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Latin records translations
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:22 pm      Post subject: Re: Gottlieb (Bogumil) Radke Birth Certificate
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larodkey wrote:
Hi Dave,

I am trying to find a birth certificate or on my great grandfather Gottlieb/Theophil Radke. You provided a translation for me earlier which showed his marriage record stating he was 24 years old when he got married on October 12 1851 to Roszalia Nowacki in Biala.
I search on one of the website you recommended and was wondering if what is shown on the attached maybe what I was looking for. This name shows up as Bogumil (another name for Gottlieb?) But the year of birth around 1828 sounds about right. Thoughts? Once I look at the scan it looks like a whole new world and cannot decipher anything. Not even sure if I am looking at the right scan?

Thanks in advance

Larry Rodkey (Radke)

Hi Larry,

Bogumił is a Polish version of the Germanic Gottlieb. The various versions of the name all go back to the ancient Greek name θεόψιλος, which is found at the opening of the New Testament Acts of the Apostles. The name is made up of two words, θεος (God) and ψιλος (friend). (Quite a few English words contain the Greek word for friend like philosophy (friend/lover of wisdom) and Philadelphia (friend/lover of brothers), etc.). In the Vulgate (Latin) version of the New Testament the name appears as Theophilus, although another Latin version of the name is Amadeus. Polish has two versions of the name---the more Slavic version, Bogumił, and the somewhat less common version, Teofil (as is found in the translation of the marriage record).

The birth record from Geneteka could possibly be his birth record, but I don’t know that it is very probable. Here is an extract of the important data in that record:
Child: Bogumił, born on Feb. 10, 1828 & baptized on Feb. 18, 1828 in parish of Bierzwienna Długa
Parents: Jakub Radke, a tenant, age 27, & Justyna nee Chartman, age 24

The reason you had difficulty recognizing much in the above record is that you have not yet come across a civil transcript from Russian Poland. Be happy that you were not looking at a civil transcript recorded from 1868 through the end of WWI---those records are in Russian using the Cyrillic alphabet.

Things in favor of this being the birth of your great grandfather: name and age both fit. The age is not exact, off by about a year, but close.
The cons: He was married and lived as an adult in the German Partition aka the Province of Posen and the birth took place in the Russian Partition aka Kingdom of Poland (Krόlestwo Polskie). The distance between the place of birth and the place of marriage is about 250 km (c. 155 miles). The distance alone is not a deal breaker nor is the fact that the two events took place in two different Partitions, but it would make sense to look for a place nearer to where he lived before his marriage and/or where he was married. Keep in mind that many records have not been indexed so far---it is a work in progress. Another thing to consider is that the 19th Century boundaries of the Prov. of Posen do not correspond to the current boundaries of Wojewόdztwo Wielkopolskie. Parts of what is currently Wojewόdztwo Kujawsko-Pomorskie were within the Prov. of Posen (and parts of contemporary Wielkopolskie were in the Kingdom of Poland aka the Russian Partition)in the 19th Century, which means that it makes sense to search in Kujawsko-Pomorskie too---especially since in 1878 Rozalia was living in Wymislowo, which is currently in Wielkopolskie very close to the border with Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Also, a close match of birth year requires supplementary evidence before one can say with certitude: “Yes, this is my ancestor.”
A possible place to look for supplementary data such as the place where Gottlieb was born as well as the names of his parents would be to find his death record. The marriage record of Andrzej & Cecylia states that Gottlieb died in Steinach. The trick is to figure out the parish and/or civil registry office for that village. Hopefully information in his death record will point you in the right direction to look for his birth record. The tough part is that his death does not seem to have been indexed nor is a scan available online.

Back to the name Gottlieb, Teofil, Bogumił…He would have been known by a different version of his given name depending on the source of the record in which he appears. In civil records from the Prov. of Posen his name would be recorded as Gottlieb, in Polish language documents his name would have appeared as either Bogumił or Teofil, and in Latin Catholic Church records his given name would have appeared as either Theophilus or Bogomilus. The trick is to know what his family, friends, and neighbors called him---tough to know. The one certainty is that in his daily life he was not known as either Bogomilus or as Theophilus.

Attached is a map of the counties of the Prov. of Posen in the late 19th Century.

This has been a long answer to a simple question but I hope that it helps rather than confuses.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:56 am      Post subject: Re: Death Records
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dnowicki wrote:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for posting the enhanced copy. Everything is legible on that version. Again, you got the basic information. Once again, the record makes no mention of where Szymon was born.

Here is the translation and I hope it clarifies matters for you.


Translation: (Village of) Gubiny: Szymon Pokarski, a tenant, 33 years of age, died on the 23rd day of April (1831) at the hour of 10:00 p.m. of the illness of phlegm/rheum*; he was buried on the 26th of the same (month & year) in Gubiny. The informant (was) Jan Pisarski, father of the surviving wife; (also) survived by his daughter Maryanna, age 4, and son Michał in (his) third year.

Note: *The priest used the Polish word for the cause of death, pitocie/pitoce/pytochie (all various spellings of the same word), which is a rheum or phlegm. This really describes a symptom which could be caused by one of several illnesses. The symptom is congestion, the cause of which is not clear from the data in the record.

That is helpful as always.

Thank You Dave.
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:47 am      Post subject: Gottlieb Radke Death Cert
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Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. You have been a great help in my research. I will work on the insight you have gave me.


Larry Rodkey
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Post Posted: 6 Days ago at 2:07 pm      Post subject:
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This is the baptism of my great uncle Francis (probably called Franciszek by family) Michalkiewicz. It is spelled Michaeliwicz in the ledger, but given the small parish and the correct parents Jozef and Weronika Szymkiewicz this is surely my late great uncle born the 2nd of October in Versailles, CT died 7 days later on the 9th.

I am trying to determine who the godparents and the priest are, and if possible what you make of the whole text.



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Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił.
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Post Posted: Yesterday at 9:18 am      Post subject: Re: translation request
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I apologize for the delay in my response to your messages; I was traveling and unable to give them the attention they deserve. Kindest thanks for the translations themselves which are key pieces of my genealogical search and have confirmed Mateusz Prusinowski as my 4th great-grandfather! I appreciate so much your extra notes on the nuances of some of the terms used, especially your very interesting and informative thoughts on Piotr's occupation. I watched both videos and it really gave me a much better understanding of his craft. As well, I thank you for the dictionary references which are resources previously unknown to me. And your notes on the Latin language will serve me well as I perhaps try my hand at deciphering some records in the future. I was a French major, also took Spanish, and after working with so many Polish & Russian records over the last couple of years, have developed a working knowledge of garnering at least the basic facts from a record. But my Latin "training" is limited to church songs and phrases I remember from when I was young and the Catholic Mass was in Latin. So I am very grateful to you for sharing your expertise and vast "beyond the basic facts" knowledge.

A couple of questions (when time permits!) on the death record of Mateusz: Is it reasonable to assume that his four wives are listed in order from first to fourth? I know that he married Agnieszka Z. in 1788, but that is the only marriage record I could find. Presumably the other marriages took place in a different parish, i.e., wherever the bride was from, or, for the first two wives, maybe the records don't go back that far. My other question is why he has two daughters named Maryanna. Would the first Maryanna possibly be deceased? I was under the impression that only surviving children were customarily listed, but I'm not sure why I think that. I suppose another possibility is that it is simply a "typo" on the part of the recorder.

Finally, one question on Piotr & Cecylia's 1794 marriage record translation which you posted on August 3: could Piotr's parish be Ciemniewo? The 1788 marriage record for Mateusz & Agnieszka was there, as were marriage records for an Andrzej Prusinowski (1797) and a Maryanna Prusinowska (1799). When a record says the groom is "of the parish of X" does that normally mean he was born there or that he was living there at the time of the marriage?

Thank you again for all three translations and for going above and beyond in so many ways!


dnowicki wrote:
mhofmann wrote:
May I please have a translation of these three records? Many thanks!

Hi Mary,

Thanks for posting the column headings. As it turns out, the columns don’t really contain any information which is not known from the body of the entry. The first column gives the place of residence of the deceased. The next three columns are designed to checkoff basic data. The first of the three indicates that the death recorded was of a male. The next two columns are indicated as blank. (The second column is for deaths of females.)

It is good to know that Piotr’s occupation in later records is “stolarz” because that does indeed confirm what I wrote about the meaning of mensifaber. Stolarz can mean “cabinet maker” as well as the more basic contemporary meanings of the word which are joiner/carpenter. A joiner is a specialized highly skilled carpenter as opposed to a framing carpenter whose work is of a more general nature. It is often very helpful when considering 18th & 19th Century occupations in Polish to consult the two earliest and most comprehensive dictionaries of the Polish language---that of Samuel Bogumił Linde (1807-14) and the Słownik Warszawski(1900-27) as both those dictionaries define occupational words the way they were used prior to 1900. There we find stolarz defined as “rzemieślnik robiący z drzewa sprzęty, meble…” (“a craftsman making from wood implements, utensils, furniture...”). These are all tasks done by cabinetmakers, a distinct type of joiner. The work of a stolarz requires precision in the crafting and assembly of the wooden product. It seems to me that by simply defining the craftsman as a cabinetmaker the image which comes to mind in our times is of someone who makes cabinets which are more like the kitchen cabinets sold at the big box stores instead of handcrafted cabinets which are considered furniture. Hence my preference for furniture maker rather than cabinetmaker. Two places where it is possible to see the tools and techniques of joinery and of cabinet making as it was done in the 18th & 19th Centuries are episodes of the PBS series “The Woodwright’s Shop” with Roy Underhill and the furniture shop at Colonial Williamsburg. Here is a link to a youtube video of the Williamsburg site:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuBc9KDgTag and here is a link to a shorter video: http://www.finewoodworking.com/2007/02/22/touring-the-colonial-williamsburg-shop Of course, the location is not Poland and the time is not identical but the tools and techniques would be very similar to those used by craftsmen in Poland. All this is far removed from the Latin text so perhaps a few words regarding how one goes about determining the meaning of Latin words which are not found in a dictionary might be helpful.
Latin ceased to be the vernacular of any national group by the third quarter of the first millennium but it survived as the language of scholarship, diplomacy, the Catholic Church, etc. New words were regularly being added and some of those words were used only in one geographical location. Thus, there is no one exhaustive lexicon of Post-Classical Latin. There are, however, several ways to form a rather accurate guess of the meaning of unknown words. One method is to determine the meaning through context in various examples of text where the word occurs---not a method which would work in this instance. Another method is to separate the word into its parts---the method used in these entries. The word is made up of two parts---mensi and faber. Faber is the easy part since it occurs frequently in Latin records. The basic meaning of faber is “maker”. Think of the English word “fabricate” which is derived from faber. To fabricate something is to make that thing and hence one who fabricates is a maker. The other part of the word is related to “mensa” which means a table and was used to designate the top part of an altar. A table or an altar is a piece of furniture and hence the educated guess that a mensifaber was a table maker or in more general terms…a furniture maker.

Anyway, here is the translation.

1806 Death Mateusz Prusinowski

Left Column: (Village of) Łebki Wielkie
Next 3 Columns: Col.1: Male: Checked; Next 2 Columns: Blank
Body of Entry: In the same year on the 9th day of the month of March at the hour of 10 at night the upright* Mateusz Prusinowski died, the husband of 4 wives, namely the upright* Franciszka Mikołajowna**, Maryanna Dęba, Noble Agnieszka Zebrowska, and Noble Maryanna Damipecka(?), who still lives; the father of two married sons, namely Andrzej, 45 years of age, and Piotr, a furniture/cabinet maker***, about 42 years of age; and 3 daughters, that is, Maryanna, Apolonia, and Maryanna, a maiden; 82 years of age; death due to the illness of old age; strengthened by the Sacraments of those about to die****; buried in the cemetery.

Notes: * cf. previous translation note
**the suffix -owna signifies “daughter of…” in this case---“daughter of Mikołaj”
*** cf. previous translation note
**** cf. previous translation note

Hope you find all this helpful and interesting.

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