Document: Brinkenhof Revision List

Up until recently I had ignored the revision lists (Dvēseļu revīzijas) offered on Raduraksti. Curious about the ownership and history of Skrundenieki farm, I decided to take a stab at  deciphering this unfamiliar resource. These lists are recordings of peasants arriving at and departing from different estates, if they moved. If your particular family did not move around a lot, as I am unsure my Ziverts (Skrundenieki’s owners) did, chances are they will not be found in this resource.

The revision lists are organized by estate, not draudze, pagast, aprinki, novad, rajon…etc. These terms can be a little confusing if you are not very familiar with the geography of our ancestor’s homeland (as was the case for me the first time I tried the use the revision lists). I am now very familiar with the area surrounding Skrundenieki, and know that prior to 1925ish, it was part of what used to be Brinkenhof estate, also known as “Gross Altdorf” in German (Embutes/Amboten lutheran draudze, Brinki/Nikrace/Brinkenhof/Nikrazzen pagast, Aizputes/Hasenpoth aprinki, Vainodes/Wainoden novad, Liepajas rajon, Kurzeme… I know, confusing right?). So I leafed through the Brinkenhof revision list, really just scanning for the Ziverts name in relation to Skrundenieki.

Within a few pages, something caught my eye. An entry for a “Klavs Laure Siewert”. Since I’d already gone through the area’s church books with a fine-toothed comb, I am already familiar with this Klavs Siewert. He married Lina Grinbergs in 1881 at Embute lutheran church, and they had a daughter named Mathilde Emilie Wilhelmine Siewert in 1882 at Nodaggen estate (I have yet to figure out what that name is in modern Latvian). Also notable from the church books: living at Nodaggen simultaneously at that time as well was an Ernest Siewert, his wife Marija and their son Karlis.

But back to the revision list. In 1883, Klavs, Lina and their daughter Matilde left Nodaggen and moved to Brinkenhof estate. The lists divide men on one side (left), and women on the other (right). Here is their recording:

(click to enlarge) Brinkenhof Revision List from 1883

I can’t make out the large block of text beside Klav’s entry, but most of it looks to be talking about how he came to Gross Altdorf in 1883 and left from Nodaggen estate. He was born December 12, 1841 (and as fate would have it, 1842 is where the Embute church books end..). he was 42 at the time of the move…. and if you notice, it lists his wife Lina as only 21 years of age (and daughter Matilde 1 year old). With such an age gap, was Lina Klav’s second wife?

What really attracted me to Klav’s record is that my own ancestors - Indriks Ziverts and Jule Dzerve - named their first born son Klavs Jeannot, and one of his godparents is listed as Klavs Jeannot, who is listed as the owner of the farm they lived on (Skrundenieki). Some of the text beside this inscription in the younger Klavs’ baptism either points to the fact that the older Klavs, the same one listed in the revision list above, is either the father of Indriks Ziverts, or his uncle. I can’t tell which, because Indriks and Jule named their second son Peteris Ziverts, and one of his godparents is Peteris Ziverts, with the same inscription. Both uncles? When did these Siewerts come to Brinkenhof estate? There are no other Siewerts in Brinkenhof’s revision list history.

Also, I discovered that Skrundenieki is much older than I had suspected, existing at least as early as 1811 under the same name.

More to come, as I learn to decipher these records…

How can you use the revision lists to learn about your family? Check out this article on how to use them at Celmina.com

Amanuensis Monday: On Repatriation

One of the questions asked by the International Refugee Organization of people displaced by WWII was “Do you wish to return to your country of former residence?” For most Latvians, the answer was no. Not because they did not wish to return home, but because “home” was now occupied and controlled by communist Russia, a regime they had seen destroy their families and friends, more merciless than the German Nazi’s had been. Most certainly a resistance fighter like Karlis Vinakmens, or a German collaborator like his little brother Fricis, could not imagine returning home, as the Soviets would have persecuted them immediately, likely with fatal results. The Akerfelds and Ziverts families had seen brothers and uncles, along with their wives and children heartlessly arrested for no good reason, to be deported to Siberia and die slowly of exposure. 

Most Latvian families wished to immigrate to Canada, the USA, Australia, and even Argentina is recorded on one IRO application I’ve seen. It seems they were not sure where to go, did not care, so long as it was not part of communist USSR.

A snippet from Arturs Ziverts' IRO Application form

Do you wish to return to your country of former residence?” – “Nein” (No)

“If not, why?” – “Weil heimat eisenheim von USSR okkupier. Herscht kommunistische diktatur und terror. Ein bruder getoete und andere nach sibierien deportien” (Because my home country is occupied by the USSR. The government is a communist dictatorship. One brother was killed and nother was deported to Siberia)

Every one of my family members’ IRO applications says the same things: Arvids Akerfelds’ simply states “Political Reasons”, Fricis Vinakmens’ says “I do not like to live under present communist regime”.

After being caught between two great warring world powers in WWII, Latvia had held out hope that the Allied victory would mean the USSR agreeing to recognize their sovereignty. They had hoped that the Allies would restore free independant Latvia. This was not the case, for Latvia and other Soviet-occupied countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, etc) who would remain under Soviet control until the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.

Akerfelds Puzzle Pieces

There are more Akerfelds out there than just descendants of Janis and Anna. There is a family branch that ended up in New York, who originated in Nikrace pagasts. There is another branch that made it to Australia after WWII, who lived in Skrunda during the 30’s, but moved to Nikrace by 1941, with the death of the father of the family. Another branch is still in Latvia in the Skrunda region today.

My theory is that all Akerfelds came from one patriarch, possibly named Kristaps. I believe that my particular ancestor Jekabs had brothers, who all the other Akerfelds descended from. Proving that with documentation is quite a challenge as it stands. The names “Jekabs”, “Ernests”, “Kristaps” and “Ieva” are prominent in all the Akerfelds families I have found so far. Mind you they’re fairly common names, but in conjunction with all the other coincidences, it is just too much to ignore.

Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols were parents to my two well-known Akerfelds ancestors, Janis and Katte, but also had 3 other children: 2 sons and 1 daughter. The daughter, named Anna, wouldn’t have passed on her Akerfelds name to her children, but the two sons would have. Their son Martins only had one child before his death in Siberia, but it was a daughter, so she would not have passed on the Akerfelds surname to her children. Their son Ernests, on the other hand, probably had children at some point, and would have passed his Akerfelds name on to them. Unfortunately for me, I can find no more record of this Ernests besides his baptism though. Ernests was the eldest son of Jekabs Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols, and his godparents were Ernests and Annlise Akerfelds (more about this couple below).

Other Akerfelds Families:

In the 1935 Latvian census, there is a Mikelis Akerfelds recorded, born in 1897 living with his wife Elizabete and their son Arnolds at Muizaraji farm in Nikrace. Being that he was born a year prior to my Janis, we will say they are of the same generation, could be brothers or cousins. The farm owner is named Anna Vainovskis, a widow and her daughter who were living there as well. In the 1941 Census however, the farm passed in ownership to Mikelis, and the Vainovskis are gone. This family comes to light again in 1949, when the Soviet government deported them to Siberia.

In the 1935 census, a widow named Marija Akerfelds (nee Rabovics) lived with her two sons Andrejs and Ermanis and her brother at “Pulvernieki” farm in Nikrace. By 1941, Marija and Andrejs are gone, but Ermanis is listed at Zoslenu majas, working as a farm worker. Andrejs immigrated to New York, and his family is still there today. Marija was born in 1899, so you could assume her deceased husband would be born around that same time as her. Again, in my Janis’ generation. Was it Janis’ brother Ernests? Another unknown brother?

In the Embute draudze church book, an Ernest Akerfelds married an Ieva Hase in 1887. It would be safe to assume Ernests was 20-25 years old at the time, so born around 1865. Not my Janis’ generation, but Janis’ father Jekabs generation. Ernests and Ieva baptised a daughter named Annlise in 1887 in Brinkenhof, at a farm I can best translate as Lappe? In the same year, 1887, Ieva passed away (childbirth complications?) and at age 7 weeks, daughter Annlise also passed away, all within the same year. One year later, in 1888, an Ernests Akerfelds married an Annlise Grinbergs. The same Ernests? Likely. Ernests and Annlise had 5 children: Kristaps, in 1888 at Kaupe farm in Lieldzelda, Jekabs in 1890 and Mikelis in 1893 at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda, Ernests in 1895 at Pluini farm in Rudbarzi, and in 1897 they had a stillborn child, and at this time they are recorded as living in Skrunda. Interestingly, this Akerfelds family also goes by both Akerfelds and Grinbergs, much like my own. This Ernests and Annlise are named as godparents of my Jekabs and Ieva’s first son, Ernests. I feel a connection here is definitely probable.

Also according to the Embute church books, there is a Lotte Akerfelds/Grinbergs who had two illegitimate children, Annlise in 1896 and Ernests in 1902, both at Sudmalkalns farm in Lieldzelda. Of course, the same Ernests and Annlise mentioned above are godparents to these children as well.

In 1898 a Kristaps Akerfelds (Hakerfeld) alias Grinbergs married Trine Skonpasts. However, no baptismal records of children were found for these two, and a burial record in 1899 shows a Kristaps Hakerfeld died at age 33 that year. The same Kristaps Hakerfeld?

In 1898 an Ernests Akerfelds married Madde Storke in Skrunda, but the Embute church book also recorded this marriage. Why is the marriage listed in Embute if it occurred in Skrunda? Is this the same Ernests as was married to Annlise, since their last child was born in Skrunda? Did Annlise pass away in the childbirth of their stillborn child, leaving Ernests to marry a third wife? Ernests and Madde had Karlis Akerfelds born in 1904 and Janis Akerfelds born in 1900,  both also born in Skrunda pagast at Gruvens farm, but also recorded in Embute.

Far enough back in the church book, an Eichenfelds family shows up. I must note that “Akerfelds” in German can be and is spelled “Hackerfeld” , “Hakenfeld”, “Hagenfeld” and other variations of the like, so comparing Eichenfelds is not a huge stretch. This Eichenfelds family’s patriarch was named Kristaps, and his wife was Marija. They had a daughter named Ieva in 1871 at Sprosti farm in Lieldzelda, but she was buried the same year. They also had a son named Ernests born in 1873 at Rusi farm in Lieldzelda, but he also perished the following year. That’s all the book has on the Eichenfelds, although it should be noted that the books from the 60′s are missing from Embute draudze. If Kristaps was having children in 1871, one could assume he was born around 1848. Is this the grand daddy patriarch of all the Akerfelds? Perhaps when the naming process occurred, he ended up with the surname of Grinbergs, but in order to differentiate himself from the other Grinbergs (which Embute draudze has in plenty), he chose to go by “alias Akerfelds”, as was common to do.

Lastly, the Australians. Ieva Akerfelds (nee Gaul) was born September 19, 1893 in Skrunda pagasts. She married a Kristaps Akerfelds and bore him four children before he died at an early age (after 1925, but before 1941 for sure). It can be assumed that Kristaps was of similar age to Ieva, so we will say c. 1893. This puts him in the same generation as my Janis, just a few years older. In 1941, a widowed Ieva and her youngest two children, Janis Alberts and Alma Emilija Akerfelds moved to Nikrace pagast and lived at “Mazvarmsate” farm. They are recorded here in the 1941 Latvian Census. Why go to Nikrace after the death of the husband/father? To be near his family for help or work?

There are two more puzzle pieces, another Mikelis Akerfelds born in 1893 in Nikrace, son of Ernests and Annlise, and an Ernests Akerfelds, born in 1905 in Nikrace, son of Alberts. I will go into further depth with them at a later date.

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/mystery-monday-ernests-akerfelds/

Ancestor Story: Karlis and the Three Armies

I’m trying to prove the family story that Karlis Vinakmens had been in 3 different armies within 20 years. I am making a little headway as I begin to understand the history of these armies. My mother remembers Karlis saying that if he ever returned to Latvia, he would be killed immediately.

The clue that sparked this challenge is the picture above. The pictures here are said to have been taken in 1934, 1944 and 1954, in the Latvian, German and American armies, with the cross in the middle as a military award.

In Karlis’ International Refugee Organization (IRO) application form, it is clear that something is written about his time as both a Latvian Naval Aviator and as part of the Latvian resistance movement. There is also a section listing his personal documents he had with him in Germany, clearly saying something from the Latvian Resistance movement, and Lettland Luftwaffe Division (Latvian Airforce Division).

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ residences? “Im Walde…”

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ employment? “Im Walde….”

Can you decipher the German text about Karlis’ documents? “Lettland …Luftwaffe Division… Chief of the Latvian Resistance Movement”

Also as proof of his time in the Latvian Resistance is his listing in an article by the Latvian President’s history commission in 2006, written by Uldis Neiburgs “Association of the Participants of the Latvian Resistance Movement (LPKDA) and Its Documentation about the Resistance Movement in Nazi-Occupied Latvia (1941–1945)” (sidenote: I added this document on the sidebar as a searchable database, for anyone else’s reference).

For the American army bit, Karlis was employed with the Labor Service Co. This is proven in his IRO application form as well and is not much of a mystery.

The German army is the most difficult for me to prove. My best guesses are that he was either: conscripted by the German army during the Nazi occupation, OR he eventually surrendered to the German army near the end of his Resistance Movement days in order to serve the best interests of his wife and daughters, OR he worked for the German army as a displaced person while in Germany. The only possibly concrete evidence of this I have come across is on one of Karlis’ 2 DP Cards, his occupation is “bildhauer” and his other occupation is “ ”C” CO. 30 INF.” which seems to be a listing of an army infantry unit. Whether this is the German one or not I don’t know yet, it could be any army as far as I know at this point. Searching for this kind of information is proving to be a little difficult!

What army is this snippet from Karlis’ DP Card referring to?

Amanuensis Monday: Martins Akerfelds

A search for “Akerfeld” at this collection of historical Latvian periodicals (here: http://www.periodika.lv) will yield two results, both regarding Martins Akerfelds (b. 1902 in Tomsk), son of Jekabs (Martins is my great-great uncle). Note that if you are curious as to why I searched for “Akerfeld” and not “Akerfelds”, it is because in Latvian, surnames end in either masculine or feminine forms – “s” at the end of a name is masculine eg. “Akerfelds”, and “e” or “a” at the end of a name is feminine eg. “Akerfelde”, “Ozolina”. When you drop the defining ending, you effectively search for both male, female, or whatever other suffixes might be attached (as is common in the Latvian language). Other This is the same Martins listed in “These Names Accuse” deported to Siberia where he died after 2 years in the gulags, probably for his work in the Aizsargi and for the fact that he owned his own farm (named “Jaunzemjos”, which was adjacent to Skrundenieki).

(click to enlarge) An excerpt from Jaunākās Ziņas published on Wednesday, May 13, 1936

This article above is an excerpt from “Jaunākās Ziņas” (“Latest News”), a Latvian periodical published on Wednesday, May 13, 1936. This contains a list of Aizsargi men who were given awards of merit at an event for Aizsargi. The Aizsargi were comparable to policemen at the time. The beginning paragraph states:

“Aizsargu organizacijas apbalvosanas komisijas sede kura piedalijas komisijas priekssedis, aizsargu prieksneiks K. Prauls, locekli – 7. Valkas aizsargi pulka komandieris K. Briedis, 11 Tukuma Aizsargi. Komandieris Karklins, 16 Jelgavas Aizsargi. Komandieris A. Ausmanis, 18 Daugavpils Aizsargi. Komandieris Silauss un sekretars – referents – aizsargu staba organacijas dalas prieksnieks llll nolemts apbalvot sakara at Tautas vienibas svetkiem 15 maija par nopelniem valsts aizsardzibas darbas ar.”

In English:

“The Aizsargi Organization Awards Committee meeting, which was attended by the chairman of the commissionm guard K. Prauls: a member of the 7 Valkas Aizsargi regiment, K. Briedis: a member of the 11 Tukums Aizsargi, Commander Karklins of the 16 Jelgava Aizsargi, Commander A. Ausmanis of the 18 Daugavpils Aizsargi. Commander Silauss and secretary decided to award the following men for their work merits on May 15th, 1936.”

You will see Martins Akerfelds, member of Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagasts.  No. 6 under “Ar medalu “Par centibu”” (“Awards for diligence)”.

(click to enlarge) An excerpt from "Valdības Vēstnesis

Above is an excerpt from the Latvian periodical “Valdības Vēstnesis” (“Government Gazette”) published September 6, 1937.

Zinojums par izsniegto zaudejumu atlidzibu par sergu del nogalinatiem un sergas kritusiem lopiem 1937. g. julija
30. Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagast, Jaunzemjos farm Martins Akerfelds par liellopu jauna karsona del gala nokauto teli jaunlopu. 20,—”

In English:

“Report on the compensation issued by the government for cattle that have been lost to disease in July 1937
30. Aizputes aprinki, Nikraces pagast, Jaunzemjos farm Martins Akerfelds lost one heifer and one young cow. 20 lats compensation”

I will write about two more articles regarding Martins:

The above excerpt is from a book outlining those missing after the Soviet deportations.

Akerfelds, Martins. Born in 1902 in Tomsk guberniya (region), Russia. Arrested: June 14, 1941. Accused of being a member of the Peasant’s Union (agrarian political party) and a Commander in the local Aizsargi. Case no. P-5604″

This last excerpt is from a book outlining those missing after the Soviet deportations as well.

“Akerfelds, Martins. Son of Jekabs, born in 1902. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Died in Kirov region, Vyatlag camp on May 17, 1943. Case No. 16441, P-5604

Akerfelds, Anna. Daughter of Janis, born in 1895. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Released from Krasnojarsk, Manas region on September 11, 1947. Case No. 16441

Akerfelds, Skaidrite. Daughter of Martins, born in 1937. Living at Jaunzemji farm. Arrested June 14, 1941. Released from Krasnojarsk, Manas region on October 15, 1946. Case No. 16441″

Roadblock: Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis

Mikelis Veisbergs (Weissberg) and Line Brugis (Brugge) were married in 1883 at Rezekne Lutheran church. Since they were married in December 1882, it could be assumed that at that time they were in their early 20’s, so they were probably born around 1860-1865.  

Unfortunately for me, there are no Lutheran church records for Rezekne past 1870. Whether or not this is due to the church books being destroyed or damaged, there not being Lutheran church in the predominantly Orthodox city of Rezekne at the time (I don’t know if there was or not), I don’t know. Perhaps there is some smaller parish church that they attended prior to Rezekne’s Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church being built.

Veisbergs is latvianized from German “Weissberg” – White hills or mountains. I have scanned all available Rezekne Lutheran church books and not found another Weissberg. Brugis however, are plentiful, suggesting that they were probably well-established in Rezekne and had been there for multiple generations. Perhaps some of the Brugis clan may have belonged to a different church, and a clue could be found there. Until I know where to look, this couple is a roadblock!

Marriage record of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, 1882 Rezekne Lutheran church (No. 15)

(click to enlarge) Marriage record of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, 1882 Rezekne Lutheran church (No. 15)

Sunday’s Obituary: Zigurds Melderis

Zigurds “Ziggy” Melderis

Date of Birth: Friday, October 4th, 1929

Date of Death: Friday, March 10th, 2006

 Passed away peacefully on Friday, March 10, 2006 at West Parry Sound Health Centre at the age of 76.

Beloved husband of the late Aija (Latuns) Melderis who passed away in 1994. Loving father of Andy Melderis and his wife Carol. Ziggy will be dearly missed by his special friend Rasma.

Ziggy was born October 4, 1929 in Latvia. A long time resident of Kitchener, he retired as foreman from Warren Bitulithic Ltd. after 34 years of dedicated service. In 1990 he moved with his wife and mother, Vilma, to their home on the lake in Parry Sound to enjoy his many hobbies.

Ziggy’s family will receive friends at the Henry Walser Funeral Home, 507 Frederick St., Kitchener (749-8467) on Monday from 7-9 p.m. and on Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service for Ziggy will be held in the funeral home chapel on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 2 PM. Interment will take place at Parkview Cemetery, followed by a reception.

As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by the family (cards available at the funeral home). Visit http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/113894/Melderis-Zigurds.php for Ziggy’s memorial.

Zigurds Melderis and his wife Aija, at what appears to be some kind of Christmas party in Germany. Aija is wearing the plaid skirt and Zig is next to her with the child in his lap. Arvids Akerfelds and presumably Rasma Vinakmens are seated across the table.

Zig was a close family friend to my grandmother and grandfather. It seems to be that he probably served in the US Army Labor Service Co. with my grandfather Arvids in Germany. I’m not entirely sure what town in Latvia he hailed from, but I believe he may have been a family friend even earlier than the Labor Service days.

He was born October 4, 1929 to Andrejs Melderis and Vilma Riekstins (“Melderis” means “Miller” and “Riekstins” means “little nuts”. He married Aija Latuns and immigrated to Canada after WWII. My grandmother Rasma went to live with Zig in Parry Sound in the late 1990′s, both being widowers. Zig was a wonderful man and I enjoyed many visits to his home in Parry Sound before his death from cancer in 2006, a year before my grandmother would also pass away from cancer.

His mother Vilma lived almost as long as he did – she was 102 years old at the time of her death in 2004(http://obitsforlife.com/obituary/114745/Melderis-Vilma.php), and was still healthy enough to have been living with Zig in Parry Sound until only a few months before her death, I believe.

Zigurds Melderis, Arvids Akerfelds and Karlis Vinakmens, enjoying brewing their own beer here in Kitchener, Ontario

Top: Vilma Riekstins, Berta Ozolins and Karlis Vinakmens. Bottom: Zigurds Melderis, Aija Latuns, Arvids Akerfelds and Rasma Vinakmens, in Kitchener, Ontario.