Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Looking At the New DNA Tools At Ancestry.com/ including Thrulines

New DNA tools were introduced at RootsTech 2019. A few of the tools are opt in. I've opted into those tools.

Here are my impressions of the new tools:

Starting with the opt in tools. One allows you to color code your DNA matches, which may work for some people but I'm finding that too time consuming, and you have to remember the color code you're using for each family. 

There are also new ways to filter matches as you can see in the snip below. 


I did color code my brick wall Campbell family as you can see. You can create a custom group to filter by, or use filters that are already created. 

Here are some additional filters:



I love the layout of the new match page. You can quickly see how many cm's a match shares, and there is a quick link to a page with your match's information. Another nice feature of the new match page is you can scroll down and see all of your matches without having to click to another page. This is a faster way to review more matches. Before I only checked the first couple of pages looking for new quality matches. Now I quickly see the number of cm's we share and scroll down to the point where I'm less confident about the matches. Knowing how many people are on a tree is great too. If there are only 2 people on a tree why bother. 


One of my absolute favorite features is the ability to see notes for a match without clicking. This is a quick way to review matches. I have a standard way I note matches when I can identify the common ancestor. I note the father's surname/mother's maiden name and the child's name if I know it. 


The ability to see notes is especially helpful when reviewing the all important shared matches. Below we see a network of shared ancestors. Not seeing any other lines this match could be related through I'm confident enough to include the match in the Forgey/Roller line (the preceding generation is Roller/Zirkle). Sometimes you find you share more than one line, and can't say which line your shared DNA comes from? 


Another new favorite tool of mine at Ancestry is Thrulines which is designed to replace Ancestry's DNA Circles and Shared Ancestor Hints. I barely looked at the DNA Circles. I found them too time consuming to sort through. I enjoy working with the DNA results; but, I actually make more progress doing research in old documents so I need to be able to quickly review the DNA results. The new tools do make the process of reviewing matches faster.

If you watched Diahan Southard's excellent RootsTech presentation on "Connecting Your DNA Matches" you learned how to use the new Thrulines at Ancestry to find networks of matches. She recommended using your best matches to create DNA networks. As she said the Circles and Thrulines are an automated way to do that, but you can create your own networks by looking at matches you share with your best identified cousin matches. 

Thrulines uses trees and DNA to show possible lines of descent from a match. It's just a suggested line of descent that you need to verify. Suggested ancestors not on your tree are called potential ancestors. Potential ancestors are like the old Shared Ancestor Hints. Here we see a potential line of descent which is incorrect. It suggests I'm a descendant of Richard Browning's first wife's, Mary's, father William Winkler (Richard Browning had a thing for Marys because his 2nd wife was also Mary maiden name Callahan). William had a daughter named Mary Winkler who was the first wife of Richard, when she died he married a neighbor named Mary Ann Callahan. This wrong connection created a number of wrong potential ancestors. The positive aspect of this is Thrulines allowed me to find this wrong connection quickly so I could move on. 



My primary goal right now is to find the parents of Sarah Campbell who was born about 1810, likely in Tennessee. There are 8 Thrulines matches for Sarah Campbell's daughter Charlotte. Elizabeth is my ancestor and there are 9 matches who descend from her. I need to look at these matches and see if any shared matches might relate to the Campbell line of this family? Since my matches through Elizabeth share more common ancestors, and more recent ones, than through Charlotte, my matches through Charlotte are likely to be more helpful in creating a network of shared matches that might lead me to a solution to my Campbell brick wall. 



Some potential ancestors are called private because they are linked to private trees. It's important to click on those because there are generally named ancestors linked to them. My mother has 106 private matches through private trees.



The only thing I would change about the new features would be to make it easier to get from the filtered matches back to all matches. 

AncestryDNA would be the best DNA test without a doubt if they allowed opt in sharing of DNA segment data. They are adding some great features, but without segment data they fall short of being the absolute best. They are a good and important place to test, but don't have all of the best tools. 



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Some Problems with Online Research

I've been doing new research, and redoing old research, for my book about John Owens, Indian Trader, and his family using online sources. When I began my research in the late 1990's I used mostly microfilm from the Family History Library ordered from my local Family History Center. Using the indexes on those films or ordering separate microfilmed indexes, and sometimes just paging through every page of a microfilm, I was able to find the information I needed for my research. Now my research is nearly exclusively online.

Here are some of the problems I've encountered in my research online recently:

Ancestry.com's index of a family death certificate contained errors. When I first saw this information at Ancestry I wasn't sure this was the correct person? When I saw the death certificate it was the correct person. Josephine Owens' father's name was indexed as Janus Owens, which actually should be James Owens. Her husband's name was Benjamin Durham, but it's indexed at Ancestry.com as Guy Darrow. You can't count on indexed names being correct.



The person who filled out the form had handwriting that was difficult to read. I however wouldn't index the name of her husband as Guy. It does look like Benj.. When I saw his name recorded as Guy Darrow I thought she remarried, but actually she was still a widow when she died and she didn't remarry.


The actual death certificate contains multiple mistakes. The informant was the son of Josephine. He seems to have given his grandfather James Owens name as his mother's father, instead of  her father William F. Owens' name. The document also states Josephine died on 9 February 1926, but the doctor last saw her alive on 10 February 1926. Anything written down can be in error. That's why using multiple sources is important.



Another problem searching for census records involved the 1850 Census. Again the handwriting of the enumerator is difficult to read. I looked for Robert S. Owens online using the search fields for census records at all of the sites with census images. I could not find him, but I knew he was living in Bracken County, Kentucky in 1850. I finally stumbled upon the reason I could not find him. His name was indexed as Owand, instead of Owens. If you already know this man's name is Owens you can decipher this difficult to read handwriting. I'll be adding the name Owand as a variant spelling of Owens to my list.




Another problem I've encountered is poor quality unreadable online images. This is the 1860 Census for Effingham County, Illinois for my Owens family. As you can see it's tough to read the names, but if you already know the names you can make them out. I could not find this record by searching for it. I had to use my microfilm copy to find it.


This is the same 1850 Census image for the Owens family. I made this copy from a microfilm. The names are more legible.


Here is another record that is even worse.


It appears Ancestry.com solved the problem of the difficult to read pages by leaving them off their site all together? I can't find page 1125 for Effingham County, Illinois?

I love the online records but now know to be extra cautious if records fail to surface when searching on genealogy websites. I did make a major find for the Owens family tree by searching FamilySearch deeds online. I found a new member of the Owens family named Julia Ann Owens born about 1810 in Kentucky. I also found a deed that confirmed what we suspected about Josiah Owens being the son of James D. Owens and Francis Watkins. The deed states Josiah was the son of Francis; leaving no doubt about his parentage. I could never afford to order all the films for every deed book necessary for research so the free online records have been so helpful.


Sometimes the locked records at FamilySearch are a little puzzling as in why are some of these indexes searchable while others aren't? The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania A-H Grantors indexes are searchable, while the I- Z are only searchable at the Family History Library or a Family History Center?


Sometimes you find the documents are badly damaged. I'm happy, however, that even the damaged records are searchable because who knows, someone may be able to decipher something from them?




Every site with census images has some that are illegible. I wouldn't assume that someone isn't on the census unless you've done a page by page search of a complete set of records. It's also possible a page of an online record could have been missed when the records were filmed. The fact you don't find something in online records doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Looking for other copies of records at more than one website, or offline, could help you find what you're looking for.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

2018 In Review: My Accomplishments and Looking forward to 2019

Austrian National Holiday Celebration Gussing, Burgenland, Austria 2018

2018 was another interesting year researching and traveling! With more and more information being uploaded to the internet I've been able to make even more progress.

I had a chance this year to trace my Austrian family because Catholic Church records are now online for that country. The records are searchable at  http://matriken.graz-seckau.at/  Paying a researcher in that country to research the records costs 50 euros, and more an hours, which I could not afford.

From this website I found the birth record for my great-great grandmother Maria Bierbauer born 27 Nov 1849 in those records. I was able to trace lines of her family back to the 1600's. Her family migrated to Burgenland, Austria where the records don't extend that far back so my other lines in that area only go back to the late 18th Century. I also learned to read some basic German script writing as I was going through these records.


All of the records for my grandfather Rudolph Kapple stated that he was born in Hort, Austria and not Burgenland like his parents. I couldn't find a placed called Hort in Austria. I assumed it was a misspelling if it was in Austria. I also thought maybe Hort actually meant Ort, which could just be a word for town? For years I tried to find my grandfather's birth record in Burgenland. I looked at the local civil registration birth records, but nothing for him surfaced? This year I searched the records online again and discovered some of the birth records were recorded as much as a couple of years after the birth. I began searching beyond his year of birth. Didn't find anything this way either. I then went back to the register after realizing the names were written in Hungarian. Even though the Hungarian name for Rudolph appeared to be much different than the English and German spellings his parents names looked more similar. This year I finally solved that mystery and have my grandfather's birth record.

Rudolph's full name was Rudolph Christian Kapple or Koppel. Here his name was written in Hungarian

This record stated he was born in Hart, and not Hort, in Styria, Austria. I presented that information to the Burgenland Bunch group at Facebook. Someone at the group found my grandfather's birth record in the parish where Hart is located. 2018 has also been a great years for collaboration in the Facebook genealogy groups.

Rudolph's baptismal record from Styria Church book


I often check Ancestry.com for photos of my family. I've found a couple interesting ones this year. One picture I've been hoping to find has surfaced on Ancestry. I figured that since my great-great grandmother Mary Ann Browning nee Callahan lived until 1919 chances were good there were photos of her. One photo of her has been uploaded to Ancestry.com.

Ancestry shines when it comes to finding photos and documents attached to trees. Familysearch shines when it comes to the number or original records searchable online. I've spent many hours this year looking through original records now available online at Familysearch. Remember any records with a camera icon are searchable online either at home or at an LDS Family History Center.

2018 I also completed my goal of visiting all of the places my grandparents where born. In 2015 and 2016 I visited Granada, Nicaragua where my grandmother Graciela Forgey nee Del Castillo was born. In 2017 I visited Chicago where my grandmother Dorothy Kapple nee Mason was born. In 2018 I visited Jackson County Indiana where my grandfather Charles Lynn Forgey was born. I also visited Styria, Austria in 2018 where my grandfather Rudolph Christian Kapple was born. I paid a visit to Burgenland, Austria where many generations of my were born, and family lived. I started my journey to Austria in Germany where I also have roots.



2018 marked the first time this California native did courthouse research. I did some research at the courthouse in Brownstown, Indiana. I learned some new facts about my family and really enjoyed the seeing the original documents. I also learned the records can blacken your hands.



What do we have to look forward to in 2019? Record DNA sales should boost our number of cousins in the DNA databases. Expect to see 300 million more records which will be available at Familysearch. You can find out what's new at Familysearch by clicking on help then clicking what's new in the drop down menu. Familysearch is the site I will be spending most of my time on this year.


This year I will be packing my bags again and heading to my great-grandmother Helen Mullen's birthplace Ireland. I also plan on visiting the ancestral homeland of Spain, and Quebec, Canada where my great-great grandfather Peter Mason was born. I'm writing a book about my John Owens Indian Trader family I hope to finish in the next couple of months. The amount of information now online, especially at Familysearch.org., is helping me with this task.



I wish hope everyone has a productive 2019! Happy New Year!






Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Comparing 2nd Cousin DNA Matches at AncestryDNA



My Father Robert Kapple with two of his sisters

I just got a new 2nd cousin match at AncestryDNA. Now that I have a few results to compare it's interesting to see the variation in the number of cm's shared. My new 2nd cousin is actually a predicted 3rd cousin at Ancestry. However he is a predicted 2nd cousin of my 1st cousin Darryl, which is correct. My first cousin Judy, like myself, is a predicted 3rd cousin of his, which isn't correct. This has to do with the number of cm's shared which is how Ancestry decided what the predicted relationship should be. Other 2nd cousins of mine are also predicted 3rd cousins at Ancestry. When looking at 3rd cousin matches it's important to consider that they may be closer cousins.

Below you can see that several of my 2nd cousins share much less DNA with me as compared to my 1st cousin Darryl, hence the different cousin prediction. The largest difference is 132 cms. The differences have to do with differences in the amount of DNA we get from shared ancestors. I believe if I compare with the same cousins at GEDmatch amounts of shared DNA would increase. Ancestry cm numbers are often lower than the other companies because of the way they process the kits.


A record number of kits were sold as gifts for the holidays. We may see several more 2nd cousin matches in the New Year. I have about 7 2nd cousin matches so far on both sides of my family. Since my Kappel/Kapple great-grandparents had 11 children there are definitely more 2nd cousins out there. These cousins can be useful if they upload elsewhere, at a site where you can collect shared segments and construct a segment map. A map with 2nd cousin segments helps to confirm more distant cousin matches; matches that share small segments. Hoping to improve my segment map in the New Year!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Making an Ancestral Scrapbook Style Photo Book/ Living DNA



I finally have the Living DNA family networks. I've been waiting to see possible DNA matches for months. This feature was first offered to a few testers who were beta testing it. Disappointingly I have no matches yet. Living DNA is based in the Britain. Most of their testers live in the UK. I'm American with a mixed heritage and would not have any close matches in the UK. I'll keep fishing and checking as they've stated. I haven't gotten anywhere with my other kits lately either. Few matches are choosing to upload to GEDmatch, and few matches have good family trees. I'm relying more on documents now. Hoping Christmas gift kits produce some better results!




Scrapbook Style Photo Book

Photo books are a good way to share your family history. It's especially good when you don't have enough information for a full size family history book. With the holidays coming a photo book is a great gift option. 

You can make a book with as few as 20 pages, and up to a little over 100 pages, and sometimes more. The sizes of the books range from 8x8 inches (which is too small for multiple pictures on a page) 12x12, 8x11 is the best seller size, or the size closest to the old style scrap books 11x14. Most companies offer a landscaped print book. Some are now offering portrait style for books like the 8x11 size. Most offer a variety of cover options also, such as leather. You can have the books printed as a standard book. This type of book can cause pictures printed near the middle seam between the pages to be difficult to see. A lay-flat book solves this problem because it doesn't have a middle seam; the books pages open flat. This is the best option when printing a book, but it's more expensive. 

There are often sales on photo books. Watch out for sales in the 50% to 70% range with coupons, because these books can quickly add up in price as you add pages and other custom features. 

I've been using Snapfish, and their affiliated Walgreens Drugstore sites to create my books. If you order your book from a drug store site, or a big box store, you can often pick up your finished book from the store in as little as one hour. The quickly printed books are not as high quality as the books you order by mail, but it's a convenient quick way to create a book. 

I use Snapfish and Walgreens mainly based on price and the ease of using their book creation features. I found that the other sites took more time to learn to use. 

Snapfish doesn't have the nice designs Mixbook and Shutterfly have for a family history book. 

Shutterfly and Mixbook have some nice book designs relating to family history. You can start out with a basic book and build the pages yourself. 

Here are some nice vintage backgrounds for an ancestral family history photo book. 


If you go with the blank book you can add custom themed pages. Here is a family history theme page you can add. 




You can choose a theme book instead of a basic book which would contain custom themed pages. Here are some pages from the Remembrance and Modern Memories books at Mixbook



To make the book look more like a scrapbook you can add stickers/embellishments as seen in the photo at them top of the page. 

Shutterfly has a family history themed book. 


You can add text boxes to your photo books too.

Most of the photo book sites have books with family theme pages. Search sites for family, memories, remembrance etc. for themed pages, and books that would be suitable for family history. 

I wondered if my document images would be clear enough to read in these photo books. In the example below you can see that the print is legible. Sometimes I had to use the program Paint to enlarge an image so it would look clearer. Increasing the pixels will make the image acceptable.  


Caution: Be sure to choose the correct size book before creating your book. The standard size at Mixbook, for instance, is 8x8, which is too small for most projects. 

Also I would not have these sites automatically place pictures for a family history photo book. If you are making a travel book with hundreds of pictures it is economical and fast to have them place the photos for you. When it comes to a family history books automatic placement wouldn't work because the chronological order wouldn't be correct, and the family groups wouldn't either. 

There are many ways to customize these books. You can move things around, and add as many photos as you'd like to a page by dragging them over. You can overlay pictures to use a photo as a background. It takes a little time to learn about all the different themes, embellishments, frames, and fonts etc., but it's worth it when you see the finished product. 

Here is a video of my lay-flat Snapfish family history book. I didn't use embellishments, but as I said before you can do so in order to create a book that looks like a scrapbook. I included my trip pictures along with documents I've collected and a picture of my grandfather Rudolph Kapple.  










Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New AncestryDNA Ethnicity Results/ Iberian Problem Bites Again

The new AncestryDNA results are a mixed bag. My cousin Darryl Kapple's results have improved. I stated in previous post that his AncestryDNA estimate completely missed the DNA he would have received from his Irish great-grandmother Helen Mullen, who was born in Ireland. He had no Irish admixture, whereas I did plus I was placed in the Connacht specific group. He now has 17% Irish/Scots Irish.


Playing Musical Iberian
Where do we sit now? 

The new estimate for my mother and I is less accurate, as far as the Iberian prediction. My mother's mother Graciela Del Castillo was Nicaraguan, and was likely more than half Spanish when you figure in 13% Native American and 4% African that my mother has, and what her remaining admixture percentage would be. She was also part German, but that percentage is unknown to me since I have not identified a German ancestor so far? According what I'm seeing looking at her DNA matches I would guess she would have been at least 60% Spanish. The surnames associated with her family are Lugo, Alvarado, Lacayo, and Granizo. Previously my mother was 11% Iberian at Ancestry. She also had Italian admixture which is completely gone. Now she is 2% Spanish, and 2% Portuguese, 1% Basque. She's lost 6% of her Iberian. 

My mother would have received 50% of her DNA from her mother so does it add up? Adding up what I see to be the Nicaraguan admixture, which is Native American, Iberian, and African, I get 22%. So where is the rest? Previously she was given 12% Italian, and 11% Iberian, which seemed to related to her mother's side. The Italian is gone completely. I do see 5%, which would be Iberian, remaining. 

Where is the missing 28%? I'm guessing it's primarily now gone over to French? She had no French before. The remainder may be in Northwest Europe representing a German great-great grandparent? My mother's father was mainly Scots-Irish and German. The 10% Ireland and Scotland would seem a little bit low too. 


It seems like the more mixed a person is ethnically the harder it is to get an accurate estimate. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Filling In the Blanks Using Church And Civil Registration Records for Burgenland



Since I have never spoken to anyone in my family who has been to Burgenland or heard any stories about it I have to rely on other's outside my family to supply the stories about life in that area. One way for me to get to know my ancestors, and the place they lived, is by examining church and civil registration records.

I've filled in some blanks regarding life in Burgenland (when territory of Hungary) by looking at both the civil registration and church records.

The story of pre-Austrian Burgenland, or more specifically the southern part that I've been researching, is that of an area in fluctuation. We see a growing population during the early church record keeping period with individuals and families migrating in from Styria, and other parts of Austria, and Hungary into this area. My Bierbauer ancestors were migrants to Borosgodor from Styria. Migration to this area was encouraged due to depopulation after the Ottoman invasions.

Here is an example of some of the migration that occurred in the mid 19th century as found in a church marriage record:


This older couple stated they were born in Styria, Austria, but now lived in Borosgodor, Hungary. My great-great grandfather Joseph Bierbauer witnessed this marriage, and he was also born in the parish of Sinabelkirchen, Stryia, Austria. He also migrated to Borosgodor, Hungary (now Inzenhof, Burgenland,  Austria).

It was quite unusual for a couple in their 70's to marry let alone live to be that old in 19th century Burgenland.

Living Conditions

Living conditions in southern Burgenland were very difficult in the 19th and early 20th century as attested to by the high childhood death rate. Living into your 50's was considered old age as seen in the death records. The illustration below is from my great-great grandmother Maria Bierbauer's death record long form:



Aggkori vegkimerülés would translate to senile exhaustion. She was 55 years old. She died of old age due to exhaustion.

Something that caught my eye when reviewing church death records for Felsoronok Parish was the high death rate from smallpox in 1874. I looked into that and discovered there was a smallpox pandemic that lasted from 1870 to 1874. The infection was spread due to the Franco Prussian War. Fifty-five children died in the Felsoronok parish from late February until the last death in November. Examining the records you can see the infection spreading from Felsoronok, where the first cases were, to Borosgodor where the last case occurred. Janos Jost was the last to die. He died 11 November 1874 at house #54 in Borosgodor. 500,000 people died during this pandemic worldwide. 


Mostly the youngest children died during the smallpox epidemic in the parish of Felsoronok. Many under 5 years old. It could be the older children and adults were vaccinated, or already had the disease and were immune? Since not everyone who contracted smallpox died there were certainly many more cases than the 55 deaths.

Early vaccines for smallpox used in the 18th century were dangerous. Thomas Jefferson was vaccinated, as were his children, and a few of his slaves. At that time vaccination required quarantine, and a recovery time from a mild form of pox which developed from the vaccine. Better vaccines were developed by the 1870's. Areas with high vaccination rates escaped the brunt of the 1870's epidemic.

The Spanish Flu also made its way to Southern Burgenland. The Spanish Flu Pandemic during WWI resulted in the deaths of 35 people in rural Gussing, in two months alone. The months of October and November of 1918 were the deadliest in rural Gussing. Even more probably died as the result of pneumonia which developed as a result of the flu. At first it was called Spanish disease, then later called Spanish flu in the civil registration register. I had one ancestor still living in Borogodor at the time who apparently escaped this deadly flu.




Infectious disease was the most common cause of death in the 19th and early 20th century Burgenland.

Common causes of death of death from infection (latin names):

Dysenteria- diarrhea
Febris- fever
Diphtheritis- Diphtheria
Phthisis- Tuberculosis
Variolis- Smallpox
Typhus
Morbilli- Measles

It's interesting to note that baptism was either the day of birth, or the day after. The childhood mortality rate was very high. If a child were not baptized before death its soul might end up in limbo, not in heaven, but not in hell either; therefore, it was crucial to baptize an infant as soon as possible. 

Illegitimacy in what is now Burgenland was also very common. My Great-Great Grandmother had an illegitimate child I just learned about recently. My great-great grandmother Maria Bierbauer gave birth to an illegitimate son Joannes in 1873, he died shortly after he was born. This was 3 years before her marriage to my great-great grandfather. 


Despite the flu epidemic hitting the Southern Burgenland area in the late teens of the 20th century life expectancy was going up. Perhaps out migration eased the population burden of earlier times?

Social Structure

The allasa, or social standing in the Burgenland community, had a lot to do with land ownership in rural Burgenland. Small landholding peasants were at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

In the pre-1895 Felsoronok church records my ancestors are always referred to as inquilinus. Nearly everyone in that rural parish was categorized as inquilinus. These people were peasants with small landholdings. Before the 1848 land reforms in Hungary they were tenants of the Batthyany family. After the land reform of 1848 they received title to their land.

One of my ancestors is referred to as an agricola, latin for farmer. The way I understand it is he would have owned more land than an inquilinus. His status in the community would have been higher according to this classification.

After 1895 Allasa (meaning standing or occupation) was recorded in the Hungarian language, instead of Latin as in the church records. At this point the rural population was either categorized as Foldmives or Foldbirtokos. Foldmives were peasant class small landholders. My ancestor Peter Kurta was classed this way on his death certificate, as were his parents. My Koppel and Bierbauer ancestors generally referred to themselves as Foldbirtokos, meaning landowners. The fact they were classified this way doesn't always mean they owned land, it's also a social status above the lowest peasant class. It is a sort of a middle class status during the Hungarian period.

More Occupations

Many homes and other buildings in Burgenland were constructed of bricks. We can see brick makers and bricklayers in the civil registration records. Flor Kalman was a brickmaker, and Richard Gerger was a bricklayer.



Another important member of Burgenland society would be the midwife. Bela Lakay is listed before her husband proving the status of a midwife was deserving of that kind of recognition. My great-grandmother was said to have preferred to give birth in the old country rather than where she was living in Pennsylvania during the early 20th century. The midwives there must have been very good!

Out Migration

Out Migration from Burgenland began in the late 19th century. The small landholdings of Burgenland peasants could not sustain the growing population. The population of Inzenhof, for instance, was in the 600's, and fell to the 300's. Many Burgenland migrants made their way to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Another option for Burgenland migrants was relocating to urban Austria where jobs were more plentiful. Josefa Baldauf was a female cook in Graz in 1908.


Maria Szalay and Maria Lagler were servants working in Vienna in 1907. 


A man of the Jewish faith, David Klem, from Gussing was living in Vienna. Working as a winemaker? 


Some information about Church and Civil registration records

Church baptismal records provide the village or town of birth. Child's name. Date of birth and baptism. Address of parents. Whether they were male or female (which is helpful in case the name doesn't make the sex clear). Whether legitimate or not. Parents names, and godparents names. The name of the priest performing the baptism. A cross by a child's name, and corresponding date, indicates that child died, soon after, to a few years after birth.

Church Marriage records provide the dates of marriages. Name of the couple. Occupation of the husband. Occupation of the wife's father. Addresses of couple before their marriage (house numbers not on the earliest records). Their religion. Whether married before or widowed. Ages of bride and groom. Names of witnesses. Parents names. Name of the Clergy officiating the marriage.

Sometimes the church marriage records give a place of birth if not at the same as the place where they lived when married.

Here is an example of a marriage record which gives the place of birth of my great-great grandmother Maria Bierbauer. She was born in Sytria, Austria, and not where she lived when she married.


Church death records contain the least information generally. If an adult male dies, his name, and date of death are provided, but not the name of his spouse. Village or Town he lived in. House number on later registers. Age at death. Cause of death. Occupation. Date of burial. Name of clergy officiating at burial.

 If a female or child died then the name of their husband or parent is also given, and that persons occupation is also given.

How soon after death someone was buried can tell you about burial customs in the area for that particular religious group. Burial a day or two after death was generally the rule for Catholics. During winter it may have been longer period between death and burial.

The cause of an ancestors death can also be informative. When I saw that one of my ancestors died of Typhus I assumed it was because of the poverty of the family that she had been infected with it. This disease is acquired through body lice. When I learned that Thomas Jefferson's daughters also came down with Typhus while in Paris I changed my opinion regarding inferring poverty and filthy living conditions as the sole cause of infection.

Here we have an example of a church death record. My ancestor Maria Wolf died the 26th of March 1871 of Typhus. Since she is female her husband's named is given. His name is Joseph Jost. Joseph is listed as an agricolae. She is buried two days after her death on the 27th.




Catholic Church records online for today's Burgenland only cover the time period ending in 1895, when civil registration records then record these events. These records are also online at FamilySearch.org.

The 1895 Civil Registration records end in 1920 when Burgenland is ceded to Austria after WWI.

The civil registration records often contain more information than the church records.

From 1895 to 1907 a long form was used to record registrants information. These records are very detailed. When multiple registrants were listed on a single page the information was not always as detailed.

Civil registration birth records in the long format contained the name of the child towards the bottom of the form, which can be confusing.

The top of the long civil registration gives the name or names of the persons reporting the birth, and their addresses and occupations.

Here we see Janos Kurta and his wife Anna Jost are reporting the birth of their granddaughter Maria Koppel. Janos is said to be a foldbirtokos or landowner. They live at 17 Borosgodor.




The center of the form contains the names and information of the parents.

Below you see the father's information



vallasa-religion
allasa (foglalkozasa)- standing (job)
lakohelye- residence
szuleteshelye-place of birth
Eletkora- age

My great-grandfather's standing is given as Foldbirtokos or landowner.

Next on the form is the mother's information.

Below is the information for my great-grandmother Maria Kurta


The same information as provided for her husband regarding her vital statistics.

Below is the information for her daughter Maria's birth.


Helye-place
ideje-time
napjanak del(untan): time of day afternoon (Maria was born at 7 in the afternoon)

megjegyzes- comment. Bejelento az anyai nagy anya- (Maria's birth) Announced by the maternal grandmother.

The birth information on the long form is quite informative. Knowing what time of day my great-aunt Maria was born is interesting because like her I was also born around 7 in the afternoon. The most helpful information is the fact her birth was announced by her grandmother named at the top of the form, Anna Jost. As I've stated in previous blog posts her mother Maria's church birth entry is wrong. It stated her mother was Anna Scharl. This birth record is more evidence that record is wrong, and her name was Anna Jost.

At the bottom of the form the person reporting the birth was supposed to testify to reading and understanding what was written above, and attesting it was a true statement of the facts.

Since Anna Jost, Maria's grandmother, apparently was illiterate and was not a fluent Hungarian speaker she stated she was more comfortable with German (nemetul). The document was reviewed for her in German, and she signed it with 3 X's.


None of my ancestors married in Burgenland in 1895, or after, so I have not gleaned anything about my own family from these records. The records appear to contain basically the same information as the church marriage records. Some do provide additional information about the language spoken by the marriage party.

The Civil Registration death long form is laid out much the same as the birth long. The death record has the additional information regarding the time of death, and name of parents if known.

My 3 times great-grandfather Peter Kurta died in 1896 in Borosgodor.



Peter Kurta died at house number 3, in Borosgodor. A house in which he lived with his wife all of his adult life. His wife's name is correctly stated as Anna Muik.

His father's name is correctly stated as Antal Kurta. Mother's name is given as Katalin Jost. I have Catherine Jost, but it's close enough. Both of Peter's parents are said to also be from Borosgodor, which is correct. The status of, or job, of his father is Foldmives or peasant farmer. And apparently his Jost grandfather was also classified as Foldmives.

Peter's son Janos Kurta reported his death, as seen by his name at the top and in the comment below, which states his son announced his death. He was living at house number 17 in Borosgodor when he reported his father's death. This was his home until his own death in 1919.

Unlike Anna Jost, Janos Kurta could sign his name. I don't know if this is actually his signature or a copy made by the clerk?



This is just a small sample of the interesting information that can be found by examining the church and civil registration records.

Below are the names of those who died in Felsoronok parish during the smallpox epidemic, and those who died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.