In another case of finding something interesting whilst researching something else, I found a type of Church Register Index that I have not seen before in any other parish. So today’s blog is about that novel index I found. See the Church Register in the picture (see below).
Dateline Koprzywnica parish, 1810 – In what was after the 3rd partition was Austrian-Hungarian territory (Austrian-Poland in green), has now been annexed by Napoleon in 1809 into the Duchy of Warsaw and in another five years will be Congress Poland (Vistulaland, Russian-Poland). But in 1810 we are speaking of Koprzywnica in the powiat of Staszow and the Departement of Radom. No, that is not wojewodztwo — it is the French, Departement that is the highest level of administration in the Duchy of Warsaw. The map shows that a huge swath of green from the Austrian-Poland partition (zabior) was annexed into the Duchy in 1809. Stanczyk’s own ancestors once again switched Empires from Austria to France. So too did the citizens of Koprzywnica (and a great many cities, towns, and villages). Poof, now the records go from Latin, in the perfunctory Latin Box (Table) Format to the lingua franca of Polish paragraph with French-style two witnesses.
So Koprzywnica, like Stanczyk’s own ancestral Villages (Biechów and Pacanów) was briefly Austrian, then French (very briefly), then Russian until 1917-1918 whence it became just Poland again. We can find Koprzywnica in the gazetteer, Skorowidz Miejscowoscy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej as being in the powiat Sandomierz, wojewowdztwo Kielce (circa 1920′s/1930′s).
Indexes are so very helpful. It is always a let down when a parish book or a year within the book lacks any kind of index. That means I will have to look at each and every record to see if any are related to me / my research. Early Latin paragraph form church records often do not have any index – they barely denote the year change. So that means you have to read each and every badly handwritten paragraph of Latin — very rare to find a priest with good Latin handwriting. That is why the Latin Box Format was more welcome. At least I could find the pieces of info and the handwriting was less of an issue. But the Latin Box format did not have indexes either.
So it was helpful when Napoleon implemented the Codex Napoleon in the Duchy of Warsaw. So by 1810 you see the records written in Polish (lingua franca) in a paragraph form that is specified by the Codex Napoleon. And these new records have indexes!
OK, the indexes initially are by letter: A, B, C, …, Z. So you have just under 26 pages of indexes. It is an improvement. Quickly the church realizes it can save paper by running the index all together with all letters on a single (or a few) page(s) in order alphabetically. Very efficient to scan these indexes for your families. And it was also easy to spot when a priest added a late addition to the index at the back after all other names (even though it was evidently in the wrong spot lexicographically speaking).
OK 1868-1918, we find Russian / Cyrillic indexes. In addition to priests not knowing Russian well and ordering names phonetically before later on, we find the index in Cyrillic proper lexical order you will have to scan carefully. Cyrillic kind of forces that to those of us weaned on a Latin alphabet. But you sometimes find the Russian indexes sorted in Cyrillic lexical order … by the first name ??? That is not very useful. Sometimes the index is in chronological order (akt # / record # order) making it barely more useful then scanning every record.
But when we find a well formed index (or a not so good index) it is always for one event: Birth/Christening, Marriage / Marriage Banns, Death Records. One index for Births, one for Marriages and one for Deaths … assuming none are missing, 3 indexes. That is what makes the following index so very interesting …
The Index (Skorowidz)
This was supposed to be a Marriage Index !! But it was five scanned pages! This would have to be an extraordinarily large city to have that many marriages! What are all of those columns ?? That is what I asked myself.
Let’s see what those columns are: Record # (Akt #), Village Name, Person Name(s), Births (Urodzin), Deaths (Zeyscie), Banns (Zapowiedz), and finally Marriages(Malzenstwa) Kart # (you can safely ignore). This index is an all event index. Births-Deaths-Banns-Marriages all interleaved. In fact, when I look at each event (B/M/D) I see the same 99 event-record pages and the same five index pages. It appears that all events are in the same register! This is rather unique — as I said previously I have not seen this before in other parish registers I have seen.
So in this “combo style” index (which needs a proper name) you cannot have a single name for marriage record, so marriage records have two names (as usual), but this requires two lines in this style of index — since we are multi-columnar. We also see that Banns are indicated ‘I‘ or ‘II‘ — the third bann being the actual marriage itself. The Roman numeral written above the word Zapowiedz. So since the index is in Akt# order, it is a chronological order too. It could be interesting from a demographic perspective (what time of year do most marriages occur or do a higher concentration of deaths occur in winter months). If this style index had occurred during an epidemic year, then we could have seen all of the deaths occurring in a great streak without interruption by other events. 1810 in Koprzywnica was not such an epidemic year.
There is one more fascinating aspect to this index. In the Napoleonic era (1807 thru 1829) we find that Catholic priest acts as the civil administrator and that Jewish/Evangelic/Orthodox vital records are written in the Catholic register. How is this noted in the index — which again I have not seen elsewhere? Look at the scanned register image for this blog. Pay attention to Records #’s:
85, 86, and 91.
It so happens that each of these records is a Marriage Banns event type. But, notice that each begins ‘Zyda‘. Żyd = Jew, hence Żyda is plural for Jews. Żydów = Jewish. This indicates that this is a Jewish civil record being recorded. Now I know that Jewish vital records are recorded in the Napoleonic era Catholic registers. But it is unusual that it is indicated in the index (as opposed to being in the record itself).
So this was a very fascinating find after all. I was actually looking for a particular Leszczyński but I found a novel index and indeed a novel parish register overall.
The Fourth Partition (23 January 2013) – A Discussion of the Duchy of Warsaw, with a map
Historical Eras of Poland (21 January 2013) – A set of Stanczyk defined eras of Poland of particular use to genealogists. An historical definition of Poland’s eras (1569-present) based upon history’s impact on genealogical research.
The index from this column was found in the Polish website: genealodzy.pl (PTG) of which I written many times before. Their METRYK project of scanned church books is where I found the 1810 Koprzywnica Index.