Beitrag zur Böhmforschung - Boehm(e)/Bea(h)m/Beem Research

Extract of "A History of the Beam Family" by Prof. Jacob L. Beam of Princeton, 1919.

The following controversial article came from the Listbot on Beam. I thought it was interesting, and want to pass it along to you Böhm(e)/Boehm(e)/Bea(h)m/Beem researchers. Keep in mind the article was written in 1919 after World War I with changing attitudes and opinions in a vastly different world with nationalism replacing monarchies as a basis for governing power. Nationalistic views usually bear falsifications in history. For a better understanding of the historical facts I have made some comments in my footnotes and in [...]:

Beam Genealogy Source: "A History of the Beam Family", by Prof. Jacob L. Beam of Princeton. The paper was published in 1919.

" The name Beam is the English spelling [according to the sound] of the German Boehm. Boehm is German for "a or the Bohemian". For the origin of the name, Bohman, and, consequently, of this family name by derivation of it, we must go back to the fourth century before Christ. There was, at that time, a tribe of Celtic people in the north of Italy called Boii. About the second century before Christ the Boii moved to the northeast and the place settled was called in Latin, Boiohaemum, [BOIoHAEMum] or home [HEIM in German] of the BOIi. Later the Boii moved south through what is now Bavaria, and their home in Bohemia became, about 600 A.D., the home of the Czechs (1), then as now, the most highly civilized and advanced of all the Slavic peoples (2). They still inhabit Bohemia. Though the inhabitants changed when the Boii left, the name they gave to the country remained the same. All through the middle ages the land was called [in old German] Beheim or Boeheim, even into the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century the present form of the name in [modern] German, Böhmen, crowded the older one out. The English name Bohemia is the same as the later Latin name. A native of the country was, in Latin, Bohemus, in German Böhm or Böhme. When the German name began to be applied to the people they were, as they still are, Czechs. The very name, therefore, shows racial origin (3).

The (4) Beams are Slavic Czechs by race, but long residence in Germany or German-Switzerland has given rise to the belief that the family is German. Of course it must be admitted that intermarriage with Germans has actually brought German blood into predominance. The name began to be used as a family name in Germany in such was as this: A wanderer from Bohemia, with an unpronounceable Czech name, came over the border into Germany and was commonly and conveniently called "ein Böhm" (a Bohemian) or "der Böhm, der Böhme" (the Bohemian). Then later the real name, if ever known at all by the neighbors, was neglected or forgotten by them and soon the bearors of the name preferred to be known by the new one in order to avoid explanations and confusion..........We must remember that it was not only one Bohemian but a large number of them who came into Germany in this way (5); hence the name is so common there that claims of relationship cannot be based on it alone. The name was and is very common in Switzerland too.

This spread of the name Böhm through Germany and Switzerland, is, beyond doubt, connected with the beginning of the reformation. The religious history of English Protestantism goes back to Wycliffe, whom we call the morning star of the Reformation; but Wycliffe himself had received the impulse and inspiration from abroad, from the distant Bohemian nation. A Queen of England, the wife of Richard II, had come from Bohemia and with her came the knowledge of the teachings of John Huss, the very first of the Protestants. Huss was also a great patriot. The religious movement he led was only a part of the great national movement for establishing the full freedom of the Czech nation (6). This was a whole century before Germany hailed Luther as its great teacher, reformer, and patriot. Huss was burned at the stake in 1415, and a death similar to his befell also the Bohemian nation. More than two centuries later, in the great war that was fought on the soil of Europe for religious liberty---the Thirty Years War--the first blow was directed by the Austrian Catholics against the people of Bohemia. The Bohemians were defeated and crushed, many of them were driven out to be wanderers on the face of the earth, and from that time the name and the nation of the Bohemians (7) ---or as they called themselves, the Czechs----were wiped out as it seemed forever, from the map of Europe. Last year, 1918, it was reconstituted, and this year recognized as a part of the new nation of Czechoslovakia. Among these Bohemians who were driven from home and country before and after the Reformation were the Beam ancestors. It is no wonder that the name is common in Switzerland which had thrown off the yoke of the Austrians in the century before Huss and where the Austrians were long after hated. In their new home in Switzerland, our ancestors, for a while, lived and throve. But not for long were they left in peace, at least some of them. When in Switzerland. ???te church fell into conflict with those who believed and worshipped other-??se, the descendents of the Bohemian wanderers were again found on the side of those who strove for religious freedom and suffered for it. They were among the persecuted Mennonites who went over into Swabia and the Palatinate in the seventeenth century, and with the Palatinates they came, after centuries of wandering, into rest and safety in Pennsylvania which Penn had founded."

Comments by Guenter Boehm:

1) After the final victory at the beginning of the 10th century of the Czech Premyslides over the competitive Slavnikides the self-designation "Cechy" (Czechs) was adopted over the entire Slavik speaking population of Bohemia, although this origin rose more from a ruling act than from an ethnical feeling. An uniform consciousness of the Czech speaking people developed only with the strenghening of the Czech urban middle class under the Habsburg monarchy.

2) 1344 the archbishopric was established; in Prague 1348 first German university in the entire Holy Roman-German Empire. In the 14th century emperor Charles IV of the house of Luxemburg and then in the 16/17th century emperor Rudolf II of the Habsburgs had residences in Prague. All the bureaucrats, delegates, scholars and students contributed to the spirit of knowledge.

3) Since the 11th century Bohemian dukes invited German settlers to the region. Until 1945 Czechoslowakia had a population of 3.5 Million ethnic Germans.

4) Would be better: "Our Beams are ..."

5) Not all of them were called Böhm or Böhme, many kept their original names. Mostly Protestants of the Hussite movement (starting 1415) and later during and after the 30-year-war (1618-1648) persecuted Lutherans, many of them ethnic Germans, moved into Protestant controlled states of the Roman-German Empire.

6) At that time (political) nationalism as we know it today did not exist, it was more like an ethnic movement which started around 1400 from the citizens of Prague in response to minimize feudal influence in governing their cities. Until the Hussite movement a Bohemian could be identified as a Slavik Czech or an ethnic German as well. There was no separation in mind. After the 30-year-war it is most likely "Bohemian" was used only for an ethnic German living in Bohemia.

7) Bohemia was never literally wiped out. The kingdom of Bohemia existed until 1918 and flourished even under the Habsburg rule from 1527-1918. After that in Europe came the time of fanatical nationalism.

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