In Part 1 of Hiebels in Bohemia I explained how I discovered that Joseph Hiebel was my 4th great grandfather, how I found the immigration record for his family, and how Hiebel was not the original spelling of my surname. I left off by briefly mentioning that I found a tree on FamilySearch with a Joseph Hübl born June 26th, 1823 in Klein Schneiderhof, Bohemia, Austria.
I was unable to contact the user who submitted the tree on FamilySearch, however ended up finding the same person on Ancestry. The owner of this tree was named Sunny. She was tracing Hübl families in the area and looking for a Hübl that married an indirect ancestor of her Stauber family. We were hoping this was my Joseph, however there was conflicting information and not enough evidence to confirm my hypothesis. I was stuck in a similar dilemma I had earlier with his son Thomas.
What was the problem? How did I solve it? What did this lead me to next?
- The Problem:
The only evidence to support my hypothesis were similarities with the name and birthdate. While this alone is not enough for confirmation, there were also conflicting pieces of information with the potential to disprove my theory from the beginning.
Birthdate: Several sources confirmed Joseph was born in 1823, but only one gave an exact birthdate. A text file of Kewaunee burials for Hiebels said the birthdate was July 6th, 1823. This source had slightly inaccurate information before, and a ten day difference was not enough to deter me.
Name: I had never seen Hübl as the spelling for my surname. Within early United States records alone, I have seen the name misspelled as Heibel, Hible, and more. I recently learned that Hübel was the spelling on the immigration record, and Hübl was pretty similar. As with the birthdate, this didn’t deter me either.
Location: While I had seen Germany, Austria, and Bohemia listed on sources as the birthplaces for Joseph and Thomas, I recently had received an obituary and naturalization records for Thomas Hiebel. The obituary said he was born in Vienna, Austria and the naturalization records said he was a citizen of Austria. I had my suspicions that Vienna was inaccurate. There are times when family members give inaccurate information for death records and obituaries, and saying he was born in Vienna would be no different than a foreign person assuming an American was from New York City. At this time Bohemia was part of the Austrian Empire, so if he lived in Bohemia he would still have been a citizen of Austria.
Deathdate: While the first three minor problems could be easily disputed, the primary reason Sunny and myself had our doubts was that the Joseph Hübl on her tree died on May 10th, 1847. A death record seemed hard to dispute, despite my wishful thinking that it was inaccurate.
- How I Solved It:
At this point the odds were against me. I would need to either find proof that this was my Joseph, or find proof that he did not die at this date. If I couldn’t do either, I would need to accept I was wrong.
Location: Before I contacted Sunny I researched the location of Klein Schneiderhof. I found info online (which I later learned was posted by Sunny) saying that it was very close to the border with Bavaria. Being the history buff that I am, I realized this was part of the Sudetenland; which Hitler annexed from Czechoslovakia at the beginning of WWII since the area’s population was ethnic German. This seemed to explain why I had seen Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Bavaria all listed on different sources. The Hiebels were ethnic Bavarian Germans living in Bohemia and were citizens of the Austrian Empire. This seemed to fit for a location much more then Vienna.
Anna’s Obituary: The first piece of evidence to support my hypothesis was receiving the obituary of Joseph’s wife from the Kewaunee Public Library. It said Anna was born near Nova Kdin, Bohemia. I misread this as saying IN and not NEAR, however that will be discussed in further detail in Part 4. I found out Nova Kdin was misspelled from Nova Kdyne; which was a village very close to Klein Schneiderhof! At this point Sunny showed me a website that contained Bohemian church books online, however I as unable to find anything on Anna, her marriage to Joseph, or their children’s births in the Kdyne records. I did however gain experience in the methods needed to properly read and analyze these records, which was soon to come in handy.
1847: Even though I discovered Anna was born near the location I suspected that Joseph was also born in, I had nothing to refute Joseph’s death. The year 1847 seemed to ring a bell that I didn’t fully realize at first. The 1900 U.S. Census in Minnesota for Joseph and Anna said that they were married in 1847. Could this date instead have meant he was married and/or moved? I told my theory to Sunny and we went back to Joseph’s birth record. Some birth records had later dates written in the same entry, which Sunny thought were all death dates. Relooking at the later entry on Joseph’s birth record compared with other entries, we noticed some later entries also had iron crosses while others instead had faint writing below them. We figured out that the iron cross represented a death, while the other information represented that the individual had either married and/or moved. Joseph’s entry did not have an iron cross! Since there was no mention of his marriage or children being born in the Klein Schneiderhof records, it was safe to say that in 1847 he either married and moved somewhere else. This most likely was the birth record of my 4th great grandfather!
- What Next?
On Hiebels in Bohemia Part 3, I will discuss how I began to finally trace my Hiebel ancestors even further back. In the process of finding more information on Joseph’s father and grandfather I would discover an interesting fact, as well as trace my Hiebel family back to the 1700s!
Birth record for my 4th great grandfather, Joseph Hiebel