Friday, May 26, 2017

Getting Better at Czech

So. Much. Czech. 
I sometimes think my brain will explode. But this weekend I proved to Lukáš the usefulness of my Czech study by doing a little comparison of my transcription ability in 2013 and now. Here it is:
Transcription attempt 11/10/2013:
leta pane 1790, dne 15th Marcza povolenim
Arvzeneho, a Misocze vzneseneho Pane Ondřeje Zelinky
den čast Vrchniho vysoce knížečy arži biskupskeho
panství hochvaldskiho. Za fořta Karla Hilssera
au žadnich Jozeffa Horečky, Jozeffa Kuřza,
a Jana Mužniho, a čeleho au žadu Pasek Trojanowič.
Popaussžy Jann Shablatura Sciencvy Karlocoj
Shablaturedecj paseku pvan jmenem Skypalky,
kter aussto roku 1727. dne 17. dětod : Otec Jakob Shablatura
od Sedeho Předka Wačlacva Murasa před
lety u kau pil, a Scidwj Janovy niny Otcovy Karla
Shablatury zanechal za sumu....72 fhř
Exact transcription attempt 5/21/2017:
Karel Ssablatura
Leta Panie 1790, dnie “ 15ho Marcza spowolenim
Arzemeho, a Misocze wznesseneho Pana Ondřeje Zelin”
ký, ten žast Vrchniho visocze knižeczý Arczi biskup”
skeho panstwý hochwaldsiho. Za fojta Karla hil”
“ssera, auržadnich Jozeffa Horeczký, Jozeffa Kuřzcza,
a Jana Mužniho, a czeleho auržadu Pasek Trojanowicz.
Popausscžý Jann Schablatura Sinowj Swemu Karlo”
wj Ssablatruowj Paseku swau jmenem Skýpalký
Kteraussto Roku 1727. den 17 Octod: Otecz Jakob Schab”
latura od sweho pržka Wacžlawa Muraja přzed
letj ukaupil, a sinowj Janowj ninj Otczowj Karla
Schablaturý zanečhal za sumu...72 fř
Czech attempt 5/21/2017:
Karel Šablatura
Léta Pane 1790, dně “ 15ho Marca s povolením
uřozemého, a Misoče vznešeného Pana Ondřeje Zelinký,
ten čast vrchního visoče knižecý archibiskupského
panství Hochvaldského [Hukvaldského]. Za fojta Karla Hilšera,
uředních Jozeffa Horečký, Jozefa Kuřza,
a Jana Mužniho, a celého uřaduů Pasek Trojanowic.
Popauščý Jan Šablatura synovi svému Karlovi
Šablaturovi paseku svou jménem skýpalký
kteroužto roku 1727. den 17. Oct od: Otec Jakub Šab”
“latura od svého předku Václava Murása před
letyi ukoupil, a synovi Janovi nini otcovi Karla
Šablatury zanechal za sumu...72 fr
There are still mistakes in my Czech, but most of them are with diacritical marks and i vs y. This can actually be confusing for native Czech speakers.
The point is: my efforts to learn Czech are helping me *in a very concrete, measurable way* to be able to transcribe my precious land records.
No automatic alt text available. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Johann Černoch and his two wives named Petrová

My brother found a discrepancy in a Texas death record and wanted for us to research it further. So we spent the afternoon together researching this ancillary Czech line of ours. How are they related to us?

  • Anton Černoch married Filomena Kobersky.
  • Filomena Kobersky is the daughter of Anton Koberský and Marianna Vašíčková. Notice that I decided to put diacritical marks on their names, since they were born in Moravia.

Actually, to be honest, I am really not sure how I want to record Czech names in my database. There are good, logical arguments going many different ways, and this debate all centers on the question, “What makes up one’s identity?” But that is a post for a different day.

Marianna Vašíčková was the sister of my 2x great grandfather, Josef Jan Vašíček. The Vasicek family and all its complex intermarried lines are of great interest to me, because “Vasicek” is my maiden name.

Here is the death record my brother found:

But according to familysearch, his mother was Barbara Petrová.

We very quickly found out that, indeed, his mother was Barbara Petrová. He was born 17 June 1866 in Tichá 1833.

Actually, notice that Josef was the illegitimate daughter of Barbara Petrová, but later in 1870 he was legitimized.

Zde co otec uvedený Jan Černock úctivě žádal, aby Jozef syn Barbory Petrové, s níž dle Kop. matriky Tom. pag.  dne
jejž s dotýčnou matkou pro onatkom manželským splodie, a jejž teto za visé dítě njnává co jeho vyznačen a tak letgitimován byl u přítomnosti spolupodopsaných svědku Jak se stalo v Tiché dne 17 ledna 1870 pobdržálek svědek  Jan Tiček Jakubík předek

My guess is that he was legitimized because the family was already planning on emigrating, and they needed his birth record in order to apply for his passport. But wow, that would be really far in advance; according to the 1900 census, the father immigrated in 1873. The parents Jan Černoch and Barbora Petrová were married on 12 November 1867 in Tichá. Why wait 3 years after the marriage to officially legitimize him?

So, it’s really weird that Josef Černoch is listed on the death record as being the son of “Mary Roznousky.” Until you realize that Jan Černoch married again to someone named Marianna. According to unsourced data in Familysearch, the marriage took place in Texas.

Well, there was no Catholic church in the Dubina area until 1885. I have a transcription of those “early” records (hey, it’s early for Texas - quit laughing, my Czech friends!)

On the 1880 census, for example, we get an interesting clue about the identity of his second wife, Marianna.
This record shows that Johann Chernoch was married to a Maria, and the following children were his:
  • Joseph (13)
  • Franz (11)
  • Agnes (8)
  • Johann (5)
  • Mathias (3)
  • Anton (2)
  • Franziska (1)

Also living in the house were his father in law Johann Peter and his step-daughter Maria Peter (11).

Two confusing things:
His first wife was Barbara Petrová. So, was this Johann Peter his first wife’s father?
But then who is this step-daughter? He and his first wife had a daughter born 18 August 1868 named Marianna. Why would she be marked as a “step-daughter” with the surname Peter? Hmm.

Well...our current thinking is that Johann Černoch’s second wife was also named Petrová, and that she also had an illegitimate child Marianna born in Tichá the same year as Johann Černoch and Barbora Petrová’s Marianna, who probably died young. We think this because Johann Peter is definitely not Barbora Petrová’s father, but he is Marianna’s father. Maybe they were cousins.

I wish that I owned the other books written by Dr. Šimíček. I think there is a volume about Tichá emigrants, and it would probably illustrate this nicely.

According to the 1900 census, Johann Černoch emigrated in 1873, while Marianna came in 1874.

I could not find Barbora’s death in Tichá. I guess she probably emigrated and died between 1873 and 1880. I do not think there are very many good sources for vital records for that period and place in Texas, unfortunately. Again, the nearest Catholic church was not built until 1885 or so...actually, according to a local history, church services were held on the Vašíček property before the church was built.  

The findagrave entry for Jan Cernoch only references his marriage to Mary Peter.

It also quoted his obituary. Weirdly, when I went to the database to search for it (the Weimar Mercury is available for free through the Nesbitt Memorial Library via it did not turn up! I think the OCR must have had some problems, or something. Eventually I did find it by manually navigating to the reference on findagrave, and you can maybe understand a little bit why it did not show up in my search results:

The next steps will be to find the death record for Barbora Petrová and the second marriage to Marianna Petrová. And since they are both Petrovi from Tichá (at least, I am pretty sure they are both from Tichá, but to be honest, that is relying on somebody else’s unsourced information which they input into Familysearch) - well, then how are these women related to each other? Did Johann Černoch marry cousins, second cousins, or something even more distant?

When did these people emigrate?

I would also like to flesh out the identity of this other Marianna Petrová. What happened to her? She probably married - who?

As usual, for every question answered, ten more are asked….

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Last night I watched the 2003 Czech film Želary. I wanted to write about it here because of how it added to my background knowledge and understanding of my ancestors.

Spoiler alert!

Would I recommend this film? Yes, but with a big warning: it is really graphic and violent. I am sure that the language itself mirrors this, but fortunately I’m still a really long way off from understanding cursing and foul/disturbing language in Czech. I looked away during the really graphic parts, or rather, I tried to. I don’t need those images scarring my nightmares. But some of the very graphic parts came without very much warning, for example, the priest getting shot by a machine gun took me completely by surprise, and was very disturbing to me.

The basic plot of this movie is that there is a young woman who works as a spy during World War II, and her identity is compromised so she has to go into hiding. It’s arranged for her to go with Joza Janda into a tiny mountain hamlet in the Beskydies where she can disappear. Oh yeah, surprise surprise, in order to be accepted into the community, which hasn’t changed much for the past 100 years, she has to marry him - a complete stranger.

She goes, she marries him, she suffers from depression, she learns to appreciate the place and Joza himself. Meanwhile, she interacts with other characters who have problems in this tiny place. Lipko (I think that was his name?) is the bastard son of a woman who married a drunk sprosťiak. He is physically and emotionally abused by his father and also by the schoolmaster in the neighboring village in the valley where the kids go to school. He basically becomes a beggar who hides out on his own in an abandoned ruin across a river with some kind of dangerous quicksand.

Another character is a spunky little ~8 year old orphan girl with a goat who doesn’t have any fear of adults. Other notable women include the girl who may or may not be a whore who gets raped, the wife of the jerk who constantly beats her who has some kind of problem (it was unclear to me if it was related to childbirth or physical abuse) and then dies, the woman who had a baby who died and who nursed Lipko, who she then called her “milk baby.” There were some other interesting characters, like the Priest who feels really conflicted about saving Eliška/Hanulka’s life by lying about her identity - through performing the holy sacrament of marriage, no less. He probably feels really relieved when he sees how they actually have grown to love each other, and that their marriage is not a sham. There is also the schoolteacher who feels really ashamed at his hatred to Lipko, and tries (somewhat halfheartedly) to confess to the Priest.

Some observations:
The tongue-in-cheek moral of the story is don’t let your watchdog get shot, and never ever be naked, alone, and female if you want to not be raped. Also, life would be so much easier and less terrifying if people would just all agree to not drink. That would have solved at least a third of the major problems in the story.

My friend Petra’s tongue-in-cheek observation is that anorexic actresses are great choices for war films, since everybody was starving.

I thought it was really, really interesting that they used, “Emigroval!” (he emigrated) for a euphemism for, “He died.” (or rather, he was murdered by the Gestapo). Was emigrating really perceived with such a...I don’t know...with so much terror? I suppose emigration would be pretty similar to if a relative actually did die, especially in the earlier years of Czech-American emigration (starting in the ~1850’s, at least from Moravia). But in the 1940’s? Really?

I could really relate to Eliška as she was transported “back in time” to this place. She experienced major culture shock, especially when she discovered that there was no electricity in their home. By the way, the home was just some random abandoned home which Joza fixed up. They referenced abandoned houses. I have heard about Czechs abandoning their homes (after they emigrated, because they could not pay the mortgage, etc.) I have also seen first hand that the registration of abandoned homes in the land records. It was really interesting to me to visualize what that might have looked like.

And of course, to visualize the home itself. It was actually bigger than the Trojanovice home in the open-air museum which we visited. But it was also very similar, and the stove was straight from a Josef Lada illustration.
All in all, I really loved this film. Oh yeah, I should mention that I only watched the first half with English subtitles. For some reason, the only subtitles I could find were split into two files, and I couldn’t find an easy way to append the files together. So I just watched the second half of the film in Czech, and I think I understood most of it, at least the gist of it, anyway.

I think at one point the Gestapo thinks they have caught Eliška’s trail, but then they can’t find her because she blends in so well, so...they decide to shoot the witness point blank in front of everybody? What!?

What I didn’t understand very well was basically anything involving the Russian soldiers (I think they were Russian...they seemed to say, “Na zdrovya” instead of, “Na zdráví!” when they were drinking. But I think this is because I don’t really know very much about this part of history, and it’s true, it’s like a black hole in my knowledge, learning about Russian relations with the Czech world.

Here’s what I think happened: the Russian soldiers come to the village. Everyone is excited and serves them. I don’t really know why. They get insanely drunk and crazy. They start shooting their guns. Everybody goes home. One of the Russian soldiers decides to rape one of the villagers. He is shot by another villager (and she - with her brand new baby! - is rescued by Lipka), and the Russians go crazy shooting everybody? Um...what? Why? The villagers all run and hide, and try to treat their wounded. Joza is shot in the process of trying to save the guy who originally killed the first Russian, and he loses so much blood that he dies.

The other thing I didn’t really understand was the very, very ending. But then I talked about it with Petra, and I think I get it. We never really know what happened to Eliška, but the ending is 20 or so years later, after she has obviously gone back into the “real world” again. She’s wearing 1960’s clothes. She goes back to Želary, meets one of the old women who remembers her when she was Joza’s wife, she’s totally shocked that she’s still alive, and then they both start laughing like crazy people. But...why? Petra says it’s just black Czech humor, to laugh when you should be crying. I guess I do understand that; I just wasn’t sure if I had missed something.

I think you could watch the film and see just the story (which by the way, is apparently based on a true story!?) You could also watch it and see some interesting symbolism. Something about how the poor, small, miserable, weak, and oppressed can still accomplish really great feats of heroism and courage, and how this symbolizes the Czech/Moravian spirit. Maybe some other symbolism in how the Catholic church, which was the cornerstone of morality and stability in society, was completely obliterated by communism, just like how he was shot to death suddenly by a machine gun, for no logical reason whatsoever. There were also some serious themes of forgiveness, when Joza, the biggest hero of the whole story (and a little bit of a Gary Stu trope) goes back and saves the life of the jerk whose arm he broke (and rightfully so; he was trying to rape his wife! Actually, I don’t know...maybe he succeeded...I didn’t see...I guess he probably did not).  

Here are the questions I have now that I have seen this film:
  • Just how out-of-the-way of World War II were my ancestral mountain villages?
  • I know my ancestors drank. I know that my great great grandfather Bedrich Michna died of something related to alcoholism (another really excellent reason for me not to drink). How did alcoholism and excessive drinking affect my ancestors’ daily lives?
  • Rape. There was a lot of it in this movie. How common was it, and how were victims perceived/treated?
  • They did not spend a lot of time showing how Eliška would not be accepted into Želary. It was briefly alluded to, and then she was *poof* immediately besties with the other women. I wonder how small village life and its gossiping and nosiness would have actually been like for a woman in this situation. Would she have made friends easily?
  • The orphans were just kind of free to wander wherever they wanted. The one little girl seemed pretty pleased to do it, and her pastoral happiness seemed to be over glorified. It would have sucked to have been in her position. I guess that is what makes her such an obvious choice for a symbol if the Czech spirit of resilience in the face of huge obstacles.
  • I liked how the movie portrayed the Priest as “the good guy.” Too often, Priests are vilified. What would a priest back then have really been like?
  • Life there seemed like a lot of backbreaking physical work. In the most beautiful place imaginable, though. How would my Czechs have felt to leave this place? They would have had complex feelings of longing to both return to their mountain and stay in Texas. How can I learn more about this?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Czech archives catalogs are hard for me to search!

Why is it so difficult for me to search the various Czech Archives' catalogs?

My husband and I are planning our itinerary for our second trip to the Czech Republic this fall, and of course it largely revolves around the archives and when they are open. Now that I realize what a small percentage of records for my Czechs are digitized and online, I really crave going to the archives and gathering the other valuable records which exist so that I can transcribe them and actually flesh out my ancestors' stories.

I spoke for a long time about this with my friend Petr today. He feels like you can't really know a person if all you have are the dusty archive records, but I have strong feelings about the value in trying to know them, even if he is right, that you can't really completely know them. Of course, if you find a diary or a stack of letters, you come a lot closer to knowing a person than if all you have are legal disputes and vital records, but my experience is that the more I learn about my ancestors, including the important dates and events in their lives, the closer I feel to them, and the better I know them. The act of getting to know them is extremely valuable to me, even though it will never be "done."

And anyway, can you ever really "know" somebody else, living or dead?

Back to the comparatively easier side of this problem, how to find the records themselves?

After our first trip to the Czech Republic, and my experience of being completely shocked at experiencing first hand how much exists in the archives that does not exist online, I am so excited to have another chance to gather some more important records myself. But what should I look for? How can I know what exists? How can I prioritize my search?

Obviously, I will have to have all of this planned before we go. Not only do we have to request that the records be pulled in advance, but also the trip itself is not the time to be spent in front of a computer screen! What precious few hours we have exploring my ancestral homeland, I want to really savor and experience live. I want to spend time with my Czech friends and live in the present, not in my head, which is basically where I am when in front of a computer screen.

I feel really frustrated because I feel like it should be easier to figure out which records I want to pull. Maybe it's from being utterly spoiled by how the Family History Library in Salt Lake is so organized and centralized with so many billions of records in one single place, organized by one system. Maybe I'm whining about the learning curve. This is exactly why I have focused so much of my recent efforts on learning Czech, though!

Basically, when I think about our trip, I daydream about sitting next to my friend Lukáš in front of his computer and having him walk me through how to use the ZA Opava catalog effectively. I guess that throws the whole living-in-the-present-and-avoiding-living-in-my-head idea...haha.

Here are the reasons why I find it difficult to use various Czech archival catalogs to find non-matriky records:

1. Lost in translation
Since I have been learning Czech, I have discovered that my ability to use various Czech archives' sites has dramatically improved. I have a lot to learn, but I've discovered that literally every Czech archival site is easier to navigate in Czech than it is in the abridged English version, with the only exception being perhaps SOA Třebon. Something is often lost in translation when I get a list of search results, though. Important records do not stand out, whether they are translated by the browser or by the site itself, or remain untranslated. It is very difficult to tell what it is I'm looking at. I have a hard time judging at a glance if something is interesting or not.
Possible solution: learn Czech.

2. Many archives = many learning curves
Navigating the catalog for ZA Opava is entirely different from MZA Brno. SOA Prague is totally different from either of these. In fact it is very frustrating that there is no consistency between archive sites and especially their online catalogs. I almost wish that they could all be housed under one umbrella archive, and organize things in one place, but of course the American in me shudders at that kind of power. But you'd have to admit, it would be much more convenient for the researcher to have some standard website layouts and search forms, rather than have to relearn every site.
Possible solution: practice, practice, practice.

3. Catalog quality itself
So, when were the holdings cataloged? It could vary quite a lot from collection to collection. Those labeled in the 1950's or 1960's might be less detailed than those labeled within the last decade. How can I know if a record is relevant to me without it actually having a detailed catalog description? I'm sure there are some tips about reading between the lines, but when I'm squinting really hard and barely reading what's on the lines, reading between them becomes exponentially more difficult than it might otherwise be.
Possible solution: learn Czech.

4. Technical requirements
Something I'm really interested in finding are the zemský desky for my Moravian ancestors. Supposedly all these early records for Moravia are in tact and complete, and are housed in the archives in Brno. Searching the Brno archives' catalog, I found that many (well...some) of these super old records have been digitized. But some are only viewable with :::groan::: microsoft silverlight? Didn't that thing die a few years ago?
Possible solution: ask my techie husband for help.

5. How to search for something in Czech?
English is an analytic language, and Czech is a synthetic language. Czech is highly inflected. This makes doing a google search, well, "interesting" is putting it mildly. What is second nature and intuitive in English is really tough in Czech. For a long time before I could speak any Czech except "pivo", "prosím", and "ty jsi Moravec", it didn't even matter; how would I have known what I was looking at anyway, even if I could search for it? I know that my language skills are drastically improving, because a few days ago I searched for >> Hilšer Frenštát tkadlec and found an article in Czech about my weaver ancestors, who were really important members of the Frenštát weaver's guild and the community there. With the help of several very patient Czech friends, I was able to read it and learned some really interesting stuff about my family - my direct line is this Hilšer family, and we go back to the 1640's in this place! More about that later - with links and details - but for now, I just want to mention that it's pathetic that it's taken me a decade of trying to research my Czechs to be able to get to this point. Doing a google search on my English ancestors is one of the first strategies I would try!
Possible solution: learn Czech and ask for help from Czech speakers.

Anyway, these are my thoughts right now about why it is so difficult.

Do you have other theories about why searching these catalogs is so difficult? Any other possible solutions for how to improve at it?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Velké Heraltice 1737, pálení čarodějnic, "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!"

Today is pálení čarodějnic in the Czech Republic. It is a holiday for celebrating...witch burning. Whereas in the United States, the only time of the year that we really think about witches, broomsticks, and spooky stories told around campfires is at the end of October with Halloween, in the Czech world on the evening of April 30, people gather together and burn an effigy of a witch in village green, or in a big field. I've been told they don't really do this at the town square, since the other half of this custom is for everybody to drink lots of beer, and fire + beer = not a suitable combination for the village square. 

Here are some photos of this custom, which today is mostly about hanging out with and having fun with your friends and neighbors. I wonder if they roast marshmallows over this fire.

In honor of the day, today's quiz has, you guessed it, a witch in the parish records.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: Backwards Searches using Národní archiv site!

How do you do a backwards search from a link?

Recently I have been using for some client research. This is the website for the National Archives of the Czech Republic, aka Nárdoní archiv.

Sometimes, you end up with a link to an image. I was trying desperately to figure out the book from the image. Here’s what I did:

1. I start from a direct link to the image, like this:

How did I arrive at this link, you ask? Well, I was researching with my colleague and he performed the original search. But it is conceivable that one might arrive at the link (without notes on how they got there)  in a number of different ways: in a document file, linked to a person in an online family tree, as a link in a blog, etc.

2. I click here:

3. I get this:

I click here:

4. Herdek filek. I get a list of all the books in the collection, not just the one from the link.

So, how do I find the číslo inventář from a backwards search using the Narodní archiv site?

There is no way to do it. Nejde to.

Herdek fix.

You can only try to replicate the search in the other direction, which might really be impossible if you have no idea how to do this.

This is a huge flaw in the system and it seems like a relatively easy fix. If anybody out there is listening, please, please, please fix this. It will make the Jewish Czech registers so much more accessible and searchable!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gender, the temple, and another reason to learn some Czech

In order to do proxy temple work for your ancestors, you need four things: a name, a date, a place, and a gender. This last category is because people who stand as proxy are either women or men.

After I first went through the temple for my own endowment and started doing it by proxy for the dead, I quickly decided that I was not interested in doing proxy work for people who didn't need it, didn't exist, or already had had it done. The endowment ceremony is almost two hours! I didn't want to waste my time. The only way to be somewhat close to sure that my efforts were worth it and that I wasn't wasting my time was to prepare my own names for the temple by actually doing the research.

In 2009 or so, before the Czech records came online, I found a record for a Frantisek Peter [sic] born in Moravia, who immigrated with his parents Josef Peter and Rosalie Konvicka [sic] to Texas in the first wave of Texas Czech chain migration. I input his information in FamilySearch, but accidentally clicked the wrong button for gender.

Suddenly František was a girl.

I made a new František with the same dates who was a boy and tried to merge them.

You can't merge people of different genders.

I didn't know how to fix it, so I reserved the name and put it on the back burner of my to-do list.

A few years ago, the temple reservation policy changed so that you can only hold names for two years. This was in order to release large amounts of names held by people who had died or who weren't sharing. This policy makes perfect sense. It means we have to re-reserve my grandpa's name every two years. We will not do the proxy temple work for him until my grandma passes away because we love her and want to respect her wishes.

So I went through and rereserved some names for temple work from back when I was first starting genealogy research, including this female František Peter.

Flash forward to 2017. Yesterday when we were at the temple, I accidentally selected female František from my list of reserved names, and the card was printed.

When we were in the temple, I gave some women a stack of cards for initiatories. František was in the stack. I pulled the name, suspecting it was totally incorrect, and slightly horrified that the baptism and confirmation had already been done!

I looked it up, and yes, as suspected, František born in 1852 in Tichá 97 is totally a boy. He's not secretly Františka.

Nope, no Františka Petr in the Tichá index.

Here you can see how I re-reserved František Peter the boy, and František Peter the girl.

These are what all those little circles and colors mean. Yes, it totally feels like gamification.

From the FamilySearch app (which is excellent), I can see that there are both František the boy and František the girl in this family. The second image is scrolled down a little further, since they had many children.

How to fix it:
1. Find more information about the correct František's life. Add the information to FamilySearch.

2. You used to not be able to delete individuals. I think you can now, but the workaround is to edit all the female František's info so that it matches one of the sisters, and then merge those two people.

Here is a link to the original record.

I am sure that the reason I didn't do this back in 2009 was because I couldn't confirm the birth records in the matriky, and because I was a noobie making noobie mistakes.

The silver lining from this frustrating and embarrassing experience is that it directed my attention: here is a family that needs to be
researched. The research is very straightforward. The Czech and US sources are plentiful. It's like... Very, very easy. Like fruit on a tree right in arm's grasp. Low-hanging.

Think for a minute what would have happened if I had not had the background knowledge that František is a male name. We don't have this form of the name Frank. It almost looks like it could be feminine, if you didn't know any better. The result of ignorance: Duplicate work, sloppy tree, waste of time. Rather, a bigger waste of time than the accidental proxy baptism already was :-/

It is very, very important that Czech genealogists have some background knowledge of Czech, especially naming patterns! Your research will improve and you will be able to avoid mistakes which mess up the tree and cause problems for future researchers. You show the love and respect for your ancestors better. You have a more meaningful genealogical experience.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Watch out for that final a!

I was doing some research for my own Frenštát ancestors. Here is a link to this 26 April 1784 birth.

A very quick glance with my tired eyes, and at first I saw, "Johann Chodurin."

I should have noticed three things:

1. There is a third little nožičky - what looks like a final "n" is actually a final "a."

2. Notice that the surname has the German -in ending? This is a feminine form.

3. Notice that the column marked "female" is checked.

Well, at least I was able to catch my mistake. I hope it helps you to not make the same one.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Holešov, 1650's Pythagorean Theorem

This goes on for several pages. I wonder what the story is behind this. I also wonder about the person keeping these records. Perhaps being a clergyman was not his original dream...