Ancestor Story: Janis Akerfelds, Part 1

Janis Akerfelds, c. 1948

Janis Akerfelds was born on September 27, 1898 supposedly in Nikrace. He was (likely) the third child of Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols.

Shortly after his birth his family went to Tomsk, a city and also a district (oblast) in Siberia (I am not sure if they mean the city or the oblast). Presumably this was due to Jekabs working either on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which was a huge project underway at the time, or possibly working as a miner, as Tomsk was the site of many mineral resources, including gold.

In any case, their Siberian adventure did not last for long. Jekabs took ill, maybe from harsh conditions, hard labour, freezing winters, etc. By 1904, the family had returned to Embute parish, where 5-year-old Janis lost his father Jekabs in July of 1904 at age 34, with either lung or kidney disease listed as the cause. He left behind a 6-month-pregnant Ieva, and Janis’ sister Katte was born that November at Cepli farm, the fifth and final child of Jekabs and Ieva.

After this, the story is a little unclear about where Ieva and her children went. Janis attended elementary school in Nikrace from 1907 to 1913, but his younger sister Katte attended “grundschule” somewhere in Estonia in 1917. At some point, Ieva’s surname changed to Blazges (and I have found Blaschge families in the Embute parish church books) so perhaps she remarried, and was widowed again.

The family must have returned to Nikrace once again by 1924, as Janis married Anna Ziverts sometime around this year (April 23, the date he is listed as beginning to live at Skrundenieki?) and they welcomed their first child Arturs in August of 1925.

Janis and Anna had 14 children in total, 10 of which ended up in Colorado, USA, 1 in Ontario, Canada, 1 in Augsburg, Germany and two daughters perished in Latvia at a young age. One was named Elvina, she was born in 1929 and appears on the 1941 census, but is gone by the time the family fled Latvia. The story is that at age 12 she stepped on a rusty nail and died of tetanus. The other daughter is said to have fallen off a chair, hit her head and perished as an infant.

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