Major, Mayor, Meyer

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My grandfather was born in Czech in 1889-1890 and when he finished school he went on to learn to be a piano tuner. Is there any way of finding out where he would have learnt this trade? He lived near Plzen (Svaty Kriz). I have been searching for many years to find out anything at all about him with no success. Can anyone help me? I live in Australia so it is hard for me to find anything. On his marriage certificate in 1922 (in Australia) it states his name was John Major aged 32yrs. Before coming to Australia, he lived in Chicago for about 5 years and was said to be working as a piano tuner for large piano companies. On his marriage certificate it says that his mother was Josephina Otis and His Father was Josef Major. I found a picture that says “my brother Vaclav, a U.S Citizen”, and another photo of a man, his wife and child, on the back it says “my brother, wife and child. 77 Borek Rokycan Czechoslovakia Europe” so he had a brother. No one has ever been able to find any trace of John Major (if that is his real name), no birth records, no travel or immigration records, no relatives, no record of his parents or brother. The first record of my grandfather is his marriage certificate…….John and his wife Elise Holik (from Prelouce, East Bohemia) had 3 sons and one daughter. Elise was 16 years old when she married and died in childbirth when she was only 22 years old, Their only remaining child is their daughter, my Aunty Rita who is now 90 years old and she would dearly love to know if her father had any relatives or descendants as he never talked about his past..he was always a mystery! Regards June Austen



Hi, June, I did just a very quick search for Johan Mayer in the records for Svaty Kriz near Plzen. I found a family that may be of interest, but is not the exact one you are looking for, and I’ll give you a quick interpretation of what I see. First off, the records are found in the Plzen archive, book Chodský Újezd 14 which is for the village of Chodský Újezd otherwise known as Heiligenkreuz and Svatý Kříž which covers briths from 1876-1902, and includes an index! In the index I found 4 children with the name Mayer (could be interpreted to English as Major) The first (on page 11) is Johan Majer born on 15 Jun 1878 (death written in as 14 Jun 1932). Second is Joseph (page 50) born on 13 May 1886 (married in 1913 to Maria Scharnagl). Third is Johanna (page 62) who was born on 28 Jan 1889. Finally Marie (page 87) was born on 16 Sep 1893. That is the last child born to the same set of parents: Franz Majer and Anna the daughter of Josef Frank. There was no Wenzel and there is no other Johan/Jan/John. But, the surname is in this village. How do you know that your Johan was from the village of Svaty Kriz? It will take time, but you might want to do a village by village search in about a 10 mile radius of this village to see if the family I found are relatives. He may have been living there before leaving for the US and therefore listed that as his last residence which you have interpreted as being his birth village. Give me a response at and let’s share a few ideas to see if you can move this forward…another benefit of belonging to CGSI!

June Austen, I married to a Meier. I am told that Meier is the way Germans and Austrians would spell Meyer (the prevelant spelling in the USA. Please try searching using Meier as an alternate spelling. On another note, I did a quick look on Ancestry and your record/tree came up. You list Jon as being married to John. May I suggest that you fix the record with his wife’s name (Elise Holik). Be sure to write her maiden name in the blank. This will allow Ancestry to push leads to you – the green leaf. Also, based on the info you gave above he would have married Elise at 33. Have you considered that he might have also married someone else before her? Hope that helps.

In reply to by CyndiMeier

Hi CyndiMeier, Thank you for your help. I have added to the Ancestry page now. Yes, I have often wondered if my Grandfather may have been previously been married. He remains a mystery right now, but I will continue in hope.