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.






Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Breakthrough In Birthplace of Grandfather





I have spent years searching for the birth record of my grandfather Rudolph Kapple. I began searching in 1998. I had assumed he was born in or near the village of Inzenhof where his parents were born and raised. Actually before I even knew of Inzenhof my grandmother Dorothy Mason, first wife of Rudolph, had written to his surviving family in Chicago to ask where he was born. Most likely she wrote to one or more of his siblings, at least a couple were still alive around 20 years ago. They told her Rudolph was born in Graz, Austria. After discovering the family came from Inzenhof I discounted this as wrong believing they just named the nearest large metropolitan area as his place of birth, and it was not his actual place of birth. I assumed that also because the Irish generally provided the name of the nearest market town as their place of origin instead of the smaller townland they actually lived in.

After obtaining a copy of Rudolph's mother Maria's naturalization document, and passenger list, he was listed with a different birthplace I never had heard of. A place called Hort was named as Rudolph's birthplace.


I used this information looking for places named Hort. I found one place by that name in Hungary. I was unable to find his birth record in the LDS Family History Library civil registration film for Hort, Heves, Hungary. I then believed the spelling could be wrong and it might instead be Hart? There are several places in Austria called Hart. With few microfilms for Austria, and none for a birth in 1909,  I had to give up on the search for my grandfather in places called Hart.

I also believed he could have been born in Inzenhof, and the passenger list was wrong. Since the passenger list surame misspelling had to be used on documents for naturalization I assumed a place name error may also have had to be repeated even if it was wrong. I assumed it was possible Maria told the immigration clerk, when asked, that Rudolph was born in Ort, a word meaning place. I thought this may have been a misunderstanding brought about by a language barrier?

I had looked through the Civil registration microfilms for the area the family was from when they became available. I did not find Rudolph's 1909 birth record. When a distant cousin suggested looking through them online, I decided to try again.

I went through two different civil registration digitized films at FamilySearch, one for Rábafüzes and one for Németujvár. Civil registrations for Inzenhof were recorded at various times in both districts. I didn't find his birth record and decided to see if I could find his siblings records. Some of his siblings were said to have been born in America, and two in Inzenhof/Borosgodor (Borosgodor is the Hungarian name for Inzenhof). I noticed something I hadn't noticed before, births could be recorded a year, or years, after the fact, I needed to extend my search beyond the date of birth, for maybe years beyond that date.

I began my search with Maria's 1900 birth. I saw an interesting record which seemed to relate to my family. I didn't think the father's name was correct and kept looking. Then it occurred to me the father's name was written in Hungarian, instead of German or Latin as in the Catholic Church books. His name was recorded as Francis in Catholic records, but the name is Ferenc in Hungarian, meaning Frank which is the name he used in America. I went back to that record and sure enough the father's name was correct just written in Hungarian. The name of the child was listed at the bottom of the record, which also threw me off. I can't speak or read Hungarian which made searching these records very difficult.


Maria's birth date was the same as on her mother's naturalization record so I knew this was the correct record. Her birth was recorded in the Rábafüzes civil registration district.

Maria was living at number 21 Borogodor/Inzenhof when daughter Maria was born. I didn't know that when I visited Inzenhof. I checked my pictures to see if I had a picture of that house. Yes I did get a picture of 21. This house is across the street from number 24, which is where cousins of my family lived and still live.



Maria's grandparents Johann Kurta and Anna Joszt were witnesses on the birth record. This is another confirmation that Maria Kurta's Catholic Church birth entry is in error. Her mother is not an Anna Scharl, but instead Anna Jost. I figured that because her siblings birth records stated their mother was Anna Jost, plus there is no record of an Anna Scharl marrying a Johann Kurta. There is a record for the marriage of Johann Kurta and Anna Jost before Maria was born, and the address was the same as Maria's birth record.


Johann and Anna were still living at house 17 in 1900. House 17 is behind the village school in the picture below.



I then searched for John's birth record and also found it. He was born in 1904, and his birth was recorded in the Rábafüzes civil registration district. His grandparents also witnessed his birth record like that of Maria. An old address of number 3, which was where his mother Maria was born, was given?



I then decided to go through the books searching for my grandfather's birth record, this time looking for names spelled in Hungarian. Looking through the Rábafüzes book for births in 1909 I noticed that it appeared Borosgodor/Inzenhof births were not longer registered in that district. As I was researching the Németujvár digitized microfilms at FamilySearch I noticed there were zero births listed for Borosgodor (Hungarian name for the Village of Inzenhof). I then had to figure out where these births were now being registered?

Looking more closely I then discovered there were actually two books on the digitized film I was searching in. There are two books for district of Németujvár. One was for the larger towns, and the other for villages or rural areas. As you see the book below is for Németujvár Videke. Videke means rural. Rudolph's family lived in Inzenhof, which is a rural area not far from Gussing/Németujvár. There is a set of films for Németujvár which have these books on separate microfilms. I accidentally came upon the one with the combined books, which led to my confusion.

The best way to search the FamilySearch microfilms is by using the links provided by the Burgenland Bunch website. Then you won't run into the confusion caused by two books on one film.



Now that I finally had the correct book I searched page by page from Rudolph's birth in April 1909 until I finally found his birth record. His birth was recorded nearly a year later. I was surprised to find Hart named as his birthplace. It stated he was born in Hart, Styria, Austria. His name is also written in Hungarian, which didn't look like Rudolph Christian to me. I did figure it out more quickly knowing to look for different looking names, but the correct parents and date of birth.



Someone at the Facebook Burgenland Bunch group helped me find my great-grandfather's baptismal record. Graz diocese records are now online.

Now I have confirmed that Rudolph Christian Kapple/Koppel was indeed born in Hart, Styria, Austria. He wasn't born in Graz, but instead in the diocese of Graz. He was baptized in Pischelsdorf, Styria, Austria.



It looks like births and deaths for Inzenhof/Borogodor were registered in Rábafüzes between 1895 and 1906. Between 1907 and 1920 they appear to be registered in Németujvár/Gussing.

I found house #42 in Hart on Google Maps. 



Looking at the passenger list my grandfather Rudolph appears on, in 1910, Maria states her last address was Hart, Austria. I missed that before.



I have not idea why Maria was living at number 42 in Hart? Her husband Frank's grandfather, Joseph Bierbauer, was from Frösaugraben, Styria, Austria, which isn't far away from Hart, just around 9 miles away. Maria may have joined cousins of Frank living in that area?


I found another entry in a civil registry book for for Pischelsdorf so apparently there was some connection between these two areas?



Inzenhof is about 35 miles away from Hart.



I've got more research to do to discover why Maria was living in Hart? I may also find birth information for her children in America in these civil registration records. The births of many Inzenhof emigrants are recorded in these books. It's a page by page search through many years so it will take me a long time to complete. My prime goal at this time is to find photos of Frank Kappel and his wife Maria Kurta since I have never seen any photos of them.



The Travelers

Maria, and apparently not her husband Frank, made 3 trips back to the old country. Often she was accompanied by at least some of her children. Frank moved the family around Pennsylvania according to where he could find work. He finally migrated to Chicago where the family joined him after returning from Austria for the last time in 1910. Below is a video showing the movements of Maria to and from Austro/Hungary, and the family's movements within America.










Sunday, July 8, 2018

Inferring Burgenland Ethnicity Using DNA and Surnames

From top left to bottom: me, and my father Robert Kapple, my great-aunt Bertha Kappel-Solomon, my grandfather Rudolph Kapple


I began my genealogy research to find out more about my grandfather Rudolph Kapple's roots. I had never met him because he died in Chicago when I was 7 years old. My father's parents divorced and my grandmother moved with her children to California where I was born, and raised. As a matter of fact my first trip to Chicago was last year. I've always regretted never meeting this grandfather, and asked family about him. Even though my father sided with his mother in the divorce he still loved his father. When he heard of his death he was very broken up I remember. I remember him telling me about a tour of a steel mill he took with his father, which was a fond memory for him. That whetted my appetite for more.  

I was always told Kapple, or Kappel as some of our family spell it, was a Jewish surname. That's the only thing I knew about the family. I didn't know where the family came from? My Grandfather's death certificate said he was born in Australia. I had thought to start searching there, but my grandmother had some research done which pointed to Austria, and not Australia, as his place of birth. I read the book "My Sixteen" which has instructions on researching immigrant ancestors. I ordered the documents suggested, and looked at census records which were on microfilm at that time, and not yet on the internet. Once I found the name of their village I looked the village name up on the internet, which took me to the Burgenland Bunch. This group led me to church records. The spelling of the name in the old country turned out to be Köppel. I was surprised to find the Köppel's in the Catholic Church records going back to 1785. The surname Köppel seemed even more Ashkenazi related. I figured maybe they converted to Catholicism?

I had a Kapple male first cousin take the Y-DNA test; his result turned out to be in the J-172 haplogroup. Many people of Jewish ethnicity tend to be in that haplogroup, so I thought this was further confirmation that we were indeed Ashkenazi on our Kapple line. I looked up the surname Kurta on a Holocaust database site, and Kurta came up. I thought maybe the Kurta  surname origins were also Ashkenazi? 

I thought I had it all figured out. We were substantially Ashkenazi Catholic converts? I was in for a big surprise when my autosomal ethnicity results came in. Zero Ashkenazi. I had an aunt and first cousin tested to confirm these autosomal results. My cousin came out with a trace amount of Ashkenazi, and my aunt zero. FTDNA predicted my aunt to be around 30% Southeast European, and 6% Eastern European. That would seem to account for part of the 50% of DNA she would have inherited from her Burgenland born father. 


My own ethnicity predictions are around 4%-6% Eastern European on most of the tests. AncestryDNA gives me a range of 0-12% Middle Eastern, which could point to some possible Ashkenazi ancestry? My Aunt has 1.1% Ashkenazi ethnicity at MyHeritage. 

It seems like much of my grandfather Kapple's ethnicity is missing from these tests, everyone in my family who has tested seems have a chunk of missing ethnicity from the Kapple side. British Isles and Western Europe seem to be over estimated. 


What really intrigues me is the Slovak ethnicity prediction. I do see surnames such as Muik and Kurta listed in the Slovakian church books. Both 23andMe and DNA.land point to the possibility of Slovakian ancestry for me and my aunt.




After visiting Austria, Bratislava, and the western portion of Hungary I had not noticed many people with the dark eyes, and dark hair similar to my Kapple family, or other similar features? Even the Kurta cousins living in Burgenland tend to have lighter features. I thought that was a little odd? Looking at us your first guess as to our ethnicity probably wouldn't be Germanic. I don't have any pictures of my Inzenhof great-grandparents. I only have physical descriptions from documents. My great-grandmother Mary Kurta was 5 feet tall with dark hair and brown eyes. My great-grandfather Frank Kappel was 5 feet 6, with dark hair and brown eyes, as you can see in the description on his Declaration of Intention below.  My father looked much like his father and had black hair, and brown eyes.  His mother had light colored eyes 


Interesting that I did see a few more people in Slovakia that looked like us, with darker features. Our tour guide in Bratislava, Slovakia had darker features, more like our Kapple side  of the family. I was beginning to think the Slovakian estimate was correct. 


I've since looked at a list from 1720 and there was a Kurta already in Borogodor at that time. 23andMe states that I probably have ties to Slovakia within the past 200 years. Looks like it would be more than 200 years ago, more like 300 years or more, since a Kurta was in the Borosgodor area in 1720. If Muik is the source of the admixture it's possible they migrated to Borosgodor at a later time?   

23andMe Predicts I have Slovakian ancestry within the past 200 years? 

1720 Census Borosgodor

Slovakia is mixed ethnically because it was part of the multi-ethnic Hapsburg Empire. There are signs in 3 languages on the old pharmacy in Bratislava, photo below. Instead of my family being from Slovakia it may be that the mixed Hungarian ethnicity of the people of that country is throwing our ethnicity prediction off? It could also be that some of the people who settled in Inzenhof were from Slovakia?


An old Apothecary shop in Bratislava with signs in 3 languages 

Kurta indeed appears to be a Hungarian surname. I marked all of our Kappel side surnames according to there likely ethnic origins. Nearly all of the others appear to be Germanic. 


Surnames can be adopted for various reasons and don't always reflect a persons ethnicity. I do think the surname Kurta is a clue that line is an ethnic mixture of  Germanic and Hungarian. 

Looking at all the information provided by the DNA companies I would say the origins of matches, especially close matches, is more informative than the ethnicity results alone. The fact my aunt and I have Austrian matches seems significant since my mother, who has no Austrian ancestry, doesn't have any is a clue to our origins. My aunt has 17 matches with Austrian ancestry. If I didn't know families origins at all I would look more closely at the origins of matches. 


I absolutely loved Bratislava and would love to find an ancestral connection to Slovakia. It could be we just share a common Hungarian ancestry? I may never know for sure? At this point I would say my Burgenland family is a mixture of Eastern European and Germanic ethnicity.