Austrian House Numbers
In 1771, parishes in the Southern Waldviertel begin to record the house numbers of parishioners as a part of most baptismal, marriage and death record entries. This was part of an Empire-wide enumeration of domiciles. These notations are a great benefit to researchers in helping to distinguish between families with the same given and surnames, as well as in establishing other familial relationships. It is also very rewarding to locate the actual property where an ancestor resided. In many instances the ancient family abode no longer exists and one finds only a modern house, but occasionally the researcher's perseverance is rewarded with an ancestral home site which has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. This can be a truly remarkable experience, as depicted below in a picture of Barbara Winkler – resident of a former Stütz family dwelling near Raxendorf. One must also bear in mind the possibility that house numbers may have been reassigned at various times in some communities. [I am sorry to say that during my last trip to Austria, I learned that Barbara Winkler had passed away in December 2004.]
General Research Tips
- A small plus sign "+" sometimes resembling a cross drawn near the name on a baptismal entry generally means that the child died as an infant or while very young. Usually this is easily confirmed in the death records shortly after the child's birth date.
- Unless otherwise noted, the date recorded in death/burial books generally documents the individual's burial date rather than their death date. In more modern parish records sometimes both dates are recorded.
- In those instances where the bride and groom did not reside in the same parish, first marriages generally took place in the bride’s parish and were therefore recorded in her parish. Second and subsequent marriages were generally solemnized and recorded in the groom’s parish.
- When an individual was baptized with two given names (i.e. Johann Georg, Maria Magdalena, etc.), emphasis was generally given to the second name. As a result, you will find the second given name used more frequently in subsequent record entries for that individual. Exceptions do exist to this rule, such as "Johann Baptist," which you would never see referenced later as "Baptist."
- The variety of spellings that result from phonetic rendering of surnames can be very confusing and lead the researcher to overlook related individuals. Prior to launching into a search for a particular family and its members, familiarize yourself with every conceivable spelling of the surname. As the beginning letter of several surnames were interchangeable, this may also necessitate searching through multiple sections of an index rather than variations within one letter of an alphabetic listing. For examples of this please see the Alphabetic Nuances webpage.
- You may be surprised to find how many marriages were made between individuals living in neighboring parishes. Not only was there a great deal of mobility in these communities, but if you drive the very small back roads (some little more than dirt paths), you will find that many localities are interconnected in subtle ways that increased their proximity to each other. Geography, more than man-made boundaries, played a very large part in determining who interacted with whom. Simply stated, you will never truly begin to understand your ancestors before you traverse their lands.