Sunday, January 19, 2020

Movement Between Austro-Hungarian Towns

Last week, I gave examples of how some Russian Empire families moved quite frequently, calling into the question the idea of an “ancestral town” in many cases.  This isn’t only the case in the Russian Empire; I’ve been indexing many records from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (currently Subcarpathian Ukraine), and I see quite a bit of movement there as well.
Birthplaces of parents of Jewish children born in Beregszasz 1897-1898, zoomed in (Beregszasz in red)

Beregszasz, Hungary (now Berehove, Ukraine) had a reasonably large Jewish community.  The civil records book that covers 1897-1898 contained 159 Jewish births, and about 70% of those listed two parents.  (Many Jewish couples had a religious marriage but no civil marriage, so their children were considered illegitimate in the eyes of the state, so the fathers were often not listed on those children’s birth records.)  Since civil birth records from fall 1895 through 1906 contained the birthplaces of a child’s parents, I was able to plot the birth locations for parents with children recorded in this 1897-1898 birth book, as can be seen in the image above.

While there were Beregszasz-born children whose parents were born in Beregszasz as well, many of those parents were born in other towns in the region.  And not only were they from other towns in the region, some of the parents had been born quite a distance away; here’s what happens when you zoom out!
Birthplaces of parents of Jewish children born in Beregszasz 1897-1898, zoomed out (Beregszasz in red)

At first I wondered if this was a phenomenon specific to larger towns and cities.  So I picked a small village’s births and looked to see what I saw.  And the results were similar.

Magyarkomját, Hungary (now Velikiye Komyaty, Ukraine) was small.  In the civil record book covering 1895-1900, there were only 89 Jewish births.  Similar to in Beregszasz, about 70% of these births listed both parents’ names.  And here, too, many of the parents had been born in towns other than Magyarkomját:
Birthplaces of parents of Jewish children born in Magyarkomjat 1895-1900, zoomed in (Magyarkomjat in red)

And also similar to Beregszasz, some were from quite some distance away.
Birthplaces of parents of Jewish children born in Magyarkomjat 1895-1900, zoomed out (Magyarkomjat in red)

Of course there were many children who had at least one parent born in Magyarkomját.  But this should remind you not to be wedded to your family having been in one town for generations.  At least not until you find the documentation to prove it.

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  1. Nice job Lara! Very interesting information.

  2. It makes sense that in the smaller towns, spouses came from elsewhere. After all the local possibilites were limited.

  3. I'd be curious whether the women moved more than the men. Are we just seeing new brides being imported to the groom's home town?

    FWIW, my Kropman line moved a lot in (what is now) northern Lithuania. My great-great-grandfather was born in Akmene, but moved to Laizuva (22 km away). His daughter, my great-grandmother, and my grandfather, emigrated to America from Laizuva. But my great-grandmother's brother (who I believe was born in Laizuva) emigrated to South Africa from Tryskiai, some 40 km from Laizuva. Here, it was the men who did the moving.

  4. This is so interesting -- thanks so much for putting these stats together. Definitely a reminder to widen my net.

  5. I worked with a Professor at Touro who wrote a book on the Conscription & research showed often children were sent to relatives in towns somewhat nearby (as shown here) but not in the same area to live with relatives. My father's family was from this town & he had relatives (grandparents) in nearby Satu Mare ... and his name was changed to avoid conscription. I've found family members in records at Jewishgen that follow the family Weiss originally but took the name Schwartz. People traveled, very true, more than we would think for various reasons. Great maps !

  6. I would love statistics- what percentage had two parents born in town, out of town, mother born in town,father born in town...