21st Century Database Research, Boho-style.

Some discoveries are causes for celebration – as was this one: We Interrupt….  But others just sorta happen and life continues as per normal.

Case in Point: I found a Bohemian baptismal record for – I think – my great-great-grandfather Frank Kraus. Perhaps it’s the less than definitive nature of the discovery that has me feeling less than celebratory. I guess since I’ve been researching him for so long, anything less than a 100% crystal-clear match isn’t especially satisfying. But we take what we are given.

At the time of the discovery of that Index Page, all I knew of Frank Kraus came from a line on a handwritten page of notes from my grandmother, and a cryptic little biographic squib in one of those turn-of-the-century county history books – a genre of literature notorious for inaccuracies and out-right fabrication. For what it’s worth, this is Frank’s:

bio-frank-krausTrue to form, the bio starts off with a misstatement: “Behmen, Germany” doesn’t exist. But BÖHMEN (pronounced somewhat like Behman) does – it’s the German word for Bohemia. So yay! And boo – with an error in the first six words, there’s cause to question the whole piece. Swell.

I think the birthdate is correct. I don’t know anything concrete about Frank’s father yet, but that 1864 death date is a nice clue – if it’s correct. Immigration date is about right – close enough for my purposes anyway; he was definitely in Centerville by 1880. The family stuff is OK – I’m not sure why Barbara is referred to only as “B.”, and her surname is a bit more complicated than that – but whatever.

As for the baptismal record, here it is:


This (the middle row) memorializes the November 5, 1844 baptism of one Franz Kraus. The hash-marks indicate he was Catholic, male, and legitimate. Father was Georg Kraus, resident of Natschetin. Mother was Elisabetha, the legitimate daughter of the late Joseph König of the village of Trohatin, house #53, and his wife Barbara, maiden name Löb, of Trohatin #5.

On the plus side, even if there’s no solid proof that the record belongs to my Frank, the record gives me some information to use to build a circumstantial case for my Frank and the baptized boy being one and the same. For example, records concerning Georg Kraus and Elizabeth König’s extended families show connections to a number of familiar surnames from my tree. Some of the names match those of families who emigrated to Centerville, Minnesota! Purely circumstantial, but with each such connection my list of potential sources of information grows. So that’s good!

On the minus side, the November 5th date is a problem in that it’s not October 15th or the 16th. In this time and place it was absolutely routine to baptize a baby almost immediately after its birth. Sometimes the baptism happened the next day – and my guess is that those occasions coincide with late-night births, where the actual birth happened before midnight, and everything else took place after. (Just a guess. ) Regardless, it’s odd for there to be a delay of several weeks. And “odd” is not what I’m looking for.

What I really, really need is something written at the time, in this or a nearby village, that states unequivocally that the parents of my Frank (husband of Barbara Süß, father of Margaret and Annie) were George Kraus and Elisabetha König.

The Frustrating Part. Any one of three (3!) entries found in The Index (i.e., my Frank’s marriage to Barbara Süß, the baptism of their daughter Margaretha, and the baptism of their daughter Anna – all from the village of Frohnau) would answer my big question. But… the index entries all point me to one single volume of records – and that volume doesn’t seem to be locatable.

And that sucks.

Minor update: Following European online privacy protocol, the folks in charge of scanning and indexing these old record books don’t put a new book online until its most recent record is 100 years old. The volume in question has an unusually wide date range, unfortunately, all the way into the 1920s. So while everything I’m interested in comes from, say, 1865-1872, the book won’t be uploaded until 2022. Setting my alarm now.

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