence locations are listed. For example, Ignatius is recorded as being in the army.

But there isn't information about you, Mr. George Kladiva. What happened to you? Did you remarry? Did you stick around this place? Did you leave the older children to care for the younger ones? Were they already apprentices? Did you return to your village of origin? Did you die around the same time as your wife and never get enumerated on the parish registers? Did you move to a neighboring town and remarry?

There is a Georgius Kladiva, son of Ignatius Kladiva, in the neighboring village. But it appears he dies in 1790 at the age of 36, which means he would have been born the year before your wife died; wrong generation. Maybe Ignatius Kladiva had a brother named Georgius, and they both named their kids after each other?

Still...what happens to you? And why 1787? Usually these land transfers seem to occur when somebody dies or marries into the family, or some crazy political thing happens. They certainly aren't random, at least usually. Hmm.

I'm not sure what to do about you. I can't find you at all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do you want to inherit...goat cheese?

I am translating a land record and I saw something that made me laugh.

"jedne hever dvoje šýrý"

Google translate had this coming up as:

"one two jack cheeses."

To me, this sounded like "pepperjack cheese." Yum yum. But I was seriously confused. It doesn't really make sense to inherit...cheese. Especially because this was listed with the rest of the farm equipment stuff like plows, wagons, tills, horses, etc.

I also played around with the idea that the word "hever" was really "Chevre" - goat's cheese, my favorite! Yum yum yum. But...yeah...still...that makes no sense. Not grammatical sense, and not actual sense.

I wouldn't say no to inheriting cheese. But farm equipment would probably be handier for feeding my family in the long term!

This is the real take-away from this post: ý and í are basically interchangeable in archaic Czech.

A transcription to modern Czech would be something like: "jedne hever dvoje šíří." This translates to "one jack [and] two spread[er]s."

A jack being a device used to lift heavy objects, and a "spead" presumably being something used to spread something (manure? seeds?) on the ground.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Look at the Historical Map, Duh!

Hindsight is always 20-20.

Czech people married in the bride's parish of origin, and frequently began their married life in the groom's parish of origin.

I knew where the groom was from. Mniší.

I knew the bride's first name, but not her surname (her maiden name). After they married, they went back to Mniší to live, and went on to have 9 kids there. I knew her approximate birth date because I had her death record in Mniší. I knew the couple's approximate marriage date because I had found their children (well, all the ones born in Mniší).

I wanted to learn more about the wife's family. I guessed she was probably from a neighboring parish. I pulled up google maps and saw that a close town to them was Kopřivnice.

I decided to search those parish registers for their marriage. No luck.

I decided to look at historical map for ideas. An easy, easy, easy, easy, EASY way to do this is to go to, search for a village, click "změnit mapu" and then select "Historická." This will give a basic historical map. It's not as detailed as other cadastral maps, but it is great at giving you an overall aerial view of the Czech lands, it's free, and it's fast.

Doing this, it became clear that Nesselsdorf, probably the pre-Kopřivnice name of this place, was a lot further from Mniší than I had thought, and that Vlčovice, Tichá, and Lichnov were more probable candidates. I searched these parish registers.

I found the marriage record in Vlčovice.

The best part? It identified the groom from Mniší. This was the right record!

Obviously, it would be best to get a TRULY contemporary map. I was searching for a record in the mid 1700's. The historical maps on are circa 1830-1840, so a century later. But, as I said, they are easy to use, free, and fast. I needed a 275 year old map, but a 185 year old map was better than a current map at giving me an idea about what the landscape was like.

In hindsight, if I had zoomed in closer on my google maps search, I would have seen Vlčovice. Doh!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Jan Valum-Ann Rekelna Marriage in Merklín,1698

Here is a direct link to the original image.


Z Merklýna

23 9bier [1698] Potvrzen jest Wstavu [v stavu] smateho Manželstvy
pocztívy Mladenecz Jan Valum, S Anau Rekelnau
Smiedkome Waclaw Kottna, Josef Jelynek,
Potvrzeni oddnajuzti hodneho P. Patera Ssymona Janoty
v Pýesnelyzch.


In Merklín

23 November [1698] [I] confirmed in the state of marriage
Honest lad Jan Valum with An[n] Reklana
Witnesses Waclaw Kottna, Josef Jelynek,
The person confirming the marriage: Father Šymon Janoty
of Pýesnelyzch [not sure where this is]

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Blog Goals

Here's my very meta-blogging post for you that is probably not going to be that interesting. I apologize in advance.

Here are my blog/research goals for March:
  • Blog every day!
  • Answer at least 5 genealogy related emails every day! I am so backed up! I really apologize, blah blah blah. Seriously though. I feel embarrassed at how I look at my inbox overflowing with emails, and instead of answering them, I sigh and go do something else because the task feels too daunting. Of course, this does nothing to improve the situation. So 5/day is my goal! I think I can manage that.
  • Completely finish my Case Study for my BCG application.
  • I will also figure out all (er, well, yeah) the people for my Kinship Determination Project and start on ordering films that will be required for completing a reasonably exhaustive search.
  • By the end of March, I will be 7 blog posts ahead. And my April goal will be to maintain that 7 post buffer between me and the Looming Deadline.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Have you checked out yet? It is a really cool tool that uses the familysearch API to let you look at your family in a new way. It looks like a spiderweb, but it can really help you visualize where there are gaps in your research, and where you should focus.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1755 "Deflorata"

Wenceslaus, born 1 March 1755 in Vlčovice to Barbara Kladivi.

After her name is the Latin note: "de-florata" which means, "deflowered, no longer a virgin."

I had assumed this meant "raped" but I suppose there are multiple scenarios, and the actual meaning of this word does not let us know what exactly happened, except that she is pregnant out of wedlock.

I hadn't seen this before. Whether or not this means that she was raped, I think it is sad. I wonder what life would have been like for her afterward, as a mother. I mean, I wonder how society would have viewed her. Pity? Disgust? Would she have been able to marry later? And her son? What would life have been like for him?


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Přemysl the Ploughman

I came across an interesting Czech legend about a man named Přemysl.

From wikipedia:

According to a legend, Přemysl was a peasant of the village of Stadice who attracted the notice of Libuše, daughter of a certain Krok, who ruled over a large part of Bohemia. Libuše succeeded her father, and her councillors demanded that she married, but because Přemysl was not a nobleman she recounted a vision in which they would follow a horse let loose at a junction, and follow it to find her future husband, making it appear as if it was the will of fate not her own wish. Two versions of the legend exist, one in where they are to find a man ploughing a field with one broken sandal, and another in which the man would be sitting in the shade of a single tree, eating from an iron table (his plough). They did so and found Přemysl exactly as foretold

Apparently, this name has also spread into the Polish and Slavic languages.

As cool as the legend is, I am not going to name any of my children Przemysław, or the feminine form, Przemysława.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Apparently Czechs practiced ultimogeniture, which is "the tradition of inheritance by the last-born of the entirety of, or a privileged position in, a parent's wealth, estate or office" according to Wikipedia.

So, before the laws passed allowing land to be subdivided (circa ~1850), the youngest son would inherit the father's house.

I wonder if this pertains to all marriages; would it be the youngest son of all of the father's marriages, or just his first wife's? How were these things determined?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Uhersko, Banat

Yesterday, feeling frustrated, I contacted several of my Czech research contacts. Dr. Josef Šimíček emailed me back. He is a genius. He has written volumes and volumes of books that pertain to the exact area that I am researching, about the emigrants from the Moravian Czech lands to the United States, and mostly to Texas.

His email was reassuring after yesterday's failure. Well, more accurately, yesterday's realization that after weeks of researching, I am at an impasse. While he didn't have any new leads per se, he did confirm what I had found: this branch of the Haidušek family completely disappears from the parish registers towards the end of the 19th century!

So...where did they go?

Dr. Šimíček pointed out the one shred of a clue that I do have, and it is in the 1869 census. Here the brother Ignác Haidušek is listed as a single journeyman, residing in "Uhersko Banáty." Or perhaps that is a comma, not a diacritical mark.

If this enumerator followed the same system in every entry, the larger "county" type area would be listed first, and the city would be listed second.

Uhersko (and variants) is a village name in at least 4 different places within the Czech borders. But what if this is not within modern Czech borders? What if "Uhersko" is actually, "Hungary"?

Then...Banat would be a region of Hungary?


I had no idea that Czechs left their lands to go to the Banat region. I actually, truthfully, had no idea this place existed. I'm up on my Western European countries, and even regions, but not so much on Eastern Europe. I guess I mostly (wrongly) assumed that people have always migrated west. From my very American paradigm, I have this stereotype in my head that the further east that you go on the Eurasian continent, the less freedoms exist for typical people.

I know this is a simplistic view of the world, and I know that there are exceptions to this (and all - including this one bahaha) generalizations. Hear me out. Here I am in Iowa. I feel that I enjoy a high level of freedom in my country. I have lived in Western Europe (France) and there are many freedoms there, too. I have also lived in the Middle East (Jordan) and there are less freedoms there, but I imagine more than in Russia, the Ukraine, China, and then, of course, the scariest place on earth for a person to live right now, North Korea!

But! People did (and still do!) migrate east. In the 1820's, a group of Czechs settled in the Banat region (an area overlapping Hungary, Romania, and Serbia). They have remained there, an isolated agrarian society, holding to their religion (Catholic), language (Czech), and traditions. If I were to visit there today, it would be like glimpsing my own ancestor's world 100 years ago.

The problem is...If my Haidušeks went to Banat, how will I locate where in Banat?

The good news is that when I search the Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895, I do find a "Hajdusek" family!

The bad news is...I have no idea how to do research in Hungary. Or historic Banat.

But wow, it's fascinating to learn about this!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I need help with my Haidusek research

I'm reposting what I wrote on the Czech Heritage Society Yahoo Group page, because I am truly stuck and need help finding out what to do next. I'm frustrated because I used to have high hopes that this would turn into a component in my BCG portfolio application, but it looks like it won't be turning out that way, especially if I actually do receive some help in solving this problem. Oh well, I have learned a lot from the search, and it's more important to me to solve the actual genealogy problem at hand.

The Haidušek family seems to completely disappear from Mniší records. The family I'm talking about is the Georg Hajduschek-Barbara Koliba children. This is Georg Hajduschek's second marriage. The fabled Judge Augustine Haidusek, first Czech lawyer in the US, etc. is his grandson through Valentin Haidusek, who was born from his first marriage. The pages in the Pilgrims for Hope Vol. 1 book are about Valentin, who immigrated on the Anna Elise with that group of immigrants in 1856. They were mostly from Frenštát and the surrounding area. Seven of them stuck together and founded the village of Dubina. 

I'm trying to trace the children from his second marriage, and so far I'm just stuck. Several records seem to quote somebody mentioning that Valentin Haidusek's father George owned substantial lands. 

I found George Haiduschek's land records. They weren't actually that extensive.  If I understand the records correctly, Valentin Haidusek seems to have inherited them all, and then the last entry for #14 Mniší is in 1856, the year that he immigrated. Perhaps he sold them?

Valentin Haidusek had 8 half siblings: Georg, Johann, Franz, Cirill, Ignatz, Anna, Antonia, and Theresia. 

Georg Haiduschek married Mariana Žabensky of Rychaltice. He is living at #14 Mniší in the 1869 census with his wife, 4 kids, and single brother Ignatz, a journeyman in "Uhersko, banaty" which I don't know if that's a place in Hungary or the Pardubice region of the Czech lands. Hmm.

Johann married twice, first to Johanna Bohač and then to Marianna Pustejovsky. They were both older widows and never had children with him. He is found in #21 Mniší with his first wife and her children on the 1869 census, and #48 Mniší with his second wife and her children on the 1890 census. 

Franz died when he was 17. His inheritance was divided between his mother and siblings in 1853 in the land records for #14 Mniší. 

Ignatz I have been unable to trace at all beyond the 1869 census. Presumably he married. He was 31 in 1869, and most of his siblings married first in their 30's (or even 40's!).

Anna married Thomas Brosch of #9 Mniší. In 1869, she is there with her husband, his parents, and her sister Antonia. 

Antonia marries Joseph Klozík of Mniší. In 1890 they are living in #65 with their kids.

Theresia Haidusczek inherited a portion of her brother Franz's inheritance in 1853, so she did not die young. I have found no record of her after that - I can't find her residence place in 1869, and I can't find any marriages or deaths for her. 

I have looked through every page of every Mniší matriky record that is available online, and I still can't find anything else about these peoples' fates. I also searched in all the surrounding villages including Kopřivnice, Vlčovice, Ticha, Drnholec, Sýkorec, Hukvaldy, Horní Sklenov, Lichnov, and Bordovice.  I even searched Frenštát, Trojanovice, Frydlant nad Ostravicí, and Kunčice pod Ondrejníkem records.I went through the entire 1869 census for Mniší. 

Maybe all of these people had really long lives? 

Or maybe...they immigrated? The group of immigrants that came in 1856 supposedly had 120 people, but only a handful of them are mentioned by name. Of course, finding passenger lists for Galveston arrivals circa 1850-1860 involves crossing your fingers that some copy of a list is available in a newspaper here or in Bremen. 

Maybe the men changed their surnames? 

Does anybody have an idea of where to look next? My goal is to find out when and where all of these people died, and what became of them. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Augustin Haidusek Quoted in Czech Newspaper

I love living in the digital age. Did you know that not only can you access historic American newspapers online for free, but also historic Czech newspapers?

The National Library of the Czech Republic has digitized many, many newspapers, most of which are OCR'd (aka searchable).

I did a search for "Haidusek" - the family that I am currently researching. I was super surprised to find an article quoting Judge Augustin Haidusek, the grandson of the family I am researching!

I loved his quote. Here it is in Czech, and a rough translation:

Na to mluvil p. A. Haidusek vynikajicí právnik z La Grange, k obecenstvu anglicky. Mezi jiným pravil "čechové nejsou jen pilní, nýbr i svorni, zákonů poslušní a svobodu milující. První čechové přišli do texasu roku 1850 a nyní se jich zde nalezé přes 50,000. Oni byli od zdejšich obyvatelů vlidné přijati a dostalo se jim od nich i podpory, když ji potřebovali. Považuji tuto krajinu za jednu z těch nejlepšich pod sluncem pro naši národnost. Vláda ručí za svobodnou řeč a na rovnoprávnost všem. V náboženstvi není rozdíln a svobodneho vyučováni se dostává všem. Zdejší vláda pozůstavá z naroda a tedy jest žádoucno, aby národ náš byl uvědoměn vzhledem k povinnostem občanským. Lid naš měl by pracovati vší sílou o mravní vychování a duševní vývin."

Mr. A. Haidusek, an excellent lawyer from La Grange, spoke to the audience in English. Among other things, he said, "the Czechs are not only diligent, but immediately united, law-abiding and freedom-loving. The first Czechs came to Texas in 1850 and now there are over 50,000 findings. They were welcomed by local residents and they received them and supported them when they needed it. I consider this country as one of the best under the sun for our nationality. The government guarantees the freedom of speech and the equality of all. The religion is not taught differently and everybody has freedom. The local government consists of the people and therefore is desirable that our people be aware of their civic duties. Our people should labor with all their might for moral upbringing and mental development."

Wordless Wednesday: Agnes Steffek

Friday, February 14, 2014

Follow Friday: Czech House Numbers

Today it is my great pleasure to have a guest post by Lukáš Svoboda. He has an excellent Czech genealogy blog called Kulanův rodopisný blog that anybody interested in Czech genealogy should look at. If you open the page in google chrome, you can right-click and select "translate to English" if you don't speak Czech.

He recently wrote an interesting post about house numbering, so I asked him if he would write something on that subject for English readers. Here it is. Thank you Lukáš!


House numbers - they come handy in search for ancestors. They lead us faster through huge volumes of church registers and help us to solve various problems with people we seek. Where did they come from and what was their purpose? Certainly not to help genealogists and not to make their lives easier 250 years later.

Until recently I thought that they was simply made during the year 1770 just for easier orientation and later they came handy on various occasions. An old anecdote tells us of an impulse Queen Maria Theresa had after a desperate and futile ride through dark streets of Vienna in vain search for a certain house. Well, this is not why.

As I was browsing through thousands pages of old codes for Austrian and Czech Lands I found a couple of laws related to the numbering of house and surprisingly found out that this was only small, and relatively marginal issue of much more complex and concerted action which took part in that year 1770: die allgemeine Seelen-, Zugviehes- und Häusebeschreibung; that is, description of souls, draft animals and houses. Or in modern language some kind of census.

Looking for a recipe

The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) fared poorly for Habsburg monarchy. None of the war goals were reached and worse than that, they finally lost most of the part of Silesia they had hoped to reclaim. What was much discussed in military and governmental circles after the war was not the sub-optimal performance of Austrian soldiers, but their inferior quality to the disciplined Prussian soldiers.

And no wonder; it was manorial lords who were responsible for the providing of raw recruits to the Austrian regiments. They used this opportunity to dispose of local minor offenders, vagabonds, peasants with rebellious nature and similar characters.

A great part of the burden also fell on the shoulders of peasantry; their sons were often forcibly recruited to serve in the ranks of infantry. It was perhaps only too natural that such ranks lacked much in enthusiasm, discipline and necessary military drill.

It was felt among the leading circles that something has to be changed. The recruiting system should be more fair to villagers, the burden should be more evenly distributed, and that a qualitatively better "human resources" should be used in the future; preferably even to create a bond between a soldier and his regiment. And as a first step of achieving this really enlightened position the Konskription was ordered.

The patent from 10th March 1770 proclaimed that during the last war, many of the subjects were removed from their trade, lands, from their wives and children to the military ranks. It is the intention of the monarch that a more just and fair system should be created respecting positions of tradesmen and farmers, who should not be removed from their lands along with their only sons, only daughter's husbands, etc. And for this purpose the general conscription was declared.

Great military and administrative action had begun, and the wheels of bureaucracy started to turn.

Getting Ready
Preparations started immediately. Parish priests were requested to announce the planned conscription during sermons. They were also obliged to prepare excerpts from the parish registers listing all inhabitants of each village. Meanwhile the commissions were appointed – several in each district. Every commission had representatives from the military and from civil (district) administration. They were accompanied by two or three scribes. The route of each commission was carefully planned; there were rules for that as well. And of course – most importantly – the paint and brushes were provided.

The planning was so meticulous that it was even said that it is the military part of the commission which had to provide the paint, however the expenses for that and were to be paid by the civil branch. The paint had to be black oil paint universally. The only exception was Vienna which numbers were to be red.

Also the rules for the future military drafts were suggested. What was important for our village ancestors? In the future the owners of the farm were exempted from the recruiting. So were their only sons, or only daughter’s husbands. Generally the heirs to the farm had the privilege of exemption; when there were more sons it was usually the youngest who in the 18th century inherited the farm.


The commissioner came to the village. Furnished by the extracts from the church books, they were  supposed to interview all the house holders and check whole family and other people living with them. They started with the first house on the road entering the village on their planned route. They interviewed the holder and carefully wrote his name down under the newly provided house number.

They asked about his sons who were also written down with full names, not only those living with him, but those absent as well. The military commissioners were supposed to see by themselves the men folk one by one, assess their ability to serve in the ranks and wrote it down. The women were not listed by names, only number of them were entered into the official file. The officers were also assessing the horses, the draft animals; how many of them, how old, how strong.

Meanwhile the scribes or soldiers attached to the commission painted black number above or on the doors. Leaving no space for discretion, there was also instruction that there should be written “No”, with capital N and the O in upper index, and that the numbers should be Arabic, definitely not Latin ones (123 vs I, II, III).

During interviews the commissioner met various complications. Sometimes the father was concealing his sons, not trusting any officials. However, officials were able to get the truth by combination of threats, persuasion and confrontation with information provided by parish priests in the extracts. What was much more confusing for many of the commissions traveling through the countries were names.

A Name, but whose? 

The commissioners and the administration were for the first time confronted by the reality of name ambiguity in many areas, Southern Bohemia for example. When interviewing a farmer they were expecting to meet for example Kačena but the farmer proclaimed himself to be Houška.

This notorious multiplicity of names in some Czech (and probably other) regions rammed the neat logic and simplicity of the task. How would the lists look like when the father is using a different surname than he had in the baptism record? Or when his sons had different family names? Oh, be cursed those household surnames (Grundnahme, jméno po chalupě nebo po střeše)! There was no room for such mess in a rationally run empire.

A new decree was issued in December 1770. It was ordered that the house owners were to keep the numbers on the houses visible and noticeable under fine of 9 gold coins. Also, the willful removal of such was strictly penalized. What’s more, all subjects were ordered not to change their surnames according to the household names, but had to keep the given name and surname given at baptism.

Thus, for the first time some kind of official regulation for name usage was published. Otherwise, multiplicity of names would ruin all efforts invested in the conscription. How could the military act when the names in their lists would be so vague, or worse numbers were removed. The State needs order, system and logic. And it had to be established.

So along with house numbering we can witness more importantly beginning of a new trend – rules for surnames. It took many years and couple or additional laws before at least in the official use the awareness of one, official name prevailed.

And the house numbers? Well it seems like the numbering was secondary product of much greater process. At least at the beginning they served only as useful tool for keeping data in the order.

So, how many of them?

If you are interested in the outcome of the said allgemeine Seelen-, Zugviehes- und Häusebeschreibung, the results were as follows:

This being a blog for Czech and Moravian genealogy:

• In Bohemia they found 2 493 878 souls (1 194 999 men and 1 298 879 women) in 389 148 houses.

• In Moravia they found 1 465 759 souls (699 133 men and 766 625women) in 177 489 houses.

• In Silesia they found 199 974 souls (99 871 men and 100 103 women) in 36 642 houses.

House numbers hints

That is what happened in the years 1770 and 1771. The house numbers are still used and in many places the numbers are still the same as they were numbered 240 years ago and they serve today. As a bonus to this dry history I would offer hints related to the numbers. Sometimes when searching in the church books you find the right name but then you say wait a minute, it is different house, what has happened? Well, many things could happen, but don’t panic.

It was not unusual that the numbers of houses were rearranged (very often in the in the early years of the 19th century), houses were re-numbered. It happened in a lot of places, for unknown reasons by unknown pattern. In such a case the priests were usually using for a certain time both numbers – new and old – in the books. Or they at least made a note that from now on they would be using new numbers.

It might also happen that a farm was split in two. For example in the past one of my ancestors had ceded half of the farm to his elder brother. It was also with a house belonging to the farm. This house got its own number. Or your ancestors built new house on the farm, e.g. a cottage for retired parents or a sibling; again with a new number. In all these cases your ancestors stayed to live on the same place, though the “address” is different.

Examples from the baptismal register Činěves 5

1. Priest’s note stating that from now on the new numbers are written in the column marked "Haus Nro."

2. Example of both numbers in the entry – old and new number of the house

3. Example of entry where it is not specified which number is old and new. You have to check other entries and compare it to previous numbers.

4. The original court decree of December 1770 prohibiting the removal of numbers and ordering that the names should be kept.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentin Haidusek and the founding of Dubina, Texas

I have been doing some research on the Valentin Haidusek family who immigrated from Mniší, Moravia. Specifically, I have been trying to find other Haiduseks that were related to Valentin Haidusek, who was one of the founders of Dubina in 1856. 

I love the story of Dubina's founding. I have read several versions of it in various places, but I especially like how this site tried to take Augustin Haidusek's own words. Augustin was Valentin's 11 year old son.

The small community of Dubina, Texas is situated near and east of Navidad, about four miles on the left side of the paved highway from Schulenburg to Weimar, Texas. This community is 100% Czech-Moravian-Catholic. It is the only parish in the state that was founded and settled strictly by people ALL coming from Moravia in Europe.

The history of this parish is best known from a lecture by August Haidusek, given by him at a special parish celebration on the 4th of November, 1906 in memory of the founding of this Czech-Moravian community west of the Colorado River of Texas. "It was in the beginning of the month of August 1856 when my father, living in the small village of "Mysi" at the foot of a small mountain in Kasnicova, between Frenstat and Pribor in northern Moravia, emigrated to settle somewhere in America. At the same time, from the same village emigrated with us Ignac Pustejovsky and Valentine Holub. We travel by a wagon to Bohumin where we met other families also moving to America. In Bohumin we boarded a train for Bremen. There we rested for a few days and then were loaded onto a small barge that took us to Bremenhaven by the river.

 In Bremenhaven we took an ocean going sail boat to Galveston, Texas. The boat was about 100 feet long with two masts. Barely a little tub compared to the ocean liners of today. The first night out we ran into a severe storm and we were tossed about like a little stick of wood. I will never forget to the end of my life - the difficulties, sickness, etc. of all the travelers, but especially by the women and the children. The storm lasted a night and a day. Thereafter the trip was practically uneventful up to Galveston, where we landed after fourteen weeks of ocean travel. The next day my father, with some more men, myself included, oared to the Galveston Harbor and we returned in a small steamer (probably a tug boat) which pulled us closer to a large steamer they loaded all our baggage and passengers and this boat took us by way of the Buffalo Bayou (now Houston Channel) all the way to Houston. Here we landed the morning of All Saints Day.

In the group were Konstantine Chovanec, Joseph Janda from Trojanovice. Benjamin Klimicek, Ignac Sramek, Joseph Kalic, Ignac Musny, Joseph Peter and Francis Marak from Ticha, Francis Sugarek from Klokocov, Ignac Pustejovsky, Valentine Holub and my father Valentine Haidusek from "Mysi" and Francis Kosa from Sklenkov - also a single young man John Konvicka. Miss Johana Broz, Miss Rosalie Holub and two more single girls from Frenstat; all from Moravia.

Upon arrival in Houston, early next day, we set out on a journey in wagons pulled by 5 pair of oxen. After six days we arrived in Cat Spring in Austin County. Here we spent the night in a small forest. Here a man by the name of Matusik came and talked to us and spoke in such an unfavorable way about Texas that some families decided to return to Galveston and go to the state of Iowa, where lived one of our countrymen, a Mr. Holub. A little later another Czech came around and he again talked in favor of Texas and to change our minds and stay in Texas.

He reasoned that we would arrive in Iowa in the dead of winter, which season of the year was just as severe if not even worse than in our homeland in Europe. So we all decided to stay and we rested in Cat Springs for about two weeks. In the meantime my father with Joseph Peter, Joseph Lalich and Frank Marak went out to scout the country. When they returned they could not find enough words in praise of Fayette county, they said it was a fertile and beautiful country and had already leased for themselves some lands.

With them came two wagons, so we loaded up and started for La Grange. It was at the end of November when all these wagons brought us here and unloaded us under "Live Oaks" - all year green oaks. It was on a property that then was owned by a Mr. Holub. This was early in the afternoon, with a strong norther and a good bit of sleet. We had no cover except the oaks, so we were soaked through and through. For miles around there was no settler anywhere. We all felt miserable and forsaken, all alone. We built a large fire for the night, no one slept for it was very cold and rained hard. Next day the sun came out very bright, so everyone was able to work had to help out with work - by nightfall we had built on our property a crude but substantial home.

We lived in this home for the next six months. It was snug and fairly comfortable. It was a very primitive structure. In the morning, my father found very near two large oak trees, close to each other. We cut some long limbs, making two long beams, logs. We placed these down one end on the ground and the other ends were leaned on the two trees at an angle and we tied these with grape vines. Thus we had formed rafters. While men were doing this work, the women cut grass and tied it into bundles, (the grass was several feet high) which bundles I hauled on a horse to the construction site. The roof was covered with these bundles of grass. And we lived here for six months. Even the strongest rain storms were held off by the grass. The inside was warm and dry. After this Joseph Peter built a similar hut and we were all happy and glad. There was no friction among the people at any time. We stayed in our hut until 1867, when my father sold the farm and bought another one some three miles west of Schulenburg. Hynek, my brother, still lives on that farm today.

When huts were built for all, we started to clear and till the land. We made rails (for fences) and before planting time came we each had several acres fenced in. We planted corn about a foot apart, leaving three to four shoots in a group, thinking that this way we would be able to reap a greater harvest. Also cotton we planted into rather thick rows about a foot apart. When corn was about to bloom a Mr. John Frude came and pulled out corn stalks, thinning out the rows as corn should be. Of course we did not like his destroying our crops. He talked and explained as he worked - as no one of us understood English, we did not know what he was saying. At harvest time the rows of corn thinned out by Mr. Frude had large and full ears of corn and the rows not thinned out held only a bundle of shucks. All of the six families together made only a small bale of cotton. We loaded it on a sled and hauled it to La Grange to sell.

The first year was very bad for all of us, just about everyone had taken sick about the same time with chills and fever. It was very difficult to get over the illness. I did not get sick at all, perhaps because I was hardheaded and mean - so the sickness did not touch me at all. By this time I had learned some words in English, so I went for the doctor and when necessary acted as interpreter for him. I also acted as a nurse, bringing water and giving it to the patients and also administered medicine. By this time we had all dug wells for drinking water.

The year after this one was even worse - although we were all well now - we had nothing to eat and all the moneys brought from Europe were spent by now. But we could not go hungry and die. We went to a German merchant in La Grange who was a miller and we bought some corn from him, we paid two dollars a bushel. For flour we paid $20.00 per 196 pound barrel. Meat however was very cheap. For a doctor we had to go to Bluff, Texas, for Doctor Meyenger. The following year we knew a little more about farming. The younger ones could also speak some English. The natives came from far and near to take a look at us immigrants. They were very kind to us. They did teach us how to do our farm work. The next year we had cleared a very good crop of corn and also cotton. Thus it was better and better for us each year from then on. Soon we forgot the hard difficult beginnings.

About four years later some more families immigrated and came to our midst. They were lost in wonder and awe at the sight of our homes. Some families did stop to remain here - the family of Valentine Gallia, my father's classmate. When he inspected our home and living quarters he said, "My friends! I had a much better pig sty at home". My father answered, "Yes, you did, that is true - but I would rather live in this hut as an American than in the palaces of the European rich and labor as a slave for the Austrian government".

We were the first czechomoravian family settled on the west side of the Colorado River. Of those that settled here with us, still living here today are Valentine Holub, Francis Kosa, Mrs. Johana Janak and Mrs. Syzink. Others died or moved away and left us here. One day we will go and will our place to others".

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who is the father?

Here is an interesting death record!

Juliana, (secundum ha
proles ejus esl ex nem sup-
tial demonstrant) dcera
Jana Špačka, domkáře v
Miším a manželky jeho
Anny rozené Jan Pustě-
jovský, sedlák v Miším.
matka od delší doby opu-
stivší manžela žije v konku-
binatí s Jiřím Kolibou, sedlá-
kem v Miším, její umrtní lí-
stek s povi v tím výše jmeno
vaného Špačke co otce dítěte
uváděl jenž í otevřené otcem
dítěte se býti vyjádřil.

Rough translation:
Juliana (who )
daughter of Jan Špaček, a cottager in Mniší, and his wife, Anna born of Jan Pustějovský, farmer in Mniší.
For a long time her mother forsook her husband to live in concubinage with Jiří Kolibou, farmer in Mniší.
[It is] obligated to note [in the death register] that the above mentioned Špaček, father of the child, stated that the child's father is open to be determined.

The child was 3 years old and died of osýpky, which is the measles.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why did I renew my subscription?!

I love It has many records that does not yet have. When it comes to Czech genealogy, it's usually the passenger lists that I find the most useful, in particular their Hamburg Passenger Lists from 1850-1934. Their search algorithm and indexes are different - at least somewhat. This can be good and bad, but in general, having more options is good. I enjoy hooking up with cousins who are not on familysearch but are on ancestry. We had my husband's grandpa take a DNA test and found the turnaround time to be extremely quick, and the results interesting. The images are good. You can save them directly to your computer. Basically - I really like Ancestry. It is great.

The biggest news from RootsTech 2014 was that soon (when!?) members of the LDS church will have free access to Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. This is huge, huge news. I'm excited. 

So, I guess I just forked out $300 for a couple months? I wonder how this is going to be put into motion. I wonder how long it will take. I'm really excited about it!

I imagine the LDS church paid a LOT of money to make this happen. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Example of Baptism for Stillborn child in Czech Parish Records

Here is a church record with an example of a child who was baptized before they were born.

in utero
matris [deo?]
nomine bap-

A translation would be:

Baptized in the name of God [?] 
[while] in the mother's womb.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Jewish birth records in Mniší 1839-1856

There have been Jews in the Czech lands for millenia. Unfortunately, throughout those millenia, they have been persecuted to various extents by those who ruled the land. This subject is fascinating and could (and has) fill up volumes of books. It isn't what I'm posting about today.

From the 17th century forward, when the Catholics dominated the population, Jewish records were kept together with Catholic records in the parish registers. Sometimes they were interspersed; more often, though, they were tacked on to the back in their own group, where you might also find records of orphans and illegitimate children.

I found a specific example of this today in the village of Mniší. Here is the direct link to the beginning of the Jewish births in Mniší, spanning from 1839-1856.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

135 Years Ago Today...

Look at what I found on the Texas State Historical Association website today:

On this day in 1879, the first issue of the Texan, the first Czech newspaper in Texas, appeared. Though the periodical, published by E. J. Glueckman, lasted little more than a decade, it reflected the rich influence of the Czech culture in Texas and was just the first of many publications to come. Czech immigrants came to Texas in the early 1850s and were inspired by the glowing descriptions of countryman Josef Arnošt Bergmann. This pioneer, known as the “father” of Czech immigration to Texas, wrote of the freedom and fertile land available in the Lone Star State. Austin, Fayette, Lavaca, and Washington counties in Central Texas saw the growth of Czech settlements. The immigrants brought with them their family-oriented farming way of life and many religious and social societies. They also added to the fabric of the state’s ethnic culture with a wealth of folk stories, music, dance, and food. Immigration to Texas reached its zenith in the years before World War I, when foreign-born Czechs numbered over 15,000 in the state. By the end of the twentieth century, more than thirty Czech newspapers and periodicals had been published, and a number of societies and festivals honored the Czech heritage in Texas.

What my Texas Ancestors must have thought of my Polygamous Ancestors

I apologize to all my blog readers for diverting to the subject of polygamy so often these past few posts. It has been on my mind. Today I finished reading "Saints" by Orson Scott Card and decided I wanted to discover just exactly how many of my ancestors were polygamists. To do this, I went to and explored the family tree portion of it.

Well, in any competition about LDS-ness of ancestors, my husband wins! I mean, all of his lines converted to the LDS church. So, it's not surprising that I had far fewer instances of polygamy in my own direct lines.

I tried hard to not count the instances of posthumous sealings. After all, if we are counting numbers of ancestors who were ever married to more than one person, the number would be astronomical. There would be instances in almost every family line, especially the farther back in time, with increased rates of mortality. No, here I tried to list the names of the people in my family and my husband's family who were married to more than one woman at the same time. I listed the husband at the top and his wives below. Because I am relying on others' research, I can't assure that this is error-free. It might be. 

Kate's ancestors:

Joseph Moroni Wight
Mary Hurren
Cynthia Elnora Nielsen (Nora)

Lewis Wight
Nancy Urania Elliott
Mary Street

Jeppa Hans Jeppson
Gunnel Marie Hansen
Christina Pehrsson

Danny's ancestors:

Thomas Sloan Mackay
Ann Rodgers
Charlotte James
Sarah Franks

John Parker Jr.
Ellen Briggs
Maria Jackson

John Rex Winder
Eleanor Walters
Hannah Ballantyne Thompson
Elizabeth Parker
Maria (Ria) Burnham

Robert Taylor Burton
Sarah Anna Garr
Maria Susan Haven
Susan Ellen McBride

Jacob Peart (Sr.)
Phebe Robson
Fylinda Angela Loss
[posthumous sealings?]
Anne Wilkins
Betsey Candas Brooks
Fanny Maria Loss

Jacob Peart (Jr.)
Margaret Gray
Phoebe Amalia Richards

John Watkins
Margaret Ackhurst
Mary Ann Sawyer
Harriet Steel

Simon Cooker Dalton
Anna Wakeman
Laura Ann Warner
Mary Elizabeth Veach
Elnora Lucretia Warner
Charlotte Louisa Durham
Anna Annable

George Simon Dalton
Martha Fenwick Blair
Mary Jane Stoddard
Christine Muir
Elizabeth Rean

Lyman Stoddard
Ruth Wright
Mary or Polly Meacham
Anna Maria Truman
Abigail Brandon
Cynthia Dorcas Hurd
Mary Powers
Margaret Snyder (?)

Jens Jacobsen
Elsie Nielsen
Maren Madsen

Christian Peter Nielsen
Trine Jensen
Dorothea Jacobsen
Anne Sophia Hansen
Eliza Maria Mortensen
Larsine Simonsen
Marin Jensen

William Barton
Sarah Esther West
Mary Williamson

James Williamson
Ann Aldred
Jane Grundy
Mary Johnson
Isabella Banks
Phebe Banks

Frederick Shewell
Sarah Elizabeth Jones
Mary Ann Jones

So yeah, as you can see, my husband wins by a lot.
Kate: 3
Danny: 15

The other interesting thing is that of my ancestors that practiced polygamy, none of them had more than 2 wives. Of Danny's family, 10 had more than 2 wives, with a maximum of 7.

My Texas Czech (and very Catholic) ancestors read the newspaper. They heard of polygamy. They probably thought it was a scandal, an outrage, a confusing and odd practice akin to adultery. Just see for yourself! Search (no fee!) for "polygamy" or "Mormon" on the Nesbitt Memorial Library Newspaper Archive site!

For example, a quote from the Colorado Citizen, October 4, 1877: 

"The Mormon Church cultivates a feeling of hostility to our Government and its institutions, which is instilled in the rising generation. Polygamy has such a deep-seated hold upon its people that its suppression in which its advocates will fight to the last extremity. Clearly, it ought to be abolished, and that Territory placed subject to the laws of the United States."

I think one reason this topic has become so fascinating to me just now is because of the current hot political and legal debate over Gay Marriage in this country. It would be so interesting to hear what my ancestors think of this! Both the Texas Czech Catholics and the Mormon Polygamists!