Are you related to…?

That was essentially the question posed to me in an e-mail I received in mid-December 2016. The writer, who contacted me on behalf of herself and a sister, is the daughter of Pearl, a friend of Martha Amelia (Focht) Rahm.[1] Martha is a daughter of George and Anna (Arnold) Focht. Anna Arnold Focht, is a sister to Peter Ernest Arnold, the North American patriarch of the paternal side of my family.

Background

The writer stated that Martha gave her copy of a volume entitled Ruhe (“silence” or “peace,” as defined in the book) to Pearl when Martha moved to an assisted care facility. Pearl has since passed away and her daughters decided that the volume needed to be returned to a Focht family relative. They found me at FamilySearch.org through Focht/Arnold information I’ve posted there.

The two sisters and I exchanged several e-mail/text messages, and I was able to share with them that Martha was a bridesmaid at my parents’ wedding.[2]

I knew from e-mail exchanges with a cousin that Martha Focht Rahm may have authored a history of the Focht-Arnold family and that a copy was possibly archived at the Library of Congress. I remember searching for it online using variants of Martha’s name, but didn’t find anything and mentally chalked it up as a future research topic, with little to no hope that I would eventually locate a copy.

Its Significance

Until Pearl’s daughters contacted me, I wasn’t entirely certain this family history existed, and, if it did, I had no idea how its contents would be relevant to my immediate family (i.e., descendants of Peter Ernest Arnold). Believe me when I say the book was my first order of business when it was delivered to my mailbox in early January 2017!

Reviewing the content, I was pleased to find that the Chapter I summary of Anna Arnold Focht’s early life basically corroborates my generation’s understanding of circumstances surrounding the family’s two-phased immigration to the United States in 1903 and 1904 (details to follow in a separate post).

The volume also included a copy of the 1856 baptismal certificate for Johann Arnold, our family’s paternal great-grandfather (i.e., the father of Peter Ernest Arnold and his siblings). This is sgnificant because it is the first documentary evidence we have seen for Johann Arnold.

1856-arnold-johann-baptismal-certificate-front1856-arnold-johann-baptismal-certificate-back

I submitted the front and back certificate images to a Facebook genealogy translations group a few days ago, hoping that someone would be able to provide a comprehensive and reliable translation of the document. There’s been no response to that query so far, but a cousin [a different person than the cousin referenced earlier] and I used Google Translate for the front of the certificate.

As far as we can tell, the details of the front of the certificate, adjusted for English syntax, translate to:

Baptism memorial for Johann Arnold. Baptized in the Csavos church presbytery; of year 1856 Feber havanak 19th day of arrival; by Joseph Bragfsoványi. Cross-father-mother Johann Petri … Elisabetha Rinche.

Untranslated or possibly mis-translated words and phrases are bolded. For example, one would think that the phrase “Feber havanak,” situated as it is between a year and a day, would have something to do with the month, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Similarly, the phrase “Kereszt-atya-anya”, translated here as “Cross-father-mother” seems to be a shorthand of sorts because a search of Family Search’s Hungarian word list[3] defines the word “keresztanya” (i.e., Kereszt-anya from the original) as “godmother.”

So, it appears the adult persons identified on Johann Arnold’s baptismal certificate are more likely his godparents than his biological parents. Though not as promising as parents’ names would have been, the names of Johann’s godparents do provide an additional clue to him and, in time, may lead to additional information for Johann.

[1] Martha Amelia Focht was born 26 May 1930 in Gladstone, North Dakota, the tenth of George and Anna (Arnold) Focht’s twelve children. She married Arthur H. Rahm on 25 May 1963 at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Tucson, Arizona. Martha died at age 80 on 01 August 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. (Sources: Tucson Daily Citizen, Tucson, Arizona, 30 May 1963; Focht Rahm, Martha Ruhe (a family history), 1986; Rahm, Martha A. obituary, genealogybank.com, published 08 August 2010 in the Arizona Daily Star.)
[2] “Irene Armbrust is Bride of W. Arnold,” Dickinson Press, Dickinson, North Dakota, 11 May 1950.
[3] “Hungary Genealogical Word List,” https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Hungary_Genealogical_Word_List.

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One thought on “Are you related to…?

  1. Pingback: Another amazing circumstance | Tidbits & Treasures

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