Ancestor Story: Arturs Akerfelds

Arturs Akerfelds, c. 1948

Arturs Akerfelds was born August 20, 1925 on Skrundenieki farm, Brinkenhof estate, the eldest child of Janis Akerfelds and Anna Ziverts. He was quite presumably named after his uncle Arturs Ziverts. He would have attended Nikrace pamatskola (pictured in this post: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/14/). Arturs would have spent his early years growing up mostly at Skrundenieki, although it’s possible that he spent some time in the early 1940’s working at other farms, as his younger brother Arvids Akerfelds did between 1942 and 1944.

When his family fled Latvia in October of 1944, of course he went with them, via Liepaja-Gotenhafen-Kelsterbach. Because he was of age at the time to be considered a single adult bachelor, he was separated from the rest of the Akerfelds crew for some time during their DP camp days. It appears that from Kelsterbach, he went to Bad Rotenfels, near Gaggenau, south of where the rest of the Akerfelds ended up (Echzell), from November of 1944 until May 1946 (from age 19 to age 20).

The Nazi’s had put together a camp in September of that year in Bad Rotenfels, that held forced labourers (mostly French) who worked in the Daimler-Benz factory. It is estimated that around 500 of them were killed. At some point, Arturs lost his right hand. Whether in some industrial accident, or as punishment from some Nazi officer, I don’t know. This must have been a terrible injury, as you can tell by his signature that he was likely right-handed to begin with, and had to learn to use his left.

After Bad Rotenfels, he rejoined his family at Dieburg, Darmstadt, Neustadt, and finally Augsburg in 1949. This is where he met a local Catholic girl, Luise Goettle, daughter of German WWI veteran and career house-painter Peter Paul Goettle and his second wife, Caecilia Hummel. Arturs and Luise were married on September 15, 1950 in Augsburg, less than a month after the rest of his family departed from Bremerhaven to resettle in the USA.

In his IRO Application, Arturs states that he would like to be resettled to the USA like the rest of his family,  and he did not want to be repatriated to his home country because of the Russian occupation. But, likely because Luise was not a displaced person and so could not be treated as such for resettlement to the USA, he was released into the German economy in February of 1951. And so Arturs and Luise remained in Augsburg, and had 3 children there: Brigitte, Anna and Artur.

Arturs Akerfelds passed away on January 20, 1998 in Augsburg.

Ancestor Story: Arturs Ziverts, Part 1

Arturs Ziverts was born November 15, 1901 at 6 in the evening, at Skrundenieki farm on Brinkenhof estate. He was the fourth child of Indriks Ziverts, a farmer, and his wife Jule Dzerve. He was baptised December 2, 1901 at Embute Parish Lutheran church. I haven’t figured out who it lists his godparents as yet…

(click to enlarge) Arturs Ziverts' baptismal Record

Arturs had many siblings, I know of 8 siblings thus far, born between 1896 and 1919 (Klaus, Fricis, Peteris, Arturs, Lucija, Anna, Olga, Ida). There is a 10 year gap in my knowledge of these siblings between 1905 and 1915 where Raduraksti’s churchbooks stop, so it is likely that there are even more. The 2 youngest siblings of Arturs, Olga and Ida born in 1915 and 1919, I know of from the 1935 census, as they were young enough to still be living at home at the time.

Arturs married Katte Akerfelds around 1925 (Possibly April 23, 1924, as this is the date she is recorded as living at Skrundenieki since). Around that same time, his little sister Anna married Katte’s brother Janis, who also began living at Skrundenieki, bringing his mother Ieva Sedols with him (It’s quite possible these 2 couples were married on the same day – the census of 1941 reads that Janis had been living at Skrundenieki since April 23, 1922, but it is hard to read, and Janis and Anna’s first son was not born until August of 1925, so I wonder if it actually reads “1924”).

In the interwar period (between WWI and WWII; 1918-1940), during Latvia’s independence, many reforms to the governmental and social systems were made, including a reform that allowed ownership of land to pass to the people, the peasants who worked on it, rather than greedy German land barons. It is probable that Skrundenieki came into Arturs’ father Indriks’ possession during this time, around the early 1920’s (Although as a side note, it is possible that with a surname like Ziverts in a fairly Germanized area with Siebert families around, Skrundenieki was in Indriks’ possession before the land reforms.. TBD). Indriks must have died somewhere between 1919, when his last child was born, and 1935 when the census was taken, because ownership of Skrundenieki had passed to Arturs by 1935. Why Arturs and not one of his 3 older brothers? I am not sure, and I don’t know where the brothers ended up either, although Arturs does say that some brothers had been deported to Siberia in an IRO document later on.

Arturs and Katte had 8 children – three boys and five girls, the eldest was a son born in October of 1927. Three of their children, born in 1933, 1942 and 1944, were born in Liepaja. The latter was born during their flight from Latvia with the retreating German army, but the two in 1933 and 1942 require some special consideration. I can’t really figure out why Arturs and Katte would have left their farm for a brief period to go to Liepaja twice. They returned to Skrundenieki shortly after the births, both times. So what were they doing in Liepaja for a year or two? I am not quite sure yet!

Hunting for Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds

My mind has once again wandered to Jekabs Akerfelds and his origins (more putting off of combing the Tukums church books!). I was reading about Latvian migrations from the 19

th century until the present and it got me thinking about how Jekabs’ fourth child Martins was born in Tomsk, Russia in 1902. I wonder, if perhaps my Janis was actually born in Nikrace/Brinki in 1898, as his documents say, but maybe baptized in Tomsk as well, which would explain why I can’t find his baptismal record. Were there Lutheran churches in Siberia in the early 1900’s? Were they baptized Orthodox? Do records exist from the Tomsk area at that time?

The 1895 Russian Census took place between 1895 and 1897… did this family somehow slip by the census? It started in central Russia in 1895 and was taken in Latvia in 1897. I know the Akerfelds were in Embute parish as late as 1895, as their daughter Anna is baptized there. Did they move to Russia somewhere between 1895 and 1899?

The way I see it, there are still a few resources I could exhaust before throwing up my hands in the search for Jekabs at this time:
1.       Find out if Tomsk church records, or vital records exist and how I can access them.
2.       See if I can find an online way to search the 1895 Russian census outside of Latvia, and check Tomsk.

Perhaps one of these sources will give me more hints as to where to begin searching for Jekabs…

Wedding Wednesday: Arvids Martins Akerfelds and Rasma Lilija Vinakmens

Arvids Martins Akerfelds and Rasma Lilija Vinakmens were married August 10, 1957 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

In this picture, besides immediate family members: Zigurds Melderis, Ansis and Mudite Berzins, Janis and Eleonore Zommers, family friend Peteris Skrastins and Alfons Preiss.

The decals and license plates on the closer car says Racine, Wisconsin – this must have belonged to Rasma’s Vinakmens cousins from Racine! (Nice ride!)

Google Search: Akerfelds

Naturally, one of the first steps I took when I started researching my Latvian roots years ago was Googling “Akerfelds”. When you do this, you are hit with a slew of pages about Darrel Akerfelds, current bullpen coach for the San Diego Padres and former pitcher for several other MLB teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. Darrel is one of Janis Akerfelds and Anna Ziverts’ grandchildren, and Arvids’ nephew: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=akerfda01

You will come across another 2 names of sporty Akerfelds girls in the US who are not descendants of Janis and Anna. However, their Akerfelds ancestor does hail from the Nikrace/Embute area. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out exactly which Akerfelds puzzle piece he would belong to just yet, as the original Akerfelds man in that line died at a young age and left his wife Marija Rabovics and 2 sons behind. These three do appear on the 1935 and 1941 censuses, but there is no name for the husband/father Akerfelds, since he was passed away. It could have feasibly been Janis’ brother Ernests, of whose fate I don’t yet know. It was someone of that generation, and was likely a son of either Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols, or Ernests Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and his wife Annlise (more about them in a previous post: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/akerfelds-puzzle-pieces)

Tombstone Tuesday: Karlis and Berta Vinakmens

This is the headstone of Karlis and Berta Vinakmens, in Parkview Cemetery, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My opa Karlis lived to be 88 years old, and oma Berta was 91 when she passed.
You can see the oak leaves Karlis was so fond of carving on the left top corner, and a rose on top of oak leaves on the top right (perhaps for Berta’s love of flowers and gardening?).
The cross with the sunburst in the middle of the headstone is the symbol of the New Apostolic church, which Karlis and Berta converted to whilst here in Ontario.
The words “Vieglas Smiltas” literally translate to “Light Sands” which my mother tells me has a “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” type meaning.

OId Photo: A Latvian Reunion?

This is an old photo that belonged to my grandmother Rasma. There is no information anywhere on the back of it. I believe it was taken in Canada, judging by the look of age of my grandfather Arvids Akerfelds. These men are all Latvians… Arvids is 2nd from the left, top row. The 2nd from the left in the bottom row is a man named Zigurds Melderis, who I would eventually get to know much better than my own grandfather.

Back row: unknown, Arvids Akerfelds, Alfreds Taube, Antons Pizans, unknown, unknown, Mr. Karnupis, unknown, Peteris Skrastins, unknown, unknown, Janis Ozols

Front row: unknown (Melderis?), Zigurds Melderis, Niks Beinarovics, Ansis Berzins, Alfons Preiss

1st My best guess is this is some kind of ex Labor Service Co. get-together? What are the guns all about? Was this possibly taken at a Latvian club such as Sidrabene, which my grandparents used to attend?

I’d love to know what this photo was all about, or who all the people in it are!

Sidrabene:

http://www.standrewslatvian.org/sidrabene/

***UPDATE***

According to my great-aunt, the local Latvians would have a yearly competition, sort of like track-and-field but involving marksmanship, and her guess is that this photo was taken at one such competition.