Place of Interest: Slokenbeka Manor

Slokenbekas manor, c. early 1900's

Slokenbekas manor, present-day

Šlokenbekas (Latvian), Schlokenbeck (German), Шлокенбекъ (Russian)

Slokenbeka is Latvia’s sole remaining fortified manor house. Originally belonging to the Livonian Order, the manor/castle was first mentioned in documents from the mid 1500′s. It is located on the eastern side of Tukums, in the village of Milzkalne, in Engures novads, and draws it’s name from the small stream that runs near it called Slokas. Today, the manor exists as a historical tourist attraction and part museum, housing old farming artifacts and displaying examples of fortified defensive walls and gatehouses.

The earliest known residents were a German noble family named von Buttlar, and it passed through several other noble families – Schenking, Putthammer, Brueggens, Grothuss, Medems and Blumerings, through the ages. Matthias Dietrich Rheinhold von der Recke, a successful maker of liquor and spirits, purchased the manor and his family owned it from 1848 to 1920. During World War 1, the German army had a military hospital established at the manor, and after the war ended ownership of the manor passed to the forestry ministry of Tukums. A restoration project began to take place around 1977, to help turn it into what it is today.

Both Vinakmens and Veisbergs families are listed in baptismal records as living in Slokenbeka at different points of Matthias von der Recke’s ownership of the manor. Whether this refers to living on the actual manor grounds or on the manor’s surrounding estate property is up for debate – likely it refers to farms on the estate property surrounding the fortified manor, but who knows? Either way, the manor would have been a close, familiar landmark to the Vinakmens/Veisbergs families.

While browsing the Tukums church records I noticed Mikelis Veisbergs and his wife Line Brugis must have moved to Tukums from Rezekne sometime after the birth of their daughter Emilija Karline Veisbergs (my great-great grandmother) in 1885. Their son Julius Robert’s baptismal record in 1896 states Slokenbek as his family’s residence. A baptismal record of a daughter of Fricis and Anna Veisbergs also exists in the same year at Slokenbeka. Perhaps Fricis and Mikelis Veisbergs were brothers, who migrated to the Tukums area together.

Janis Rudolfs Wihnstein, son of Vilis and Emilija was born at Slokenbeka in 1905. How long the family stayed there is unknown to me, perhaps their next two sons Arnolds and Karlis were also born there, in 1911 and 1913. It would make sense, since the family’s fleeing to Russia at the beginning of World War 1 would coincide with the German military hospital being set up at Slokenbeka – perhaps it was the advance of the German army that pushed Vilis and his family east to Russia.

(click to enlarge) Janis Rudolfs Vinakmens’ baptismal record – Slokenbekas is mentioned as the family’s residence, on the far right
Here’s a link to a very good site about Slokenbeka’s history, complete with many modern-day photographs: http://www.ambermarks.com/_Pieminekli/GarieApraksti/TukumaRaj/SmardesPag/ESlokenbekas_vid_pils.htm
 
Beautiful historical photographs of Slokenbekas on Zudusi Latvija: http://www.zudusilatvija.lv/objects/object/8519/ 
 
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