Thursday, December 19, 2013

See you in January 2014!!

I am officially going to take a blogging hiatus until January 1st. My whole immediate family is coming here for Christmas and there is a lot left to do to prepare.

Right now I need to focus on my living family more than my dead family.

But don't worry, I have a goal to blog every day in 2014!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How should I respond when I find out someone's ancestors were on Schindler's list?

I had an interesting genealogy experience yesterday. I did some transcription work for a Jewish man whose recent ancestors were on Schindler's List. I've been thinking about this question ever since - what is the correct response to learning this?

Obviously, you can't say, "That's awesome." It isn't. The fact that Oskar Schindler saved ~1,200 Jewish people from terror and death in concentration camps during the Holocaust is still very messed up. This should not have happened, period. Someone involved in a terrible famous historical event that should not have happened is not awesome.

You can't say, "That's terrible!" It also isn't. His ancestors were rescued. They did not perish. So, it is good they were "Schindlerjuden."

I didn't want to say nothing, because that also does not seem like the correct response. This horrible thing happened, and saying nothing might be interpreted as ignoring it. We should not ignore the Holocaust. We should learn everything we can about it, and do everything we can to ensure it never happens again, to any people.

I finally settled on, "I can't imagine what it would have been like to live through some of the things your family has gone through." Others in his family lived in the town of Oswiecim - in German, Auschwitz. I'm still not entirely sure if that really was the correct response.

I have been to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel. It was an experience will never forget. I have no known Jewish ancestors whatsoever, but that didn't matter. It was still extremely horrific. You don't need the human context to find a way to connect to the Holocaust; the magnitude of the evil is just mind blowing.

My first experience of learning anything about the Holocaust was to read, "The Devil's Arithmetic" by Jane Yolen. I remember that my mom would not allow me to read this book in 3rd grade. She said I had to wait until I was in 5th or possibly 6th grade. I read it, and found it horrific. I then read Anne Frank's diary, "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry, and several other books that I don't remember right now. Then, by 7th grade, we starting seeing some of the terrifying clips of bulldozers shoveling Jewish corpses into huge piles. I remember having to leave the room, it was so horrific to me. Just now, when I typed the Polish word for Auschwitz, I did a search on google maps. Seeing the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial's aerial view is chilling. Really scary.

The most recent book I read about the Holocaust was about a year ago. It was the diary of Rutka Laskier, the "Polish Anne Frank." The diary was hidden for over 60 years, only uncovered a few years ago, in 2007.

Anyway, I would really love to hear what others think about this. What do you think is the correct response to learning that someone had an ancestor on Schindler's list? Or is there one? I realize that all people are different; some people might choose not to talk about it. I think we should. But, I also want to be respectful of people who feel otherwise.

Hmm. I just don't know.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Surname Saturday: "Kreczmarska"

This post is about the surname "Kreczmarska", otherwise known as Krečmar.

My fourth great grandmother was Anna "Kreczmarska".

This is the spelling variation that was in the records my dad gave to me when I first started doing genealogy. This spelling is probably based off information found in the book, "A History of the Sumbera, Mozisek, and Kruppa families, Volume II." This book was written by Carolyn Heinsohn, who is a director of the Fayette County Chapter of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas. She and her family have done a lot to help out the TCHCC.

Czech Parish Records were not very accessible at the time that this book was written. With so many records digitized and made available online, I was able to find some new information about our family and trace this family back a generation further than I had thought.

But I don't want to blog about it because I want to use it as part of my BCG application! 

Krečmarsky, Kreczmarksky, Kreczmarksa - none of these spelling variants were found on the kdejsme site. So, I tried Krečmar.

Compare this to where Anna Kreczmarska was born, in Nová Bělá, right outside of Ostrava.

Either my line of Krečmar***s ended, migrated, or I'm getting the spelling wrong. I think it is most likely that that particular paternal line ended, but hmm.

I have spent the last two hours trying to relocate the Nová Bělá census records. They used to be online on the City Archive's website, but it is all being transferred over to a new site called More on that later. But I wish I could find the censuses again. Does anybody else know how to find them?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Surname Saturday: Folta

As part of geneablogger's Surname Saturday prompt, I have decided to start a series in which I post a little bit about each of my Czech ancestral surnames.

I decided to start with my 4th great grandmother, Kathařina Folta.

Folta is a fairly common surname in the Czech Republic today, as you can tell from the Czech surname density map at The most dense population of Folta's is found in okres (district) Valašské Meziříčí. This town is currently located in the kraj (region) Zlín. 

Kathařina Folta's birth record shows that she was born in #2 Zabřeh (nad Odrou - the village that is very close to Vítkovice) on 12 Nov 1822 to Valentin Folta, bauer [farmer], and Maryanna daughter of Wenzeslaus Novak, bauer v. hier  = farmer from here. Thank you Carl Linert!

Here is a zoomed version:

Here is how I am related to the Folta family:

Katherine Elizabeth Vasicek
Mark Edward Vasicek
Victor Frederick Vasicek
Elizabeth Agnes Michna
Anna Sumbera
Agnes Hruby
Katařina Folta

Are you a Folta? Are you Czech? Where are you or your Czech ancestors from?

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Today I made a ton of bread and kolaches. Technically these are klobasnik, but in Texas Czech culture, they are called kolaches. Aka pig in there blanket.

I used whole wheat flour. It is definitely not as silky delicious as a traditional kolache dough, but healthier and still very, very tasty. The sausage was from my neighbor's parents' farm. They have a meat locker business. It was quite delicious.

I like to bake a lot on one day. I can't stand planning it on a rigid, bi-weekly or monthly basis. I just bake when I feel like it.

Female inweibin, or hauslerin - the hired hands on a farm, were required to bake every two weeks. Something I think about now every time baking day comes around is what if they never felt like baking? It was still part of their job. I'm so lucky, with my flexible schedule and broad range of potential ways to spend my time or divert my attention.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why You Should Index!

I'm going to step on my soapbox and give a plug for Familysearch Indexing.

If you have a computer and can read, you can index.

Indexing is the process of typing the information from records into a massive database so they become searchable. Every record you index is important. It can be the key for somebody else finding their ancestor.

Software developers are working to create OCR technology to automatically transcribe handwritten text, but the problem is more complex than you might think. They are making some great advances, but so far the human brain is still superior at indexing.

Thanks to indexing, the Litoměřice parish records from 1552-1905 are 78.57% complete!

There are great new changes coming to Familysearch Indexing in 2014, including the ability to select specific localities to index. This means that someday, when the Moravia-Silesia parish registers are being indexed, I imagine I will be able to select for places like Trojanovice and Frenštát, and index the names of my ancestors. This is totally to everybody's advantage because I am already highly familiar with the spelling patterns!

I know a lot of people that feel "genealogy guilt." They think that in order to make any kind of difference, they have to be certified professionals who can devote all their time and effort to the research. They have "expertitis", that stupid attitude of, "Well, if I can't be an expert, I shouldn't even try." Uh...I am not running a marathon any time soon, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to exercise every day! I'm not the world's greatest cook, but my family sure appreciates my efforts!

Sometimes, though, it really is hard to just jump in to a genealogy problem and feel like you are making any headway at all. Case in point: my husband's family. All of his ancestors joined the LDS church in the 1800's. This means there are many descendants who are working on researching the same lines. Hey, when you have polygamists on nearly every branch of your family, and the doctrine of redeeming the dead, what else would you expect? The "brick walls" have been around for a reason - they are very solidly made of brick. Others have tried to solve the research problems and failed.

They aren't impossible to solve. But, they do require a lot of thoughtful analysis and record gathering. This takes time, which is something my husband lacks. So, for him in his position in life right now being a young father who works full time, indexing is the perfect way for him to be involved in family history work.

I also know people who say, "Meh, genealogy is not for me." I know that my overabundance of enthusiasm on this subject is not always contagious to others; sometimes it can be off-putting. The truth is, everybody benefits from indexing, irrespective of faith, age, and enthusiasm level. Indexing just a little bit helps you gain some perspective on your own life. You learn more about the historical context of your world. You leave your own egotistical thoughts of self and start wondering about others - what was their world like? What on earth does that cause of death mean? Holy moly she died when she was 8 months pregnant! That is so tragic! You start to think about you own ancestors. You start to gain a feeling of connection to your own past.

Indexing is the best Christmas gift you can give to your deceased loved ones. Stop feeling genealogy guilt. Indexing is easy and fun, and everybody can and should participate.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Church Record Sunday: Johann Mladinka

Here's a registry entry from yesterday's post from the parish register in Trojanovice where so many died from Typhus. 

Here's a transcription:

[died:] 18 January 1848
[buried:] 20 January 1848
[some type of clergy?:] Franz Kaschek, ročz [?] 
[another type of clergy?:] Valentine Ziczek Řapellau [?]
[deceased:] Johann Mladinka, tischler [carpenter] Pasekar [farmer on cleared land] in Trojanovitz
Catholic, Male
[Age:] 50
[cause of death:] Typhus [probably actually typhoid fever]

Why were there two different types of clergy listed? What were their actual titles? Was one of them the parish priest who officiated at this man's last rites, and the other the one who officiated at the burial? Why would there be two separate people?