What was our ancestor’s cause of death?

What was our ancestor’s cause of death?

This is the start of yet another new series of posts which covers the cause of death in earlier times. The list of causes of death in church books is long and there are many terms and names of diseases which need explaining today. Beside the historic diseases, there are individual accidents, epidemics or other tragedies.

Senility

Today, I start the series with a cause of death which “fortunately” can be found quite often in my family tree, death of old age, senility. In church books, the term “Marasmus senilis” is also used which stands for the decay of body and intellect through age.

As of what age was someone “old”? What was the expected life span in previous centuries?

This table shows the life span for men (in grey) and women (in red) at the age of 60 years in the course of time and thus does not take the high death rate of newborns and children into account. While expectancy for men and women in 1868 was little above 70 years, it is approximately 10-15 years more today. As you can read on Wien.at, in 1856, only 0.7% were elder than 75 years.

I cannot give you a serious statistical analysis of my family tree research, thus I will just give you some special examples of ancestors who reached a high age and died of senility:

  • I already introduced you to Leopoldine Hetzendorfer (born Hofbauer) in another post. She died after an exciting life aged 88 in the year 1943. Her daughter Walburga even was 91 years when she died.
  • Veit Putschögel was born in 1707 and reached an then almost incredible age of 90 years.
  • Mathias Schindl was 88 when he died in the year 1829 due to senility.
    (Transcript/Translation: Name of the deceased: Mathias Schindl, “Ausnehmer”meaning basically a person living at the farm of their children/ religion: catholic, Sex: male, age: 88 years/Illness, Cause of death: of senility)

  • Magdalena Petz (born Weinmayr) died in 1888 aged 86.
    (Transcript/Translation: Petz Magdalena, born, Weinmayer, born in Paasdorf, widow, here, age 86 years, senility according to certification of death no. 7)

  • Katharina Schmölz was 95 when she died in 1950.Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-30 um 18.56.42

What age did your ancestors reach? Did you discover unusual causes of death in your research?

Joseph Prankl, Blacksmith in Gaming, Lower Austria

Gaming is a village close to the mountain Ötscher in Mostviertel in Lower Austria and is situated on the Iron Trail. The Iron Trail has been an important site for the production and processing of iron since the 16th century. Subsequently, grand forges, but also many smaller hammer mills were built in the area.

Due to the Napoleonic Wars, the region was cut off from trade and from new technologies and could no longer compete with other areas with better infrastructure.

My ancestor Joseph Prankl, was a blacksmith for horseshoes and nails who settled in Gaming. He was married to Anna Maria (nee Eder) from Purgstall. The couple had 16 children. At least five of whom did not survive infancy. The children were born in the time period between 1795 and 1814 in Gaming.

The Viennese newspaper “Wiener Zeitung” published the following article in May 1813 about Joseph Prankl:

In this article, the foreclosure sale of the house of Joseph Prankl with the address Hofstadt in der Au no.7 which he has only built two years before was announced.

The house is described in detail: There were two rooms on the ground floor, a spacious kitchen, a pantry and a cellar. On the first floor, there were seven rooms and a kitchen. There was also a stable for two horses, three cows and a big barn.
Close to the house was the smithy.

Joseph Prankl tried to succeed as blacksmith in Gaming, but it was right at the time of economic downturn of the region. He seems to have overextended himself on the new house and could not repay his liabilities.

So far, I could not find out, where Joseph Prankl came from, nor where he and his family went after the foreclosure.  A brick wall, I still have to overcome!

I do know that two of his sons settled in Gresten, a village nearby and were blacksmiths there.

 

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 3: Finding the Right Book

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 3: Finding the Right Book

Austrian Roman Catholic Church Books are the main source for Family History Research in Austria .This post is part of a series explaining how to find information you are looking for in Austrian church records.

Please also see:

Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic Diocese
Part 2: Finding the right Roman Catholic Parish

*********************************************************************************

UPDATE JUNE 2017: Matricula has introduced a new design with new functionalities. Details can be found in my new post: New Design of Matricula online

**********************************************************************************

Part 3: Finding the right Church Book

In my last post of this series, I showed you how to find the right parish. Now, we want to move forward to find the right book.

There are three main types of church registers:

  • Baptismal Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Death Records

Although the registers are usually separate books, particularly in earlier times, all three records were entered in one book, in separate sections.

I will use the example of Theresia Wallner to show you, how to find the right book: Theresia Wallner was born on 17.2.1799 in the village of Thann. Thann is a part of the parish of Pottschach in the Arch-Diocese of Vienna.

 

Using Matricula, you can see that the following information:

In total, there are 28 books („Bücher“) available for the parish of Pottschach.

  • „Signatur“ means the title number of the book
  • „Kirchenbuch/Sakrament“ gives you the type of records in the book
  • „Laufzeit“ is the term for which entries are recorded

You can sort the list according to all of the above.

In the list, there are different types of books:

  • Taufbuch: Baptismal Records
  • Trauungsbuch: Marriage Records
  • Sterbebuch: Death Records
  • Tauf-, Trauungs- und Sterbebuch: all of the above combined in one book
  • Index Taufe: Index of baptismal entries (Sometimes, if a church book does not include an index of entries, there is a separate index for a certain term)
  • Index Trauungen: Index of marriage entries
  • Index Sterbebuch: Index of death entires

As we are looking for a baptismal record in 1799, this would be the book, we are looking for:

By clicking on the camera-symbol beside the book, you even get more information:

Beside the type of entries in the book („Buchtyp“) and the time period covered („Zeitraum“), you can also see that this particular book includes an index of the entries („Enthält: Index“) and the location of the original book („Lagerungsort“) which in this case is the local parish.

Finally, by clicking on the camera symbol again, you can access the particular book directly. (If you would like to go back to the list of entries, click on „Liste der Bücher“ which means „List of books“.)

In the next part of the series, we will search for the right entry in the book.

All the vocabulary above is also entered into my Vocabulary List here.

This post is part of a series:

Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic diocese
Part 2: Finding the right Parish
Part 3: Finding the right Church Book
Part 4: Finding the right Entry
Part 5: Information given in Baptismal Records
Part 6: Information given in Marriage Records
Part 7: Information given in Death Records
Part 8: Other Religious confessions

History and Genealogy in Austria – Maria Theresia (1717-1780)

History and Genealogy in Austria – Maria Theresia (1717-1780)

History is an important part of genealogy, as the knowledge about history helps you understanding your family history.

300 years ago, on 13th of May 1717, Austrian Empress Maria Theresia was born in Vienna.

IMG_7771

In 1736, she married Franz Stephan of Lorraine. She and her husband had 16 children, of which 10 survived infancy.

After the death of her father Karl VI in 1740, she assumed the reigns of government of Austria. (She was never officially Empress of Austria, although people did call her Empress.)

Her first years of regency were impacted by a European war, the „Österreichischen Erbfolgekrieg/The War of Austrian Succession“ (1740 to 1748).

Under her regency, many reforms were implemented. Some of those reforms had a clear impact on the daily lives of our ancestors:

  • The empress initiated a reform of state finances which also included the introduction of a uniform income tax for all inhabitants – thus ending the tax privileges of nobility and clergy. The following taxes had to be paid per year (1 Gulden = 60 Kreutzer):
    (Source: „Felix Austria” by Stephan Vajda, published 1980 Verlag Carl Überreuther)

    • Ordinary workmen/farmhands: 4 Kreutzer
    • Day labourers: 12 Kreutzer
    • Farmers: 48 Kreutzer
    • Craftsmen: 1-3 Gulden
    • Lords of the manor: 200-400 Gulden, depending on the size of the property
    • Bishops: 600 Gulden(To compared those amounts: a meal cost about 12 Kreutzer, as stated here.)
  • Maria Theresia also introduced the first paper money in Austria.
  • In 1770, the numbering of houses in Vienna was concluded and other Austrian cities followed.

Maria Theresia also ordered the first census in Austria-Hungary in 1754 which was then called „Seelenbeschreibung“. The Census covered 17,437,181 inhabitants of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. She implemented the first form of a land register (then a register of houses) in 1770.

Maria Theresia died on 29th of November 1780 in Vienna.

If you would like to find out more about Empress Maria Thresia, I recommend this link.

Research Template Church Book Index

I have to admit that my research has been really unorganized in the beginning, but I guess I was overwhelmed by the available information. On the internet, I have found some research templates in the meantime for a better organization. However, none is fully practical for me. Therefore, I tried designing my own template.

bildschirmfoto-2017-03-04-um-19-41-49

You can download the template here as PDF. This template is intended for the collection of entries of an index of a church book when searching for a particular surname. The template also includes a detailed explanation on the last page.

While I so far took note of all the entries on a piece of paper which I could not find any more months later, I now intend to keep this filled-in template and if I am researching a certain name/book for more details or for relatives of the persons in my family tree at a later point in time, I do not have to undertake the entire seaching again.(Although it can also be quite useful to start again from scratch, as it is always possible that I did not notice some relevant information the first time).

Anyway, I hope you find the template useful as well!

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 2: Finding the right Parish

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 2: Finding the right Parish

Austrian Roman Catholic Church Books are the main source for Family History Research in Austria. This post is part of a series explaining how to find information you are looking for in Austrian church records.

Please also see:
Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic Diocese

*********************************************************************************

UPDATE JUNE 2017: Matricula has introduced a new design with new functionalities. Details can be found in my new post: New Design of Matricula online

**********************************************************************************

Part 2: Finding the right Roman Catholic Parish

Using my ancestor Mathias Schindl as example, I will show you ways to find the right parish. I know from other sources that he was born in Finsternau.

The easiest way to find out where to look is the gazetteer at Genteam. Genteam is a free database for genealogical research in Austria (and some other countries of the former Habsburg monarchy). You only have to register to use its many possibilities.) If the page is in German, there is a button in the upper right corner to switch to English.

According to Genteam, there is only one village called Finsternau which belongs to the parish of Brand near Gmünd in Lower Austria. The details in Genteam give even more information. This parish belongs to the diocese of Lower Austria/St.Pölten. There are church registers available as of 1784. Before belonging to the parish Brand, Finsternau was part of the parish of Zuggers in Bohemia.

Matricula-online
(Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg , Carinthia and Vorarlberg)

In Matricula, where we will find the church registers for Brand, there is also an integrated search, which however will not work for all dioceses. It does work for Lower Austria. At Matricula you can also switch to English in the blue banner on the top. Next to the language switch is the „search button“. If you enter „Finsternau“ in the field „Search Word“ and click on „Show all results“ afterwards, it will lead you directly to the parish of Brand/Gmuend.

You would also get there by selecting the following in the window on the left:
„AT Österreich/Austria“ – „AT DSP St.Pölten“ (which is the capital of Lower Austria) – „A…C“ and then „Brand/Gmuend“.

In the subsequent overview screen, there is plenty of information available (the vocabulary is also included in my Vocabulary sheet):

  • Zeitraum von – Records available as of
  • Zeitraum bis – records available until
  • Verwaltungsgeschichte – Historic scope of the parish
    • Aktueller Pfarrbereich: Lists all villages currently within the scope of the parish
    • Historische Abweichungen – Differences in scope in the past
  • Matrikenführung: details on register types and availability (Gegenwart meaning now)

The most important button is „List of all records of record group“ – there you will see all church registers of the parish.

Styria

The possibility to search for villages exists also in the diocese Graz-Seckau (Styria). There is a field „Pfarre/Ort“ where you can enter the village you are looking for. In the window on the left you can also look for the right parish.

Tyrol

In the upper left corner you will find a field to search for a village or parish – just enter the name and click „Suchen“ (Search).

One important note: Parish boundaries did change over time. Particularly in 1783/1784, many new parishes were founded. So if you do not find a record in a parish, it always makes sense to look in surrounding parishes as well.

In my next post of the series, I will give you details on the different church books in Austria. If you have any specific questions regarding the work with church registers, please leave a comment.

This post is part of a series:
Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic diocese
Part 2: Finding the right Parish
Part 3: Finding the right Church Book
Part 4: Finding the right Entry
Part 5: Information given in Baptismal Records
Part 6: Information given in Marriage Records
Part 7: Information given in Death Records
Part 8: Other Religious confessions

Buffalo Zither Club – Friday’s Faces from the Past

I love old photos. They make history come alive. Names in my family tree get a face. Although, you sometimes may not know all names of the persons in a photo.

I have a photo of my ancestors who emigrated from Austria to Buffalo in 1913. The photo shows my Austrian ancestors Anton Hetzendorfer, Florian Hetzendorfer as well as Ernst August Surborg from Germany playing music together with other persons I do not know.

I would really like to know the names of the unknown members of the music group. The photo must have been taken around 1915 in Buffalo.

I tried to find persons who lived in Buffalo through online databases – without success. Then, I tried searching for „Buffalo“ and „Zither“ (the instrument played in the photo). I found a page http://www.zither.us where a story is told about Buffalo Zither Clubs. There was a photo of such a „Buffalo Zither Club“ taken in 1917 which really showed one of the persons who was also in my photo! I was excited!

And I was even more lucky, the page stated the name of that person:

„Josef Mayerhofer (..) was born in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1875.“

I think, there is also a second Zither player in that picture who is in my photo as well, but no name was given form him.

I would not have thought it possible to identify the people in my photo, but it actually worked!

Historic Austrian Newspapers

A real treasure chest for researchers of family history are historic newspapers. At ANNO (Austrian Newspapers Online, a digitalization initiative of the Austrian National Library) you can search through the text of an enormous amount of historic newspapers and magazines from 1689-1945. ANNO does not only include Austrian Newspapers, but papers from all over Europe, some even in other languages like English, French, Italian or Polish.

Yesterday, I found out through ANNO that the sister of my Great-great-grandfather, Josefa Korinek was the eldest woman in Vienna when she died in 1939, aged 103. I was thrilled to read through the story of her life and there were even two photographs!

1938-korinek-josefa-2

Source: ANNO/Austrian National Library, Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung 6.3.1938, page 6

If you want to try ANNO, go to the ANNO Search page and enter the name you are looking for in the the field “Suche:” (Suche is Search in German). You can use search operators such as:

“First Name Last Name” will search for exactly this expression
“First Name, Last Name”~5 will do a context search where the two words are not more than 5 words apart (I mostly use this search with a family name and the name of a village).

Good luck searching! I hope you will get new information!

 

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 1: Finding the right Diocese

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 1: Finding the right Diocese

Austrian Roman Catholic Church Books are the main source for Family History Research in Austria. This post marks the start of a series explaining how to find information you are looking for in Austrian church records:

Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic Diocese

Austria is divided into nine Roman-Catholic dioceses by territory. There is also one special military diocese. The area of this dioceses is similar to those of the nine Federal States, but not identical. Particularly the Archdiocese of Vienna covers extensive parts of Lower Austria.

Each diocese has many parishes that in turn were responsible for keeping personal records such as baptismal records, weddings and deaths until 1938.

How do you find online records for dioceses? In the following you will find links to online records:

  • Matricula – www.matricula-online.eu
    offers records for the Archdiocese of Vienna and of Salzburg as well as the dioceses of St.Pölten (Lower Austria), Linz (Upper Austria), Feldkirch (Vorarlberg) and Gurk-Klagenfurt (Carinthia).
    While Viennese, Lower and Upper Austrian and Vorarlberg records are complete, the digitalisation of records of the other dioceses is in progress and new records are constantly being added.
  • Styrian records (Dioceses Graz-Seckau) are completely digitalised and are available here:
    http://matriken.graz-seckau.at
  • The records for Tyrol can be found here:
    https://apps.tirol.gv.at/bildarchiv/#14502836723930
  • The records for the diocese Burgenland are not digitalised. However, as this part of Austria was actually part of Hungary until 1921, records might possibly be found in the Hungarian records for the dioceses Györ/Raab und Szombathely/Steinamanger.

Many records are also available here on Family search (www. familysearch.org)

There is extensive information about Austrian church records online on the Homepage of Familia Austria, a genealogical association. This information is only available in German, though.

I am sure, some readers now have the legitimate question: „How do I know, which diocese is the right one for the village/city that I am looking for?“

I will show you in the next part of my series. But here is a sneak preview: We will use the gazetteer of Genteam (www.genteam.at). The site is free, but you have to register to use it – it is worth it, though, as there is a lot of information available there.

Please come visit my blog again for upcoming sequels:
Part 2: Finding the right Parish
Part 3: Finding the right Church Book
Part 4: Finding the right Entry
Part 5: Information given in Baptismal Records
Part 6: Information given in Marriage Records
Part 7: Information given in Death Records
Part 8: Other Religious confessions

Kurrent Script – Old German Script

Church books are very often written in Kurrent (Old German Script). At first glance, it looks like a secret code. However, it is not so difficult to read it – all you need is a little practice. Nevertheless, be careful – what looks like an “f” could easily be an “s” 😉!

Here’s how it works:
kurrentschrift

On this website, there are further tables with variations:http://www.deutsche-kurrentschrift.de/index.php?s=abc_fraktur

The readability is not improved by the fact that some handwritings are really difficult to read. In the beginning, there is certainly a degree of guessing involved, but I promise: It gets better!

And to start your training, here is the first of what I intend to make a series of: the Kurrent challenge! Can you read the following words (easy ones!)?

bildschirmfoto-2017-02-05-um-22-42-50

By the way, I am using a great tool for conversion into Kurrent: http://www.kurrentschrift.net/index.php?s=schreiben