As promised…on to the records this week. There are parish records that have been digitized on the Porta fontium that I hope you'll find helpful as you search for your family. Originally stored in Munich when this area was under German rule, they have come back to Czech region and have been made available online.
On this main page of Porta funtium, it might be confusing to get to the parish records but if you choose Matrikel (registers), you will come to this page where you can delve down into the type of records you would like to search. You also can try searching for a village using the "Recherche" option but I've found the previous way more effective for getting directly to the birth, marriage, and death records.
As an example the first line item is Církev evangelická (1581-1949) If you are searching for evangelical church records you would choose that one. In my case I am interested in Catholic records so chose the second line item: Církev římskokatolická (1539-1949).
Once you choose your set of records, you’ll be presented with a long list of places where they have digitized records. That’s why I recommend that you know your village location in the Czech Republic. With this plethora of records, you want to pinpoint your research in these non-indexed records. In my case I knew that the location was Rajov, so I chose the letter “r” to get to the list of villages starting with “r”. And there was Rajov. When I first read the initial paragraph, I was disappointed because it said from 1848 to 1949 but as I scrolled down the page I could see that individual books told a different story and there were some records earlier than 1800. In addition, I could see immediately if a book included births (*), marriages (00) or deaths (+) by the symbols. I have not discovered what (+1) means related to deaths. If you know the year that your ancestor was born, you can start searching these digital records of the actual parish books.
As discussed earlier, the Kurrentschrift can be challenge. To make it more interesting, the names of the participants in each event may be written in Latin script instead of Kurrentschrift. This is to our advantage because the names will be more familiar and readable. The downside to this is just because a letter looks a certain way in the name, it might not look the same in the rest of the document. And like all research, the penmanship of the priest or authority might leave much to be desired! All like all of us, the handwriting varies by person…with the guarantee that the beautiful script in the pages prior to the one for your ancestor which will then resemble chicken scratching! That doesn’t happen to you?! It seems to happen with my ancestors! <grin> A tip for when this happens is to find some records within the book that are legible and try translating those. I find this especially helpful when trying to figure out what the headings within the document say. I was fortunate to find a page that had headings in printed font so I could understand what was typically included. Then I went back to my ancestor’s handwritten document to see if the headings were similar. It is much easier to translate printed font than handwritten.
To give you an idea of what this looks like, here is a document of Norbert Kutzer. This is his birth record from 1803 in Rajov. I copied the header separately as his listing was further down the page. In this a case you need adjust the headers a bit to the right, but you get the idea. Geburtsbuch means “Births Book” in German. Because this area was ruled by different countries, you will find records in Latin, German and Czech.
The heading across includes the following information: the year, the house #, Child’s Name, the very busy narrow section tracks male, female, religion, legitimate or not legitimate (and not necessarily in that order), next section is related to the Mother and the Father. This can be genealogy gold because it often will give you the father’s occupation, their parents’ names and if the grandparents are living or not. There is usually a comment about if there was a midwife and if she was certified. Also noted on this document is who registered this information or in the case of a baptism the priest’s name.
I have not been able to figure out all the translation in this document, but I do have key information.
Andreas Kutzer, son of Norbert Kutzer and Elizabeth. The parents of Andreas are different from other records which have their names as Martin Kutzer and Anna Marie Nadler. Both of Andreas’ parents seemed to have passed so I could try looking for death records prior to 1803 as well as Andreas’s marriage record to see if I can read their names better. Also looking for siblings or other relatives can help when reading the handwriting is challenging. Looking at a few of Norbert's siblings, his father's father is noted as "Norbert". A census record that was transcribed online has Andreas' parents as Martin and Anna Marie. I have not seen the original transcript of the census record but it would be worth tracking it down to understand the names. It's a good reminder to look at the original documents...as sometimes transcriptions/translations can have errors.
Anna Maria Reinl, daughter of Andreas Reinl. (I cannot see/read her mother's name. Sometimes they didn't include her. Another good reason to compare information across the sibling birth records.)
You also may see a house number associated with the mother and father which is referring to where they were born example. House # 24 in Rajov. If you’re able to find your village in the census records in a time period that you are interested in, then you will find that knowing the house number will help you find your family.
As you decipher these birth, marriage and death records, don’t give up. As you understand the kurrentschrift better or decipher certain words or the way the scribe writes, some of it will look more familiar. It’s not easy but just imagine even ten years ago, these records were not available for us to look at and muddle through online! Have fun figuring out these records!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.