Czech Genealogy: In your Czech genealogy, don’t discount the nonbelievers
It has become so prevalent I think it is a broken record. When I speak with folks working on their Czech genealogy they immediately begin by first discounting the possibility their ancestors were nonbelievers (Freethinkers) and second begin to only search Catholic records for information.
Well, guess what? According to some of the very best minds in the fields of Czech history and genealogy set the figure of Freethought adherents at 50-52% of the immigrants from the Czech lands. You know what that means? There is just as good a chance that Czech ancestor was a Freethinker as they were a continued believer in the Catholic Church. Even odds.
I don’t know about anyone else, but if I am working on a lead in my Czech genealogy and if the chance between two options is 50%-50%, I don’t discount or ignore one for the other. Nope. No way.
But yet many do. There is something peculiar in this negativity to Freethinking Czechs. Far too many people today allow their own particular belief system get in the way of good Czech genealogy.
If you know your Czech (Bohemian lands) history you should know the fact is the Roman Catholic church, together with the Habsburgs tried valiantly to disembowel the entire Bohemian culture, language, history, and its people all in the name of their favored brand of religion.
In my mind, it is no surprise so many would want to leave this atrocious history behind them and have nothing to do with the church.
Take my Czech ancestors for example. They were Freethinkers to a person. They were ardent Freethinkers. Not only did this mean they eschewed anything or anybody affiliated with the hated Church, but they also were enthusiastic supporters of many of the Societies, schools, and clubs the Freethinkers created in their communities. Again in my family’s case, they were also ardent Bohemian Nationalists.
For me as a genealogist this meant there was not a single, solitary church-based wedding in generations of my ancestors in America. Not a one. Not for generations. Justices of the Peace performed our family marriages. This also means I have to look to the often times wonderful records of the Societies and Clubs to which they belonged for some very special tidbits about their lives. I also learned to be very aware of this bias of church vs. Freethinkers as I read resource books on the early Czechs. Some of the best known Czech researchers of old allowed their hatred of Freethinkers to cloud their work and have an effect on the outcomes of their writings. Sad, but true.
One a personal note, it also meant I was raised in a home (even into the 1960s) where there was family ‘law’ against my interacting with any Catholic families, children, etc. It was a law laid down generations before me and made its way through my grandparents and parents. And this ‘law’ was concrete! On the other hand, I was also taught a great tolerance for the beliefs of others as my Freethought ancestors sought tolerance for their position and beliefs, which more often than not was not granted them.
So keep an open mind and no matter what you personally believe, be certain you keep your research mind open to all options and opportunities.
Our ancestors deserve no less than this.
Onward To Our Past®