2021 Conference Presentations


CGSI Live! Presentations

The following 23 presentations will all happen during the live conference on October 13, 15, and 16. You have access to view any of these presentations when you purchase a CGSI Live! or Combo package.

Researching Czech Census Records
Greg Nelson
The various Czech censuses are important record types for connecting your family and can provide important clues not only on individuals but also their connections. We will explore all available censuses:

  • How to find each of them on various genealogy and custodial (archive) websites
  • How data privacy plays a role in your search
  • Reading German and Czech even when you struggle
  • Researching census substitutes
  • Appealing for help when you have hit a brick wall.

This talk will cover 19th and 20th century censuses, from 1857 to 1921.

Slovak Genealogy Research
Iveta Blahútová
Did your ancestor come from the Austro-Hungarian Empire? Or Czechoslovakia? Then your ancestor may have come from what is now Slovakia. This presentation will give a brief history, the reasons for emigration, and highlight important points of research. It will introduce research techniques and helpful websites and it will present the naming system, including the Slovak alphabet and its pronunciation. The collection of the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri, will also be shown.

Sedlák, Pasekář, Fleischhacker or Inquilinus? Let Us Get Acquainted with the Professions of Our Czech Ancestors
Miroslav Koudelka
This presentation will help you understand expressions referring to your ancestors’ professional or social status, explaining the categories of persons engaged in farming from whole-plot-land owners down to subtenants. It will also describe the most frequent kinds of crafts, as well as other occupations and social positions—both in the remainders of the feudal system and those referring to the beginnings of industrial period. Old records in the Czech Republic were written in ancient Czech, German, Latin, and their dialects, and all those language forms will be included.

Behind the Iron Curtain
Dr. Zuzana Palovic and Dr. Gabriela Bereghazyova
This presentation sheds light on the difficult and emotionally charged topic of communism as rolled out and experienced in present-day Slovakia. It will untangle the mechanisms behind introducing and maintaining totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia by systematically stripping people of their civil liberties and rights over four decades. Besides focusing on historic description, the speakers will link the past to the universal struggle for truth, justice, and freedom. The presentation will also highlight the lessons learned of the latter half of the 20th century and how the world can learn from them today. It is based on the speakers’ internationally acclaimed 600+ page book Czechoslovakia: Behind the Iron Curtain.

Bohemian Forest to Tall Grass Prairie: German-Bohemian Chain Migration to Southern Minnesota
Molly Schweinfurter
This session will discuss the origin and unique culture of German-Bohemians and where they settled in Minnesota. It will also discuss pioneer migration versus chain migration, as well as the German-Bohemian dialect, tracht, and other cultural touchstones that they brought to Minnesota, including music and food traditions.

Surviving the 19th Century in East Bohemia
Diana Bigelow
Each of us comes from a long line of survivors, a fact all the more remarkable considering that they lived in a world awash with infectious disease, unclean drinking water, and misdirected medical practices. The story of survival in one East Bohemian town as told by its vital records describes its many health challenges (and some progress) during the 19th century, including persistently high infant mortality, three global pandemics of a new and deadly cholera strain, environmental pollution, and rising rates of suicide and alcoholism.

Finding Your Ancestor’s Path Back to Europe
Bob Heck
Perhaps the most difficult part of family research is finding where in the old country your family originated. This presentation discusses resources that you may already have or have viewed and some that are new and just a click away. They will help you find your ancestral home in Europe. These resources include family members; tombstones, certificates, and documents; family Bible and church records; newspaper articles and obituaries; photo- graphs; letters; diaries; passenger lists; and the “To America” series. Real life examples will demonstrate what to look for and where it may lead you. Many of these resources are overlooked yet they could hold the secret that you have been researching for years. We will look at what techniques have been used at the Family History Center to help patrons find their ancestral home.

Roma in Central Europe: Past and Present
Stepanka Korytova, Ph.D.
This presentation will examine the history and evolution of Roma (aka Gypsy) settlements in Central Europe. The presenter will focus on their ethnic structures, their employment, and their culture in its broadest sense: their language, customs, and traditions (e.g., weddings and funerals). She will then review their status as a minority within the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire and look at the changes the Roma experienced within the rather ethnically homogeneous Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1993, including the Roma experience during the Holocaust. The presenter will conclude with her own experience working with Roma.

Identifying and Locating Czech-American and Slovak-American Serial Publications and Archival Materials
David Muhlena
Czech and Slovak immigrants and their descendants have left a lasting legacy of serial publications (newspapers, journals, newsletters) and archival materials (letters, photos, ephemera, etc.). However, identifying and locating these primary sources is a challenge. This presentation will highlight relevant bibliographies and finding aids, demonstrate online discovery tools like WorldCat, and offer tips on how to identify local historical organizations that may hold Czech-American and Slovak-American serial publications and archival materials. The presentation will conclude with the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s plan to create an online portal that will include a comprehensive list of these current and out-of-print publications and an online guide that identifies American institutions that hold Czech or Slovak archival materials.

The Odyssey of the Czech and Slovak Legion In Siberia from 1918–1922
Joan Mohr
During World War I, a specialized army comprising Czech and Slovak prisoners of war—the Legion—became pawns in an international struggle for power. Their evacuation became the most important human-interest story of WWI, chronicled weekly by the London Times and New York Herald. The Legion’s forced detour through Siberia led to their accidental involvement in the assassination of Tsar Nicholas and the transport of the Russian treasury through eastern Siberia. Even so, this historic episode has intentionally been subsumed by all nations involved. This presentation will shed light on this hidden yet important facet of WWI, one that became seminal to the establishment of Czechoslovakia.

Ivan Lived in Five Countries and Never Moved— A Tale of a Carpatho-Rusyn Family
Karen Varian
Our ancestors who remained in the homeland saw many changes during the 20th century, as World War I, World War II, and governmental changes affected their living conditions, education, work, religion, language, and self-identity. Through the experiences of the fictitious Carpatho- Rusyn family of “Ivan Rusinko,” who from 1914 to today experienced life in five countries and never moved, you will see how history changed the course of his family’s lives and may have changed those of your ancestors.

Principles of Autosomal DNA Testing Regarding Czech Ancestry
Marek Blahuš
More than 40 million people have already taken a genealogical DNA test. Such tests usually explore autosomal DNA, the portion of our genetic information to which all our ancestral lines have contributed. Its properties make it the ideal, cost-effective first test for an American genealogist wanting to discover new relatives, possibly breaking down a brick wall in the process. This talk will explain genetic fundamentals, tell you which databases are popular among Czech researchers and show you how to interpret your results, combining them with your paper trail.

170-Year History of Czech New York
Martin Nekola
Thousands of people dreamed of leaving poor Bohe- mian lands and entering the country of endless hope. The long journey carried them across the Atlantic to various harbors, above all New York City. With the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, there were about 350,000 Czechs living in the US, including more than 40,000 in the New York City area alone. The lecture will focus on the development of Czech neighborhoods where the community showed an extraordinary desire to associate and founded a number of compatriot associations, businesses, schools, and churches, as well as publishing numerous periodicals.

Emigration from Slovakia to the USA in the Late 19th Early 20th Centuries
Michal Razus
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of people from central Europe moved in search of a better life—most of them heading to the United States. The territory of present Slovakia was no exception. This presentation will discuss the emigration timeframe and methods, differences between male and female emigration, reasons for and effects of emigration from Slovakia, as well as the means of transportation and legal and illegal border crossings. We will also review regions with the highest percentage of emigration (Šariš, Spiš, Zemplin, Abov, Liptov, Orava), and emigration destinations.

Key Slovak Words for Genealogical Research
Michael J. Kopanic, Jr., Ph.D.
This presentation will discuss the key Slovak words needed to engage in genealogical research about Slovak ancestors. A useful handout of words and phrases in the syllabus and a handy bibliography are also included. The session will include examples of documents as samples from online and offline sources, such as church records, census data, city directories, obituaries, and gravestones. The lecture will cover many of the main words for life events such as birth and baptism (which can be easily mixed up), marriage, and children, as well as property, occupation, and death records. The session also includes some useful experiences gained in researching family history.

An Overview of the Old German Script
Antje Petty
Anybody who has held an old German letter in their hands knows that not only is the language different but that the writing itself looks unusual. This session will provide an introduction to learning to decipher old German script, using schoolbooks, letters, and other resources from Max Kade Institute collections (Madison WI), which were used by German-speaking immigrants in the 19th and early 20th century.

50 Years Traveling the Backroads of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Ruthenia
Helene Cincebeaux
This presentation celebrates 50 years of discovery and immersion—from glass blowers, black kitchens, castles, and ghosts in Bohemia, where Prague was once the center of Europe, to beekeepers, folk and ceramic artists, and wine cellars in Moravia, where Christianity bloomed, and the Great Moravian Empire ruled. It includes Gothic castles, icon-filled wooden churches, shepherds in Slovakia, and Rusyn culture to those trying to preserve ancient churches. Learn about Venus carvers 25 millennia ago, ancient Boii tribes, Celts, Slavs, invading Mongols, Turks and Swedes, to Anabaptists sheltering in Moravia, Evangelical Lutherans in Slovakia, Jan Hus, Žižka, Komenský, Cyril and Methodius, and Jánošik!

Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago—A Living Legacy
Carol Smetana
Founded in 1877 by Czech freethinkers, Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery today covers 125 acres, with more than 120,000 burials. Its extensive variety of funerary art, its historic architecture and landscape design, and its ethnic heritage have earned the cemetery an entry on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery’s history and cultural artifacts tell the story of the Czech immigrant and the Czech-American experience, as well as the history of the Czech lands and Czechoslovakia herself. We will also look at some of the rich genealogical material waiting to be discovered by family historians at this and most other cemeteries.

Slovak Strong: Tales of Everyday Life during War, Illnesses, and Political/Social Change
Lisa Alzo and Renata Calfa
The history of the Slovak people is a story of resilience through change. As family historians, we need to look beyond just the names, dates, and places to understand our ancestors and the decisions they made. Through tales of everyday life, learn how war, illnesses, and political and social change affected Slovaks and how to dig deeper into your own family history for clues to identify family patterns, ancestral trauma, and inspirational stories.

Before the Boat—Exploring the Practicalities of Tickets, Train Travel, Ports and Steamships at the Turn of the 20th Century
Joe Gayetsky
This talk will examine ticket agents, train routes, emi- grant halls, and shipping lines as parts of the structures and systems that made it feasible for so many Slovak immigrants to leave their remote villages for America. After planning visits to my ancestral villages throughout Slovakia I began to think of their journey in an entirely different way. I required a smartphone, translator, GPS and rental car so how did they undertake theirs? Their journey seems to be only a boat ride, but how did they get to the boat?

Using Traditional and Digital Sources to Write the History of Pennsylvania’s Carpatho-Rusyn Immigrants
Rich Custer
From the late 1870s till the mid-1920s, fully half of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants to the United States settled in Pennsylvania, and almost all their first community institutions—churches, fraternal/cultural organizations, newspapers—were established in that state. The presenter has studied Pennsylvania’s rich Carpatho-Rusyn history for more than two decades and will discuss the journey of documenting this history through traditional sources, including church anniversary book- lets, fraternal organization almanacs, and immigrant newspapers, as well as the striking impact of other sources recently available online. He will also relate instances of “cyber serendipity” made possible through social media that have yielded rare or formerly unknown special artifacts that help further highlight this history.

Practical Applications of DNA in Genealogy
Kevin Kittilson
This presentation discusses the practical considerations and methods for using various types of DNA to break through a genealogical brick wall. It uses as an example the presenter’s own experience discovering, verifying and solving the documentary mis-attribution of his grandfather’s paternity. This problem’s solution required using both YDNA and autosomal DNA in combination; neither alone would have provided a definite solution. The presentation focuses on how to reason through what is needed based on the specifics of your genealogical problem: what tests to use, who to test, and how to interpret and use the information gained.

The Manorial System and its Records
Kevin Kittilson
This presentation discusses the manorial system found in East Central Europe from about 1550 to 1848. It will address the history of the system and describe the rights and obligations of the subjects to the lord of the manor, including restrictions on movement, manorial involvement in subjects' personal lives and the payments and labor due to the lords. Finally, it will briefly address what kinds of manorial records were kept and how to locate and use them for genealogical research.

On Demand Presentations

The following 27 presentations will all be available starting on October 18 and will be available through April of 2022. You have access to view any of these presentations when you purchase an On Demand or Combo package.

Fighting for the Right to Speak Czech
Anna Cookova, czechtalk.com
Solidarity. Truth. Peace. Learn about the passion and drive your ancestors had for preserving their right to speak the Czech language, a language “given to them by God that no man can take from them,” a language many Germans called a “servants’ language.” Czechs considered themselves “slaves” to Germanism for nearly 300 years, from the Battle of White Mountain to their independence in 1918.This lecture will focus on several theologians, historians, musicians and politicians who went to great lengths, devoting much of their lives to the Slavic cause and to the identity of their countrymen primarily found in the language they spoke. After all, “Národy nehynou dokud jazyk žije.“ (Nations do not perish so long as the language lives.)

Czech Cadastral Maps Online—How to Use Them in Your Research
Blanka Lednická
The last ten years have seen a large increase in publication of different resources on the Internet. The Czech National Archives in Prague and Moravian Land Archives in Brno have published cadastral maps from the first half of 19th century, two of which provide great possibilities for family history research. This lecture focuses on origins and systems of both 19th century and current cadastral maps, including a description of those maps and an explanation of their different features. Participants will also learn how to read these maps and how to use them in research, how to find property (fields, meadows, forests) belonging to the farmhouses, and how to compare old and current maps.

Old Czech Maps Online
Blanka Lednická
Many old Czech maps and other geodetic resources are available for genealogists. The oldest maps cover Bohemia and Moravia detailed enough to locate villages and towns and were made by cartographer Johann Christoph Müller in 1716 and 1719. In addition, military maps were created from 1764–68, 1836–52, and 1876–80 and cover all of the Czech lands. A number of other maps can also be used by researchers, and this lecture will present many of these maps and information about using them.

House Research in Europe
Bob Heck
Knowing the history of a house can tell you a lot about the people who lived in it. Were they farmers, merchants, teachers? Why did they leave Europe? When did they leave Europe? Were they wealthy or poor? Did they own land? Why was their land shaped the way that it was? How big or small was the family? How long did the family live in the same house? How would you like to stand in front of the house that your ancestors owned in 1780? This presentation will show you how, through “Haus” history books; church records of births, marriages, and deaths; church censuses; civil tax records and tax maps; census records; cadastral maps; wills and Probate Records; letters; and photographs. You will learn how to enhance your research by using country codes in Google and how the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1770 started house numbering that is still used today.

Holidays in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Daniela Sipkova Mahoney
This lecture provides insight into seasonal traditions, customs, crafts, and foods throughout the year: winter and early spring traditions and customs (Masopust masks and food, Sundays before Easter); Easter Celebra- tion (egg decorating and customs); late spring holidays (the Night of the Witches, Maypoles); summer traditions (ride of the kings); fall observations and customs (harvest festivals, All Saints Day); and Christmas (St. Nicholas day; Christmas cookies and pastries, meals, and customs; nativities or creches; Christmas tree; straw, dough and gingerbread ornaments; and the Festival of the Three Kings or Epiphany).

Getting to Know Your Ancestral Hometown from Parish Records
Diana Bigelow
Discovering your Czech roots would be incomplete without an understanding of your ancestral hometown and its past ways of life. Local histories are few, but one freely accessible resource can be relied on: parish vital records. These records document several centuries of major life events (birth, marriage, death) for every resident and thus, in the aggregate, offer a rich history of a community and a context to our ancestors’ lives. This talk will examine what vital records can tell us about the unique economies of diverse communities and how economic changes affected vulnerable populations, especially single women and the poor.

Identifying and Interpreting Meaningful Artifacts
Evelyn Funda
This session focuses on how family historians can tease out the story behind ordinary family objects such as photos, letters, lists, financial records, clothing, and ephemera (that is, written or printed materials that were not meant to be retained or preserved). Participants will examine examples of artifacts to discover how physical items can begin to “speak” to each other and reveal the secrets of family history. They will be guided through a series of brainstorming activities to identify their own meaningful family artifacts and to begin to interpret what those objects can reveal about their family history.

Accessing and Acquiring the Records of Czechia and Slovakia— FamilySearch Efforts 2009-2021
Greg Nelson
This presentation summarizes FamilySearch’s efforts in the last 12 years to preserve records and provide access for family connections in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This class will review specifics of both microfilm and digital record capture, record capture in surrounding countries, indexing efforts by FamilySearch and partners, how to find the right images in FamilySearch, and what do you when you hit a brick wall in FamilySearch. We will also discuss not-yet-released features such as hand- writing recognition, family reconstitution, instant indexing, and other tools that will make your discovery much easier.

The Cycle of Life in Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak Villages
Helene Cincebeaux
Our ancestors’ lives revolved around the seasons with rituals and celebrations that brightened their work-a- day lives with traditional verses, music, food, and song from New Year’s and Fašank, to spinning bees, courting parties, weddings, death customs, harvest festivals, All Soul’s, Advent, and Christmas. The church was the heart of village life with weddings, christenings, and funerals. However, many customs came from pagan traditions in the mists of the past. This presentation includes images from Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Ruthenia taken over the past 50 years, including burning witches, Morena, Easter egg decorating along with water dousing, throwing shoes at the door, and more.

East European Research
Iveta Blahútová
This presentation addresses East European genealogy reflected in the three groups of Slavs, the main cause of their emigration, when it happened, and four focus points, before exploring foreign records. What were the reasons behind the name change? And how do you overcome a language barrier in the records? It will introduce the collection of books and periodicals available at the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) in Independence, Missouri. By the end, you will have a basic knowledge of how to continue your research in any of the East European countries.

Shipping Lines—Their History, Growth and Influence on Immigration
Joe Gayetsky
The shipping industry played a more active role in the im- migrant experience than simply providing a means of travel, and this talk will cover the history of the shipping industry and the remarkable growth it experienced in the late 1800s. The presentation covers the structure of the industry, the collaboration among companies, and the formation of cartels, as well as the lobbying efforts undertaken by the shipping industry against anti-immigrant legislation being debated in America.

How to Use Czech Land Records
Kate Challis
Czech land records can bridge gaps in matriky records to help us understand our Czech ancestors’ lives. This presentation will describe land records, show how they are organized, and tell where to find them today. By the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to locate and read Czech land records.

How to Locate Austro-Hungarian Military Records
Carl Kotlarchik


Researching European Archives from Your Easy Chair
Lisa Alzo
With more information coming online and greater access to records, there has never been a better time to research your Central Eastern European ancestors. Learn how to locate and access online archival records from Eastern Europe from the comfort of your home for free through sites such as FamilySearch, archival websites, and miscellaneous databases published by individuals, genealogical societies, and other organizations.

Jumping over Hurdles in Eastern European Research
Lisa Alzo
Eastern European genealogy research is a marathon, not a sprint. Sorting surnames, trying to identify ancestral home- towns, and deciphering old country records to connect families are just a few of the obstacles often encountered along the way. This session will demonstrate how to overcome the hurdles of perplexing names, confusing geography, languages, and records access.

Creating a Family History Legacy Project: Your Blueprint for Success
Lisa Alzo
You have done the research, verified the details, and uncovered the secrets. Now what? In this session, you will learn how to find your creative muse to turn your genealogy research into a book fast, then publish it and share with others in three simple steps. Even if you are busy, intimidated by writing, or do not know where to start, this simple and easy-to-follow blueprint will help you go from blank page to published family history in no time.

Principles of Y-DNA Testing with Regard to Czech Ancestry
Marek Blahuš
The Y chromosome is a part of DNA passed only from father to son. Y-DNA testing is an underestimated genealogical technique, ignored by the mainstream, yet very useful for tracing surnames along the direct pa- ternal line much farther back in history and with more certainty than with the common autosomal test. The presentation explains genetic haplogroups, STR, and SNP testing, and (1) shows how relationship can be estimated from genetic distance, (2) presents a unique Czech Y-DNA database, and (3) suggests a strategy for validating even a distant shared-surname connection by a Y-DNA test.

The Moravian Field Register
Marek Blahuš
Would you like to do a “phone book lookup” for your 17th century Moravian ancestors? Well, obviously, they had no phones then, but looking up your ancestral surname in the Moravian field register (1669–1679) feels almost like that. This presentation explains the history, organization, recorded information, and accessibility of this unique resource for Moravian genealogy, which was fully indexed in 2015, with 189,102 personal records ordered alphabetically and published in two volumes and having the size and the feel of an actual phone book.

Building Czechoslovakia 1919–’22
Mark Dillon
This talk will examine the post-World War I economy in Czech lands and Slovakia and its effect on households and businesses, including a review of how America and Great Britain helped and the impact of aid. The presentation will touch on (1) food—famine relief, diets and the role of the American Relief Administration; (2) health care—fighting outbreaks of disease and care for recovering veterans and orphans, as well as the birth of the Czechoslovak Red Cross; and (3) finance— providing a snapshot of living conditions at the time, including high inflation, declining currency, barter trade, and corruption.

From South Bohemia to the Capitol: The Life of Czech-American Congressman Adolph J. Sabath
Martin Nekola
Adolph J. Sabath (1866-1952) was born into a Jewish family in South Bohemia. At 15, he left for America and settled in Pilsen, the Czech quarter of Chicago. Later he joined a real estate business, opened a law firm, and became well known in the Czech community. In November 1906 he was elected to the US Congress for the first time. He focused his agenda on the problems of immigration, unemployment, working conditions, and youth education. Sabath died shortly after his incredible 23rd re-election. He served under eight US presidents and carefully watched the turmoil in his Czech homeland from afar.

Circle of Life in Slovakia
Michal Razus
This presentation will review traditions and rituals from cradle to grave in 19th century Slovakia. Baptism traditions include choice of godparents, preparing the skirt for the child, and superstitions about avoiding miscarriages (do not look on a dead person). Wedding customs include proposal and parents’ blessing at bride’s parents’ house; breaking plates; symbolic welcoming with salt, bread, and water; midnight ceremony—removing the veil; and Redovy dance. Funeral rituals include stopping the clock in the room; covering the mirror with a black scarf; opening the window to let the soul fly (hopefully) to heaven; burning the hay from the bed of the deceased; and dressing him in fancy clothes.

Rusyns: Nation from the Carpathian Mountains
Michal Razus
For centuries Rusyns have been an important segment of eastern Slovakia; in some areas—especially present northeast counties—they make up the majority of population. This presentation will take a closer look at their back- ground, history, culture, folklore, and religion. We will discuss traditional architecture as still visible in skanzens (open air village museums) and UNESCO wooden churches, and we will also review famous Rusyns, from Strank to Warhol to Maria Gulovich.

Slovak Land Records and Maps
Michal Razus
What are the urbar and the oldest land books and records? Why were they introduced? This presentation will examine Maria Theresa’s Urbar from 1767 and how it affected relationships within the empire between nobility and serfs, its impact on the country and its progress, and the modification of the serf’s duties. The presentation will also examine who pays more, comparing past and present taxes and reviewing tax types and their optimization (money, work, hunt, wood). Other topics include land books and their content, where to search for land records, the division of land within a village, types and orientation of maps, and how to match land records to a map.

How They Lived— A Year in the Lives of Our Czech Ancestors
Miroslav Koudelka
This presentation will guide you through a year in the lives of our Czech ancestors, presenting both everyday life in particular periods and the ways they celebrated feasts and festivals. What were typical kinds of work in particular periods? What did they eat and drink? When and how did they celebrate? How did religious rules influence their lives? Specific attention will be paid to folk traditions and how popular wisdom and proverbs reflected life experiences on individual days. All of these factors are reflected in your family’s genealogy and give you an idea what to expect when researching your family history.

How to Research Czech Birth/Marriage/Death Registers on the Internet—A Practical Lesson
Miroslav Koudelka
Working with vital registers in person or online presents advantages and disadvantages. This presentation discusses how to determine the village, parish, and archive; the differences in research strategies for each regional archive (Třeboň (South Bohemia), Brno (South Moravia), Prague (Central Bohe- mia), Pilsen (SW Bohemia), Opava (North and Central Moravia and Silesia), Litoměřice (NW Bohemia), Zámrsk (NE Bohemia), Prague (City of Prague); handwriting and Gothic script (Kurrent); languages (ancient Czech, Latin, German, and dialects); and occasional mistakes. Participants will also learn techniques to make the search easier, plus a practical lesson in researching a concrete family.

From the Bohemian Heartland to Southern Minnesota: The Czechs Who Settled Bechyn, Minnesota
Molly Schweinfurter
This session will discuss Czech families who settled in Bechyn, Minnesota, their origins in the area of Bechyně, Bohemia, and their sometimes indirect routes to Renville County. It will also discuss how the small farming community revolved around their church and the festival that, in recent decades, has brought the Czech culture and heritage to the forefront for their descendants.

Who Are These Mysterious Wallachians / Vlachs in Our Ancestry?
Ron Matviyak
This session traces the Vlachs/Wallachians from their beginnings through centuries of migration along the Carpathian Mountains to settlements far into Poland, noting the fabled ethnogenesis of the Carpatho-Rusyns. Our journey will end to the west at the famous Moravian Wallachian settlements that vexed the Habsburgs and led to the “Czech” settlements in Texas. Perhaps starting with displacement in the Ottoman days, these northern movements were concurrent with migration along the Balkan Mountains as far as Albania. Both migrations brought Wallachian Law—a successful model for establishing mountain economies, where the rules of earlier agricultural-based societies were inadequate.

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2021 CGSI Conference Booklet

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