Thursday, May 8, 2014

May Blogging Goals

Here are some new developments in my life:

- I decided to stop taking genealogy clients because I wanted to focus my very brief "genealogy time" on developing my BCG portfolio. I did learn that client work is definitely in my future, but I can't do anybody justice while I spread myself too thin.

- I became pregnant with child #4 in March. I am 8 weeks pregnant and E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D. It's about all I can do to keep up with my 4 year old, 3 year old, and 2 year old (yeah...we spaced our kids "Czech style" - a kid/a year. And then I had a small break), attempt to accomplish some semblance of my fitness goals, and spend some time with my awesome husband. A time and a season, a time and a season...

- We started a garden! A lot of my extra energy has been spent on learning about plants. PLANTS ARE AWESOME! And this is my excuse for neglecting my family tree (hyuk hyuk). Right now I'm hardening off all the plants I so lovingly planted, fed, and watered for the past 2 months while it was too cold to plant outside. Hardening off plants is really hard in Iowa because it. is. always. windy.

Some more Meta-Blogging thoughts:

I'm a complete ENFP. If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, you will know what the heck I'm talking about. I recently read some writing advice for ENFPs and they made so much sense! And baby, they were the exact opposite of the ideas for my INTJ husband!

Basically:
- channel beginning enthusiasm/energy in to useful brainstorming
- avoid burn out by talking to others
- avoid burn out by taking breaks when you need to
- again, take a break
- again, get up, stretch, talk to somebody else, bounce some ideas off them, and take a break!
- TAKE A BREAK

Okay, okay, I get it! I needed to take a break! And that is why I didn't blog for basically the entire month of April and the first week of May. I had been feeling like a complete failure and loser for not completing my dream goal of posting every day for a year. I lasted 1/4 of the year, if that.

But! This site keeps getting lots and lots of hits! Apparently my musings are being read. When I started this blog in 2013, the goal was just to write whatever (about Czech genealogy) whenever, because maybe somebody out there would find it useful.

I think I would like to attempt that goal again, and put a very small quota on it. I think I can manage posting once/week until my BCG portfolio is completed. Right? Right? You think I can do this? I hope I can. I will take more breaks and talk to more people. I will not take on new insane goals. That is not necessary.

But this blog? It really does help some other people sometimes. It is not worth quitting completely. I do not need to feel like a failure. I do need to keep writing.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yesterday's BCG work

Yesterday I was able to solve my missing marriage problem by translating one of these buggers.

At least reading these land records is a lot quicker than reading the 60+ pages of my "land records," AKA Wells Fargo Home Mortgage HUD.

Yay! I have a solid Case Study that I've solved and written a draft for! Now I just need to make it a whole lot better by writing and citing it up, and continuing to search for records and fixing my shabby translation. Sounds like I am going to be doing this for a reallllly long time.

But, hey, it's on my direct ancestral line, for my fourth great grandpa Wenzel Brosch. It feels awesome to put in so much time and effort on my own family research. It's just very meaningful to me.

I do miss client work, though. I think that 8ish month stint I had taking clients taught me two very important things: I can do it, and I really want to do it. It's almost like my end goal. I know, though, that I should become a CG first, and that because my available time to spend on genealogy is currently so limited, I have to prioritize. I choose certification first, business and clients later. I know that it will make me a much, much better researcher to have the experience of successfully passing this test behind me. This is mainly because the creation of this portfolio is the teaching.

To me, becoming BCG certified feels like a rigorous college course (much more rigorous than some of the ones I took, honestly!) in which the entire semester is creating a thing which determines whether you pass or fail. Dude, I would have worked a lot harder in some of my courses if everything I did had bearing on whether or not I passed or failed! I didn't take any difficult pass/fail courses; only super insanely easy ones where your attendance determined whether you passed. So, I don't know with any certainty that this comparison is valid, but I imagine it would be similar to some of those rigorous nursing or pre-med courses, or even board exams, where it is literally all pass/fail.

:::shudder::: I'm so, so, so glad to not be a doctor. I'll stick to dead people.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

BCG work

Today I spent about 4 hours searching for the marriage record for this couple in Světlov. I am hoping to use their case for my case study. I'm really annoyed that I can't find what I'm looking for. I started writing down EXACTLY what I did as I did it, so that later I can go back and reread it, and know what I've done. I should probably keep records like that for all my projects, come to think of it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

BCG Application Focus

I'm focusing all my genealogy energy this month into getting my BCG application completed! Even blogging has to come second to this, because otherwise another year will roll by and I will not yet be a CG. SO NOT HAPPENING AGAIN THIS YEAR. I'm going to do this!

So my blogging is going to be painfully dull for the next little while, as I use it to force myself to be accountable for working on my portfolio. Reporting, basically.

Today I worked on my case study. I discovered a land document that might shed a little light on the identity of a person. So that's great! Woohoo. Too bad it's in German and a zillion pages long.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why it's OK to include unsourced ancestry.com family trees in your research



Here's an article that sums up my opinion on why it is okay to include unsourced family trees from ancestry.com in my research. 

Basically: "Effective family historians...exclude no potentially useful source, and they trust no unverified source." 

USUALLY people have a reason for linking people in their online family trees. Maybe the reason is illogical, ill-thought out, or otherwise erroneous. 

Well, guess what? Maybe the original records themselves have errors. Humans make so many mistakes. How is it ever really possible to come to know the truth in genealogy?

Here's how: gather many, many records. Analyze the information. Consider the informant. Correlate the evidence. Realize that it is not the number of sources that state a fact, but the quality of the sources. Are they reliable? Are you reading a transcription? Genealogical proof is about gathering many records (including original records), correlating them, citing them, and coming to a written conclusion. 

I do think it's generally better to start with original records when you can, rather than to look at others' online genealogies. You can unknowingly introduce a bias in your analysis when you see something presented as "truth." 

There is a big family reunion on my husband's side of the family in June for the Challis and Wood families. One of the nights will be a family temple trip, and some of us are working on preparing some names from these families so that we can do temple work for them. I have been working on some Northamptonshire genealogy research, and a lot of it involves rechecking others' work. 

I love all of my ancestors. What's nice about Czech in comparison to English genealogy research is that so many original records have recently been made available for free online. English records are not even close to as accessible online, but there are many, many people who have been researching in them for decades (centuries!). Basically, there has been a lot more time for people to make erroneous conclusions, and it's a lot more inconvenient for modern researchers to recheck what has been done. 

Hip hip hooray for Czech genealogy! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Brief Overview of the Babinec project

So, you know how I mentioned that recently I've been focusing my efforts on getting my BCG portfolio prepared for submission? Well, I decided I would write about it on my blog.

One of the requirements for the BCG portfolio is that the work be completely your own; no critique, review, or help from others. The BCG wants to certify you for your own skills. It's not unlike a computer programming final exam where they expected us to not use the internet for help. In the real world, my computer programmer husband totally uses outside help. Crowd sourcing, forums, collaboration - these are just tools to solving a problem efficiently. They are also helpful in the real world of genealogy.

BUT...this isn't the "real world." This is the world of becoming certified by a world-class organization. Technically, I am allowed to publish posts on my blog that contain material that I would submit. However, when I do this, I get lots of feedback, lots of really great, helpful suggestions about what a word might actually mean, where to search next, etc. I don't want to do a ton of work and then have to not use it in my portfolio because somebody else gave me super helpful albeit unsolicited feedback. So, I've made a conscious choice to not blog the specific material that I want to submit in my portfolio.

Huh? I didn't I just say in my first paragraph that I want to write about my recent BCG portfolio efforts on this blog? Isn't that a contradiction?

Actually...no. Why? Because all that work I spent the past two months on, yeah...all that work...pretty much all of it...I decided I can't use it in my portfolio. Lots of reasons, mainly: it isn't the best display of my work. I don't have enough varied kinds of sources. I don't have enough solid evidence to "prove" my theories. It's good work, but it's not really portfolio-worthy, and sadly, it probably can't be because of the lack of available records for the village of Vlčovice. The parish registers start in 1720 and the land records start in 1764 - well, there are some Urbary records in the 1500-1650's, but they are too early. There's a 70 year gap of records.

I actually feel satisfied because I learned a lot from this experience. I was given the advice to never, never, never submit your first-ever client report in the portfolio; I suppose the same is true with the case study portion. And, even though it's not as strong as I would like, I have a case study. I gained a lot of experience with land records.

And now I have fodder for this blog for the next few weeks! So, that's good. The feedback I will get from these blog posts will help me with my BCG portfolio work.

The Babinec Project
Here's a brief summary of the project that I was working on. A friend and client's ancestors came from Mniší, Moravia. I found the marriage record for her direct line ancestor, Margaret Babinetz, in the neighboring village of Vlčovice. I wanted to trace her family back. I gathered all of the records of the Babinec/Babinetz's in that village, and figured out how they relate to each other. I gathered land records, transcribed and translated them, and was able to learn even more about the family.

Many questions and mysteries remain, and I intend to blog about them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stay focused, Kate!

Hey blogosphere! I haven't posted in about a week, but it's because I have actually been working on some exciting genealogy work related to my BCG application.

I have a dream of becoming a Certified Genealogist. It started over a year ago. I have been plugging along on my portfolio since the beginning of 2013.

Well, that turned out to be the year we moved from Texas to Iowa, and life got really crazy. On top of it, I decided to start taking clients. I quickly learned that I love client work. It is fun, challenging, profitable, and best of all, I feel like I am really helping others. I love that!

I don't regret starting taking clients when I did. I had no idea what it would be like, and I had serious doubts that I even could. I learned a lot about myself; how I work, what kinds of projects I enjoy, and what I want my future goals as a professional genealogist to be.

The reality of my world is that my time is scarce. If I am going to become a CG, I need to focus all of my efforts and limited genealogy time on my portfolio. I know that I will be a better professional genealogist if I obtain this credential.

I have decided to temporarily "take down my shingle" and stop taking genealogy clients until I become certified.

I have decided to continue with my blog goals, though, so stay tuned :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where oh where did my little George go? Oh where oh where can he be?

You marry the widow of Franciscus Babinec who has 9 children in 1745. You have one child with your wife in 1747, and no others (probably because she is getting on in years and no longer in a fertile stage of life).

In 1755, your wife predeceases you. 5 of her children from her first marriage are still living and they are Veronica (32), Magdalena (30), Joannes (28), Rosina (25), and Jacobus (10). Your son Ignatius was 8.

Where do you go? What do you do with your life?

In 1787, the house transfers to Joannes, the son of Franciscus Babinec. All of the children (plus one who is probably a cousin) are enumerated in the exact order of age in this land record. Their marital status, spouse, and residence locations are listed. For example, Ignatius is recorded as being in the army.

But there isn't information about you, Mr. George Kladiva. What happened to you? Did you remarry? Did you stick around this place? Did you leave the older children to care for the younger ones? Were they already apprentices? Did you return to your village of origin? Did you die around the same time as your wife and never get enumerated on the parish registers? Did you move to a neighboring town and remarry?

There is a Georgius Kladiva, son of Ignatius Kladiva, in the neighboring village. But it appears he dies in 1790 at the age of 36, which means he would have been born the year before your wife died; wrong generation. Maybe Ignatius Kladiva had a brother named Georgius, and they both named their kids after each other?

Still...what happens to you? And why 1787? Usually these land transfers seem to occur when somebody dies or marries into the family, or some crazy political thing happens. They certainly aren't random, at least usually. Hmm.

I'm not sure what to do about you. I can't find you at all.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Blog Goals

Here's my very meta-blogging post for you that is probably not going to be that interesting. I apologize in advance.

Here are my blog/research goals for March:
  • Blog every day!
  • Answer at least 5 genealogy related emails every day! I am so backed up! I really apologize, blah blah blah. Seriously though. I feel embarrassed at how I look at my inbox overflowing with emails, and instead of answering them, I sigh and go do something else because the task feels too daunting. Of course, this does nothing to improve the situation. So 5/day is my goal! I think I can manage that.
  • Completely finish my Case Study for my BCG application.
  • I will also figure out all (er, well, yeah) the people for my Kinship Determination Project and start on ordering films that will be required for completing a reasonably exhaustive search.
  • By the end of March, I will be 7 blog posts ahead. And my April goal will be to maintain that 7 post buffer between me and the Looming Deadline.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Puzzilla.org

Have you checked out puzzilla.org yet? It is a really cool tool that uses the familysearch API to let you look at your family in a new way. It looks like a spiderweb, but it can really help you visualize where there are gaps in your research, and where you should focus.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Přemysl the Ploughman

I came across an interesting Czech legend about a man named Přemysl.

From wikipedia:

According to a legend, Přemysl was a peasant of the village of Stadice who attracted the notice of Libuše, daughter of a certain Krok, who ruled over a large part of Bohemia. Libuše succeeded her father, and her councillors demanded that she married, but because Přemysl was not a nobleman she recounted a vision in which they would follow a horse let loose at a junction, and follow it to find her future husband, making it appear as if it was the will of fate not her own wish. Two versions of the legend exist, one in where they are to find a man ploughing a field with one broken sandal, and another in which the man would be sitting in the shade of a single tree, eating from an iron table (his plough). They did so and found Přemysl exactly as foretold



Apparently, this name has also spread into the Polish and Slavic languages.

As cool as the legend is, I am not going to name any of my children Przemysław, or the feminine form, Przemysława.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Uhersko, Banat

Yesterday, feeling frustrated, I contacted several of my Czech research contacts. Dr. Josef Šimíček emailed me back. He is a genius. He has written volumes and volumes of books that pertain to the exact area that I am researching, about the emigrants from the Moravian Czech lands to the United States, and mostly to Texas.

His email was reassuring after yesterday's failure. Well, more accurately, yesterday's realization that after weeks of researching, I am at an impasse. While he didn't have any new leads per se, he did confirm what I had found: this branch of the Haidušek family completely disappears from the parish registers towards the end of the 19th century!

So...where did they go?

Dr. Šimíček pointed out the one shred of a clue that I do have, and it is in the 1869 census. Here the brother Ignác Haidušek is listed as a single journeyman, residing in "Uhersko Banáty." Or perhaps that is a comma, not a diacritical mark.

If this enumerator followed the same system in every entry, the larger "county" type area would be listed first, and the city would be listed second.

Uhersko (and variants) is a village name in at least 4 different places within the Czech borders. But what if this is not within modern Czech borders? What if "Uhersko" is actually, "Hungary"?

Then...Banat would be a region of Hungary?

Huh?

I had no idea that Czechs left their lands to go to the Banat region. I actually, truthfully, had no idea this place existed. I'm up on my Western European countries, and even regions, but not so much on Eastern Europe. I guess I mostly (wrongly) assumed that people have always migrated west. From my very American paradigm, I have this stereotype in my head that the further east that you go on the Eurasian continent, the less freedoms exist for typical people.

I know this is a simplistic view of the world, and I know that there are exceptions to this (and all - including this one bahaha) generalizations. Hear me out. Here I am in Iowa. I feel that I enjoy a high level of freedom in my country. I have lived in Western Europe (France) and there are many freedoms there, too. I have also lived in the Middle East (Jordan) and there are less freedoms there, but I imagine more than in Russia, the Ukraine, China, and then, of course, the scariest place on earth for a person to live right now, North Korea!

But! People did (and still do!) migrate east. In the 1820's, a group of Czechs settled in the Banat region (an area overlapping Hungary, Romania, and Serbia). They have remained there, an isolated agrarian society, holding to their religion (Catholic), language (Czech), and traditions. If I were to visit there today, it would be like glimpsing my own ancestor's world 100 years ago.

The problem is...If my Haidušeks went to Banat, how will I locate where in Banat?

The good news is that when I search the Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895, I do find a "Hajdusek" family!

The bad news is...I have no idea how to do research in Hungary. Or historic Banat.

But wow, it's fascinating to learn about this!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I need help with my Haidusek research

I'm reposting what I wrote on the Czech Heritage Society Yahoo Group page, because I am truly stuck and need help finding out what to do next. I'm frustrated because I used to have high hopes that this would turn into a component in my BCG portfolio application, but it looks like it won't be turning out that way, especially if I actually do receive some help in solving this problem. Oh well, I have learned a lot from the search, and it's more important to me to solve the actual genealogy problem at hand.

The Haidušek family seems to completely disappear from Mniší records. The family I'm talking about is the Georg Hajduschek-Barbara Koliba children. This is Georg Hajduschek's second marriage. The fabled Judge Augustine Haidusek, first Czech lawyer in the US, etc. is his grandson through Valentin Haidusek, who was born from his first marriage. The pages in the Pilgrims for Hope Vol. 1 book are about Valentin, who immigrated on the Anna Elise with that group of immigrants in 1856. They were mostly from Frenštát and the surrounding area. Seven of them stuck together and founded the village of Dubina. 

I'm trying to trace the children from his second marriage, and so far I'm just stuck. Several records seem to quote somebody mentioning that Valentin Haidusek's father George owned substantial lands. 

I found George Haiduschek's land records. They weren't actually that extensive.  If I understand the records correctly, Valentin Haidusek seems to have inherited them all, and then the last entry for #14 Mniší is in 1856, the year that he immigrated. Perhaps he sold them?

Valentin Haidusek had 8 half siblings: Georg, Johann, Franz, Cirill, Ignatz, Anna, Antonia, and Theresia. 

Georg Haiduschek married Mariana Žabensky of Rychaltice. He is living at #14 Mniší in the 1869 census with his wife, 4 kids, and single brother Ignatz, a journeyman in "Uhersko, banaty" which I don't know if that's a place in Hungary or the Pardubice region of the Czech lands. Hmm.

Johann married twice, first to Johanna Bohač and then to Marianna Pustejovsky. They were both older widows and never had children with him. He is found in #21 Mniší with his first wife and her children on the 1869 census, and #48 Mniší with his second wife and her children on the 1890 census. 

Franz died when he was 17. His inheritance was divided between his mother and siblings in 1853 in the land records for #14 Mniší. 

Ignatz I have been unable to trace at all beyond the 1869 census. Presumably he married. He was 31 in 1869, and most of his siblings married first in their 30's (or even 40's!).

Anna married Thomas Brosch of #9 Mniší. In 1869, she is there with her husband, his parents, and her sister Antonia. 

Antonia marries Joseph Klozík of Mniší. In 1890 they are living in #65 with their kids.

Theresia Haidusczek inherited a portion of her brother Franz's inheritance in 1853, so she did not die young. I have found no record of her after that - I can't find her residence place in 1869, and I can't find any marriages or deaths for her. 

I have looked through every page of every Mniší matriky record that is available online, and I still can't find anything else about these peoples' fates. I also searched in all the surrounding villages including Kopřivnice, Vlčovice, Ticha, Drnholec, Sýkorec, Hukvaldy, Horní Sklenov, Lichnov, and Bordovice.  I even searched Frenštát, Trojanovice, Frydlant nad Ostravicí, and Kunčice pod Ondrejníkem records.I went through the entire 1869 census for Mniší. 

Maybe all of these people had really long lives? 

Or maybe...they immigrated? The group of immigrants that came in 1856 supposedly had 120 people, but only a handful of them are mentioned by name. Of course, finding passenger lists for Galveston arrivals circa 1850-1860 involves crossing your fingers that some copy of a list is available in a newspaper here or in Bremen. 

Maybe the men changed their surnames? 

Does anybody have an idea of where to look next? My goal is to find out when and where all of these people died, and what became of them. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why did I renew my ancestry.com subscription?!

I love ancestry.com. It has many records that familysearch.org does not yet have. When it comes to Czech genealogy, it's usually the passenger lists that I find the most useful, in particular their Hamburg Passenger Lists from 1850-1934. Their search algorithm and indexes are different - at least somewhat. This can be good and bad, but in general, having more options is good. I enjoy hooking up with cousins who are not on familysearch but are on ancestry. We had my husband's grandpa take a DNA test and found the turnaround time to be extremely quick, and the results interesting. The images are good. You can save them directly to your computer. Basically - I really like Ancestry. It is great.

The biggest news from RootsTech 2014 was that soon (when!?) members of the LDS church will have free access to Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. This is huge, huge news. I'm excited. 

So, I guess I just forked out $300 for a couple months? I wonder how this is going to be put into motion. I wonder how long it will take. I'm really excited about it!

I imagine the LDS church paid a LOT of money to make this happen. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What my Texas Ancestors must have thought of my Polygamous Ancestors

I apologize to all my blog readers for diverting to the subject of polygamy so often these past few posts. It has been on my mind. Today I finished reading "Saints" by Orson Scott Card and decided I wanted to discover just exactly how many of my ancestors were polygamists. To do this, I went to familysearch.org and explored the family tree portion of it.

Well, in any competition about LDS-ness of ancestors, my husband wins! I mean, all of his lines converted to the LDS church. So, it's not surprising that I had far fewer instances of polygamy in my own direct lines.

I tried hard to not count the instances of posthumous sealings. After all, if we are counting numbers of ancestors who were ever married to more than one person, the number would be astronomical. There would be instances in almost every family line, especially the farther back in time, with increased rates of mortality. No, here I tried to list the names of the people in my family and my husband's family who were married to more than one woman at the same time. I listed the husband at the top and his wives below. Because I am relying on others' research, I can't assure that this is error-free. It might be. 


Kate's ancestors:


Joseph Moroni Wight
Mary Hurren
Cynthia Elnora Nielsen (Nora)


Lewis Wight
Nancy Urania Elliott
Mary Street


Jeppa Hans Jeppson
Gunnel Marie Hansen
Christina Pehrsson
------------------------------



Danny's ancestors:


Thomas Sloan Mackay
Ann Rodgers
Charlotte James
Sarah Franks


John Parker Jr.
Ellen Briggs
Maria Jackson


John Rex Winder
Eleanor Walters
Hannah Ballantyne Thompson
Elizabeth Parker
Maria (Ria) Burnham


Robert Taylor Burton
Sarah Anna Garr
Maria Susan Haven
Susan Ellen McBride


Jacob Peart (Sr.)
Phebe Robson
Fylinda Angela Loss
[posthumous sealings?]
Anne Wilkins
Betsey Candas Brooks
Fanny Maria Loss


Jacob Peart (Jr.)
Margaret Gray
Phoebe Amalia Richards


John Watkins
Margaret Ackhurst
Mary Ann Sawyer
Harriet Steel


Simon Cooker Dalton
Anna Wakeman
Laura Ann Warner
Mary Elizabeth Veach
Elnora Lucretia Warner
Charlotte Louisa Durham
Anna Annable


George Simon Dalton
Martha Fenwick Blair
Mary Jane Stoddard
Christine Muir
Elizabeth Rean


Lyman Stoddard
Ruth Wright
Mary or Polly Meacham
Anna Maria Truman
Abigail Brandon
Cynthia Dorcas Hurd
Mary Powers
Margaret Snyder (?)


Jens Jacobsen
Elsie Nielsen
Maren Madsen


Christian Peter Nielsen
Trine Jensen
Dorothea Jacobsen
Anne Sophia Hansen
Eliza Maria Mortensen
Larsine Simonsen
Marin Jensen


William Barton
Sarah Esther West
Mary Williamson


James Williamson
Ann Aldred
Jane Grundy
Mary Johnson
Isabella Banks
Phebe Banks


Frederick Shewell
Sarah Elizabeth Jones
Mary Ann Jones

So yeah, as you can see, my husband wins by a lot.
Kate: 3
Danny: 15

The other interesting thing is that of my ancestors that practiced polygamy, none of them had more than 2 wives. Of Danny's family, 10 had more than 2 wives, with a maximum of 7.

My Texas Czech (and very Catholic) ancestors read the newspaper. They heard of polygamy. They probably thought it was a scandal, an outrage, a confusing and odd practice akin to adultery. Just see for yourself! Search (no fee!) for "polygamy" or "Mormon" on the Nesbitt Memorial Library Newspaper Archive site!

For example, a quote from the Colorado Citizen, October 4, 1877: 

"The Mormon Church cultivates a feeling of hostility to our Government and its institutions, which is instilled in the rising generation. Polygamy has such a deep-seated hold upon its people that its suppression in which its advocates will fight to the last extremity. Clearly, it ought to be abolished, and that Territory placed subject to the laws of the United States."

I think one reason this topic has become so fascinating to me just now is because of the current hot political and legal debate over Gay Marriage in this country. It would be so interesting to hear what my ancestors think of this! Both the Texas Czech Catholics and the Mormon Polygamists!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Historical Fiction: the genre of choice for the genealogist

It was bound to happen sometime this year. I forgot to post on my blog yesterday. I should have these posts scheduled in advance, and in fact that is my end goal. But it just hasn't happened.

I've been listening to an audio book called "Saints" by Orson Scott Card. I love it. It is a historical fiction account of a woman who converts to Mormonism in England and becomes a plural wife of Joseph Smith Jr. If you didn't know this already, Orson Scott Card is a faithful latter-day saint (Mormon), and so am I. This book is unapologetic about polygamy. I am finding it really satisfying to my voyeuristic yearnings to get inside the minds of my ancestors who practiced polygamy.

I don't usually enjoy fiction; at least, I haven't since before I married and had kids. Of course, that's not true, and my husband would find dozens of examples of works of fiction that I have digested in the past five years. I can't think of many right now.

I also don't usually enjoy biography because it's so...plotless. Many times, it's a lot of facts without a story, although this is also another obvious false statement; I devoured the autobiography of Lucy Mack Smith a few months ago. My brother in law pinned it exactly: I love genealogy and family history because I love stories.

This book is a compilation of real personal accounts, Card's interpretation of history, and his own imagination. It is not all true, yet it is truthful. The scenes themselves are plausible, though sometimes a bit melodramatic. But the emotion, faith, and trials conveyed in this story are true. They are valuable to me because I would not be here if it were not for the sacrifices of my polygamist ancestors, who lived this law as a sacrifice and trial of their faith. It's amazing to me how much more I appreciate them now that my indecent voyeurism has been satisfied.

What is not at all satisfied now are my questions about the details of the events in the lives of my own ancestors. I would love to find their journals or letters - something that gets me inside their mind, to know their thoughts.

I only wish such a book of historical fiction were written about my Czech immigrant ancestors! Or the non-immigrants. What was it really like for the people who lived in the 19th century, yet under feudal laws reeking of the 15th? How would it have been to be a Catholic living in Moravia during its time of transition from a predominantly Protestant nobility to a Catholic one? Anyway, there is no "boring" life. Every person, even the farmer who worked all day outside to keep his family from starving, never traveling more than a ~5 mile radius away from his house during his entire life, accomplishing little in the eyes of the world besides leaving behind a large posterity - that story is fascinating to me, and I long for it to be told.

And this is one of the reasons why I do family history: in hopes of piecing together some sort of understanding of those people who created me.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mnemonic devices for memorizing Czech Months (English)

This is mostly for my benefit but I decided to post it in case there are any other English-speaking Czech researchers out there who have a hard time remembering the Czech months of the year.

Leden - led is Czech for "ice." Led sounds like "lead". This is kind of how my heart feels in January. Full of lead.



únor - Only "uno" more month until spring! Right, Mr. Groundhog?

Březen - I think the wind could make the sound "b-zhhhhhhhhhhh" like in Březen. There's lots of wind in March.

Duben - this means "oak tree" in Czech. The town of Dubina, Texas was named for the oak trees. Think: blossoming oak trees. April showers bring May flowers...except oak trees...which come in April...right...? 

května - This is a huge stretch for me. It looks a little bit like "cat" and there is the word "vet" in there, sort of. I "MAY" not be around cats because I am allergic! 

červen - June is the first month of summer and only has the first part of the word.

červenec - July is the second month of summer and has both parts of the word. 

srpen - Imagine a serpent coming to tempt Eve in the garden...it would probably be more persuasive in August, right? Okay that's a huge stretch.

září - September is the time for back-to-school shopping, which we all do at that fancy-pants store Zara.

říjen - The čárka and the dot of the j make the eye holes for the jack-o-lantern for October. 

listopad - November is the month of my birthday, and I love making lists. And this particular list is useful to nobody except me.

prosinec - If you say this word quickly, it sort of sounds like "presents" which is what you get for Christmas in December.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

England Research can help Czech Research

If my husband wants to do genealogy research, he basically needs to become an expert in Northamptonshire, England - its history, repositories, available records, etc. Mostly we are concentrating on the early 1800's and earlier. As we have worked together to start figuring this out, it has struck me that understanding manorial laws and customs in England definitely will help me understand Czech manorial laws and customs. Obviously, one should not assume that they are the same. However, I'm sure the systems were much more similar to each other than they are to the governmental system I live under here in the 21st Century United States!

I found a really excellent online class about the UK Census records located here. It really helped me to understand the record better - why it was made, who made it, and how it was made. I really think that a thorough understanding of the document itself is key to extracting information from the document.

I wish there were a similar free online lecture about Czech Census records. So far, most online courses for Czech research that are available on familysearch.org have to do with how to navigate Czech archival sites, which is really good information, too. I just hope that when a similar resource becomes available, it will at least be dubbed in English!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Soapbox: Genealogy Guilt is Stupid

I'm a family history consultant in my ward. I come in contact with a lot of people who have "Genealogy Guilt." It is annoying, and needs to stop. It is stupid.

One of the goals of the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) church is to redeem the dead. This means you first need to find them. Mixing genealogy research with faith can be inspiring. Many people have had wonderful experiences learning about their loved ones of the past. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people don't have the desire/interest/motivation/time to do genealogy, so the faith element just creates a massive build up of guilt.

Personally, I don't think that every person on this planet should be a board-certified genealogist. There is room for all kinds of people, with their varied interests and talents. Variety is good.

I don't know how many times I have heard people say something to the effect of, "So-and-so in my family already did all our genealogy so there's nothing left for me to do anyway."

I also hear, "I don't do genealogy [even though I should]."

We all agree that exercise is good. It is easy to see that if you start an exercise regime and fail once, it would be silly to say, "Oh, well...I guess I shouldn't even try." Obviously, it would be much healthier for you to move forward, press on, continue trying!

Instead of griping and groaning about family history, just find a small way to get involved that works for you! And do it! When you fail, which you will because you are human, just try again. And that doesn't mean forsaking all your other interests and chaining yourself to the computer for hours and hours doing online research, or descending into some dank and musty archives to look at crumbling papers with illegible scribbles. One of my best friends told me that family history isn't "her thing" but then later I found out that she creates excellent, high quality, elaborate digital scrapbooks that she gets printed and bound in hardback covers. So, yeah, family history is her thing!

What comes to mind is a really stupid pickup line. "Hey baby, forget family history, how about family future?" :::eye roll:::

But seriously guys, let's not get so caught up in our loserly attitudes of guilt that we fail to even try. Family History research is never "over." You can and should move forward, press on, and continue trying.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I found a military man!

I found a Czech ancestor in the military the other day! This is exciting because everybody else was a farmer!

Here is the FamilySearch wiki page for doing Czech military research. This is where I will start in my search for him.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Texas Czechs Adopted Orphan Train Riders

Tonight I discovered that my 3rd great uncle adopted two children who were born in New York. This probably means the children were from an orphan train.

My 3rd great uncle and his wife were Czech immigrants from Vítkovice who farmed in Fayette and Fort Bend counties. There are 10 years age difference between their youngest child and one of the children who they adopted.

I wonder if the two children were siblings? I wonder how I will go about finding out about these children's origins!

My husband and I watched "Orphan Train" - a 1979 made-for-TV movie. It was surprisingly good. The beginning is heart-wrenching.

I remember that a few years ago I found another child who was probably adopted from an orphan train. Her first name sticks out to me - Violet - because it is so un-Czech. I wonder what the reasons my ancestors had for choosing to adopt: fertility struggles, needing help on the farm, feeling it was God's desire for them to adopt?

Here is a website I will have to look at later. It has a name that is very likely one of their children!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1741 Map of Silesia

I found a beautiful map of Silesia in 1741 on the Ostrava City Archive's website, which is http://earchiv.ostrava.cz.

Here is a direct link to the description of the map. To view it, click, "zobrazit digitálnie kopie." That will open up the map in a new tab in your browser. This is what you will see:



The full title is:

Carte generale du duché de Silesie divisée en ses XVII moindres principautés et domaines. Sup. et ducatus Silesiae un suos XVII minores principarus et dominia divisi novva tabula in lucem edita a Covens et Mortier Amsterodami 1741.

My translation of the French:

A General Map of the Duchy of Silesia divided in its 17 smallest principalities and dominions.

Published by the World Mortier Amsterdam 1741.

Here is the part of the map that interests me:


I'm sitting here trying to figure out the historical jurisdictions of my ancestor's villages of origin: Velké Kunčice (Groß Kunzendorf) and Vratimov (Ratimau). Velké Kunčice was razed ~1950 to make way for the Nová hut' iron and steel works complex. It doesn't exist anymore.

I have heard rumors about people searching for Vratimov records in Polish archives. Someone even said that Vratimov was part of the Wroclaw diocese? That seems...far.

There is ~40 year gap of parish records for these villages between ~1780 and 1835. The parish records we do have post 1835 are the bishop's transcripts - not originals! Agh!

Anyway, this map is too old to shed any real light on my 1840's problem. But it is so beautiful!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beautiful Savior, or Schönster Herr Jesu

I noticed a few weeks ago that one of my favorite songs in the LDS Children's Songbook is actually a Silesian folk song. According to the songbook, the words are supposedly from the 12th century by an anonymous composer, though this blog says, "it is better to associate the hymn with followers of John Hus," which would put it more in the 15th century.

Either way, it is a beautiful hymn, and my ancestors are Silesian. 

Here is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing it.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 APG Professional Management Conference

I was able to listen to 1 and 3/4 lectures of the 2014 APG Professional Management Conference this morning as I drove to Costco, shopped, checked out, drove to Walmart, shopped, drove home, and cooked lunch for my family.

Judy G. Russell AKA "The Legal Genealogist" was an awesome presenter. I thought she did a great job. I heard her entire presentation. It was about the contract; what kinds of things you should put in the contract, why a contract offers you more protection than copyright law, the fact that "moral" law in regards to protecting one's name and reputation don't really exist in the United States. Very interesting stuff.

The next presentation that I heard most of was by Angela McGhie and was about networking for genealogists. It was also fantastic and I want to make a list of all the advice and tips she gave, and do them all!

I think of my love of quilting, and how it took me a long time to decide that you know what, a lot of the really nitpicky steps (pressing, trimming threads, cleaning the machine...) are actually shortcuts.

It is difficult for my bullheaded-Bohemian* brain to do, but after listening to these two professionals speak, I decided that I am going to listen to their presentations again (I'm so glad they were recorded and are available for 3 months! My family would not be able to spare me for an entire day of genealogy fun!) and create a list of the advice they give. I am going to try to follow as much of it as possible.

It is one of the deepest wishes of my soul to be an excellent, professional Certified Genealogist. Our move from Texas to Iowa this year really put all of my plans to become certified by the BCG on hold for several months, such that in another week or so I will find myself filing for an extension to my "on the clock" adventure.

Anyway, those are my thoughts after the conference. I gained measure of humility and motivation to strive to take what actually are shortcuts, though they are not necessarily what I WANT to do. I also feel motivated and encouraged to become certified, although neither of the presenters actually spoke about  that directly. I think part of it is just loving this group of people, and yearning to really be a part of the club with those two little letters after my name!

Thank you for a great conference!




*This is the phrase. I'm not Bohemian though; I'm Moravian. That I know of. Except for a distant cousin's line. But I don't think they are blood kin to me.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Iowa Genealogical Society Hiring a Part-time Executive Director

The Iowa Genealogical Society is looking to hire a part-time Executive Director. The salary will be $20,000-25,000. The job description is as follows:

"This person will work with board members and current staff to implement the Strategic Plan developed in 2012. The plan is a good one, outlining committees and goals which would bring in more members and increase our other sources of revenues. But volunteers need to be recruited to fill those committees and direction needs to be given to the volunteers as they work to fundraise, do publicity, plan classes and programs, design our website, work in the library, maintain the building, etc."

They would like to have the hiring process completed by March. You can find this information in the January 2014 IGS Newsletter

After the recent Polar Vortex with its -46 degree Fahrenheit windchill at the beginning of this week, I don't blame you for thinking long and hard before deciding to move to Iowa. But hey, I heard it was 17 degrees in HOUSTON. What!!!??? So, basically, every corner of the United States was really cold. At a certain point, you're just inside anyway. 

I am not sure how you would go about applying for this job. I assume you would contact the IGS Executive Board. Here's the contact information I found.

(515) 276-0287
M, W, F, Sat
10 am-4 pm

T, Th
10 am-9 pm