Monday, July 6, 2015


On one half of the register, the cause of death appears as "Fraissen" with two s's.

On the other half, the word appears as "Fraisen" with one s.

This 2011 post on the German-Bohemian ancestry forum speculates that it could mean epileptic seizures, measles, or just some vague description that the parish priest or clerk wrote as a catch all phrase.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beautiful Handwriting

Gemeinde Rattimau = Parish/Community of Vratimov

It seems like the Parish was actually made of more than one village. Vratimov records are always with those of Horní Datyně, Hrabová, and Kunčice, to name a few. Kunčice, by the way, as in Gross Kunzendorf, a village that is no longer on the map. It was razed to make way for a steel mill.

Anyway, those are all somewhat tangential to this blog post. The point is - look at the handwriting! The above sample is from a page of 1863 birth registrations. After you've looked at these for a while, you begin to forget how gorgeous the handwriting really is. Take a second to admire it. It's really a work of art, this beautiful cursive Czech-German current hybrid! I love it.

I've heard it said that the next generation will never have such beautiful handwriting, in a disparaging tone of voice. I'm not that pessimistic; probably they are write. This art form is lost, replaced with all kinds of fantastic new technology never even imagined 150+ years ago. Maybe it's a tragedy, but not one that will make me cry myself to sleep at night.

Instead, I'll marvel at the relics of the past that do remain. I mean seriously, they must have used a ruler on the example above. Come on! Nobody can write that straight, can they? Even with a ruler, it looks like a computer font. Gorgeous, gorgeous. All you genealogists out there reading this blog, take a second to smell the roses admire the handwriting!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Polish Birth Records in Czech Archives

Today I found some Polish birth records in the Ostrava Land Archives online!


Basically, this book includes birth records for a lot of teeny tiny towns, including two that are in present day Poland. It looks like these are Silesian villages. Clearly, the borders were very different back then.

Here is what I think is the village of Otrębów. I couldn't find anything super close by that was obviously Wisla doing a cursory google maps search. I showed the distance between Otrębów
and Vratimov, which is the village I am researching in this particular parish record book.

This is extremely encouraging to me. About 50 years of parish records are missing for the village of Vratimov, which is my ancestral hometown. This hints that it *might* be possible to find something useful in some Polish archive. It's not that much to go off of, but hey, I'd be so excited to find anything at this point.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Magd Tocht"

In this 1835 death record in the Kunčice-Vratimov parish, this child is described as, "Anna der Marina Waschiczek Mgd Tocht."

In these Czech records, typically the format of a child's death is like this:

[given name] of [father's given and surname], [father's occupation] of [place]

This entry doesn't fit that format. Instead, it's:

Anna of [mother's given and surname] Mgd Tocht

Tocht means daughter.

I think "Mgd tocht" stands for, "Magdalene tocht." Mgd Tocht stands for "magd tocht", or maiden's daughter. The meaning of this is, "illegitimate child."

It seems that there's a lot of confusion surrounding Mary Magdalene, and whether or not she was a woman of ill repute. It's likely that by the 1830's, she had already gained a reputation as a "sinful woman" (prostitute?), perhaps the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet in Luke 7:36-50.

Whether or not that is true, who knows. However, this is the first time I have seen this particular abbreviation, and I found it interesting enough to dust off my keyboard and write my theory as a blog post. Maybe it will help you in the future!