My great-grandfather was Karl Butz and there was very little I knew about his father, Karl Heinrich Butz other than that he lived with his son in Böhmen and died there. All my mother could tell me is that he was apparently from Krefeld in north-west Germany. I found a clipping from a newspaper in the town that he died, which confirmed this and gave me a rough birth date.
So armed with this information I wrote to the city archive in Krefeld to try and find his birth record and marriage certificate. His wife had gone with her son, my great-grandfather, and her grand-daughter on the long trek from Czecheslovakia to Germany at the end of WW2. No-one in the family could remember her name and I was determined to lift the mystery.
So it was very exciting when they wrote back to me from the archive to say that they had found both the marriage and birth record and they would be posting it. Alas, the excitement turned to ash when I started reading the record. It was for a Carl Heinrich, but it included a bunch of other first names, which in itself is not that surprising. He was, however, named as Heinrich Carl, not Carl Heinrich. That was my first suspicion. Things got worse when I looked at the marriage certificate. it turns out that the woman he married died in Krefeld in the 1960s, which was impossible, given that the family lore had her go on the trek to Germany, being pulled in a hand-cart. She would not have been able to keep going, by herself, without her son to live out another 15 years in Krefeld.
So that could not be the same person. I had reached the thing dreaded the most by genealogists: The Brick Wall.
Fast forward and I have been carefully collecting records from city archives for all my immediate ancestors. I managed to procure Karl Butz’s death certificate. This gave me the place he was born, which was not the same as where he lived for most of his life. It seems his father was a bit of a nomad during this time, or at least he lived in Valtice, in today’s Czech Republic for a while. Given he was born there, I contacted the Regional Archive in Opava to get his birth record. They were fantastic and sent me an image of the church book free of charge!
The church book’s baptism record had everything I needed. It confirmed his father’s name as Karl Heinrich and gave me my great-great-grandmother’s name: Theresia Maria Schubert! It also included where they were married: Maria Enzersdorf in Austria. A bit of searching turned up the church books on Matricula Online with even more information, such as their parents names, the fact that he had been widowed and references to a whole new set of church books. Karl Heinrich’s father was also Carl Heinrich, which would ordinarily make things difficult, but it also included the mother’s name. I found both on Ancestry, with a bunch of other children and even the father and siblings of Carl Heinrich!
I’m adding them all to my Family Tree as fast as I can source them, but it’s amazing how you can go from a single name and a vague idea to a huge mass of relatives.
Oh and the record that I got sent? As near as I can tell, it was a second cousin of Karl Heinrich. They may even have known each other! It’s a small world in Krefeld.