I am fairly new to genealogy. It was only a few months ago that I realized I now had time to do my own genealogy research rather than relying on other family members’ work. My goals were pretty limited when I started out. I wanted to find the villages my ancestors came from in the Czech Republic, so I could visit while I am living in Europe. It was inevitable that I would have to figure out the Czech Republic Archives.
I am a self-admitted research nerd. I love digging through stacks of information to find answers. So, the prospect of searching through records interested me. I had no clue of where to find records or how I was to go about searching these records. But, I started googling and reading and then did it all over again.
After wearing out the databases at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and what is available on the Czech Genealogical Society International; I realized I was going to have to figure out how to look things up in the digitized archives of the Czech Republic. Also, I realized that finding the information would take some work.
The Czech Republic Archives are state or regional repositories of church and government records. In order to look anything up in these archives on a specific person, you must know the village the person lived and their approximate date of birth. Without this information, it is virtually impossible to trace someone.
Once you figured out a person’s home village, it is necessary to find out to what parish it belonged. With the help of GenTeam, an Austrian website with tons of genealogy records, it is a fairly easy process. (You do have to register, but it is free!)
Once you have the who and where figured out, it is time to really research. That leads to the next challenge. Reading the records. Czech records can be written in Czech, German or Latin. They are handwritten using the script of the era. I found that some of the records are almost indecipherable. It definitely takes practice.
I was lucky with at least one set of my great-grandparents. My grandmother had given another relative information on the Vopat side of the family prior to coming to America. Josef was from a town called Hadacka and his wife Anna Riedl was from Dobric.
I had a starting place, at least.
I knew Hadacka was in the Plzen (Pilsen) Region of Czech Republic. I looked it up and discovered the village was located in the Kralovice Parish. I found the proper archive. Nothing. Zero. Okay, not quite zero. I did find a couple of Vopat entries. None matched my great-grandfather, Josef though.
I almost gave up. Until I was looking through a list of neighboring parishes. Low and behold, in a neighboring town called Zebnice, Hadacka records were also available. These towns were only minutes apart, so I am fairly certain that is where I will find Josef and his family.
So, why haven’t I found him yet?
Digitalization. Ugh. The same thing that has allowed me to find relatives from hundreds or thousands of miles away is the thing that put my search for Josef temporarily on hold. The records from Zebnice are not yet digitized. So, I can’t do the search myself. I have yet to decide if I will pay someone or just wait until I can search them myself.
So, my research on Josef Vopat is a bust for the time being. That does not mean I am giving up on the Czech Archives. I have moved on to Tiny Grandma (Anna Riedl.) The good news is that I had much more luck with Anna. The bad news is that you have to wait for the next blog post to learn what I know!