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.