Friday, October 14, 2016

The Šnajberk Genealogy Saga: PART ONE

Guest Post by Lukáš Svoboda
Translated by Kate Challis and Lukáš Svoboda
Original Post found here

I first encountered the Šnajberk family in 2009. Because my grandfather was a teacher, under the Nazi protectorate he had to demonstrate that he had no Jewish ancestors. Thanks to all the baptismal certificates which he had to provide, I easily got back to the mid-19th century, specifically to 1858. The birth certificate testified that Vincent Šnajberk was born and baptized (by Pastor Juren) in the Protestant church in Soběhrdy and his parents were Martin and Marie in Měchnov.


My next steps depended on how quickly (or slowly) SOA Praha published “their” registers, which was then still being published on actapublica [today they are published on http://ebadatelna.soapraha.cz]. Through Martin, the landowner in Měchnov, I eventually found his father Josef Šnajberk. A marriage record of Josef Šnajberk to Lidmila Mudrochová , freeholder ‘s daughter, in 1797 gave the name of his father, Martin Šnajberk. This was in 2011. Then the difficulties began. Until that point, it was actually just simple research dependant on how quickly the SOA digitized the parish registers.

I started to gather information about Martin. Gradually it became evident that he was apparently a shepherd or chalupník, that he lived in Šternov, or maybe in Brtnice, but also in Měchnov, and that his wife’s name was Anna, AND that he was definitely protestant. Feeling lucky, I typed in a google search, and was not disappointed.


The first relevant finding came from the “Sborník jednoty potomků pobělohorských exulantů-pokutníků a přátel rodopisu v Praze (čís. 3, roč. 1930)” [Journal of the Descendants of White Mountain exiles, and friends of Genealogy in Prague (Number 3, volume 1930)]. František Šnajberk, retired tax administrator, living in Prešov, boasted to his then current readership:


“Our Šnajberk family (also Schneiberk and Schneidberg) is also among the ancient Czech clans (Czech Brethren and nobility). Our Šnajberk name was remembered in the vicinity of Benešov (namely in the village Požáry) as early as 1626, when they were listed as estate employees  (as “master shepherds”) and in this profession  they spread across the neighboring estates up to Prague (Bráník), around Pilsen and Přibram etc. They also are [found] in Moravia and Slovakia. This clan was of Czech Brethren confession, from which many members were White Mountain Exiles (see “Krejsův Reformation Proceedings from 1929). It is also said that our family has noble origins. Our branch comes from Bráník near Prague, where my ancestor married into a property in the year 1790 which continues to be in the hands of our family [to this day.] If anyone knows other details about this clan, please write to the editors."

On the one hand, I was pleased. But on the other hand, I cowered in darkness, because I had had more than enough of unlanded, nomadic “master shepherds” on the Lnáře estate, and I longed for some quiet uncomplicated genealogical research on settled families which stay in one place like dumplings.

I was even more pleased with my second find: the tolerance applications for the Berounský region which are just loaded with Šnajberks. No less than four families were recorded and another “master shepherd” was also mentioned, because he remained Catholic. It turns out that all listed Šnajberks were stalwart Protestants, and therefore their alleged agitation activities after release of Toleration Patent were closely investigated. I hoped that one of them could be my ancestor.

In particular, among them was a master shepherd in Chvojen named Martin Šnajberk, but his wife was Catherine, so he could not be “my” Martin. Still, with hope I looked to his son Martin, who was at the time of his interrogation before the commission 21 years old and single.

But that hope vanished when I first found a child of “my” Martin Šnajberk and Anna born in 1781, and then found another born in 1777. Reluctantly, I had to admit that there must be at least two people named Martin Šnajberk and two families, which probably are somehow related. I also had to admit that the path to the families of the tolerance applications did not lead through young Martin, who was unmarried; he should have been married with two children. All of us have known bitter disappointments.

Although I tried several times to cast doubt on my own logical conclusion attempting to identify the two Martins, the final coup de grace came from the protestant register Soběhrdy 4 which contained a list with the heading “Pocžet famylye cyrkwe sobiehrdske helwyskeho” [“Number of families of the Church in Soběhrdy of Helvetian confession”]. This list enumerated heads of the households belonging to the Reformed Church, and on this list were 3 Šnajberks: Martin Šnajberk in Brtnice, and lo and behold, another Martin Šnajberk (with his married son Jakub) in Chvojen. (ťhe pair living in Chvojen - Martina and Jakub - both married - matched the names in the Tolerance application). In the very same church register there was also a list of donators of shingles listing  Martin Šnajberk from Brtnice, in which it is preserved for all eternity that Martin gave  30 dimes for new shingles in 1800.     

This was back in 2012. I had no choice but to look truth in the eyes and try to find a new approach. I reviewed all the known facts of the life of Martin Šnajberk, which thus far were only the baptismal entries of his children. It showed that in about 1783 he was referred to as a shepherd, later as a chalupník. The majority of these records connected him to Brtnice, but from time to time it seemed that he popped up in nearby Měchnov.

So then, another theory was that his wife was Anna, née Voukonová, and so Martin had just acquired the Vokoun’s property in Brtnice. Martin and Anna Šnajberk were also godparents of several Mudroch children in Tatouňovice, so the connection of their children seemed likely.


June of that same year (2012) the time arrived when I could no longer endure waiting for the new registers, especially for Divišov 04, which seemed would never appear on actapublica. When I visited SOA Prague, instead my usual request for land registers as usual, I spent my daily limit of archival books on parish registers. If my theory were correct, sometime before 1777 (the birth of the first known child, Martin) I should find the marriage record of Martin Šnajberk and Anna Voukounová from Brtnice (probably the daughter of Matěj Vokoun). The book was indexed by grooms, and there was only one named Šnajberk. That left only a short time to continue enduring my quavering expectations. On the left hand side of page 18, there it was, in full view. On Tuesday, July 31, 1770 Martin son of the late Jiří Šnajberk and Anna, the daughter of the late Matěj Vokoun were married. But even though I had confirmed my theory, I still walked away unsatisfied.


Who was this Jiří Šnajberk? And where to find him?

To Be Continued...

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