… for this late-breaking bulletin.
As of approximately 1:00 AM this very morning, THEY HAVE BEEN LOCATED!!
Like everyone, I’m sure, I have more than a few lines in my tree fairly riddled with brick walls. Among the diciest were those of my two of grandmother’s maternal grandparents Frank and Barbara (Süß) Kraus. In the 20+ years I’ve been doing this I’ve been pretty successful in fleshing out the Leibel/paternal side of the equation, but the Kraus/Süß side has remained a mystery.
Again, my savior was the amazing Porta Fontium site (portafontium.eu), which has digitized what must be hundreds of church record books from Bohemia – mostly the German-speaking settlements, but many Czech towns as well. These records span the centuries from a village’s founding (some back to the late 1500s) until, in many cases, the village’s forced abandonment and subsequent destruction in the years after World War II.
But boy howdy, those books can be tough sledding!. The site itself is in Czech and/or German. As you can see, the records are written in an old Germanic script. There are letters that were seemingly interchangeable back then: Ps and Bs, Gs and Ks and Cs and Qs – so checking an old index for a name may involve checks of several sections, and keeping a very open mind, and open gaze, when it comes to spelling and penmanship.
My realistic options for the two family names were KRAUS, KRAUSS/KRAUß, GRAUS, GRAUSS/GRAUß, SÜß, SUSS, SUESS, SISS, CIS… Could have been any of them. And Frank’s name probably wasn’t Frank in the Old Country. Franz seemed the most likely, but I didn’t know. Barbara could easily have been Anna Barbara, Maria Barbara… they loved their Saints there, and Barbara was a very common name, particularly in combination with other equally common names.
It had all become very “forest for the trees” – so I recently switched tactics and began working off a list of town names and surnames of Bohemian immigrant families in Brown County, Minnesota – a huge Bohemian community. There was a town on their list that I selected last night, rather randomly, to check on portafontium. And in the index for that town and a handful of other villages, was my Pot o’ Gold – a record from a town NOT on Brown County’s list at all.
At long last, there they were. Despite my fears, the simplest answer prevailed once again. So this is the index – and the entry reads, under the year 1867: Kraus Franz mit Barb. Süß / Frohnau IV (the village and the volume number of the appropriate record book)/ [Page] 10.
Problem #1: Said Appropriate Record Book is nowhere to be found, so I haven’t found everything. BUT I HAVE SOMETHING !!
Married in late 1867 (at least later than the two entries above it) – that’s perfect – their first child was born in September 1869, and their second in December 1872. (I found their birth record entries in the same index, referencing pages in the same missing volume – naturally). That was the family of four that left Bohemia in 1874 and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, in time to be enumerated in the 1875 Minnesota State Census.
Frohnau is now called Vranov – which means it’s likely still standing (unlike most of the German villages and settlements over closer to the Bavarian border). So that’s cool. And a scan of the various Frohnau records that are available reveals that the Süß was indeed from there, and had been there for some time. (MUCH more research to come on that topic.)
AND! Once the discovery had been made, I found my great-great grandmother’s birth record too!!!
She was born 08 JUL 1848 (I had her born in 1847)… at Frohnau, house number 3… Name: Barbara Süß… Hash marks in those columns indicate she was female, Catholic, and legitimate… Father: Anton Süß, a farmer at Frohnau #3… Mother: Anna Tiebl, legitimate daughter of Nikolaus Tiebl, of Waltersgrün #13, [a bunch of stuff I haven’t deciphered yet – likely his parish and district], and his wife Dorothea, born Hiet (?), of Waltersgrün #33. This is followed by witness names, another name, Franz somebody – probably the priest who did the baptism, and Margaretha somebody – most likely the midwife.
[Update: To that list of interchangeable consonants above, add Ds and Ts! It was driving me nuts why this family seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. All of them. Until I remembered that very same caution I passed along up there and found the lot of ’em under D. Not sure which was the proper spelling, but it seems that from about 1830 on, they were consistently called Diebl. Anyway…]
MAJOR SCORE! All those names are brand-new to me. And with parents’ names I can hunt down any siblings Barbara may have had, births/deaths/marriages… And having her grandparents’ names is even sweeter!
Until I find the marriage record, I’ll still be in the dark with the Kraus family – but at least I have a general part of Bohemia to zero in on now, so it’s not quite as needle-haystacky. Whatever – I’m gonna be busy!