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...