Ancestral Journeys

Genealogical research and thoughts

Using Thomas to find Vojtech

Posted by dwsuddarth on 14 October 2015

Vojtech Cerny is eumerated in the 1880 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois census residing at 75 Meagher St.  Enumerated as Albert (the English equivalent of Vojtech), his wife Katerina, and four children are also listed.  According to the 1888 Chicago Voter Registration list, he is a naturalized citizen, with papers filed in 1870. Additionally, he had resided in the state of Illinois and county of Cook for 20 years, which would place him in Chicago around 1868. Despite extensive searching, however, I could not find him in the 1870 census. Locating Vojtech in 1870 is very important to my research, as he and Katerina’s first child was born in 1871. Therefore, if I could locate Vojtech in the 1870 census, I could see whether or not he was married at the time of the census (technically, presumably married, as the 1870 census does not give relationships). If not, that would narrow down the time frame of his marriage to Katerina considerably. If it appeared that he was married at the time of the census, that would also be valuable information.

Vojetech and Katerina’s children were all baptized at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Chicago. The sponsors for each of the baptisms is Thomas and Katerina Cerny. It is very likely that Thomas is Vojtech’s brother. Finding Thomas in 1880 was easy. He is enumerated at 466 Union in the city of Chicago along with his wife, Katerina, and eight children. The oldest child, age eighteen, was born in Bohemia, but the next child, age fifteen, was born in Illinois. Therefore, Thomas and his family most likely came to the US sometime between 1862 and 1865, and the family should be on the 1870 census. However, a search for Thomas Cerny and variants did not turn up a family group which matched up.

To find the family, I did a search on Thomas, with no last name, and entered his calculated year of birth and place of birth. The very first result matched the family group. The name indexed is Thomas Jarnica. Clicking through, I found that this was, in fact, the right family, as the names, ages, and even the occupation of Thomas (works in grain elevator) match up.

I also got a nice little surprise. Living in the same house, enumerated as a separate family group, is Albert and Catherine Jarnica. Vojtech and Katerina. I had found them. The name Jarnica is not one that I would have thought of looking for. However, the phonetic pronunciation of Cerny is Chernee, so the first part of the name makes sense. But what about the ‘ca’ at the end? Doing some research into Czech surnames, I discovered that adding the ‘ca’ (hard ‘c’) sound at the end of the name is the diminutive, familiar form of the name. Therefore it is not hard to see how Cerny could be turned into Jarnica, with the stress on the first syllable.

So, it would appear that Vojtech and Katerina were married before the census was taken in June of 1870. Since their first child was born in August of 1871, they were most likely married late in 1869 or in the first half of 1870. By using the FAN principle (friends, associates, and neighbors) and looking into people associated with Vojtech and Katerina – in this case the sponsors listed on the baptisms of their children – I was able to finally locate Vojtech and Katerina in 1870 and an important research goal has been met.

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