Recent researches of registers in Slovenian Styria and Prekmurje

Dr. Andrej Hozjan

The tradition of genealogical research in the Styrian and Prekmurje region is not a very long one. The basic genealogical data, such as locally characteristic family names, toponimy and other, were more or less automatically included in publications on the basis of historical sources. It was only from the mid-80s of the 20th century onwards that we can speak of more systematic genealogical research. Prof. Dr. Jože Koropec, a specialist in older local history and that dealing with land tenure for the province of Styria, published a rather extensive work at that time. He made a thorough analysis of the oldest (partial) poll-tax census of the local population older than 12 years which was made in 1527. The poll census included almost 14,000 persons. It is kept in the Provincial Archive in Graz, Austria. Koropec presented also firstnames characteristic of that time, the most common family names and new names of places. After that he returned to the census and made a detailed studies of the Slovenj Gradec, Ormož and Ptuj areas.

These publications are of special value to genealogists particularly due to the extremely large number of descriptions of people included in them. At the same time they provided guidelines to the sources genealogists were obliged to consider. This is why we should have a closer look at the sources for the Slovene territory kept in the Austrian archives. There - to be precise – many of sources vital to the genealogist can be found.

It remains a fact that no genealogical research can overlook a telling source like the register. In the past decades registers have become a commonplace theme in genealogical research. They are fervently being studied by students of several Slovene faculties: the Medical faculty, Biotechnical faculty and naturally also by students of history in Ljubljana and Maribor. All write seminar and diploma works based on the findings in registers. With some effort to browse through the files of these faculties they can easily be found. As a classical research area registers appear in the framework of genealogical, ethnological, historical, geographical, anthropological, linguistic and other studies. Let us briefly examine the up-to-day research of registers in the Slovene Styria and Prekmurje, to be more precise, in the Maribor- Lavant diocese. The latter together with the Ljubljana Archdiocese to the south borders on the River Sava, while all the way up to the State border her neighbouring parishes are those of Trbovlje, Marija Reka, Vransko, Šmartno near Dreta, Bočna, Gornji Grad, Luče and Solčava.

The registers here were as early as in the previous centuries used for constructing family trees. A renowned Celje priest and historian Ignacij Orožen, for example, already in the 19th century studied the older registers of the city of Celje. He made hand-written copies of all the aristocratic marriages for the period of time ranging from the first half of the 17th century up to the mid-19th century. He also copied data on all that time priests active in Celje. Judging by the handwriting it is safe to assume that Orožen is also the author of extensive indexes of names from all Celje registers up to the mid-19th century.

In the Maribor - Lavant diocese, too, many of registers has up to the present been destroyed or has disappeared. The first consistent recording of the books dating from 1974 did not correspond to the actual situation of 20 years later. For this reason the Maribor Bishopric Archive in 1995 initiated a systematic collecting of registers over a period of several years, including doublet registers (doublets) from parishes and seats of the state administration. In 1999 it issued an up-to-date guide along all the registers obtained to that time. It even turned out that registers of individual parishes for the period to the 19th century were missing in their entirety. In other places it was mainly the case of gaps for individual time periods, while frequently registers only lacked individual books. A large number of books were destroyed or simply vanished during World War II and the period immediately following it. As regards registers, therefore, many parish offices, who are now the legal owners of these registers, suffered irreparable damages. Some examples of older books, however, have witnessed "miraculous" recovery. The vast majority of the existing registers for the period concluding at the end of the 19th century is now kept in the Maribor Bishopric Archive. Consequently the Archive keeps the oldest register from the 16th century, a considerable number of registers from the 17th and the early 18th centuries, etc. Some registers have been preserved in the parishes. The Archive also houses almost all the existing doublets emerging from 1835 onwards. However, quite a different story are the so-called "Status animarum", which the Archive had not yet collected and are mainly still kept in the parishes, that is, in their original setting. Naturally, these records are not register material as they basically functioned as control books of religious education.

The Maribor Provincial Archive, too, houses register material. Here we find doublets of church registers from the Prekmurje region for the period between 1868 and 1895 for the Roman-Catholics and for the five Protestant and two Jewish religious communities in that area. From 1896 onwards also civil registers were kept, which is why the doublets for the time between 1896 and 1918 include the entire Prekmurje population.

On the basis of the preserved books in the Maribor Bishopric Archive as well as the parish offices it was established that almost 60 parishes in the mentioned diocese presently have complete records of baptism, and marriage and death registers (from the 2nd half of the 17th century or at least from the beginning of the 18th century onwards). These are – with their official names: Braslovče, Brestanica, Brežice, Celje – Sv. Danijel, Cirkovce, Dravograd, Gornji Grad, Griže pri Celju, Hajdina, Hoče, Jarenina, Kamnica, Križevci pri Ljutomeru, Laporje, Laško, Lenart v Slovenskih goricah, Lendava, Libeliče, Ljutomer, Loče pri Poljčanah, Lovrenc na Pohorju, Maribor – Sv. Janez Krstnik, Mozirje, Muta, Nova cerkev, Ormož, Pilštanj, Podsreda, Polzela, Prebold, Prevalje, Ptuj – Sv. Jurij, Ptuj – Sv. Peter in Pavel, Ribnica na Pohorju, Rogaška Slatina, Slivnica pri Mariboru, Slovenj Gradec, Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenske Konjice, Središče ob Dravi, Stari trg pri Slovenj Gradcu, Sv. Lovrenc – Juršinci, Sv. Lovrenc na Dravskem polju, Sv. Martin na Pohorju, Sv. Peter pod Svetimi gorami, Sv. Peter pri Mariboru, Sv. Urban – Destrnik, Sv. Vid na Planini, Svečina, Šentjur pri Celju, Šmarje pri Jelšah, Šmartno pri Slovenj Gradcu, Turnišče, Velika Nedelja, Vitanje, Vojnik, Vuzenica and Žalec.

It is safe to claim that the registers in the region of the Maribor - Lavant diocese have been and still are most extensively studied by the already mentioned Jože Koropec. In several past publications he has meticulously studied the registers of many a city, markettown or settlement in Slovene Styria: Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenj Gradec, Stari trg near Slovenj Gradec, Ptuj, Lovrenc on Pohorje, Slovenske Konjice, Hoče, Bukovec above Zgornja Polskava, Morje near Fram and Miklavž on Dravsko Polje. In his studies he systematically brings to surface all the genealogical characteristics of the registers. He makes notes of each significant content, from the age of those to be married, or the dead, to the occupation or features of social status and characteristic family names. Actually, he regularly included abundant genealogical data in all his research publications. His work is thus a valuable contribution to the genealogical image of a vast piece of the Slovene territory.

Boris Golec contributed the precious genealogical work about the Dragar family from the Tabor region in Savinja Valley.

Jože Hudales has for almost a decade been systematically studying genealogical contents in the area of the Šalek Valley. He is also the author of the first extensive monograph in Slovene which is based on the study of registers. His main point of interest were the registers for the Velenje market-town in the late 18th and the 19th century, to which he added the »Status animarum« and all censuses from the 19th century, and naturally also a rich bibliography. This resulted in a multi-disciplinary study of the numerous - also genealogical - sources where the stress was on sociological and anthropological contents, while classical genealogy remained a somewhat marginal discipline. With this book Hudales created new standards for an integrated study of registers.

The author of the present paper made a genealogical study of the older family names from the territory of the neighbouring Vitanje Hills.

As we move further to the north toward the Carinthia region, the extensive local - ethnological studies by Janez Mrdavšič and particularly those by Marija Makarovič are worth mentioning. Mrdavšič decided to analyse older firstnames and family names in Črna in Koroška. Firstnames as well as local family names were analysed and explained in accordance with their source, while he added also special names for the homes and their derivatives. By this the basic pattern was formed for a detailed analysis of names in the local area. Marija Makarovič dealt with places like Strojna, Črna and Sele in her several ethnological studies. On each occasion she accounted also for genealogical sources.

The honest-to-good genealogical research work in progress stimulated also Juš Makovec. Little more than a decade ago he published a quite extensive genealogical survey of the older registers of the parish Križevci near Ljutomer - on the Mura river. Actually, nothing needs to be added to a work of this type, if we limit ourselves to one sole, yet fairly telling source - namely, registers. The author did not merely copy out the evident facts, but also paid much attention to the first- and family names present in the register. He resumed the work he started with the book Prleške fajte, which is quite a peculiarity in the whole genealogical field. It is proof of the many things that can be done on the basis of a thorough study of registers. He decided to present all (59) family names of significance - fajte (= old family names)in the form of marriages in the area of the mentioned parish. He observed them through a period of about two hundred years (between 1670 and 1870) and thus formed the bases of a very systematic further genealogical research work in this area. Among others the following families originate from here: the Ferenc family, the families Heric, Misja, Osterc, Senčar, Slavič, etc.

Also Vladimir Bračič published the ancient surnames and other names in the Cirkulane region.

Jože Curk, who has been studying the regions of Slovene Styria and the Prekmurje for quite a number of years, entered the genealogical waters with publications of the Theresan population census of 1754. In them he introduces persons who in that year lived in cities of Slovene Styria. In the past decade he has been systematically studying also the registers there, however with a clearly defined aim. As a specialist in art history he copied from the registers data on persons who had any connections with architectural activities and related disciplines.

Alongside Slovenska Bistrica, Celje and Maribor, too, are Styrian medieval cities the registers of which underwent previous studies. Andrej Pančur analysed the Celje registers from the 18th and 19th centuries. The oldest registers for Maribor (as well as those for Kamnica and Ljutomer) were studied by Sašo Radovanovič, who despite his numerous publications proved to have done quite a good job in misinterpreting the books. In addition he tended to waste energy on totally unnecessary comparisons with other religious sources from the 17th century. He deserved the criticism he got. Prof. Dr. Jože Mlinarič had a completely different approach to the Maribor registers. He copied in manuscript the two oldest records of baptism of the Maribor urban and suburban parish of St. John the Baptist from the 2nd half of the 17th century. The Maribor Provincial Archive had them issued in three volumes of the renowned series Gradivo za zgodovino Maribora (Materials for the History of Maribor), whose editor was from the very beginning Prof. Mlinarič himself. This was the first and up till now the only case of an integrated publication of registers in the form of typed copies of the original. Naturally, with it he considerably simplified the work of many a present and future genealogist, who would wish to do research on the older genealogy of the Maribor region. The earlier periods, namely the Middle ages and the 16th century did not remain unnoticed. Recently, Maribor became richer by an extensive study of its citizens up to 1600 by Norbert Weiss, a historian from the neighbouring Austrian Styria. It is interesting to note that other older Slovene cities cannot afford to have such studies done and that even the existing one was done by a foreigner. The including of the genealogical contents into the section family ties of each of the 860 studied people was extremely well thought out by the author. He even added several genealogical tables of renowned Mariborians from the 15th and 16th centuries including their families. This is why it is safe to say that from the genealogical point of view Maribor has experienced quite a share of research work.

Taking a look at the Prekmurje region, we can establish that for the geneological study of the city Murska Sobota, name indexes from records of baptism prove to be of vital importance (in typewritten form!). The registers as well as the indexes extend from 1733 to 1899, which will simplify genealogical research. Older registers of several Roman-Catholic parishes in Goričko are kept in the parish offices there. The Goričko area is interesting also for its older Protestant parishes, which from the end of the 18th century kept their own register: Bodonci, Gornji Petrovci, Puconci and others. A similar case are the two Calvinist parishes Hodoš/Hodos and Motvarjevci/Szentlaszlo. For the vast area of the Turnišče Parish in the lower Prekmurje, the research work done by the author of the present article undoubtedly proves to be of vital importance. The oldest baptism and marriage registers for the years between 1676 and 1724 are probably unique examples of registers in the Slovene territory, as it witnessed a secondary binding. This means that the original book densely filled with writing was at the end of the 19th century in a very poor state. It was thus re-bound, but lost its original pagination in the process. It was only later that the pages were numbered (all 650 of them!) but not in the correct chronological order, which is why the book is practically useless. The author of this paper is currently copying its contents and it is expected to be issued by the Maribor Bishopric Archive sometime next year. Lendava, too, has a most interesting material. While going through the register fund we found that the copiers from three decades ago overlooked the oldest preserved record of baptism from the end of the 17th century. It is now kept in the parish (office).

This short survey of the research work in the field of registers for the Maribor - Lavant diocese naturally could not include the numerous recent local historical-documentary books. Their authors occasionally use registers for short genealogical reflections on the contents.