I discovered today that the large mansion that my family stayed at in Freiburg post-WWII was called Bērzaine. Owned by the Daugavas Vanagi at the time, it appears to have been used to house injured or “invalid” Baltic displaced people or soldiers (or US Labor Service men and their families?).
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!
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.
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.
Ans Hakenfeld, son of Ernests and Madde, born in 1908 at Skrunda. Living at Skudrites farm at the time of confirmation in 1925!
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!
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?).
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!