Monday, February 27, 2012

Migration in Bohemia and Moravia

There were some questions raised about how the migration worked in old times here in Bohemia and Moravia. I've decided to answer these questions in a single post, because there are quite many things to be said.
Our ancestors didn't travel too much. There was no public transportation till the middle of 19th century, not everyone had a horse, not everyone was eager to travel. Anyway there always were some groups of people who were travelling a lot - journeymen who were gaining the knowledge about crafts, merchants, officers, soldiers.

Ordinary people
The typical distance for traveling among ordinary people was from 10 to 15 kilometers (about 6 to 10 miles). This was the distance which they were able to walk fully loaded with goods, food and so on, usually to the nearest market town or village. If you are searching for a wedding of your ancestor, 10 to 15 kilometers is  the most usual radius to be searched. 

When you check places there your ancestors were from the geographical distance is really significant. It is more evident in those areas which are placed in the plains - our ancestors were staying in one circle, not moving too far away. Can you imagine that someone whose family lived in one place for 200 years decided to move to America? It really wasn't an easy decision to make...

Domains and their owners
You will sometimes find out couples where husband or wife were from quite distant place. It is always a surprise for me because it was not usual. First thing to do in such case is to search if the villages when the ancestors were from were owned by one landlord. This fact was the most common reason for a marriage of people from distant villages. 

Our ancestors were not free - they were not allowed to marry without permission from their landlord. And this permission was usually granted only in case their future husband/wife were from the same domain. Landlords weren't too happy about loosing workforce so they often didn't agree with a marriage across domain borders. 

Situation was different only in cases where both domains were owned by one landlord. The marriage was allowed then and quite often the landlord himself was searching for suitable husband/wife in another domain if there was lack of young men/women in the other domain. Again - workforce was important...

Soldiers, officers, merchants, journeymen
The situation was totally different in case of "moving" occupations. These people were moving from place to place because of their job. Soldiers moved from one garrison to another, merchants travelled from town to town, journeymen were searching for new method which can be used in their crafts, officers moved from one office to another...

These people are hard to be tracked in the registries, mainly in 17th and 18th century as there is too few information in the registries about them. Search is mostly based on a bit of luck - and it anyway often ends too soon.


  1. Glad to see you are posting again. I missed the posts on Bohemia,

  2. We missed you. Hope all is well. Look forward to more in 2012.

    1. Well, we will see if I'll be able to handle the blog. We are goign to have another baby in July, so it's going to be a very very busy time this year... But I'm trying!