Get off the bus! An American Genealogist in Prague

4 June 2009
“Get off the bus,” the driver shouted at me in Czech. I could understand him because that was what the last driver had told me after I discovered I was on the wrong bus. And that was what the recorded voice had said when the bus stopped — something to the effect of, “Last stop. Get off.”

But I hadn’t gotten off. We were out in the middle of a field in the outskirts of Prague. Where was I supposed to go? My street smarts told me just to sit there and wait. Apparently the driver thought I had gotten off the bus because, after he pulled the curtain around the driver’s seat and got ready to go take his break, he turned around and with a startled jump yelled something like, “What are you still doing here? GET OFF!” So I did.

Why was I bothering with this adventure anyway? What did I hope to gain from going to the Czech National Archives? I should have taken the cue from the older lady on the first bus who tried to help me. She seemed extremely worried that I had taken the right bus, but in the wrong direction. I didn’t think it was going to be a problem. I figured I’d just ride the full route in a circle ‘til I got there.

I eventually did arrive at the archives, so I’ll share more on that tomorrow.

What I learned today:
–My knowledge of Czech is somewhat adequate when it comes to eating, drinking and telling the time, but not so good for directions, genealogy or much else.

–When things don’t go smoothly, I have to convince myself to not give up and go sightseeing.

Czech words used and heard today:
Ano – yes

Ne mluvim česky, ne mots dobje. – I don’t speak Czech, not very well

Rozumiem česky yenom trochu, ne mots dobje – I only understand a little Czech, not very well

Prosim vás, opakujte. – Please repeat it.

Prominte prosim – Excuse me please.

Dekuji – Thank you.

Osum – Eight

Autobusem dva jeden tři prosim – Bus 213 please

Výstup – Exit

Neh neh neh neh neh. Vypadni!– No, no no no no. Get outta here!

© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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Discretion and Genealogy

One of the common points of discussion I’ve heard at this week’s National Genealogical Society Conference is discretion.

We all have them. Ancestors born out of wedlock. Murderers or other criminals. First cousins who married, confounding our genealogy software programs and ruining our pretty tree printouts.

The issue was whether or not to divulge and perpetuate these truths in published genealogists, family histories and on websites. We concluded that if it would hurt a living person’s feelings to have the information revealed, don’t do it. It’s a hard pill for me to swallow, as I have relatives who would rather I not reveal that we have an ancestor who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

So, my question is, how do you maintain preserve the secret information so you or your descendant could someday include it in a family history?

13 May 2009
© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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National Genealogical Society, Raleigh

Hello from the National Genealogical Society conference in beautiful Raleigh North Carolina. I had the pleasure of taking a workshop today from The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) Education Fund. The course was about writing family histories and was delivered by Ann Carter Fleming, CG, CGL, FNGS and Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL.

As we spent the day storyboarding and developing ideas for our books, I began to realize that I CAN write a family history on someone I did not know. I have hesitated in doing this because I have a handful of relatives who knew the two ancestors in which I’m interested. Why wait for them to write the history? Go ahead and interview them, cite them in your history and have them correct and proof read your work.

Capturing and preserving the family stories before they disappear is an act of heroism in itself. Now to just get started…

How about you? Are you working on a family history? What is keeping you from moving forward?

12 May 2009
© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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Genealogy Heroes

Greetings blogosphere and welcome to the launch of the Genealogy Heroes blog, the blog where heroes of research are recognized. Those who are not driven to do family history research do not often understand the value of it. “Why are you wasting your time with the past? Try living in the present,” they may say.

That is, until they start thinking. “Hey maybe you can find out what happened to Uncle Tony. He went to work one day way back in the 1920s and never came back. No one knows what happened to him.” From the simple curiosity of, “I’ve been told I’m part Cherokee, can you help me prove it?” to the heartbreaking, “My dad left when I was three years old. I’d really like to know my medical background, can you help me?”, the genealogist knows that answering these questions for someone will be life-changing.

So, have you done something heroic in the line of duty? Have you helped solve a mystery? Found a missing person? Helped someone meet new cousins? Finally discovered when your family emigrated from the old country? Helped a friend break down a brick wall? Please share your stories with me. Thank you!

12 May 2009

© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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