When you write to a Czech researcher, him tell him all the names you want
researched and what you want to know about each. With a place of birth, he/she
can begin with a search of parish records.
A marriage record will show bride, place of birth, name of father, house
number and trade, maiden name of mother and where mother was born, sometimes her
father's trade or house number. You can thus go down through the Bride's line
as well as the groom's. Each bride you find will open another line.
Same info for the groom execpt that the surname can be followed in a given
house in the birthplace, or if you want to know about cousins, in the entire
A baptism has name of child, parents infor with grand parents sometimes and
names of godparents and sometimes their origins.
Death records usually shows DOD, name, place of death, place of birth, house
number or residence, cause of death, where buried and who did the burial
service. Parents and spouse may and may not be listed or the deceased may be shown
to be a widow or widower. In some cases it will also give the trage, age,
religion and other details about the deceased.
When a researcher finds a male ancestor he can easily follow the family back
through that name and house number for as many generations as desired or
available. If the trail goes cold there are old tax rolls from 1654 and 1677,
1718 and others that will show if a family with that name lived in that house at
The rolls for 1654 and 1677 were written in Czech so it is important to have
a researcher who is able to read old handwritten Czech.
The older the records are the greater the possibility that the surname
spelling will be a sound-alike that has little in common with the modern name or
even the 19th century name's spelling. The researcher has to have instructions
to look for sound-alikes if that is what you want. The name may be a Czech
version of a German name.
First names will be in Czech so do not reject a record showing Jan instead of
I have been corresponding with another list member who has managed to get a
copy of the surname index transcribed from the Berni Ruly (1654 tax rolls).
We have been discussing lookups from the index.
There is a mention of the 1654 tax rolls for Bishofteinetz and Taus in the
Hemat book for that district. The article includes the names of everyone who
was listed in the rolls.
It includes one name of interest to me: Brogol (found in Trohatin). Those
lists in the Heimat book were very likely made from the hand written
originals, not from the transcriptions published in the books because the books were
not yet available when the Heimat book was published.
The index book published for the same district does not show the name Brogol
or any alternate spelling in the surname index although someone has most
likely seen it in the original documents.
There is also the possibility that the index in question is for Pilsen and
Trohatin was in the Klattau district at the time the Berni Ruly survey was made.
If your ancestral birthplace is near the frontier of a political district
it may be a good idea to search indexes in books for neighboring districts, too.
I have also received a photocopy of an original page from the Berni Ruly with
the name Grausamb on it in the same house and village where my Grosam
ancestors were born.
The name Grausamb does not appear in the index of surnames in the Pilsen
Berni Ruly books although there is no question whether that village was actually
in the Pilsen district when the tax survey was made.
My researcher has called an archive and inquired about a Brogol in Trohatin
in 1654 and learned it is not listed. I suspect the archivist looked it up
in the book, not in any alphabetical list made by the census taker or in the
original documents for that place. Again there is also the possibility that
another archive will have that listing. Do not assume that the archivist at one
archive will know when a given place actually became a part of the home
district for that archive.
I suggest that anyone using a Czech researcher instruct him/her to find out
if they can access the original documents for the Berni Ruly if they cannot
find anything that appears to be the correct surname in the transcribed published
The indexes for each district of Bohemia are available at a few US university
libraries and at the LDS. The LDS may have them on film so they circulate a
lot more quickly than waiting for an interlibrary loan.
To find the books available at the LDS do a TITLE search using the word:
Only some of the books at the LDS have been filmed. You can request filming
of the book you want by using one of the forms you find at the
website. Click on "Family History Forms" on the lower left
side of the
green part of the home page.
The correct form is either:
Requests for Photocopies - Census, Books, Microfilm, or Microfiche
[Description] [PDF] 31768
Requests for Photocopies - IGI and Sources [Description] [PDF] 31831
Download both, print them both and then ask your FHC volunteer to tell you
which is the correct one to use to request filming of the desired book.
Ask a nearby UNIVERSITY librarian to order a copy of the book you want from
another university library. You may receive it more quickly than if you order
it via a public library. However, if the book is old a university library
is more apt to restrict its use, requiring you to use it in the library instead
of letting you take it home. Public libraries are more apt to let you take
it home if they do not have any instructions from the lending library.
In either case, be prepared to wait. My correspondant who had the books got
them via her public library after waiting for five months.
In some cases these books will be the only published index of surnames
associated with a given place back in 1654 -- BUT they only list surnames of
families with enough assets to pay taxes. The absence of a name does not mean that
family did not live in Bohemia at that time.
Since the books are indexed on the surnames it is necessary to search all
possibile sound-alikes in Czech for each name of interest. Once a name is found
there is a place name with which it is associated. If the name is found in
more than one place then church records for each place may have to be searched
for a family connection leading up to the right combination of first names.
There is another tax roll that may pick up where 1654 left off -- it is
called the "Revisitation of 1677". I believe the originals are the only record
these rolls available. A Czech researcher should ask if a given archive
will allow access to those tax rolls. However, when a place of birth is
unknown and the surname does not appear in the 1654 published index, there is no way
to make an efficient search of these old tax rolls. Request it only after a
place of birth is known and church records prove the family lived in that
same place for a long time.
Another tax roll was made in 1718 with others perhaps in between 1677 and
that year. A good researcher will be able to tell you all of the tax rolls
available and which originals the "public" is allowed to use.
Finally, when a birthplace is unknown, all possibilities to find it in US
records are exhausted and the surname or a sound-alike does not appear in the
index for the tax rolls of 1654 the only recourse may be to search some of the
lists of surnames and birthplaces that appear in Austrian military records
prior to 1820 on film at the LDS. All that is needed to get started is an idea of
the district in which a person was most likely born. Searching Landwehr and
regimental records starting with 1820 and working backwards to 1800 may durn
up several ancestral surnames with birthplaces. Do not fail to consider any
records with an ancestral surname even if the years on them are earlier than
any known ancestors dates would be. Any one could be an unknown ancestor or
A possible place of birth means that the original documents in all categories
of records of that place may be available. That would include church
records, tax records, marriage contracts, land records, last wills and testaments
and even judicial actions and punishments by a noble lord against a serf.
Without the birthplace a researcher would have to go through all records of all
places in a given district to find all the possible surnames that would apply.