Researching Čáslav Families
by Wesley Johnston
Last updated October 20, 2013
This is very much a work in progress.

I am a descendant of Marie Nevole, daughter of Josef Nevole, both of whom came from Čáslav in Bohemia to Chicago in 1891, although he went back. In researching my Nevole ansestors from Čáslav, I found a number of useful websites and useful bits of information that others researching families in and near Čáslav can also use. So, this web page is intended to present what I have found. Please also see my web page on Researching Czech Church Records on the Internet which has the context for the entire country. -- Wesley Johnston


Contents
  1. Vital Records: BMD = NOZ
  2. Maps and Addresses
  3. Historical Images
  4. Related Links

1. Vital Records: BMD = NOZ

Čáslav lies in the region of Central Bohemia (Středočeský kraj), now in the county (Okres) of Kutná Hora. Thus the early records are in the archives at Prague, known as SOA Praha (Státní oblastní archiv v Praze). In English, we have Birth/Baptism-Marriage-Death/Burial records, BMD for short. In Czech, these are Narození-Oddaní-Zemřelí, NOZ for short.

The City of Čáslav

Click here for a direct link to ActaPublica's records for the city of Čáslav.

The Signatura column lists all the Čáslav registers (matriky) by number. There are three types of registers:

  1. Roman Catholic (Římskokatolická církev) - Čáslav and a number
  2. Czech Evangelical/Lutheran (Evangelická církev - česká) - Čáslav-ev and a number or Opatovice-ev. and a number
  3. Civil (Okresní úřad) - Čáslav-oú and a number

The list at this link was generated by using ActaPublica's search for a town, so that it shows all records that include Čáslav, even if they are not for an office located at Čáslav. This is whay Opatovice is included. Thus this is a complete list of all registers that include Čáslav.

If you mouse over the number of an Obec column entry, you will see specifically what towns that particular register includes. The names listed sometimes include alternate forms of the name (e.g. one of the German names, Tschaslau) of that town. But since most of the Čáslav registers are just for Čáslav and Filipov, that is not relevant for most of the registers. But if you are looking for a nearby town (more on this below), these Obce town lists are important.

The N, O and Z columns list the dates included for that type of record in each register. The Indexy column tells whether that register has an index in it. A star is a baptism/birth index. A ring is a marriage index. And cross is a burial/death index. For Čáslav, all the indices are in separate index volumes and are not included in the registers with the records.

The crucial column is the Strany (Pages) column. If there is a zero, it means that no images have yet been uploaded for that register. But don't give up if you see a zero there. Because the indices are in separate volumes, there are some indices that cover the period for which the actual records have not yet been uploaded, and those indices usually include the year, sometimes the day, and sometimes the house number.

If there is a number greater than zero in the Strany column, then in the Obr.data column there will be a clickable magnifying glass. You can either click on it to view the first image for the register. Or you can enter an image number in the box to the left of the magnifying glass and then click the magnifying glass to go to that image. This latter is most useful when there is an index in the volume and you want to see if the index is at the front or the back. So entering 7 and clicking the magnifying glass will jump you to the 7th image, which may be an index page. Otherwise, subtract 7 from the number of images and enter that number in the box to jump to near the end of the register to see if the index is there.

The registers for the city of Čáslav are mostly in chronological order. However the earliest registers have all three types of records. So you will need to find which images have which type of record. This can be done by jumping ahead or back among the register images. For registers that have many small towns, the registers sometimes have each town in a separate section, which can take a lot of page-jumping for you to find the right section. But some registers with many small towns simply include all the towns in a single chronological order. You never know how any given register is organized until you have a look at it.

The records from about 1848 on are in Czech. Before that they are in German, and before that they are in Latin. You may also see occasional short bits of Latin in later records. The names of the same persons and places are different, depending on the language. A man baptized as Johannis may be married as Johann and buried as Jan, for example. And one of the German names for Čáslav was Tschaslau. So when you are looking for a man who was Frank in the US, you may find him as Frantisek, Franz, or Francis in the records. He did not change his name. He was probably called Frantisek by his Czech-speaking kin, but the ones writing the record used their language's version of his name. The same is true for James, Vaclav, Waclaw.

Also be open to variant spellings. The precise spelling of names in only one way is a relatively modern convention. This is less true in Bohemia, since literacy seems to have been higher. But when a person is illiterate, then the recorder of the event had to write the name down however they thought it was spelled. It was not as brutal a butchering as Czech names suffered at the hands of American census takers. But don't assume someone is not the person you are looking for just because their name is not spelled exactly the way it is today.


The Towns Near Čáslav

Since Čáslav is near the boundary of three regions (kraje) and not far from a fourth. (See map) The records of the nearby towns within Central Bohemia are all at the Prague archives. But fortunately, the records for all three other nearby regions (Vysočina, Pardubice and ) are all at the Zámrsk archives.

Central Bohemia Region (Prague Archive - ActaPublic.eu)

Click here for a direct link to ActaPublica's search screen for places within the Central Bohemia region, whose records are held at SOA Praha.

In the Obec box begin to type the name of the town you are researching. You do not have to use the diacritical marks: just type the letters on your American keyboard. As you type enough letters, you will see the names of possibly mathcing towns pop up in blue in a list. For example, as you begin to type Krchleby, depending on how fast your computer and network response is, you may see these pop up when you have just typed Kr. Type enough so that the list of options narrows down to a few.

If there are places with the same name, you want to choose the ones that are in Kutná Hora. For example, when you have typed KRCHL, the list is down to six entries of which three are in Kutná Hora. Start by picking the one that has the town name repeated before and after the colon (e.g. Krchleby:Krchleby). And then use your mouse to click on that one in the list. Once the town name is in the search box, click the Hledat button just to the right of the town name.

If this is a place with registers, you will then see a screen with all the registers listed. If instead, you have received a screen with no registers shown, go back to the search and choose one of the other Kutná Hora versions of the town name from the list of options that pops up as you type the town name.

Once you have the screen with the list of registers, refer to the text above for the city of Čáslav, which will tell you how to navigate through the registers. It also gives some search tips. Pay particular attention to the tip about registers with many small towns (which you can tell because the number after Obce is half a dozen or more -- sometimes many more).

Vysočina, Pardubice and Hradec Králové Regions (Zámrsk Archive - vychodoceskeachivy.cz)

Be aware that some of the nearby towns to the south and southeast of Čáslav were in the district of Chotěboř in okres Havlíčkův Brod in kraj Vysočina. Kraj Vysočina is a special case for research, since its records are split across three regional archives. The records for Havlíčkův Brod are in the Zámrsk archive. Fortunately, the same archive also holds the records for the other two nearby regions, Pardubice and Hradec Králové, so that the research for towns in any of those regions can be found in the same place.

Click here for the English Page of the Zámrsk archives website. What you really want is part way down that page, which is the link to the parish registers download. It is best to right click on this link and download the PDF file to your hard drive, since it is a very large file of about 1,700 pages, which you are going to have to search, and searching it from your hard drive is a lot better than trying to do it with the internet version. CAUTION: When you save the file to your hard drive, give it a new simple name with no diactirical marks in the file name or else you may get messages that the file cannot be found, even when you double click on it.

Now you have to search on your town, and this search will require the correct diactirical marks. The easiest way to capture the correct Czech spelling is to go into Google and type the name without the diacritical marks. This search will return various text extractions of the hits, and you can then select the town name in the text with the diacritical marks and copy it and then paste it into the search of the PDF file. (You can also do this trick with Google Maps.)

So now copy and paste your town name into the search of the PDF. When you find a bold section at the top of the page that starts with the line "farní úřad" and includes your town among others, then you have located the right record collection. Each register will be in non-bold type below the bold type. Find the register for the record type you want (N, O, or Z) that covers the year(s) you want. If there is a URL for a zip file for that register, you are in luck. Otherwise, the digitized images of the register have not yet been uploaded.

If there is a URL, then copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar to download that zip file. The zip file will contain a separate image for every page of the register. You can browse through the images with windows preview. What I do is to generate a PDF file with all the pages (I use the free PDFill software that you can google on and download.) in one PDF file and then search the PDF file, since it retains the same magnification from one page to the next.

One other important item .... some of my Nevole relatives in the Chotěboř area included members of the Czech Brethren, which seems to have been more highly represented in this area than elsewhere. So don't overlook the Czech Brethren records, which are at the end of the massive PDF file. Just keep searching on your town name to see if it shows up in those records as well, if you have reason to think that they were Lutheran or Czech Brethren.


2. Maps and Addresses

There are some excellent old maps of the city of Čáslav on the Internet. But they are a bit hard to find and understand. Another important aspect of the city is that the house numbers that you find may have abbreviations along with the number, and you need to understand what those abbreviations meant. I am not sure of all the abbreviations, but with the help of Sylvie Pysnak at the LDS Family History Library, these are the apparent meanings:

Now for finding the detailed maps that show each house number (or at least I think they are the house numbers), see the UAZK Property (Cadastral) Maps Section of my Czech Research web page, where you can search for the nearby towns - or any town in the Czech Republic. But here are direct links to the zoomable cadastral map of Čáslav in 1838 - really all just parts of one whole map. I am not sure, but I believe that the numbers shown for each lot were the original house numbers.


3. Historical Images

There is a great web site with historical photographs from all areas of Bohemia. Click here for a direct link the photographs of Čáslav on FotoHistorie.cz.

Although the web site is in Czech, you can navigate geographically to search for other towns by using the vertical Lokality menu on the upper left. You must know the region (kraj) and the county (okres) to find the town. Not all places have historical images.


Related Links

Contact Information

Email Send E-mail to wwjohnston01@yahoo.com
Send mail to:
Walter Wesley Johnston
1865 Herndon Avenue, Suite K-187
Clovis, CA 93611-6163
(559) 299-3406

Copyright © 2013 by Wesley Johnston
All rights reserved


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