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

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!

Amanuensis Monday: The Baptism of Madde Strohmann

After a brief hiatus from Latvian genealogy for a few months, I found my mind wandering back in time again. Sometimes when you’ve hit a bunch of brick walls, you need a set of fresh eyes! I hit the Raduraksti books again, and within the first 15 minutes, I had stumbled across a new family discovery:

                            The Baptismal record of Madde Strohmann

Madde
Born on February 10, 1836 and baptised February 23, 1836
Born at Oldenburg, Gohbsem (Vecpils estate, Gobzemji farm)
To knecht (worker) Janis Strohmann and his wife Lise
Witnesses 1. Madde Strohmann, 2. Anne Sauer, 3. Janis Mattison
Baptised by Pastor Katterfeld at Neuhausen (Valtaiki)

Madde is my great-great-great-grandmother, her daughter Ieva Sedols married Jekabs Akerfelds. Just as her marriage record to Janis Sedols states, she was born at Gobzemji farm in Vecpils estate. I hadn’t found her before, because I hadn’t considered that she might have been born earlier than 1840, based on her year of marriage.

Madde didn’t marry Janis Sedols until 1865. She was almost 30! That is quite old for a first marriage back then. It makes me wonder about this curious birth record of an illegitimate child born in 1865 to an unmarried woman named Madde Strohmann that I had found months earlier. Mind you, since one of Madde’s godparents was also named Madde Strohmann, we know there were at least 2 Madde S.’s. But, an illegitimate child and affair could explain why she married so late!

It seems as though the peasants of Valtaiki parish obtained surnames about half of the way through the year 1835. In terms of continuing to follow this family line, this baptism may be the only clues I uncover about  Madde’s parents. They must have been married prior to obtaining surnames, so finding their marriage record will be slightly more of a challenge given that their names are incredibly common. A marriage could have been my only clue about Madde’s parents besides her baptism or a sibling’s baptism. I don’t mean to be negative, but Janis and Lise Strohmann might be the end of this surname’s line for me!

Place of Interest: North Durbe Parish

Hunting for records of my Indriks and Klavs Ziverts during their time at “Dizdroga” estate, I began combing through the Durbe church books.

It seems like there were a couple different “Drogas” – Lieldroga/Gross Drogen, Mazdroga/Klein Drogen, Vecdroga/Alt Drogen, Krusat-Droga/Krusat Drogen, and apparently Dizdroga/Disch Drogen (although I have yet to find Dizdroga on a map)

To my suprise, not only did I find residents of Droga at Durbe, but also surnames Sihwarts, Strohmann and Sedols.

In 1872, I found the marriage of Heinrich/Indrikis Siverts and Betty Ozolins. These two eventually moved to Dsirgen estate and baptised a few children there in the German congregation. Heinrich/Indrikis and Betty are named godparents in one of Klavs’ (father of my Indriks) and his second wife Lina’s children, also baptised in the German congregation. A hint I’m on the right track?

Perhaps I should have been looking in Durbe a long time ago!

Other interesting surnames of North Durbe parish: “Nimrod”, “Makbeth”. Someone was a Shakespeare buff! Haha.

Also of interest: Durbe is home to the first set of triplets I’ve come across – in 1877 born to a Jaunzemis family!

Document: Skrundenieki’s Land File – Sneak Peek

I was able to get a glimpse of the highlights of Skrundenieki’s official land record from the Latvian State Historical Archives.

I know this is repetition, but laws passed in the 1860′s allowing people to purchase farms, rather than having all land owned by German nobility. Skrundenieki was first purchased in 1882 by a “Perkons” family, and was probably sold by Alexander von Simolins – Wettberg. I know of Alexander already, since he baptised a daughter at Embute while living at Lieldzelda in 1842. Going along with the Lieldzelda connection – a “Kristaps Akkerfeld” is mentioned in this sale, possibly as a witness to the exchange of money.

In 1895, Skrundenieki was sold for 5019 roubles to the Ziverts family, from Perkons. This is the same year I suspect my great, great grandfather Indriks Ziverts married his wife Jule Dzerve (she would have been 18). The very next year in April 1896, Indriks and Jule baptised their first son Klavs Jeannot at Skrundenieki, and named Klavs Jeannot Ziverts, “wirt” or “landowner” as his godfather. I long suspected this Klavs was my Indriks’ father. Now there is more evidence in this land file. When Indriks, son of Klavs passed away, ownership of Skrundenieki passed to my great, great uncle Arturs Ziverts, in 1930. So it is likely Indriks died in 1929 or 1930.

The good news is: I have already done my research on this Klavs, suspecting he could be my great, great, great grandfather: He was born in Paplakas estate December 12, 1941. His father, Lauris and mother Margreete moved to “Mucenieki” farm in Brinkenhof estate in 1858. The same year, 17 year old Klavs left for “Dizdroga” estate. From Dizdroga he went to Nodega. In 1881, 40 year old Klavs married 19 year old Lina Grinbergs. They welcomed a daughter in 1882 while at Nodega estate. July 16, 1883 they moved back to Brinkenhof, “Vanagi” farm. And I suppose after that, to Skrundenieki!

The bad news: Indriks must be from an unknown first marriage of Klavs, maybe at Dizdroga estate, maybe Nodega, maybe even an unknown place. No revision lists exist for these two. Nodega residents are usually recorded at Embute church, but there is no sign of Klavs there. Indriks could have been born anywhere. My next step is scan the Durbe churchbooks for such a marriage, or Indriks baptism, and hope that Klavs didn’t move around too much more than I know!

Surname: An Akerfelds Etymology Tangent…

Ok, follow my line of thinking: Akerfelds, Hakerfeld, Hackerfeld, Hackenfeld, Hagenfeld, Hakenfeld, Eikenfeld, Eichenfeld…

All my Akerfelds/Hackerfeld ancestors who’s burial records I have been able to find have stated their place of birth as Lieldzelda estate. Unfortunately, they were all born between 1853 and 1870, when Embute’s church books are missing. That being said, there are definitely no Hackerfelds/Hakenfelds/Akerfelds listed prior to 1880 in the books either.

If Akerfeldses (a name with a meaning that doesn’t really make sense “fields, fields”) were born in Lieldzelda, but no baptisms with that surname exist there, what is the reason? I think that the surname was originally different, and through generations of word-of-mouth and Latvian-old German translations, poor literacy and scribes writing down the name as they hear it spoken, evolved to Akerfelds. And “Eichenfelds” is there, recorded in the church books, and is a good candidate from where the name could have evolved. I have long since suspected these Eichenfelds could be my ancestors.

I have indexed all baptisms of children born in Lieldzelda at Embute church. The range of surnames post-1870 is great in this estate (keep in mind Embute’s church books are missing from 1853-1870) so it appears that when laws were passed (mid 1800′s)allowing peasants to move from estate to estate, Lieldzelda saw a fairly large amount of immigration.  From 1852 and earlier, the amount of different surnames shrinks considerably since, for the most part, people were made to stay at the estate they were born on. Redlichs, Ehrlichs, Treuguts, Gutmanns, Petrewitz and Kreischmanns are large “original” families in Lieldzelda (meaning likely their patriarch lived at Lieldzelda at the time of the acquisition of surnames. More info on the acquisition of Latvian surnames HERE).

This is going off on a bit of a tangent and is, as of now, a far reach. But I discovered an Eichenfeld couple who had a child in 1845. Father Mikelis is listed as “Wirt Muizaraji” or “Landlord of Muizaraji farm”. The mother was named Katrine. I can only find one baptism for this couple prior to the Embute church book gap of 1852. Typically, a couple would have had more than one child. Where are the other kids? There is another baptism a few years earlier that also lists the child’s father as “Wirt Muizaraji”, but the surname there is “Reichenbach” (“Reich” = “rich, “Reichen” = “range” and “Bach” = “brook” or “creek”). Coincidentally parents are also Mikelis and Katrine. This might sound a far stretch to wonder if the Eichenfelds and the Reichenbachs are the same couple, but again, prior to 1850, there was not a lot of movement amongst peasants, people usually stayed in the same area, surnames were not as numerous, and ownership of land was usually passed down generation to generation… Rich/Range Creek and Oak Field and Field, Field…

Just a coincidence, two owners of the same farm, a few years apart, having the same name and same wife’s name?

One more hint I’ve collected over the years, is one modern-day Akerfelds recalls his great-great-great grandfather (generation prior to 1865-ish) was named Kristaps. There is indeed, a Kristaps Eichenfelds to be found at Lieldzelda who fits the time period. This Kristaps was married to Marija and they had children Ernests and Ieva in 1871 and 1873, both of whom died in infancy. Kristaps Eichenfelds died in 1904 at age 71 (born in 1833). Child of Mikelis and Katrine Reichenbach/Eichenfeld? There was a Kristaps Hackerfeld in Lieldzelda as well, who’s death record indicates he was born in Lieldzelda in 1866. son of Kristaps Eichenfeld?

Did Eichenfeld turn into Akerfelds/Hackenfeld/etc etc in the 1853-1870 period?

Ancestor Story: Arvids Akerfelds

1. Early Life

Arvids Martins Akerfelds was born on September 30th, 1927 at “Skrundenieki” farm in Nikrace, the second of fourteen children born to Janis Akerfelds and his wife Anna (nee Ziverts). Skrundenieki was owned by Anna’s brother Arturs Ziverts at this time, and there were nine people residing there: Arvids, his parents, and his older brother named Arturs (presumably for Arturs Ziverts), his uncle and aunt (Arturs Ziverts married Katte [nee Akerfelds], two Akerfelds siblings married two Ziverts siblings), their first child Alberts, and finally both his widowed paternal and maternal grandmothers, Jule Ziverts (nee Dzerve) and Ieva Akerfelds (nee Sedols).

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. 1940 in Latvia

Between the first and second World Wars, Latvia underwent some drastic political and social changes, including writing a new Constitution, establishing a Parliament (called the Saeima) and electing Latvia’s first president, Janis Cakste. A new influential political party was also formed, called the Latvian Farmer’s Union, headed by Karlis Ulmanis which helped pass reforms to divide State property which had once been owned by German landowners and make it available to Latvian peasants who could now own the land they lived and worked on. This boosted agriculture greatly in Latvia, which in turn helped boost the economy even through the worldwide Great Depression in the 1930’s. The number of farms increased significantly. Latvia began producing electronics, cars and even airplanes.

The Ziverts and Akerfelds families grew rapidly in this peaceful time. A census was taken in 1935, at which time the number of residents at Skrundenieki had grown to 20, all Akerfelds or Ziverts, except for one Arons Tevlovs, listed as a cattle buyer and seller. Perhaps he was a migrant worker of some kind. Arvids would have worked on the farm as a child, like everyone else living there, and he attended the equivalent of elementary school at the Nikrace pamatskola from 1936 to 1943 (ages 9-16) with his many brothers and sisters and cousins. Another census was taken in 1941, showing 24 residents (Tevlovs was gone).

2. “Displaced Person”

By mid 1939 however, the situation in Latvia had severely bleakened. On October 5, 1939, Latvia was forced to sign a “mutual assistance” pact with the Soviet Union, which gave the Soviets permission to station 25,000 troops on Latvian territory. On June 16, 1940, The Russians accused the Latvians of violating the terms of their pact. The very next day, the Soviet army took control and occupied Latvia. A rigged election was staged, and a puppet government was put into place. On August 5th, 1940 Latvia was officially annexed by the USSR. Arvids would have seen at least one of his uncle’s entire family deported by Soviet officials who had taken over the government to Siberian gulags (forced labor camps), mostly for being supportive of the Farmer’s Union political party. These families would not return.

With WWII in full-scale, the Germans invaded and occupied Latvia between 1941 and 1944. Compared to the terrors of the Soviet regime, the Germans would have appeared to be the lesser of the two evils to some Latvians. German military forces managed to push the Russian forces back east, and retained control of western Kurzeme in Latvia until mid 1944. Being occupied by Nazi German military forces was actually good news for the Akerfelds/Ziverts, as luck would have it, this allowed them to escape from Latvia before the horrific Soviet regime took control once again.

In early October of 1944, Arvids and the rest of the growing Skrundenieki clan were forced to leave their home and flee west, as the Soviet army made it’s way through Latvia from the east. Both Anna and Katte were pregnant, 7 and 9 months respectively. The clan stopped for a few days in the large, German-occupied port town of Liepaja, where Katte gave birth to the seventh Ziverts child. On October 23, 1944, the German military forcibly evacuated the group to Gotenhafen, a major German-controlled port town that is now known as Gdansk, Poland. Here they were put in a camp for foreign workers, but only for days before being transferred to a gathering camp at Kelsterbach, Germany. Another few days later, in November 1944, the Akerfelds family went to Echzell, Germany, where the men were employed at a sawmill owned by Hermann Mogk III. They were separated from the Ziverts for a while at this time. Here Anna had the twelfth Akerfelds child, and here they stayed until they were liberated by the US Army in July of 1945.

In September of 1945, WWII was officially ended, and in October the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) took on full responsibility for all those who had been displaced by the war. “Displaced Persons” camps were set up all over Europe to house these people until they could be repatriated. At this time, Arvids’ father was employed by the US Army as labourers in Wiesbaden, Germany, presumably helping to rebuild damaged infrastructure in the area. Arvids himself was employed as a labourer by the Wiesbaden DP Camp. The family next found themselves in Bidingen in February of 1946 and Dieburg in May. In October of 1946, Arvids was employed as a lumberjack by the DP Camp in Darmstadt. Here he stayed with his family, his father employed by the US Army once again as a bricklayer until 1947.

3. Belgian Coal Miner

The UNRRA tried to repatriate all displaced persons, but many would not (or could not, depending on your viewpoint) return to their country of origin. Many Latvians, in particular, did not wish to return toLatvia because it was still under Soviet control. Most other countries were reluctant to accept huge numbers of refugees, but on January 23, 1947 the Belgian Government, the US military authorities and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees established a framework for the resettlement in Belgium of displaced persons currently in the American zone in Germany and guarantee them employment in the Belgian coalmines. Arvids took this opportunity, whether by choice or force I am not sure. He left his family in the DP Camp in Germany and went to Waterschei, (now called Genk) Belgium. The story is that he met his future father-in-law here, but I can’t find proof of this yet, as Karlis Vinakmens was living in Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont and worked in different mines.

He worked in the coal mines until August of 1949 when (for reasons yet unknown to me), he illegally returned to Germany and wound up in the Hanau transit camp. Why he returned to Germany is speculation, but his parents and youngest ten siblings had been cleared for resettlement in the USA in May 1949, and it’s possible he returned to try to go with them, or at least see them off. At Hanau, there was a vocational training centre for displaced persons, but I am unsure if he received any training. He was at Hanau until at least January of 1950. His parents and all siblings, save for his elder brother Arturs, left Germany from the port of Bremerhaven, aboard the SS General Harry Taylor on August 19th, 1950, bound for Berthoud, Colorado. Whether he was able to see them beforehand or not, I do not know.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, taken from a document recorded upon his return to Germany in 1949

4. Labor Service Days

Arvids was in Germany for the second time from 1950-1957 working for the US Army Labor Service Co.  He was a part of the 7132 LSC, stationed first at Mannheim-Kafertal, Germany, then Ettlingen,Germany at the Rheinland Kaserne. This was a transport unit, and it was tied in closely with the 7566 LSC. More on the 7566 and 7132 LSC here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/ancestor-story-karlis-vinakmens/

Apparently Arvids’ job with the Labour Service Co at this time involved driving important figures to sports games, meetings, and other events. One of the items in my grandmother’s possession at the time of her death was his German “Furherschein”  like a driver’s license, and a document titled “Reiseausweis” which seems to be some sort of passport, supporting this story. My grandmother also had a lot of photos of Arvids in his Labor Service days. A gallery is here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/old-photos-labor-service/

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, from his German "Fuhrerschein"

Near the end of his Labor Service days, Arvids was living in close quarters to Karlis Vinakmens, his wife Berta and their 3 daughters. The story is that Karlis Vinakmens asked some sort of refugee authority for some money to purchase a farm, or a large manor house to be used as housing for the LSC men and their families. A large mansion was purchased and split into apartments. While living in such accommodations, Arvids and Karlis’ oldest daughter Rasma fell in love. Sometimes, Arvids would climb out of his apartment’s window to climb onto a balcony that led to Rasma’s window, and they would meet this way.

5. Canada

When the Vinakmens left for resettlement in Canada in 1956, Arvids, who originally had hoped to join his family in Colorado, decided to try and switch his VISA application to Canada instead, to follow Rasma. This took time and he was not able to leave for Canada until the end of January 1957.  In the meantime, during their separation, he and Rasma became engaged inter-continentally, via the mail. Arvids sent Rasma a silver-toned ring with his initials, “A.A.” engraved on it, and he wore one with her initials “R.V.”.

What is really interesting about Arvids’ trip to Canada is that he did not travel on a boat, as was par for course for displaced persons at the time, but on a plane. The money for his ticket was loaned to his future father-in-law Karlis Vinakmens by a Latvian-Canadian man in Kitchener, a family friend named “Kurmis”, which Arvids eventually paid back once he was employed in Canada. http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/lockheed-super-constellation-dalid/

Arvids married Rasma Vinakmens on August 10, 1957, seven months after being reunited with her in Canada. (http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/wedding-wednesday-arvids-martins-akerfelds-and-rasma-lilija-vinakmens/).The pair welcomed their first of three daughters, Irida one year later.

Arvids worked for a company called GenLabor based out of Waterloo, Ontario at first. I believe he was involved with construction for the duration of his stay in Canada, and he was a foreman for MWM construction company at the time of his death in 1982. While on the job, he perished after choking on a piece of celery from his soup he had brought for lunch. The circumstances of his death are sort of shady, it was not just the celery that killed him, he also had an enlarged heart and a few other contributing factors that ultimately led to his death at age 54. Arvids died on April 16, 1982, leaving behind his widow Rasma, and three daughters, ages 23, 15 and 13.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. September 1957 in Kitchener, Ontario

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/tombstone-tuesday-arvids-and-rasma-akerfelds/