One of my latest projects has been indexing baptisms at Elkesem estate from 1799-1875. While tedious, this will provide me with a good understanding of who was living at what farm, who was who’s neighbour/landlord, and what families were ”originally” there as opposed to who moved in later. Prior to the 1850′s, laws were in place that made it very difficult for peasants to move from estate to estate. It is a rare occasion or circumstance when they did.
So, to see a baptism for a family name as early as 1834-36 (in Kurzeme) at a certain estate likely means that the original patriarch who was given the name during the naming process ”originated” there. And since surnames did not exist prior to that… you could say the surname “originated” there. From there you can look at the parents of the child being baptised, and what farm they lived on, and hopefully identify the same family pre-surnames but other, earlier baptisms at the same farms by couples with the same first names.
I may use this same method for Lieldzelda estate, to try and piece together my Grinbergs-Akerfelds family since the Embute church books from 1853-1870 are missing, as well as the Lieldzelda revision lists.
What It Is
There is a book titled “These Names Accuse: Nominal List of Latvians deported to Soviet Russia in 1940-1941″. It was published by the Latvian National Foundation (located in Stockholm, Sweden). The list of names is actually a list of people reported to the authorities in Riga as missing, either by their family members, or friends, or other members of the community.
When the Germans occupied Latvia and took control, organizations such as the Latvian Red Cross and the Latvian Statistical board were established, and tried to compile a list of those murdered by the Soviets and count the human losses. They asked the Latvian public to report those known to have been executed, or deported, or just missing. The first compilation was published in 1942, but reports continued to be received, and supplementary lists were added. As time wore on and the fates of some of those arrested became known, the fate of a person was also added in.
How You Can Use It
In addition to first and last names, the approximate birth date, registration/group number, last known address, and in some cases, the fate of the listed person is included.
The group number indicates under which circumstance the person was deported – the number 2 meant deportation occurred on the night of June 14, 1941. Number 3 meant they were arrested, then removed from prison. Number 4 meant the person had been missing since the collapse of the Russian Empire (this was mostly military personnel) who had been forcibly evacuated to Russia.
Since many of those listed here perished, you are more likely to find information on extended families of ancestors here. In my own experience I discovered brothers and sisters of direct ancestors, however their stories are important too, providing clues and puzzle pieces. Keep in mind that quite likely their arrest and deportation had a formative impact on the family and friends they left behind.
If you’d like to know more about these events: http://www.latvians.com/en/Reading/TheseNamesAccuse/ThNA-00-OurFamilies.php
The full list of names can be found here: http://www.latvietislatvija.com/These_Names_Accuse/These_Names_Accuse.htm
When you begin searching for information about your ancestors, religion can be a key clue. Many churches kept (and continue to keep) records of anyone baptised there, married there, or interred in their cemetery. Not being of any particular religious denomination myself, some religious terms can be fairly confusing (Christian, Protestant, Presbyterian, Orthodox, what’s the diff??), so I thought I’d take a stab at organizing these concepts, in some very, very basic layman’s terms (not explaining the hows or whys, that’s a huge job).
“Christianity” is sort of an umbrella term for a lot of other smaller groupings of religions that all share core beliefs based on the concepts contained in the Bible – the message of Jesus Christ. Within modern Christianity are three main divisions: “Catholicism”, “Orthodoxy” and “Protestantism”. Once upon a time, there was only one grouping, but as time went on, different people drew different meanings from the Bible, and many different sects developed. The first major split in belief systems is known as the “Great Schism”, which took place in the 11th century, in which Catholicism and Orthodoxy formed as separate identities. Protestantism branched off of Catholicism in the 16th century, this event was called “the Reformation”.
Within these three main divisions are smaller sects. Catholic and Orthodox sects are usually not all that different, and only have to do with nationality (ie “Ukrainian Orthodox”. I have to focus mainly on Protestantism here, since that is the grouping which pertains to my Latvian ancestors. Under the grouping of Protestantism are many different denominations. Sometimes “Protestantism” is used as sort of a catchall term to describe any Christian church that is not either Catholic or Orthodox, and there are many branches that have split off from this one. Under Protestantism, you can find these denominations:
Hopefully this helps a little with anyone else who is as confused about all these different religious denominational terms as I am! There are definitely religions not mentioned here and other subtleties, this is just a very broad and basic outline for genealogical research’s sake!