Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Beyond Matriky Records

Parish registers (matriky) are incredibly rich and detailed, but did you ever wish for more records to flesh out the details of the lives and events of your ancestors? 

Well, they exist. And we should use them, even if it means hiring a researcher to photograph them.

Here is a tutorial about how to find non-matriky records in the Opava Archives (ZOA). 

The “Estate Proceedings” of Trojanovice are not digitized, but they do exist in the ZAO - Olomouc.

The outside of ZAO - Olomouc

I ordered (well, my cousin ordered for me) three sets of Estate Proceedings, two volumes of marriage contracts, and three volumes of not yet digitized “Kniha Listin”, and they let me read all of them, even though technically it was 3 records over the 5 record limit! The female archivists were extremely kind to me, even though our language barriers meant that all of us had to shyly pantomime our way through filling in the necessary paperwork.

And then they brought out the records.
To say that I was shocked is a gross understatement. I was floored.
It turned out that the “Estate Proceedings” were not tiny bound volumes, but rather five inch tall stacks of files of loose leaves of paper.

I was not exaggerating!

And that was only for a time span of 3 years. There were literally dozens of other Estate Proceedings. 26 to be precise. This must take up an entire bookshelf.
My husband and I stayed there for three hours, but only photographed one of these record sets in its entirety, which I completely regret now. At the time, I felt nauseous; I had spent the previous night throwing up, etc. We had been eating restaurant food (not just any restaurant food, but Czech restaurant food, i.e. things like knedlíky – dumplings – which are like bricks in your stomach) for the previous ~10 days, and then hiked the highest mountain in the Beskydies. We had thought, “Oh it’s just a little mountain,” since it was only 4k feet high, and we (mostly Danny) are mountain snobs, having lived in Utah and Colorado, where the only impressive mountain is 14k feet. Yeah, hiking Lisa Hora was a 12 mile, 3 hour event, and we were both totally sore afterwards. That, combined with restaurant food (i.e. no fruits and vegetables), the general stress of being far away from home, as well as the overwhelming flood of information I was experiencing – I was totally sick. I could barely stand to stay in the archives for three measly, pathetic hours. I had to keep getting up to walk (and throw up, etc.) Why couldn’t I have just forced my body to endure it for a little bit longer, I keep asking myself now. Sigh.

Engrossed in the land records!

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