Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Final Resolution to a 20 Year Old Brickwall/ Or Not?

Church records for Styria, Austria are now online. I never expected to see these records online. I am now able to verify my Bierbauer/Wagner lines.

My family migrated to American from the village of Inzenhof which is in Burgenland Austria. They lived on the border between Austria and Hungary. Their church is now in Hungary, but their village is now in Austria. I was able to trace all the branches of my Kappel/Koppel family back to the late 1700's using the Felsoronok, Hungary church records, except the Bierbauer and Wagner families. My ancestor Maria Bierbauer was born  in 1850, and was said to have been born elsewhere according to her marriage record. Her parents were said to be Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana Wagner.

With this information I set out to find where Maria Bierbauer was born? I thought the record said she was born in Heidenbergen. I wasn't sure what the writing underneath said? At first I thought that was the name of the church. Thinking this village was in Burgenland I checked the names of all the villages at the Burgenland Bunch  genealogy website. I didn't find an exact match, but a Hackerburg sounded like a possibility. After looking at the church film for that village, and not finding any Bierbauer/Wagners I gave up. After gaining more experience reading difficult writing a couple years later I determined the writing underneath the village said Styria, a different province in Austria. Styria neighbors the province of Burgenland. The word next to it may say Austria? 

Now that I knew Heidenburgen was likely in Styria I looked at an Austrian Gazetteer, a place finding aid I learned about from my Irish research. The closest village name I could find was Heiderberg. I found this name in the footnotes on one of the pages. I found the parish for that area, but their records weren't online. I decided to write the Catholic archives in Graz, Styria, Austria. I decided to just ask for the marriage record for her parents Joseph Bierbauer and Maria Wagner. I received an email transcription of their marriage record. They were married 3 Feb 1850 in Ilz, Styria, Austria. Their daughter was said to have been born about 1850 according to her age on the marriage record. I didn't mention Heiderberg when I requested the marriage record, I just named the Parish as Ilz. I was excited to see what the transcription of the marriage record said. 

24-year-old Juliana Wagner, marital daughter of Josef Wagner, (Bergler u Webermeister z u Klim, parish Sinabelkirchen) and the Barbara geb. Schober (deceased), lives in Heiderberg, community Hochenegg 49.

This seemed to be confirmation that I had the right place, and right couple, because Juliana was from Heiderberg. I wanted a copy of the actual record plus more documentation. I was told that anymore research would cost 50 euros per hour. That was not affordable for me at that time. That was in 2003. A couple weeks ago I learned Sytrian Church record books were now online. I immediately began researching these books even though it was late at night, and I needed to get up early.

Dr. Norbert Allmer's 2003 marriage transcript came in handy. I would never guess the name in the record I found was Bierbauer. The transcript was key to finding the record. I highlighted Josef Bierbauer's name below. The German script B looked like a C to me. The name also has the ending -in. This ending is typical of surnames in these records. 

Wagner and Heidenberg were difficult for me to read in the marriage record portion about Juliana. Actually everything in her entry was indecipherable, because of the unique German Script writing. I needed the transcript.    

I was now able to look for my ancestor Maria Bierbauer's birth record. Now knowing what Bierbauer written in script looked like it would be easier for me to find that record. I found a Maria Bierbauer born 1851 to a Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana, and what could be Wagner?, and what appeared to be Heiderberg?. I was excited until I saw the cross over her name. From my earlier research in Felsoronok records I knew this meant she had died. If she died much later in Inzenhof I would not expect a notation like this. Looking more closely it gave her date of death as 31 March 1862. She couldn't be my ancestor if this was correct.  

I checked the death record book to see if she really did die in 1862; if she did maybe there are some coincidences and these aren't my ancestors?  

Yes, after finding Maria's death record it confirmed she did die in 1862, at age 12, on the date written on her birth record. Catching on somewhat to the German script now the village didn't look like Heiderberg. 

Going back to her birth record I noticed there is a note stating she was made legitimate by the marriage of her parents in June of 1851. My Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana Wagner married in February of 1850. I was not seeing any Maria's born to this couple after their marriage so I checked before their marriage. I hit the correct Maria this time because a note stated that she was made legitimate by her parents February 1850 marriage, and this Maria was indeed born in Heiderberg. Her mother's surname was indeed Wagner. 

I wanted to make sure that there was another Joseph Bierbauer who married a Juliana in June 1851. I did find such a couple. Below is the marriage record for Joseph Bierbauer who coincidentally also married a Juliana, and had a daughter Maria, all around the same time as my ancestors married and had a daughter Maria. 

My unfamiliarity with these different handwriting styles initially tripped me up misreading Maria Bierbauer's marriage record and her birth entry. If the other Maria hadn't died I would have recorded the information for the wrong person. That was a bit of a scare thinking I might have to start my search for Maria's family elsewhere again. 

Being a beginner reading German Script I will need to proceed more slowly and carefully. 

I'm now tracing these families farther back. I found Joseph Wagner's birth record. According to his birth record his father, also named Joseph, was a Leinweber or Linen weaver. According to Juliana Wagner's marriage record her father Joseph was a Webermeister, or master weaver. So weaving was a family trade. 

This is what I had for Maria Bierbauer's family before using the Austrian church records. 

This is what I have two weeks after reviewing records online:

I couldn't have added the additional surnames without the help of the Facebook group "German Genealogy Records Transcription."I can make out first names but many surnames are still Greek to me. 

I'm visiting Austria in a few weeks and I was planning on visiting the archives to do research. I was looking for the archives address when I found these records online. Now I realize I wouldn't have been able to read the records in the archives. The German script takes getting used to. Now I don't need to take time away from sightseeing. It will take me some time to continue to learn how to read German script so I can trace more lines back. I will be inching my way back. 

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