Friday, February 28, 2014

Have you checked out 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?


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 subscription?!

I love It has many records that 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 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.