I really feel for anybody who is struggling to trace their Moravian Czech ancestors to a village of origin. I especially feel for anybody who has dealt with what I call the “Anna Perašek” problem, after a woman who has eluded me for years.
- be a female
- immigrate as a single woman traveling without other apparent family members
- immigrate before 1906, aka before women were systematically recorded in US naturalization records.
- marry very soon after arriving to the US
- marry someone who she apparently met in the US, not in the old country
- have a surname with multiple spelling variations
- have no obvious indication of a village of origin in any of the few records of her in the country of origin (her marriage and death record, her headstone, her children’s birth and death records)
Here’s part of an email I sent to a reader of this blog who is very likely related to me via my Vasicek line. If it can be helpful to somebody else out there, that is great! I hope very much, for your sake, that you don’t have any Anna Perašeks in your family tree. They are really frustrating.
So, if it makes you feel better, I will let you know that I totally understand why the problem of tracing your ancestor Mary Golik to her village of origin is frustrating.
It is the exact problem of Annie Perašek/Pauracek/Serisek. She was the wife of Frank Mechura (would this have been a corrupted spelling of Matura?). She immigrated as an 18 year old teenager, apparently without other family members, although it is very doubtful that she was actually traveling alone. She most certainly knew others with whom she was traveling.
You would think that because we have both the Hamburg departure manifest and the NY arrival manifest, it would be easier to track her. After all, we actually have a name for a village of origin there. And what is it? Horý. Yeah. That means mountain in Czech. It is part of hundreds and hundreds of place names. There was one other family that came from “Horý” and that was Marie Duchuwo age 16, and Anna Duchuwo age 45. Other places listed for people around her on the passenger list are Becoa (Becva?), Gabloncz, Pilsen, and Frankstadt. Fortunately, Frankstadt is most certainly Frenštát.
The worst part is that even if we try to systematically go through every place that could conceivably be called, “Horý” – how will we know when we have found the correct Anna? She wasn’t in the United States very long before she married, just like your Mary Golka who, after arriving in 1880, married Frank Stavinoha in 1882. The few documents that do exist, such as her children’s death records, all conflict on the spelling of her name. The man who I was helping to solve this problem has no records at all at home.
That is the best advice I can give you. “Village of Origin” is usually solved by records in the country of arrival. Really, try to scour every document, every piece of paper, every artifact that you can find. Seriously – this problem has been solved in the past by researchers looking at the printing place for a book of fiction brought from the old country. By seeing where it was printed, the researcher was able to narrow down the village to an area in Bohemia, which led him to find his ancestor.
Clearly, you are already doing this. I think it is very smart that you have been looking at the village of origin of the witnesses on Mary Golka’s children’s births. Since they are from Vratimov, which isn’t particularly close to Palkovice, Frank Stavinoha’s village of origin, you are right to wonder if they had a connection to the Golka/Goliks, especially because that surname is pretty uncommon, and happens to be found in Vratimov and some of the neighboring villages. I suppose you could just make a list and work your way through the villages, looking at all births between 1861-1868 or so. That sounds like such a pain. A lot of those parishes don’t have indexes for their births.
The main reason I would only do that as an absolute last resort is because, like I said before, if if you did find a Mary Golik born ~1864, how would you know it is yours? You have already eliminated two possibilities, so you understand that just finding a Mary Golik born at the right time in Czechy is not going to prove that it is your Mary Golik.
By the way, I looked into the Vratimov Mary Golik who married Fajkus, and I totally agree with you. She is not your ancestor. She was having children in Vítkovice well after the 1880 passenger manifest.
If you can, try to find any artifacts, heirlooms, books, furniture – anything from the old country that might give you a clue.