Sometimes a single record contains the key piece of information you need to solve a research problem. This is what happened to me when I was trying to find information about my husband’s ancestors. A death record solved the mystery.
Julianna Magera is my husband’s great-grandmother. Her father’s given name is Bernard. He is the only Bernard I found on my husband’s line, and therefore I think that my husband (and his father) were both named after this person. This small tidbit of information made research on this line somewhat special.
For years, I was not able to find Julianna’s birth record in the place she was married and raised her family. Her marriage to Frantisek Bogdal was researched many years ago by a professional genealogist, who did not provide me with a copy of the record or with the exact transcript of the marriage record. With limited access to the records, I finally dropped my research on this line, and planned to come back to it in the future when I perhaps would have more information.
During my 2010 trip to the Czech Republic, while searching through the civil death registers for another ancestral line, I noticed the Magera surname on one record. Because it is not a common surname, I took a photo. I did not have time to closely examine the record until I was back home and sorting my images. I realized that I actually had found the death record of Bernard Magera, my husband’s great-great-grandfather. His wife, Anna Staniczek, came to report his death on 17 December 1896. Bernard’s parents were listed. And his place of birth, Brzesnitz, in the county of Ratibor in the present-day Poland, was included! No wonder I could not find the birth record of Julianna. She was probably not born in the Czech Republic, but in Poland!
With this new information, I resumed my search for Julianna and felt strongly that I first needed to locate her marriage record. Because Czech records became available online just a few months prior to my new discovery, it did not take too long to find Julianna’s marriage record. Actually, she was married twice. And on both marriage records, the witnesses listed were from Ruderswald.
I quickly located Ruderswald records in the Family History Library Catalog. I checked the microfilm and found Julianna’s birth record in 1866. I also found the marriage of Julianna’s parents, which confirmed that Bernard was born in Bresnitz and Anna was born in Ruderswald. I was able to locate birth records for both.
Our research mystery was solved, thanks to the death record I happened to photograph during my trip to the Czech Republic.
For more information about online records available from the various Czech archives, see the Czech Republic home page in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Locate the Research Tools section and see the list of online databases.