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 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 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

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mozart lived closer to my ancestors than I do to my parents

My kids have been listening to "Mozart's Magic Fantasy: A Journey Through the Magic Flute." I keep finding songs from it stuck in my head. "Pa-pa-pa-papageno!" and the Aria of the Queen of the Night. Which my kids ask me to perform for them, and I gladly oblige. Haha.

I began reading Mozart's wikipedia page. The film "Amadeus" is one of my all time favorites, and so I thought I would know a lot about his life. I was wrong. 

The main way in which I was wrong was in my European geography. Vienna is less than two hours south of Brno! It's about 3 hours from Ostrava, and 3 hours and 20 minutes from Prague. How did I miss this!?

As I read, I noticed that so many of the given names in this article (and his wife Constanze's) were similar to given names of my ancestors. Names like: Johann Nebomuk della Croce, Theresia Constanzia Adelheid Friedericke Maria Anna, Karl Thomas Mozart, Anna Maria, Leopold Mozart, Aloysia Weber, Joseph Lange, Sophie Weber, Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart

I also noticed the mention of Maria Wilhelmine von Thun und Hohenstein - (remember the post about the 5 families who owned 8% of the land?). When the Archbishop refused to allow him to play for her, he resigned his job and went into freelance composing. 

I don't know what kind of access the peasant masses in the Czech lands had to his operas or minuets, but since he was so popular during his lifetime, it seems plausible that his melodies were known on the farms of Bohemia and Moravia. The Magic Flute is still the fourth most popular opera in the world. I wonder if my Czech ancestors also got these same songs stuck in their heads. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Surname Saturday Kreczmarská, Kreczmarski

In my previous post about my fourth great grandmother, Anna Kreczmarska, I linked to the surname density map for the surname Krečmar. This variant spelling is not found anywhere close to Ostrava. However, a friend pointed me in the direction of a different surname spelling variation: Kreczmarská and Kreczmarski.

In an email correspondence with Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn, author and researcher of the book, "A History of the Sumbera, Mozisek, and Kruppa Families" I learned that the surname could have been spelled with a Polish twist since they were part of Silesia (Kretzmar), or also a German spelling like Kretzschmar, Kretschmar, Kretzschmar. 

When I tried to search for Kretzschmar, I also got results that were close to Ostrava! 

Does this indicate that the ethnic origins of Anna Kreczmarská are German? If the family immigrated to the Czech border regions ~16th Century (this guess is based on a statement by Carolyn that the Fischer/Fišer family, who is distantly related to the Kreczmars, is documented as being in northeast Bohemia since the mid-16th century - so it really has almost no basis on reality or fact) are they still German, or are they as Czech as anybody else in that region?

How long does it take to gain an ethnic identity? Do the current Kreczmars/Kretzchmars living in the Ostrava region consider themselves Czech, German, Moravian, Silesian, or a combination of all of the above? 

I tease my husband about me being "more American" than him because when we played with (a site that uses the familysearch API to plot your direct line ancestors on a map up to 7 generations) I had way, way, way more ancestors in the United States than he did. His were almost 100% from the British Isles and Ireland. He has almost no colonial American ancestors. I do. 

I have often had the conversation with other Americans about, "What are you?" and then people listing off a bunch of European countries where their ancestors are from. I wonder if this conversation happened much in the Czech lands in the 18th-19th centuries. I'm guessing...not so much...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Follow Friday: Michele Simmons Lewis

Today I'm going to link you to one of my favorite bloggers in the genealogy world: Michele Simmons Lewis author of

While not a Czech researcher, her insights into genealogy research apply to all geographical areas of interest. She took a short blogging hiatus (phew! Good to know I wasn't the only one!) these past two weeks, but promises that her posts will keep coming after January 6.

One of my favorite posts that she wrote last year convinced me that I need to consistently use a research log, especially in my own personal research projects. Why does this always cause me to groan internally? At least by starting now and doing it throughout the year, I will have a fresh start. I can do this! Agh!

She also has some helpful posts about the Genealogical Proof Standard. My favorite is about the "Reasonably Exhaustive Search." Not only does she describe what it is, but how to achieve it. Again, her process involves research calenders or logs, and research binders. And again I feel guilty. Haha.

Czech her out!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Predictions for Czech Genealogy Research in 2014

I'm back! Woohoo! What a great start to the year! I'm so excited to continue researching, writing, and learning about genealogy.

Here are my predictions for what will happen in the world of Czech genealogy research in 2014:

  • The current Czech indexing project on will be completed
  • Czech census records will begin to be indexed on
  • Moravian parish records will begin to be indexed on
  • Previously hidden Czech records will resurface from Polish archives
  • There will be better communication and collaboration between the various regional and district archives in the Czech Republic
  • Czech military records will become digitally available
  • Austro-Hungarian newspapers will become digitally available
  • Passport applications of Austro-Hungaria will become digitally available

Here are my predictions for changes in the genealogy world in general in 2014:

  • Texas will probably enact laws restricting access to death records
  • OCR technology will expand to handwriting analysis and impact indexing in a major way
  • Changes in the interface to will greatly increase the speed at which records are indexed
  • NGSQ and other major genealogical journals will publish articles where DNA evidence plays a major role in determining identities and relationships

And for good measure, since predictions are sort of like goals, here are some of my own personal genealogy-related goals for 2014:

  • Publish on this blog daily
  • Continue client research
  • Volunteer at the Iowa Genealogical Society
  • Volunteer as a Family History Consultant 
  • Continue professional development
  • Become a Board Certified Genealogist (moving really threw a curve-ball in that plan last year!)
  • Network with others who have similar research goals and interests
  • Continue to write and possibly publish a book or an article? Hmm...