About chelli11

Researching my Latvian, French-Canadian, Italian and Ukrainian ancestry.

Baptismal Record: Anna Akerfelde

Akerfelds, Anna - Baptism

(Embūtes draudze, 1892-1896, page 110, baptism #149)

149. Anna
Daughter of Jēkabs Grinbergs (alias Akerfelds) and his wife Ieva
Born at Muižarāji farm, Lieldzelda estate
Born September 2, 1894 (Julian Calendar) / Septemner 14, 1894 (Gregorian Calendar)
Baptized on October 9, 1894
Baptized at Embūtes parish
Baptized by Pastor K. Lundberg
Godparents: Jānis Sedols, his wife Katrine and Anna Sedole

Veisbergs Migration

My great great grandmother Emilija Karoline Veisbergs was born in 1885 in Rezekne, the second child of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, who  lived in nearby Struzani estate at the time. Mikelis and Line were married in 1882 in Rezekne. What is noteworthy is this family migrated WEST after Emilija’s birth, at a time when most Latvians were migrating EAST to avoid conflict during the Russian Empire’s 1905 revolution. Emilija married Vilis Vinakmens in 1904 in Tukums, halfway westward across the country.

I had given up hope in finding any more information about Mikelis and Line, seeing as they “disappeared” from the records after Emilija’s birth, when I stumbled across them at Slokenbekas estate near Tukums, where I was looking for my Vinakmens relatives. In 1896 and 1900, they baptized two children at Tukums Lutheran church while living at Slokenbekas. That left an 11 year gap between Emilija’s birth and the next child. Again I did not expect to have my questions answered about their whereabouts during that time. And again! I stumbled across two children baptized by MIkelis and Line Veisbergs, at Dobele parish in 1890 and 1891.

So, they were married in 1882. First child in 1884 at Rezekne. Emilija in 1885 at Rezekne. I next found children in 1890 and 1891 at Dobele. And then two more at Tukums in 1896 and 1900.

The Brugis surname can be found in a few parishes in Latgale and Vidzeme. But the Germanic background of the name Veisbergs suggests perhaps Mikelis originated in Kurzeme and had migrated east to Rezekne for a short period, to return later.

New clues!

Ancestor Story: Karlis Vinakmens

1. Early Life

Karlis Vinakmens was born on January 1, 1913 in the town of Tukums, Latvia. He was the third son of Vilis Augusts Vinakmens (Wihnstein) and Emilija Karoline Veisbergs. Vilis and Emilija were married in 1904 in Tukums, they had sons Janis Rudolfs in 1905, and Arnolds in 1911.

Karlis was born on the brink of the First World War, and he would be no stranger to wars in his lifetime.  In October of 1915, when he was just two years old, Germany invaded Latvia and occupied all of Kurzeme. Roughly two-thirds of the population of this Latvian province fled eastward, either to the eastern Latgale province of Latvia, or further even to Russia.

Karlis and his family were no exception, and they ended up somewhere in Russia, where Vilis worked at a meat-packing plant. A fourth Vinakmens child, Alise, was born in 1916 here in Russia. Unfortunately for the Vinakmens, the political  situation in Russia was not very stable at this time, and the Russian Revolution was in full swing by the end of 1917. Many industrial facilities were closed down, and the story goes that Vilis showed up for work at the meat packing plant one day, only to be told to go home, because the factory had shut down.

At the end of the First World War, the treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. I will spare you the details, but what it meant for Latvia (after another invasion by both Germany and Russia) was that in 1920, Russia finally agreed to acknowledge Latvia’s sovereignty, meaning Latvia was a free and independent country for the first time in a long time. This time period bred a strong sense of nationalism in most Latvians, a pride in being Latvian.

With the signing of this treaty, many Latvians who had fled from Kurzeme went back home. It is not clear exactly when, but Vilis and Emilija returned to Tukums sometime before 1921, when their fifth and final son Fricis was born. Sometime after Fricis’ birth (or maybe even conception, since I cannot prove he was around for any longer afterwards), Vilis abandoned Emilija and their five children, for whatever reasons. This only seemed to push the Vinakmens children to strive to succeed, and family lore is that the last time Karlis Vinakmens saw his father, he was a poor, broken old man sweeping the streets.

 2. Free Latvia

Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1934, during his timein the Latvian Navy

During the period after WWI, Latvia enjoyed a brief period of independence, and an economical boom. New, exciting political parties were formed, and the Latvian people had more freedom than ever before. Latvian nationalism grew strong, and many Latvians who had been handed down Germanic surnames began to change their names to reflect their Latvian ethnicity. Whether out of disdain for their father, or Latvian pride, the Vinakmens children changed their surnames from Wihnstein to Vinakmens (both meaning “winestone”).

Karlis attended elementary school in Tukums from 1921-1927, between the ages of 8 and 14. He was an active participant in sports, excelling in sprinting (articles outlining his sprinting times in different competitions can be found at http://www.periodika.lv).

By 1930, his eldest brother Janis had joined the Latvian army, as an officer in a communications unit (Sakaru rotas?). Karlis himself joined the Latvian army soon after as a Navy aviator, stationed at the large Latvian naval base at Liepaja. While his time of service is not completely known to me, pictures suggest that he was probably employed by the Navy around 1932-1936 (ages 19-23). In his time, he possessed a badge suggesting he had earned merits as a sniper.

In the mid 1930’s, Karlis met his future wife, Berta Helene Ozolins. I’ve been told that she was working at the train station in Tukums and that is where they met. They were married November 23, 1936 and welcomed a daughter named Rasma on September 23, 1937.

As early as 1938 (possibly earlier), Karlis left the military and was employed as  a woodcarver (“kokgriezējs”) at a carpenter’s shop located at 12 Elizabetes iela, Tukums. His IRO documents state that his employer was a man named “Teschlers”, however “tischler” means “carpenter” in German, so whether or not this was the man’s true name, or a generalization, I don’t know. Karlis, Berta, and their young daughter Rasma lived in several different apartments in the same area near the train station in Tukums at this time (Rigas iela, then Kaleju iela, then Balozu iela).

3. Latvian Occupation

 The next piece of Karlis’ story becomes a little bit mysterious. The Russian army, under Soviet rule (the “Red Army”) invaded Latvia in 1940. All Latvian military units were either disbanded, or conscripted by the Russians to their army. There was an indignant resistance to this communist occupation, and uderground militant partisan groups began to take form, manned by Latvian rebels who sought a free, independent Latvia.

Under the Soviet government, anyone previously involved in the military would have been in grave danger due to the mass deportations carried out in this first period of Soviet occupation (1940-1941). According to his House Register while living at their apartment on Balozu iela, Karlis left his wife and daughter at home in Tukums to reside in Rezekne (his mother’s hometown) at one point during the first Soviet occupation, between March 3, 1941 and July 15, 1941.  Whether he was in hiding from the Soviets, or whatever else he was doing there is unknown to me, but he returned to Tukums after the German army invaded and occupied Soviet Latvia in June of 1941. I had originally believed the Soviets may have imprisoned him, but some new documents say he was never jailed.

Many Latvians gave this new German Nazi government the same response as they did the Soviets, and the underground resistance movement was strengthened at this time, forming the “Latvian Central Council” (LCC). The LCC published an outlawed newsletter (Brīvā Latvija – “Free Latvia”) propagating the restoration of a free Latvian democracy after the war.

The German army conscripted many young Latvian men to their ranks, at first by using propaganda, and later resorting to full out forced conscription (as was the case for Karlis’ younger brother Fricis). It is entirely possible that Karlis was conscripted at this time, as family story tells of him being a part of the Latvian, German, and American armies. Any documents supporting this though, I have not found, although one would assume perhaps during his days as a displaced person Karlis would not have wanted to advertise any involvement in the German army whatsoever, so perhaps this is why I cannot find any record of this.

4. Kureliesi

Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1944, in his Kureliesi days

Karlis joined an underground military resistance group called the Kureliesi. His unit was headed by a man named Lieutenant Roberts Rubenis, whose objective was at first anti-Soviet, and later anti-German – they wanted to fight all occupiers and re-instate a free Latvia. Much of what the Rubenis battalion did is still unknown to me (and most historians, too – although the Latvian Occupation Museum is researching these events in further depth). I contacted the Occupation Museum’s historian, and he kindly sent me copies of a Latvian Resistance Movement registration card, a questionnaire/application, and three letters written by Karlis that detail the exact events. To be very brief, these brave men gave remaining Nazi forces a run for their money. To be detailed, I will go over this time period in another post!

On November 20, 1944 Karlis asked his unit commander for a rest period to visit his his wife and daughters – Karlis and Berta welcomed their second daughter into the world in August of 1944. Apparently Berta and the girls had already left their home at Balozu iela in Tukums and were living in Valdemarpils, close to Talsi in northern Kurzeme. When he arrived in Valdemarpils, unfortunately, the Germans began forcibly exiling anyone who did not have documentation of living in the town for 3 years or more. The family was taken to the port town of Ventspils, and on December 8, 1944 left Latvia forever.

5. Displaced Person

Karlis, Berta and their two daughters spent from December 1944 to May 1945 at Gotenhafen, where I believe Karlis was employed as a carpenter (forced labour??). After the Germans were defeated in early May 1945, the family went to Hildburghausen, Germany, for less than a month, presumably while the Allied forces attempted to house and organize all the displaced people. Off to Marburg, Germany in June of 1945, where Karlis was employed as a labourer by the US Army. In Marburg they lived at Andrestrasse (Andree Street) #5. Karlis’ brother Janis, his wife and their 3 children were also here in Marburg. And here, Karlis and Berta’s third and final daughter was born in late August of 1946.

6. Belgian Coal Miner

Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1948 in Belgium, on the job as a coal miner

Belgium was the first country after the war to accept displaced persons who could/would not be re-patriated to their homelands. In 1947, the country accepted 22,000 displaced persons as labourers in their coal mines. Some viewed this as a way to obtain cheap labor. In July 1947, Karlis and his family became 5 of these 22,000. The family immigrated to Chappelle-lez-Herlaimont, Hainaut, Belgium, where Karlis worked in the Mariemont/Bascoup mine.

7. US Army Labor Service Co

Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1954, during his time in the Labor Service Co. 7566

 It is unclear as to why (maybe he realized this was not as good of a deal as he had previously believed), but in July 1950, Karlis and family returned to Mannheim-Kafertal, Germany, where Karlis joined the US Army Labor Service Co. 7566. Founded in 1947 by American Captain Moxley, the 7566 LSC was a transport unit. In 1949, Captain Reineke was appointed the commander of this unit. Captain Reineke was a member of the “Lacplesa Kara Ordena Kavalieris”, or “recipient of of a Latvian Military Medal of Honor during the Latvian war of Independence”. The unit was briefly stationed at Mannheim-Kafertal, before being moved to Ettlingen, just south of Karlsruhe, Germany where they were housed at the Rheinland Kaserne.

The 7566 LSC men were quite actively into sports, excelling at table tennis and volleyball. Chess was also a favourite game of the men. Culturally, they organized lectures and concerts, and maintaining a large library. They also were the first unit to begin the construction of apartments as homes for their families.

The Daugavas Vanagi (Daugava Hawks) is a non-profit, non-governmental membership organization that has existed since 1953. Basically they are a Latvian cultural organization supporting Latvian veterans and preserving Latvian culture around the world. A chapter of the Daugavas Vanagi existed within the 7566 unit, and in the 1950′s, a lot of their efforts would have been focused on caring for the Latvian refugee community and their veterans. A family story is that near the end of his Labor Service days in Germany (1955/1956), Karlis asked an organization for the funds to buy a farm, and some LSC men lived there and tended the farm. I now know that this was referring to Berzaine, in Freiburg am Breisgau. Karlis and family operated and lived at this facility between 1954 and 1956. More info to come as I research this further…

Karlis Vinakmens, c. 1954 during his time in the Labor Service Co. 7566

8. Canada

Although Karlis and family had been cleared for immigration to the USA in 1951, they did not actually leave Germany until July, 1956. As to why exactly they decided to come, and leave their Labor Service days behind is still somewhat of a mystery to me. The Vinakmens family boarded the SS Zuiderkruis, departing the port of Rotterdam, Holland and arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 17, 1956. Karlis’ youngest brother Fricis Vinakmens had immigrated to Kitchener, Ontario a few years previous, and this is where Karlis and family settled.

Karlis worked for the Baetz furniture factory in Kitchener for 25 years before his retirement, returning to the trade in which he had originally been working back in Latvia on Elizabetes iela. He enjoyed making decorative woodcarvings as well as furniture, and I can remember all my Latvian family members having various carvings (a favourite was oak leaves and acorns) hanging on their walls, or decorative ashtray holders. I also remember a small, ornate doll’s bed that Karlis had made for my mother when she was small.

Karlis lived to be 88 years old, passing away in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2001, after a brief fight with cancer. He remained healthy and active up until his sickness, and I remember him bicycling from his house, to visit my parents house across town, even in his 80′s.

Karlis Vinakmens and his wife Berta, c. 1995 at their home in Kitchener, Ontario

RIP Opa.

Mystery Monday: Ernests Akerfelds

As I previously mentioned, when it comes to the different Akerfelds families, the similarities and coincidences are many. One I’ll go into in detail is the prevalence of the name “Ernests” among them.

As I go forward, I’m going to refer to different “generations” of Akerfelds – “Jekabs” generation are those born around the same time as my Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds (1860-1875), possibly siblings or cousins, “Janis” generation are those born around the time as my Janis Akerfelds (1885-1905), and “Arvids” generation will refer to those born around the same time as my Arvids Akerfelds (1920-1940).

Note the small name alterations in “Akerfelds” as I go, I am going to write the name as it appears in the documents.

I’ll explore these Ernests a little:

Ernests Akerfelds #1 (Jekabs generation)

In 1873, at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda (a little north of present Nikrace) Kristaps Eichenfelds and his wife Marija had a son, who they named Ernests Eichenfelds. He was baptised at Embute Lutheran church. His godparents are listed as Ernest Steinberg, Lotte Rusivics and Willis Pumpins. Unfortunately, this Ernests died less than a year later in 1874. This Ernests also had a sister named Ieva who perished as an infant a few years before him. This Ernests would be of Jekabs’ generation, had he survived.

Ernests Akerfelds #2 (Jekabs generation)

In 1887 at Embute Lutheran church, Ernests Hackenfeld married Ieva Hase (who was born in Skrunda). Since he was married in 1887, one could assume he was born around 1865, so Jekabs’ generation. In September of the same year they were married, they welcomed a daughter named Annlise Hackerfeld at Lappe farm in Brinkenhof (Nikrace). Annlise’s godparents were madchen (unmarried or young girl) Annlise Grinbergs, wirt (landowner) Willis Wallenberg, and knecht (labourer) Eewald Redlichs. Sadly, a month after Annlise’s birth, Ieva passed away at age 23. Even more sadly, at age 7 weeks, without a mother, Annlise Hackerfeld also passed away, apparently of diphtheria.

Ernests Akerfelds #3 (Jekabs generation)

In 1888 at Embute Lutheran church, Ernests Hackenfeld married Annlise Grinbergs. The same Ernests who was widowed just months earlier? The same Annlise Grinbergs who appeared as a godparent of his deceased infant daughter? I believe so. Ernests and Annlise welcomed their first child, named Kristaps Grinbergs alias Hackerfeld at Kaupi farm in Lieldzelda in September of the same year. His godparents were jungen (youth or bachelor) Kristaps Grinbergs, jungen Mikelis Rabovics, and Lihse Rabovics(Rabovics and Akerfelds families mix it up again later on). The next record I have of this Ernests is in 1893 when he welcomes another son, Mikelis Grinberg alias Hackenfeld, at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda (the same farm as Ernests #1 lived on) and his godparents are listed as only Lotte Rutevens. Next child was named Ernests Hakenfeld alias Grinberg (#4), born at Pluini farm in Rudbarzi (north of Lieldzelda). And finally, Ernest and Annlise had a stillborn female Hackenfeldt child at Matsith (my Russian translation?) farm recorded in the Skrunda Lutheran church book. Skrunda is east of Rudbarzi, north of Nikrace. Annlise Hagenfeld, also Hakenfeld died in 1898 at Matsith in Skrunda, at age 28. This Ernests #3 and Annlise are godparents to my Jekabs and Ieva Akerfelds’ firstborn son, also named Ernests (#5).

Ernests Akerfelds #4 (Janis generation)

To be technical, Ernests #3′s son by the same name, Ernests is going to be my “Ernests Akerfelds #4″. I do not know what became of this Ernests, but he was born in 1895.

Ernests Akerfelds #5 (Janis generation)

Janis’ brother, son of Jekabs Hakerfeld and Ieva Sedols, born in 1893 at Muizaraji farm in Lieldzelda. His godparents are Ernests #3 and his wife Annlise. I do not know what became of this Ernests either.

Ernests Akerfelds #6 (Jekabs generation)

In 1898, in Skrunda, Ernests Akerfelds married Madde Storke.This marriage is recorded both in Skrunda’s Lutheran book and Embute’s Lutheran book, which is interesting. Ernests and Madde had son Janis Akerfeld in 1900 at Gruvens farm in Skrunda. His baptism is also recorded in Skrunda and Embute. In 1904, son Karlis Hagenfeld alias Grinberg was born at Gruvens, his godparents being Karlis and Anna Krunzmans. Again, Karlis is recorded in both Skrunda and Embute books. Why would it be in Embute’s book, if the family lived in Skrunda? Strong family ties in Embute? Is this the same Ernests as Ernests #3? Ernests #3 and Annlise did start out in Lieldzelda, but were moving their way north to Skrunda, with their last child being born there.

Ernests Akerfelds #7 (Janis generation)

Unmarried mother Late Grinbergs baptised a son in 1902 named Ernests Akerfelds while living at Sudmalkalns farm in Lieldzelda. Late also had a daughter named Annlise a few years earlier, for whom Ernests #3 and his wife Annlise Grinbergs are godparents. Interestingly, I believe Late Grinbergs may have been a sister of my Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds. In a list if peoples deported in the mass Soviet deportation of 1949, Ernests Akerfelds and his wife Anna Rose are recorded, living at Krogaraji farm in Rudbarzi. Ernests is listed as the son of Alberts, and was born in 1905. I have yet to find an Alberts Akerfelds of Jekabs’ generation that could be his father though, and it seems that his mother, Late also lived with him. I have learned from a family member that this Ernests never had any children.

Ernests Akerfelds #8 (Janis generation)

On the 1935 census, a widowed Marija Akerfelds, nee Rabovics lived in Nikrace at her brother’s farmstead with her two sons. I recently found a newspaper article on the Latvian National Digital Library’s periodicals site listing the deceased father’s name as Ernests. He could be either Ernests #4 or Ernests #5.

Ernests Akerfelds #9 (Arvids generation)

Son of Kristaps Akerfelds and Ieva Gaul, born circa 1920. Grandson of Ernests #3. His mother and younger siblings wound up in Australia following WWII. I do not know what became of this Ernests.

Ernests Akerfelds #10 (Arvids generation)

This Ernests married a woman named Berta. He would have been born circa 1925ish, so Arvids’ generation. Descendants of his are still living in Aizpute area today. Could very well be the same as Ernests #9.

 

I am quite sure Ernests #2, #3 and #6 are all the same person, and that he is likely the brother of my Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds.

See a visual chart of these Ernests HERE!

Google Search: Akerfelds

Virtual Latvian Occupation Museum

I have been thinking recently of my Opa Karlis Vinakmens’ time in the Latvian Resistance movement, reading more about the kureliesi in general, and trying to understand the flow of events for him and how he managed to escape Latvia at the end of it all. I stumbled upon the Latvian Occupation Museum’s virtual site - and found what would have been genealogical gold to me a few years ago. Opa’s name is mentioned, along with a quote by him that had been given in the 1950′s and collected in a book called “Kureliesi” by Haralds Biezais.

Many elaborate, exaggerated stories are handed down about ancestors by word-of-mouth (likely in every family tree!), and I have discovered many of them to be exaggerations in my time researching genealogy. If you ask, it seems everyone is related to some kind of king or prince or war-hero or native American “princess”. I try to take all stories lightly until I find real supporting evidence and documentation. As more information about the kureliesi and Lt. Roberts Rubenis’ battalion surfaces after so many years of fear and silence under the Soviet regime, it seems all of what’s been said about my Opa is true, so far! I can’t help but feel some pride that Karlis was part of such a brave, fierce, nationalistic group as Lt. Roberts Rubenis’ battalion was…

Now, only to corroborate the story of his squashing a German attack on the battalion by hearing a bird sing at night, which was actually a signal being used by the Germans… and winning a medal for it.

A New Akerfelds Hint…

Minor progress made today!

After looking carefully at my newly received 1935 census records, I found an Ernests Akerfelds born in 1905 who doesn’t quite fit anywhere in my grand scheme of things yet. He married Anna Rose and lived at Krogaraji house in Rudbarzi. He and Anna were deported in the second wave of Soviet deportations in March of 1949. In the deportation list, he is recorded as the son of Alberts. I have not yet found an Alberts Akerfelds.

But, it got me thinking. I went back over my multifarious communications with other Akerfeldses over the years and I noticed even more similarities and coincidences between names and places than ever before.

Most Latvian Akerfeldses recounted to me that their relatives came from Varme, Ranki and Skrunda.. all a little north of my family’s Lieldzelda/Nikrace. One particular Akerfelds told me that her great grandfather was named Jekabs and he lived at Skudrites farm in Varme. With this fairly solid name and address, I consulted the Varme church books. Alas, there is no baptism, marriage or burial information for Varme parish after 1870. There are, however, lists of those confirmed from 1892-1929. Within minutes of searching through the names, one caught my eye: Ans Hakenfeld.

*CLICK TO ENLARGE* The confirmation of Ansis Akerfelds, Varme 1925

Ans Hakenfeld, son of Ernests and Madde, born in 1908 at Skrunda. Living at Skudrites farm at the time of confirmation in 1925!

*CLICK TO ENLARGE* The baptism of Ansis Akerfelds, 1908 Skrunda

Skudrites farm brings a connection between this contact’s great grandfather Jekabs and good old Ernests from Embute, married first to Ieva Hase, next to Annlise Grinbergs and last to Madde Storke in Skrunda. Ernests who started in Lieldzelda, moved north to Rudbarzi, east to Skrunda, and now finally north to Varme! This Ernests had at least 11 children (2 of whom died in infancy). I do believe this Ernests and MY great-great grandfather Jekabs are brothers.

It seems that most of the Akerfeldses I’ve spoken to abroad descend from Ernests. There are still at least 2 of Ernests’ sons who would have passed on their Akerfelds name that I have not found answers for. Perhaps they are hidden in Varme’s lost church books…

I created THIS CHART to illustrate the relations I’ve discovered. This is a very brief summary, Sometimes I did not include all children’s names (in my grandfather’s case, he has 13 brothers and sisters) to save space. And occasionally I estimated a year of birth for those I do not know. The whole chart is divided into 6 clear generations, and was made to simplify the family’s overall structure to get a better point of view!

The Akerfelds-Grinbergs Connection

Further strengthening my theory that Grinbergs and Akerfelds (outlined HERE) were used by the same people as alternative surnames is the trail left by Lotte Grinbergs and her son Jekabs.

In 1896 at Embute church, an unmarried mother living at Sudmalkalns farm in Lieldzelda estate named Lotte Grinbergs baptised a daughter named Annlise Grinbergs. Annlise’s godparents were Kristaps Akerfelds, and Annlise Grinbergs, wife of Ernests Akerfelds. Lotte next had a son at Sudmalkalns farm, named Ernests in 1902, baptised at Embute (unrelated godparents).

An unwed Lotte Grinbergs also shows up in 1906 at Rudbarzi estate, baptising a son named Jekabs at Skrundas church. Jekabs’ godparents are Ilze Grinbergs and Ieva Grinfelds (is Grinfelds an amalgamation of Akerfelds and Grinbergs?).

the baptismal record of Jekabs Grinbergs, Skrunda church

Normally this wouldn’t be enough for me to solidify a relationship between Lotte Grinbergs and anyone named Akerfelds. But I’ve had the luck of a)talking to Jekabs’ daughter and b)getting a glimpse at the 1935 census of Rudbarzi.

a snippet of the 1935 Latvian census document detailing Jekabs Akerfelds and his unmarried (column #6, “nep”) mother Lotte Grinbergs living at Rudbarzi

Jekabs went by Akerfelds, not Grinbergs. As does his daughter, living in Latvia to this day!

This sure does complicate things. Did all Grinbergs also go by Akerfelds? Surely not, its a very common surname. Did all Akerfelds go by Grinbergs at some point? My own great-great grandfather Jekabs (same generation as Lotte – siblings?) did. It seems that they tended to use Grinbergs more for girls and Akerfelds for boys. In my great-great grandfather Jekab’s daughter Anna’s baptismal record, they used Grinbergs, not Akerfelds or Akerfelds alias Grinbergs like they did for their sons, for example.

The Origin of the Surname “Ziverts”

Forgive me, this is going to be somewhat of a rambling post – hope it’s not too hard to follow my train of thought!!

My great-great grandfather Indrikis Ziverts was born around 1875 (judging from his wife Jule Dzerve’s birth year – 1877). As to where is still a mystery. I have not found a record of his baptism yet. He purchased Skrundenieki farm on Brinkenhof estate in 1895. At this time he was already married to 17-year-old Jule Dzerve. Where did they marry? I’m not sure, but Jule was from Purmsati estate, Gramzdas draudze – south and west of Brinkenhof. In 1896, Indrikis and Jule had their first child – a son - at Skrundenieki. His name was Klavs Jeannot, and he was baptized at Embutes draudze, named for one of his godparents: Klavs Jeannot Ziverts, who is listed on the baptism as “father of the master of the farm”. So Indrikis’ father’s name is Klavs..?

There was only one other Klavs Ziverts besides Indrikis’ son at Brinkenhof estate. The revision list for Brinkenhof tells me that he came to Kalna farm at Brinkenhof from Nodegi estate (west) in 1883 with his wife, Line (who he had married at Embute draudze in 1881) and his daughter Matilde (born at Nodegi and baptised at Embute in 1882). Klavs and Line had 2 more children before 1890 who were baptized at Embute, whilst the family was living at Vanagi farm in Brinkenhof. The revision list also tells me that his father’s name was Lauris and mother was Margreete.

Searching back further for Klavs, in the Brinkenhof revision list again, he appears with his father Lauris, mother Margreete and 4 siblings, arriving at Brinkenhof, Mucenieki farm from Paplaka estate around 1858. While Lauris and family remained at Brinkenhof, Klavs, aged 17, left almost immediately for Dizdroga, or Lieldroga estate. The residents of Lieldroga seem to have attended north Durbe draudze, but there is no record of Klavs to be found there. There are no revision lists on Raduraksti for Lieldroga, or Nodegi, or Paplaka for that matter. When Klavs married Line at Embute, he was 40 years old. Line was 19. Was Klavs married before? It seems likely. My theory is that Klavs had another wife who passed away, and some children sometime between 1858 and 1881. My Indrikis could have been one of these children.

If I can find them, and prove this, I will know my Ziverts family line back further than the year 1800. I have found Klavs’ older brother Adams’ baptism at Virgas draudze. The residents of Virgas draudze did not take surnames until midway through the year 1837. However, luckily for me, “Lauris” is a fairly uncommon name – he’s actually the only one I’ve found so far – so finding Adams, son of Lauris and Margreete, was relatively easy even without surnames. Adams was born, the first son of Lauris, wirt (landowner or master of the farm) of Čakšes farm, and his wife Margreete in 1836.

Knowing that Adams was their oldest son, (from the Brinkenhof revision lists) I guessed that Lauris and Margreete were likely married a few years prior to his birth. I found their marriage in 1834 at Virgas draudze. In another stroke of luck, Virgas kept detailed marriage records. Lauris was the son of Janis, wirt of the farm Kalna Ziverti in Paplaka estate and his wife Lise. Margreete was the daughter of Evalds, son of wirt of Pleiku farm in Purmsati estate (I can find what Margreete’s surname would have been , if I can locate a sibling’s baptism based on the knowledge that they probably lived at Pleiku farm and the parent’s names) and Marija.

So Lauris was married in 1834. My guess at his year of birth is 1811-ish. Based on his year of birth, his father Janis was probably born somewhere within the years 1770 and 1790. Now, to find Janis’ baptism would be especially difficult, since I don’t know his parent’s names ahead of time. I could try to find a Janis born at Kalna Ziverti within that time period, but Janis is just so common of a name, and I don’t know if he purchased Kalna Ziverti or was born there, that I just wouldn’t be able to say for sure if I had the right baptism..

What’s interesting is that I traced these Ziverts back to a farm names Kalna Ziverti. Which name came first? The farm or the family? I have a few theories:

  1. The family took their name from the farm. Janis was the first to adopt the name, and all of his sons inherited it as well. Perhaps the farm was first named for some German landowner with the name Sieberts/Siewerts, years earlier.
  2. The family IS the old German Baltic landowner family, originally named Sieberts/Siewerts and they named their farm after themselves.

Given that Janis Ziverts owned Kalna Ziverti BEFORE laws were passed making it easier for peasants to purchase land, I am almost inclined to believe theory number 2. Also, the fact that Janis Ziverts, his son Lauris, and great-grandson Indrikis all were able to purchase land indicate that the family might have had some money. Klavs doesn’t seem to have actually owned a farm, but is listed as “Hofesleute” or “manor-dweller” on his 1883 Brinkenhof Revision list record. But without further research, I won’t count my chickens before they hatch! I must find Indrikis’ baptism. That is priority #1 for the research of the Ziverts line!