Lidija Sambunjak, professional genealogist

Where did the children hide?

This week I did an extensive research for a family whose grandparents came from a small village of Gornje Prilišće near Karlovac, Croatia. I had no problem finding their grandfather Thomas and his children, but finding his parent’s marriage and his siblings, well, that was another story.

Thomas was born in 1838 and the records for that year and years around it are in a very good condition – ink not smeared or faded, no pages of this book missing and a very good handwriting. But I just couldn’t find them.

Five hours for a single name

First I covered 10 years of birth records from 1838 up, then another five down to 1833. I couldn’t find anything.

Then I changed the set of books and started to look in marriage records way down to 1813. However, I was still unsuccesful, and it now became a bit annoying. Where are the rest of the children? Where did they get married?

The surname does appear in the parish. But the persons are missing!

After I spent almost five hours in searching, I gave up and decided to go from the beginning and write down all the families with their surname and try to make some sense out of it.

Mother pregnant, daughter married

As I was preparing myself to start, I noticed something which finally made my day! Right there in the beginning of the birth book 1813, on the date of October 31st, I found the first born child from this family! He was 25 years older then his youngest brother!

I found additional four siblings born within sixteen years, while our Thomas came nine years after the birth of the fifth child. No wonder I had a hard time finding them, there was such a big gap between children!

Today, we don’t expect families to have children born in the range of 25 years, but in those days, that wasn’t entirely uncommon! For a mother to be pregnant while her oldest daughter was getting married was just as normal as today being pregnant with the first child at the age of thirty.