Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rodičovství je posvátnou povinností

"Visiting teaching" is a really neat thing in my church. Every woman over the age of 18 is assigned a partner, a "companion." We are also assigned other women to go visit-teach, which basically just means going to their home, talking with them, and sharing a spiritual message once each month. But really, your job is also to be there for them if they need help, and to let the bishop or relief society president know what they need.
I have taken many dinners to my visiting teachees, watched their children (many, many times), listened to them cry when they needed a friend, brought them our hand-me-down clothes, given them rides to and from places, and even helped them receive church welfare (food, money, etc). Visiting teaching is the system that my church uses to ensure that families and individuals are getting the temporal care and relief they need.
The message this month is about parenthood. You can find it here.
I decided to read it in Czech. It's probably really awful. But I thought I would post it anyway.

I think parenthood is really important. This belief is directly connected to my interest in family history. It is interesting to me to understand what my ancestors thought about parenthood. The more I learn about them, the more respect and love I have for them. I believe and hope that someday, I will be able to meet these people who I spend so much time thinking and learning about. It will be really wonderful to be able to thank them for making my life possible through their choice to become parents.
I hope that I am and will always continue to be a good mother.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I am so frustrated.

You can't just wave a magic wand and *POOF* abracadabra! You magically have friends and collaborators that share your passion and interests.

Fortunately we live in a world with the internet, the great equalizer. It allows me to communicate (or attempt to) with others who share my same interest: Czech genealogy.

I obviously have more than one interest. And I'm not a stupid person. I take care of myself and my family. It's just... It's so freaking lonely sometimes. I hang out with my mom friends and really have to make an effort to be present, to care about the conversation; my brain is wandering to my genealogy problems and questions.

There are millions of questions. I have so few answers. What's thrilling and exciting beyond description is to have begun to find some answers. It's just so frustrating that I'm crippled by so many stupid pathetic obstacles: the Czech language, the German language, how the demographic of people who share my sub-niche interest is not often an extremely tech savvy bunch, how the vast majority of my Czech genealogy colleagues are male, making it super annoying and awkward when I'm trying to read a book describing Czech birth control folklore...yeah no, I can't handle translating euphemisms for coitus interruptus with a guy. It's too awkward for me. So instead I get to spend 20 minutes plugging in various options to my translator, feeling like a pervert because I really, really, really want to understand this part of my ancestors' lives. Finally I get it and it's so dumb it makes me roll my eyes: "go to church but don't stay for mass." Or "till but don't plant." Ugh. Danny says, "even that one would be understood in English." Yeah except when the words are archaic, it just causes me to want to tear out my hair and scream with frustration. I just want to "get it." Why does reading Czech (modern Czech! 18th century land record Czech! Abbreviations in Czech archive descriptions!) have to be so difficult?! Whine whine whine.

My fourth great grandmother Veronika Schablatura's parents were married in 1779. They didn't have a baby baptized until 1783. That's super weird. What happened? There should have been at least one child born in that time, more likely two. And if it was me, it would have been 3 (our first three kids are 14 months apart each). So yeah, understanding birth control in the late 18th century is definitely super relevant. If she had a baby that died before they could be baptized, would there be any record anywhere of that child? Can we assume infertility? Or ::shudder:: infanticide or abortion? This options seem unlikely. What is the deal?

What I truly want is a group of people who care about these questions. I found one person. There MUST exist others. You can't just magically create relationships. They have to be cultivated. But I don't WANT to cultivate, I want to learn. Again, whine whine

I think I'll just have to dedicate an amount of time to blogstalking. Commenting and following bloggers. Hopefully I will find some female Czech soul out there with whom I can translate sensitive blushworthy material that contains answers to my questions. It's lame and pathetic and humiliating that my brain is such a blank freaking slate, that cultural knowledge that is just intuitive to a native Czech literally has to be written out twice for me: once in Czech, once again in English. Three times if you count google translatese, which is its own beast to slay.

I just feel really grouchy about putting so much effort into trying to collaborate, and finding myself unsuccessful at the cultivating relationships part. I'm totally an extrovert, I totally just want to interact with humans. Hence the blog.

Ugh. What a negative post. Maybe tomorrow I will feel better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ravenous Insatiable Hunger

I'm not really sure who reads this, but I feel compelled to write, and I know that good has come out of my efforts to get my genealogical mind dumping "out there" for others to read.

So, you who are reading this out in the great wide nether beyond, might have picked up on the fact that I have been working as much as I can on my Czech genealogy recently.

I feel a ravenous desire to find my ancestors. This feeling continually gnaws at my soul. Since the beginning of August, I have been spending almost all my free time engaged in one single thing: transcribing Czech land records. After years and years of frustration, I finally have found the method and tools that work for me to transcribe these records: collaboration.

I feel somewhat frustrated to be so reliant on others (mostly just one other researcher) to help me understand my records. But the truth is, I don't especially care about that. I mostly just want to read *and finally understand* the records. It is one of my heart's deepest desires: to read these Czech land records and be able to interpret their meaning. 

Right now I feel irritated because the Opava archives website's server is down (, and it went down right in the middle of my search in Gross Kunzendorf.

See, the trouble with my Czech lines is this: even though they did not move around very much, BOTH the parish registers for Gross Kunzendorf AND Vratimov are missing for the years 1785-1835. I have lines from both these places. Unless they magically appear (which they won't), I will need to rely on the land records to fill the major gap in the records.

The second irritating thing: I keep running into land records that I want to transcribe and translate...but they are in GERMAN. I'm just whining now because what I really want is to read right now are the CZECH land records.

Blah. What I need to do is sit down and really figure out what all my Czech genealogy "ends of the line" are, so that I can take them back. Grumble grumble.

The other fact is that my husband and I both jointly decided that it would be a really great thing for me to turn my genealogy research into my career. More on that later. But basically, that is why I have been spending so much time on the transcriptions: it is the key skill that I lack. And I am starving to learn more. It is almost painful how much I long to know how to read these records so I can understand what they say. It is a ravenous insatiable hunger of the soul. I cannot express this feeling with words.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Czech cases on my blog: or, in which I prove definitively that I am a nerd

As if my nerdiness were ever in question? Pretty sure that it is a long established fact. Sorry kids.

I'm really excited. I've been working for months years really, trying to figure out how to organize my life.

I've decided that what I really, truly desire is to make my genealogy work my career.

So that meant I had to rethink my blog situation. I mean, my other blog, Czech out your ancestors, well, it's been my baby! And it's basically time to admit that it is growing and evolving into something new. I am in the process of moving the less relevant posts to this more informal, personal blog. But I will continue to be myself (duh) on the other blog, just more focused on your research than mine. More focused on my goal to help you with that research. More focused on my career.

And it really is kind of separate; these goals. My personal genealogy goals are related, but not the same as my main goal.

My main dream, my driving purpose is to connect family. I do this because it is good and it brings me and others so much joy. Connecting family helps us understand ourselves, and who we can become.

More meta-blogging later...but always here, where it's not going to be clutter.

Anyway - as I was racking my brain as to how I was going to change the organization of my blog, I decided that it would be a hilarious inside joke with myself if I had my pages roughly correspond to the 7 Czech cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative, and instrumental.

This is really mainly for my own benefit. See, there is no way I would have been able to type all 7 of those as quickly as I had if I hadn't been reviewing (and re-reviewing, and re-re-re-reviewing) them in my mind this afternoon as I started to embed links etc.

But it is really nerdy. I guess I take some kind of weird pleasure in being like this (proud of being different in a potentially socially awkward way.) I probably got that from my parents! hahaha

More future metablogging and brain dumping on the subject of genealogy (or whatever) to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Spoken Czech and the schwa (ə)

On my first trip to the Czech Republic (I suppose I'm supposed to call it Czechia, but that sounds so ridiculous I can't bring myself to even write it, much less say it), I realized that my beloved Czech genealogy is inextricably linked to the Czech language. Therefore, I must not only learn everything there is to know (!) about Czech genealogical research, but I must become a fluent speaker of Czech.

I'm so excited about this! I love learning languages, and I really especially love Czech! Learning to speak Czech is a totally achievable goal, through a lot of hard work, of course. I know this because I am an advanced-high speaker of French, advanced-mid in Arabic, and I'm guessing that I would get an intermediate-low for several other languages if I were to randomly take an OPI right now. Too bad the Foreign Language Achievement Testing at BYU (the only test of its kind in the nation!) came out a year after I graduated. Anyway, it doesn't have Czech. Yet.

The point: I love languages. I studied how to teach world languages. I'm quite excited about learning Czech.

Part of me feels that my whole life has prepared me for this goal. This is the first time that I have been in a position to learn Czech, really. In High School, the choices were Latin, French, or Spanish. In University, I would have taken Czech, were it available on a 100 level course. Sadly, it was only available to returned missionaries at a 300-level. So I took French, Arabic, ASL, and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) instead.

I sometimes wish that I had taken German. After all, that would be so much more relevant to my study of Czech genealogy. However, I think that my skills in Arabic also prepared me to learn Czech.
  • Arabic a marked language. This helped me to understand cases.
  • Arabic is difficult. It helped me realize that I can do difficult things.
  • Arabic is a non-Indo-European language. While Czech is technically Indo-European, it is from a totally different branch from English: the Balto-Slavic branch. Experiencing a language that is farther from my native tongue was helpful
  • I learned how to navigate a language (and language pedagogy!) that has very few materials for English speakers. This is totally similar to Czech. If anything, there is more material for English speakers wanting to learn Czech than those who want to learn Arabic.
And as a side note, my fifth cousin's brother in law was from the exact part of Jordan (Irbid) where I spent a semester studying at Yarmouk University, and he knew the family with whom I stayed. So, that was a really funny coincidence.

But Czech...well, going to Ostrava was like a crash course in it. Did you know that Ostrava is one of the largest cities in the Czech Republic, and yet it is nowhere on the CR's tourist bureau information app? That's because it's basically the equivalent of Pittsburgh, which used to be the steel capital of the United States. Who would go on vacation to...Pittsburgh!? Ostrava was the steel and manufacturing capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its industrial production remains relevant today. For example, the Czech Republic exports more cars per year than its population, or so I was told. Well, many of those cars are made in Ostrava.

Me with Ostrava in the background

My husband and I were stupid tourists in a place where there is very little tourism, which meant we had to speak Czech. And we don't speak Czech. We are definitely novices. But I got a feel for the language. 

My first impression continues to be validated now that I've come home and started a concerted effort to learn Czech (thanks Amazon! The Pimsleur course is really perfect for my lifestyle, since I'm always driving or cooking or cleaning) : spoken Czech is full of the schwa (ə)!!!!

It's just full of it! When in doubt, schwa it out!

Seriously! Any ending, if you don't know how to pronounce it, just slur it into a schwa sound and it will be at least comprehensible. 

But let me tell you, it's really difficult (in a fun and challenging way) for me to differentiate between ulici and ulice, between kdy and kde, and 100 other words. It's just...there's so much schwa. SO MUCH SCHWA. 


Ted' jsem just being stupid...ale co jiného je zřejmý? Užívám moje "nerdiness." I recently described myself this way, and I really think it fits: a nerdy, bookish, extrovert. That kind of defies the stereotype, but so it is!

What is life for if not to find joy. I can't tell you how much happier I have been since discovering my love of Czech genealogy, and trying to find answers. I feel that the trip Danny and I took significantly expanded my vision. It feels frustrating, humiliating, and daunting: but it's also so exciting and fun. It's the kind of fulfilling challenge that I have been craving for the past decade.

Thanks, schwa. You're great.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nitpicking and Translation

I've been working on transcribing and translating Czech land records with a friend. I've learned a lot in the last three weeks - so much I have yet to share on this blog! For now, some meta data: It's been extremely fun - surprisingly so, actually. It' turns out...I'm...very nerdy. Well, so what. That can't be a big surprise to most people reading this blog.

It's surprising because I remember with extreme clarity the discouragement I felt when I opened my first Czech land record. I groaned - both out loud, and also in my soul. I knew immediately that this would be an extremely difficult challenge, more difficult than anything I had ever faced. It seemed impossible that I would ever be able to read the text in front of me. I knew even then that it would require many different kinds of skills: interpreting paleography, interpreting the old Czech spelling, and then interpreting the meaning of the words. (Eventually I hope to get to analyze the broader implications, the broader meaning of the record for the specific ancestor, and then an even broader application to the estate, perhaps even to the Czech lands themselves)

It turns out that the last part, interpreting the meaning (on all levels), is extremely interesting to me. I love it. I feel sometimes that I am nitpicking words to death, and I hope that this is not really annoying to those working with me. But this is because so often my very specific questions lead to a clearer, better understanding of what is going on, which allows me to write a better translation, letting others understand it better as well. 

I really enjoy translating into English. It is fascinating to me. It brings me great joy to use this part of my brain. I feel like my language in this blog post isn't doing justice to my thoughts and feelings about this process: basically, I'm an addict.

I feel a sense of urgency because I clearly understand the exact feeling of wanting to have more written direction somewhere explaining how to access these Czech land records. It's urgent that I gain these transcription and translation skills so that I can share this knowledge with others. At the same time, I don't see my learning as a linear process at all; I'm never going to have all the znalost. Ever. However, as soon as I gain a sizable enough chunk of knowledge, I will need to package it somehow and share with the world - especially with other English speakers - so that they can also have this great joy that I feel. 

If anybody out there reading this blog is interested in joining me in this project of transcribing Czech land records (especially if you are a native German speaker), please contact me. I am looking for more collaborators.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Amalie Rubac

I'm sure we've all been guilty of failing to cite our sources on familysearch family tree, hereafter referred to as "family tree." I certainly am guilty of this, but I'm trying to reform.

My brother Joe (who is a writer that you can czech out here) dutifully informed me that I failed to cite any sources in a person who I added to the tree several years ago. Her name is Amalie Rubac.

I started to add some sources for her. She is married to Alphonse Frank Cernosek, the son of Frank Cernosek and Gabriela Vasicek, who is my Great Grand Aunt. Gabriela got pregnant out of wedlock at age 14, married Alois Anton Klecka (most likely the father?), who immigrated almost immediately. She, however, being pregnant, stayed behind, had the baby, and then left in 1880 or 1881 with my Great Great Grandfather, Joseph John Vasicek (hereafter referred to as JJ Vasicek). She traveled across the ocean with her infant and her 16 year old brother, she herself being only 17.

All of ^ this information was from research I did for my BCG portfolio application. It was really satisfying to find JJ Vasicek's immigration record.

From what is currently written in familysearch, Gabriela Vasicek's husband Alois Klecka died in 1892, and she remarried Frank Cernosek shortly thereafter because her first son Frank Cernosek was born and died in 1894. Alphonse Frank Cernosek is their first child that lived to maturity.

And apparently at some point in the past five years I added his wife without *gasp* any sources! That's really bad. But I rectified it today.

You always start with what you know and work towards what you don't know.

This is roughly the order that I found the records. Before attaching any of them, I found them all.

Here is the 1940 census record for A F Cernosek and his wife A[malie] A Cernosek. There are no children listed. She is 35 and he is 42, and in 1935 they were living in the same house. His profession was a druggist, and she was a helper. I think this is them because they are the correct ages and initials, and this record was already attached to him. Not her, though. So we rectified that.

Here is the death record for Alphonse Cernosek. This record shows that he was the son of Frank and Gabrella Cernosek. He was only 44 years old when he died in 1941 and the informant was Amalie Cernosek, who we can infer is his wife. He is also listed as married, living for the past 9 years at 1826 Leeland [street?], Houston, Harris County, Texas. He died of coronary thrombosis and chronic cardiovascular disease was a contributory cause.

So from this record we learn that since ~1932 Alphonse Cernosek was living in Houston, presumably with his wife Amalie.

But...apparently in 1930 he was not yet married to Amalie because here is Alphonso Cernosek in the 1930 census living in Temple, Bell County, Texas. He was born in Texas but his parents were born in "Czecho Slovak." I know this is the same Alphonse Cernosek in the 1940 census because he is also a pharmacist working in a drugstore.

In 1930, Alphonse's parents, Franta and Gabrilea [sic] are in Granger, Williamson County, with their son Steve.

Meanwhile, here is Amalie A Ruboch in 1930 as an employee at the King's Daughter Hospital in Temple, Bell County. She was a registered nurse, born in Texas. Her father was born in Texas but her mother was born in Czechoslovakia. She was single.

We know her name maiden name is Rubac because of the death record, but also here is her headstone that she shares with Alphonse Frank Cernosek. This headstone is awesome because it lists both of their parents' names! She is the daughter of Martin and Anna Kosina Ruback [if I read that correctly].

So, even though I couldn't find an indexed marriage record for them yet, because I have her parents' names it was straightforward to find Mollie Rubach on the 1920 census in Hill County with her parents and their other 9 children. That's 9 more families that we can research and input into familysearch! Awesome!

Then, here is Mollie Rubach on the 1910 census in Burleson County. Her family was split across the pages and she is on the second page. Her mother Annie was the mother of 11, 7 of whom were still living.

Here is Alfonso Cernosek in 1910 with his parents Frank Cernosek and Gabrish and their other children.

In 1900, Amalie had not yet been born, but here are her parents Martin Rubac and Annie in Burleson County.

Here is Alfons Cernosek on the 1900 census, age 3. He was the only living son of both Frank Cernosek and Gabriela. The other children there are all his step-siblings, the children of Gabriela Vasicek and her first husband, Alois Klecka.

So, lots of information. The next step for me on this line is to find the marriage of Martin Rubac and Annie Kosina, and then to trace their lines back to Czechy. I think it's likely that their marriage record will be in one of the books I have in my personal library, in which case, it is likely to also have a hint about their village of origin. But if not, I will try looking in the Frenštát area first, since most of the people who immigrated to Fayette County had some kind of connection to Frenštát or the greater Ostravá area.

It's late and I have to go to bed, but luckily I have an awesome older brother ::hint hint:: who will take these links and input them into familysearch for me. Right Joe?