What was our Ancestors’ Cause of Death ? – Fraisen (infantile convulsions)

„Da krieg’ i ja die Pockerlfras!”

This is an old Austrian saying used when someone is very agitated and starts trembling because of fury.

The word “Pockerlfras” includes the cause of death of many infants in previous centuries: Fraisen (also known as Fraißen, Fraser or Freisen) which were infantile convulsions.

Origin of the term

The word Fraisen derives from the Middle High German term “vreise”, meaning anxiety, fury or horror. (1)

(“Pockerl” is an old Viennese term for turkey, by the way.)

Fraisen was used as for all infant diseases involving convulsions. (2)

Disease Pattern and Cause

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The Battle of Dürnstein – My ancestors in the Napoleonic War

On 11. November, a big battle of the Napoleonic Wars took place in Dürnstein and Loiben in the Wachau in Lower Austria. My Great-Great-Great-Great Grandaunt Barbara Artner was living in Dürnstein (then called “Thirrnstein”) at that time. Reason enough to look closer at this chapter of history and the horrific war experience of the inhabitants of Loiben and Dürnstein.

Napoleon’s rise

Napoleon, born on 15.August 1769 on this Island of Corsica,  made a steep career in the course of the French Revolution due to his military talent. After a coup, he became First Consul of the French Republic, until he declared himself Emperor of the French in 1804.

In April 1805, Great Britain, Sweden and Russia formed a Coalition against France. In August 1805, Austria joined this so-called “Third Coalition”. After Emperor Francis I. of Austria (formerly last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as Francis II. and founder of the Hereditary Empire of Austria) sent his troops to  Bavaria (an ally of France) on 8. September 1805, Napoleon declared war on Austria.  The Austrian Army lost several combats around Ulm in Germany, after which the French marched towards Vienna. That was when they arrived in Loiben and Dürnstein three weeks later, where an Austrian-Russian Army had retreated before already.

 

The Battle of Dürnstein and Loiben

On 10. November 1805 the French advance party reached Dürnstein and after skirmishes with some smaller Russian units, won the plain between Dürnstein and Rothenhof. The Russians and Austrians had made the close town of Krems their headquarter.

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Paul Wiesinger, Musician and Dog Breeder in Linz, Upper Austria

Linzer Becken

“Das Becken von Linz mit der Landeshauptstadt” by Eduard Zetsche (1844-1927) from the book “Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild”, Band Oberösterreich und Salzburg, Wien 1886, Page 17

My Great-great-great-Greatuncle Paul Wiesinger was born on 28. June 1832 in the capital of Upper Austria, Linz, in the parish of St. Mathias. He was the son of the unmarried Josepha Wiesinger, “daughter of a house owner“.

In the baptismal book, no father is indicated, but the godfather, Philipp Klimitsch, a “master brewer in Auhof 1” is interesting, as I could not find any other connection to him. This might be a clue for Paul’s father.
By the way, Auhof is a manor in Linz which was owned by the family Starhemberg. The brewery was under lease in 1832 and was demolished in 1900 (Source: Wikipedia, Entry for Schloß Aufhof (Linz))

Paul’s mother Josepha married Ferdinand Mathias Frey in 1837. Due to this marriage, Paul was referred to as Paul Frey in later documents. The couple had no other children and in March 1863, Josepha Frey died aged 59.

Several months later, on 15.November 1863, Paul (then aged 31) married 39-year-old Juliana Bruckmüller, a maid and the daughter of the master miller Johann Bruckmüller from the “Grubmühle” in Thal. This can be seen in the Marriage Consent Book of the City of Linz as well as from the Marriage Book of the parish of St.Mathias.


„Austria, Upper Austria, Linz, Selected Documents of the Federal State Archive  1485-1894,” images, FamilySearch (accessed 22 May 2014), Ehekonsens-Protokoll 1850-1868 > image 416 of 517;  (Upper Austiran State Archives, Linz).

(Translation: “Name of the groom”-“Paul Wiesinger also known as Frey”, “Born on”-“Linz, 28.1.1832”, “Profession”-“authorized Musician”, “Marriage Status”-“single” and “Domicile”-“Linz 1057”
“Name of the Bride”-“Juliana Bruckmüller”, “Born on”-“Sigharding, 18.6.1824”, “Domicile”-“Linz 1055”, “Note” contains file number)

The profession of Paul Wiesinger is authorized musician which is interesting. The couple seems to have been neighbors, as their addresses are Linz 1055 and 1057.

The entry in the marriage book basically gives the same information as stated above. The witnesses to the marriage are interesting:

  • Johann Hofmeister, piano maeker in Bethlehemgasse 44
  • Simon Danzmayr, musician

I do not have any clue which instrument Paul Wiesinger played, but it could have been the piano!

Klavier

On 16.September 1865 the only child of the couple was born, a daughter named Franziska. At the time of birth, the family was obviously renting rooms/a flat in the house of the carpenters Großpointner in Schulerberggasse 945 in Linz. Franziska Großpointner was the godmother of the child.
Sadly, the baby died 18 days later as she was “too weak to live”.

On 12.February 1867 Paul’s stepfather Ferdinand Frey died of Tuberculosis at the age of 64 years.

Paul Wiesinger is mentioned twice in the newspapers (“Linzer Tagespost”). However, this is not in context with his profession, but relates to dogs:

Auszug aus der Linzer Tagespost vom 25.6.1865, Seite 5, Quelle: Anno der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek

 

At the occasion of a fair in Linz in 1865, Paul Wiesinger/Frey won second place in the category “Hounds and Bloodhounds” („Jagd-, Schweiß und Brackirhunde“) with a Dachshund. (The Count of  Graf Starhemberg won the first place).

Dackel

From the book “Meyers Kleines Konversations-Lexikon”, Seventh Edition, Leipzig and Vienna, 1909; Entry “Hunde”

Possibly Paul Wiesinger was a dog breeder or a huntsman which could also be related to the breeding of hounds. However, I could not find any indication in that context.

In 1882, the following was published:

Thus, Paul Wiesinger also won a price for his dogs in 1881. His address at that time was Donatusgasse in Linz.

Only some moths after the advertisement above was published, Paul Wiesinger died on 25.July1883 due to Tuberculosis at the age of 51. His wife Juliana died four years later on 7.March 1887 aged 61 from senility (“old age”).

By the way, as I realized when writing this post, there is clear message here: Additional information such as witnesses of births or marriages can contain valuable clues for family history research.

New Design of Matricula online

Matricula online  is the platform for research in church books of Austria. There are also several documents for  Germany (Bisphoprics Hildesheim, Magdeburg, Münster and Passau) and Poland (State Archive of Breslau/Wroclaw) available.

Some weeks ago,  Matricula online introduced a new design. (The “old design” can be used until the end of 2017).

I did work with the new design in the mean time. There are great new functionalities and working with the new design is very efficient.

Now, there are three ways to get to a specific church book:

Matricula Menu Bar

Matricula Online, Menu Bar

  • Fonds: you can search the whole database of available documents
  • Map: This completely new functionality is great. By searching a village/city on the map, you can see all parishes close by and enter directly into the list of available church books for this parish. This functionality is particularly helpful, if you came to a brick wall in a parish, as you can quickly see what other parishes are near ans continue searching there.
    (Blue marks on the map show the  place you were looking for, red marks show parishes. By clicking on their name, you immediately get to the list of available church books of this parish.)
  • Search for Places: The functionality to search for places was significantly improved:
    There is now the possibility to restrict the search to specific dioceses or specific dates. If a place is entered, the list of results will include all possible results with notes of the parish.

The overview page of a parish also looks differently now. A photo of the parish church was added and there is also an up-to-date as well as a historic map (from mapire, a page with historic maps). With this additions, you can easily get an impression of the local area.

There is a possibility to show only specific types of books and to restrict the date of books.

When you found the curch book you were looking for, there are two possibilities:

  • Using the book symbol, you will be shown details on the book.
  • Using the camera symbol, you will directly get to the church book.

There are also some new functions for the navigation with church books.

Most functionalities are self-explanatory, but here are some additional notes:

  • The symbol of the house resets all changes.
  • Using the symbol with the square and arrow, you will receive the direct link to the page which can be copied using the right mouse button.
  • Using the book symbol, you can remove the side bar with the page numbers.
  • This info symbol gives detailed information on the currently opened book. This information was permanently given in the upper right corner in the earlier version of Matricula, which was actually better.
    UPDATE 8.6.2017: As I just saw, the information in the upper right corner was reinstated and gives now the parrish, the type of book with its reference number as well as the years which are covered in the book.

There is a navigation bar in all overview and church book pages which enables a quick navigation through the pages.

Matricula Navigationsleiste

Matricula online Navigation Bar

Matricula online is available in German and English. Language can be set in the upper right corner.

What is still missing is the possibility to download single pages, as it is offered at family search for example. You have to continue working with screenshots.

Overall, I have to say that I really like the new functionalities of Matricula which make it a great basis for research in church books.

Additional tipps for working with Matricula online and Church books, can be found in my earlier posts:

 

Seigniory of Heidenreichstein, Lower Austria

Many of my ancestors were subjects of the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein in Lower Austria. That is reason enough to give you some information on the history and on research in this area.

Georg Mätthaus Vischer Topographia archiducatus Austriae Inferioris modernae 1672, Wien 1672

Georg Mätthaus Vischer Topographia archiducatus Austriae Inferioris modernae, Vienna 1672

General Introduction of the Manorial System

In the beginning, I would like to give you some background information on the manorial system in Austria which was the basis of economy and society in the time before 1848. There were certain rights over people living in an area tied to the possession of the land. These rights encompass rights of jurisdiction and administration, the commitment of subjects to work for the Lord of the Manor at defined days (“Robot”) and the right of taxation. As a service in return, the Lord of the Manor was responsible for the safety of his subjects.
The title Lord of the Manor was reserved for members of the nobility and certain clerical institutions. With the royal patent dated 7th of September 1848, the manorial system was abolished in Austria and all the rights involved were transferred to public administrative bodies. [1]

History of the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein

In Heidenreichstein, the biggest moated castle of Austria is situated. Its first parts were built around 1180 by the first Lord of the Manor, called Heidenreich. In the 13th century, the town Heidenreichstein was documented for the first time. In the late Middle Ages, Heidenreichstein became an important emporium. Later on, in the 17th century, the textile industry’s importance grew in the area. In the 19th century, weaving mills were widely spread in the dominion. [2] Another important industry was the production of glass which benefitted from the abundant supply of wood. There were glass factories in the villages of Aalfang and Nagelberg.

The Seigniory of Heidenreichstein suffered from the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century as well was from the War with the French in the 19th century, when the area was occupied by the French military. [3]

Villages within the Seigniory:

The Seigniory of Heidenreichstein included the following villages:
Heidenreichstein, Altmanns, Thaures, Reichenbach, Roitrechts, Willings, Kleinradischen, Ebersweis, Dietweis, Motten, Pfaffenschlag, Artolz, Arnolz Steinbach, Rohrbach, Brandt (Brand), Finsternau, Aalfang (Eilfang), Nagelberg, Reinberg, Pfaffenschlag, Eisenreichs, die Waldhütten Schwarzenberg, Kiensaß, Wiesmaden, Steinbach as well as Zuggers, Schwarzbach, Grundschachen and Rottenschachen, which are situated today in the Czech Republic.

Daily Life around 1840

Freiherr von Schweickhardt gives a good impression of the daily life in the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein around 1840 in his book called  “Darstellung des Erzherzogthums Österreich unter der Enns” (Illustration of the Archduchy of Austria below the river Enns) [4]:

The  Seigniory then contained „1320 houses, 2195 families, 4787 men, 5104 women and 1336 school children as well as 147 horses, 1706 bulls, 1802 cows, 903 sheep, 84 geese and 1415 pigs“.

„People cultivated grain, oat, some barley and spring wheat, and large amounts of potatoes, as this plant is the best aliment for the biggest part of the poor, (…) and flax in almost all villages. As the crop yield is very poor due to the rough climate here, it is no wonder that all produce of the soil is eaten and there is no surplus left. The inhabitants would therefore find it hard to pax their dues, if they would not have an additional source of income through weaving. Almost everyone around is a weaver and all day long, the hand looms are rattling. (…) Stock farming is only done for one’s own end. (…) The benefit from stock is small, as there is a shortage of pasture and breeding generates no good result.”

„The poorer subjects are busy wood cutting for the glass factories in the Seigniory and they are producing Hecheln, a utensil for cleaning flax.”

Webstuhl 1830 Wikimedia

Hand loom, 1830 by Johann Schieß (1799-1844), Source: Wikimedia

Documents and Information

If you have ancestors in the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein, you are actually very lucky, as      many documents and books for research are online, at Familysearch as well as at the State Archive of Lower Austria:

  • Familysearch: Collection „Austria, seigniorial records, 1537-1920“, (path to the documents: Lower Austria/Litschau/Seigniory of Heidenreichstein and Weissenbach); here the direct link
  • State Archive of Lower Austria (German only);
    Follow the menu as follows: Gerichtsarchive/ Bezirksgerichte/Grundherrschaftliche Provenienz/Litschau/Heidenreichstein und Weissenbach, Herrschaft
; here the link

(There was a district court installed at Heidenreichstein in 1850. However, in 1868 it was moved to the close town of Litschau. Therefore, documents regarding the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein are to be found at the district court of Litschau.

The books which are available online include the following:
– Land registers 1715 – 1885
– “Gewähr” books 1786 – 1851
– Marriage Protocols 1747 – 1851
– Inventar Protocols 1758 – 1843
– Protocols of Acquisitions 1654 – 1838
– “Satz” Protocols 1775 – 1851

(There will be a separate post soon on which information you would find in the different seigniorial books.)

  • Beside that, there are of course also church books at Matricula.  Here a link to the all new map of Matricula, where you can see all parishes as red marks. There is a search field in the upper right corner, where you have to enter Heidenreichstein.
  • Regarding the villages of the Seigniory which are today situated in the Czech Republic, relevant documents can bei found in the Archive of  Wittingau/Trebon. In the upper right corner is a toolbar to switch languages and in the menu on the left, there is a search field. You can look for the old German name of the village (e.g. Zuggers).

Sources

[1] Wien Wiki Geschichte, Entry on the Manorial System
[2] Book: Dehio Niederösterreich Nördlich der Donau, Verlag Anton Schroll & Co, Wien 1990,
Eintrag Heidenreichstein, Seite 412ff
[3] Wikipedia Entry Heidenreichstein
[4] Book: Friedrich Schweickhardt (Freiherr von.): Darstellung des Erzherzogthums
Oesterreich unter der Ens, durch umfassende Beschreibung aller Burgen, Schlösser,
Herrschaften, Städte, Märkte, Dörfer, Rotten,C., C., topographisch-statistisch-
genealogisch-historisch bearb., und nach den bestehenden vier Kreisvierteln gereihet,
Sechster Band, Viertel Ober-Manhartsberg; Wien, gedruckt bei Anton Benko, 1840,
Seiten 37ff

Online Indexing at Familysearch

Yesterday, I discovered a new functionality at familysearch: Web Indexing. It is easy to register and there are comprehensive explanations available.

After a “Guided Tour—Introduction to Indexing”, there is a small selection of batches for indexing which all take about 30 minutes. You can choose different difficulty levels.

As a start, I chose the following batch: “US, Pennsylvania—World War II Draft Registrations, 1940–1945”. This batch included 10 machine-written cards of which you see images and which you can zoom in easily. At the beginning, there are project specific instructions about how and what to index. There are many help buttons and functions, if you don’t know what exactly should be entered in the different fields. After 20 minutes, I finished the cards and it felt good!

Subsequently, the selection of projects was bigger and there was even one Austrian project: The church books of the Diocese Gurk (Carinthia). I could not resist, although it was intermediate level. This batch was not as easily readable as the first one, but I got through ok.

I really like the Web Indexing Function of Familysearch. It is well done and easy.

However, I also have to mention that I can now much better acknowledge the work all the researchers out there are doing, when they are indexing documents. It is hard work and now that I tried it, I know it is harder than I imagined it! I have to say a big THANK YOU to all indexing researchers. Without you, I would not have all the information in my database that I have today!