#Meme – Things I Find While Looking Up Other Things (Heraldic Genealogy)

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The Bohemian Nobility

The Bohemian Nobility

Stanczyk, in one of my continuing memes, offers my latest account of ADD researching. What is ADD researching? It is a case of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), whereby I become distracted by curiosity into something more interesting than what I am actually looking up. Today’s ADD Researching brings me to Heraldic Genealogy. Something in Stanczyk’s DNA can be distracted by colorful, Germanic graphic images — hence “The Bohemian Nobility” cover image was what distracted me in my latest adventure. Let me hasten to add, that as yet, I have not located any Bohemian branches of Eliasz (although I believe there are some).

Many genealogists become fascinated by the notion of tracing their family back to a Royal Lineage. Stanczyk too has a family folklore, shared by distant branches (2nd, 3rd cousins) all telling the same tale that we are related to royalty, but nobody seems to recall the Royal from whom we are all related ???

In Stanczyk’s case, the connecting and convergent point seems to point to the Leszczynski line, though try as I may, that Royal Line seems to end with women and thus the Leszczynski line should not continue down to us via the Leszczynski name, but that is what all of our families that share the family folklore, share as a family name. Alas, I fear that I shall have to content myself with having jestered for three kings.

I found the “The Bohemian Nobility” in one of Poland’s Online Digital Libraries. The link is via the SBC here. This digital book is 464 “pages”. It starts with an index of family names. I scanned the list of names and did not find any from my family tree. Heavy Sigh! So I then looked for a connection to me in some fashion to keep my curiosity piqued. I found one: Hoffman in the index.

So my example and an homage to the great Polish Genealogist, Linguist, and All-Around-Amusing-Curmudgeon, Fred Hoffman, author of many books/treatises on language and genealogy. I found a Hoffman — perhaps this is where Fred’s line comes from (but Stanczyk does not know Fred that well). So the book follows the index with pages of descriptions about the families and then pages (aka “Tafels”/Tables) of Heraldic Symbols (sheilds). So each family name is in three places: index, description, heraldic symbol.

Hoffman

You can click for a larger, more readable version of the Hoffman description and I cannot do it justice as it is written in German and Stanczyk lacks his grandmother’s acumen for German (and Russian and Polish, although my Latin and English are better).

Notice it has a reference to ‘Taf 9′ in parentheses after the family name. The Heraldic Symbols start on page(uh image) 313.  So by adding nine (and subtracting one) we get to page 321 where ‘Taf 9′ is found. This algorithm should work for all names.

The name, Hoffman, is found above the heraldic symbol for that family. I found the heraldic symbol interesting  and ornate (as most usually are). The Hoffman family crest seems to include an anchor (and a castle)  — I seem to recall that Bohemia is landlocked, so the anchor is interesting indeed. There must be a story behind that heraldic symbol (shown below):

I did find some other digital books on the Polish Nobility (Szlachta) you may want to peruse:

You may not recall, but the Polish Digital Libraries require a DjVu plug-in for your browser (or a DjVu applet, written in Java) to view the above digitized books — indeed all digitized content in Polish Online Libraries and Archives use this software. DjVu software is here . Do yourself a favor and download this software(I have used on MS Windows and on MACs).

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