Here’s a post I know some of you have been waiting for (Grandma that means you) …so I’m sorry this took me so long. A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be contacted quite out of the blue by a person from Austria. It seemed a little strange at first and I even questioned if it was some sort of spam to my blog. After some skepticism, we exchanged emails among some family members.
After lots of correspondence by email, we were able to put together the pieces. From the generation of the Studničkas that moved to Nebraska, another brother moved his family to Vienna, Austria about 10 years before. We decided to meet in Prague for a couple of days. While in Prague, we spent the majority of our time at the Národní Archiv (National Archive) and the Státní oblastní archiv v Praze (State regional archives in Prague). We were surprised to find that most of the information is now available online. The oldest books, especially the ones dating pre-1800, are mostly scanned online through http://www.actapublica.eu. I found the last records of the Studnička’s before they left to America were in the books and had yet to be scanned. With some white gloves, I carefully turned though the pages searching the difficult to decipher cursive writing that was a mixture of Czech, German, and Latin. The most difficult part was reading the writing, although I got better with more practice. At first the process seemed so daunting; I was unsure of the symbols, how the records were kept, and how to even read the scrawl hastily written across each page. In some cases, the letters weren’t even written the same as they are now. Over 2 days at the archive though, I felt as if I had accomplished much. I wanted to look up my own ancestor’s records and see them for myself. I was able to find out so much and draw my own conclusions from a few words scribbled into the church’s records of births, deaths, and marriages.
After 2 days at the archive, we felt it would be good to visit the towns where we shared common ancestry. We took a bus to a small town about an hour outside of Prague and from there we changed to another bus that could take us to Kácov. There we were able to find the place where the house once stood that was the birthplace of Anna Hlavkova. She was born in 1768 at house number 18. The house was no longer standing and a more modern (post war era) house was since built. She would be my great grandmother x5. Kácov was a picturesque, little Czech village. There was a large hill surrounding the town with a river flowing through the valley. Along the river there was a chateau and the town brewery. We found the small church near the castle. This is most likely the church where the Studničkas would have attended church, even the one’s from Řendějov would have went here. Next we set off on a hike to Řendějov.
Řendějov is the second town where the Austrian and the Nebraskan Studničkas share common ancestry. We looked for house number 12 and again I was unable to find it. We asked 2 ladies who live there now if they knew anything about house 12 and they said no. They even asked an elderly woman living in another house in Řendějov and she also never knew anything about a house 12. Alena later told me that she was able to find some information about the history of the house. I learned that it had been destroyed around 1955 and a new house was rebuilt on its location in the late 80’s. The new number of the house is 188. The Studnička’s lived in this house in Řendějov as blacksmiths for a very long time. It was from this house and another house in a nearby town (Ostrov) that they immigrated to the United States in the 1880’s.
The last leg of our journey was along the trail from Řendějov to Zruč nad Sázavou. We arrived muddy and tired to Zruč, yet I found the walk was so satisfying. I found it gratifying to walk the same trails from town to town that my family had once walked. It was difficult and steep at times. We were lucky that we had a nice February day for the hike. I can’t imagine what it would have been like in the winter to traverse those trails on foot or horse to attend church each Sunday. When we reached Zruč, we searched for the house of Austrian Studničkas but we were unsuccessful in finding it. Most of the houses we assume do not still have their same numbers. We walked though the castle grounds and found the church and cemetary, which has lots of current Studnička family headstones. From here we walked up the hill to visit the present day Studničkas still living in Bohemia. Another woman, also a Studnička visited with her own ancestry research. We were unable to determine any relation tying the Nebraska/Austria Studničkas to the ones we know from the Czech Republic from the information we have now. So far, we’ve been able to trace Studničkas as far back as about 1715. From this point, were unable to determine any other generations, although were quite certain they must have moved to this area from another parish or area. I can’t explain the feeling I get sitting in a room with 4 other people from 3 different countries, spanning over 5000 miles all with Studnička names in their families, yet I do know its incredibly humbling to learn your roots and to see first hand where you come from.