Document: Janis Sedols

I’ve been hitting the documents on Raduraksti hard lately, compiling a database and attempting to connect the dots between baptisms, marriages, deaths and revision lists. I’ve been ignoring posting a little bit I suppose. I’ve been gaining a knowledge of the revision lists and am beginning to understand them better – which is a huge help, because they really do contain a lot of information.

Just to recap – the revision lists were basically lists of inhabitants of estates for tax purposes, almost like a census (the first of which for Latvia came later, in 1897). Usually on an estate, there were anywhere from 5ish to 40+farms, which would be numbered. The inhabitants of each farm were recorded in 1857/1858, 1850, 1835, 1816 and 1811. Not all years have survived for all estates, but the 1857/1858 (10th revision) seems pretty constant between all the estates that I am dealing with, so this is the one I will refer to most for now.

Here’s a revision list that pertains to my great-great-great grandfather Janis Sedols. Janis is the father of Ieva Sedols. According to his marriage record to Madde Strohmann, he was born at “Strebuki” farm, near Kalvene. Without further ado…

Kalna privātmuiža(Berghof) Revision List for Janis Sedols

 

I’ll do my best to transcribe: “hinzugekommen” means “added”, so these people listed above were coming to Berghof (Kalnamuiza) from other estates.

“Wo nach der ordnung der revision list vom jahre 1858 gegenwartig hinzugekommen” = “Where, according to the arrangement of the revision-list from years 1858 presently added” Basically, what farm within the estate are these people now living at.

Tauf, Vater, und Familien-Namen” = “Baptismal, Father’s and Family Name”.

“Von wo hinzugekommen”  the literal translation is “added by where” but I believe it should be “added from where”

The small 4 columns on the right pertain to age.

Alright, so my Janis is at the top of this list. In 1865, he began living at Kalna farm, which in the 1857/1858 revision was designated farm #10. His family number is 13 – families were also given designated numbers in the 1858/1857 revision – there were no Sedols living at Kalnamuiza estate then, but the family number of 13 was given to the “Jansons” family. Whether or not this means Janis was related to the Jansons (there were a ton of Jansons in the area) I have not decided yet. His baptismal and family name are included, but unfortunately they omitted his father’s name (which I believe to be Kristaps anyway, from his marriage record). He came from Kazdangas estate, north and west of Kalnamuiza and is aged 22 years.

His marriage record to Madde Strohmann is found in the Valtaiki Lutheran parish book in the same year – 1865, and their first child, my great-great grandmother Ieva (as well as her brother Janis in 1871) was born in 1869 at Kalnamuiza estate, Jaunzemji farm.

Ideally I would be able to go to the Kazdangas estate revision lists now with this knowledge, and look for Janis, but the books are mostly missing from this estate. Knowing that he was 22 in 1865 mens that I can go back through the Valtaiki Lutheran church books and search for his baptism in 1843ish, but I am not entirely sure I will find it, or if Strebuki/Kalvene inhabitants attended Valtaiki, or if it was a different church.

Wish me luck!

 

Inspiration: Darrel Akerfelds

Darrel is a grandson of Janis Akerfelds and Anna Ziverts (a cousin of my mother) who I’ve never personally me (blame WWII for scattering the Akerfelds family across Germany, Canada and the USA in the 1950’s). Nonetheless, he and his family have been in my thoughts since I first heard news of his battle.

Normally I’d try to write something up about this, but this article does a better job detailing Darrel’s inspirational life’s story than I could hope to:

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7318959/san-diego-padres-bullpen-coach-darrel-akerfelds-too-b

Ancestor Story: Ieva Sedols, Akerfelds Family Matriarch

Ieva Sedols (my great, great-grandmother) was born January 31, 1869 in Sieksate pagast according to the 1935 and 1941 Latvian censuses. Sieksate is north and west of Nikrace, just a little west of the area’s largest settlement -Skrunda. When I began looking for her baptism record, I searched the Skrunda parish church books since that is the closest large congregation I was aware of in the area, but turned up unsuccessful. Not sure where else to look, I put Ieva Sedols on the backburner for a while.

Until now! With a slightly better understanding on Latvian geography than before, I took a second look and noticed Valtaiki draudze (Neuhausen in German), checked and…
Success! Ieva Sedols, daughter of Janis Sedols and Madde, nee Strohmann of Jaunsemm farm in Berghof estate (Jaunzemji in Kalnmuiza {“Berg” “hof” = “hill” “house” = “kaln” “muiza”}). These church books are very faded and hard to read. Born January 31, 1869 and baptised February 9, 1869 at Valtaiki. Godparents are Ieva Strohmann (maiden), Lise ….ming? and Mikelis Sedols (youth).
Here she is:

Ieva married Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds in 1892 at Embute Lutheran church. This couple had 5 children: Ernests, Anna, Janis, Martins (born in Tomsk, Siberia) and Katte, before Jekabs died at age 34, leaving Ieva a young widow, living at Cepli farm in Lieldzelda with her 5 children.

(click to enlarge) Jekabs and Ieva's marriage record

Ieva remarried in 1908, to another widower named Janis Blazges. I don’t know if this couple had any children. Janis passed away sometime before 1935, and Ieva was a widow again, living with her son and daughter at Skrundenieki at the time of the 1935 and 1941 Latvian censuses.

(click to enlarge) Ieva's 2nd marriage to Janis Blazges in 1908, 4 years after Jekab's death

When her fellow family living at Skrundenieki were forced to leave their home to go to Germany, Ieva was not with them. My guess is she passed away in Nikrace sometime between mid 1941 and October of 1944.

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/roadblock-akerfelds/

Ancestor Story: Where in the World is Jule Dzerve?

Jule Dzerve, mother of Arturs and Anna Ziverts was born December 29, 1877 in Purmsati pagast in western Latvia. Her parents were Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner (her father’s name, a traditional Latvian one but her mother’s sounds more typically German). She was baptised “Jenny Jule Ida Dzerve” at the Gramzdas German Lutheran parish church. She married Indriks Ziverts June 18, 1895 (or so we can assume, since that is the date she began living at Skrundenieki farm {info gleaned from the 1941 Latvian Census}). She had 9 children that I know of: Karlis, Peteris, Fricis, Arturs, Lucija, Anna, Arnolds, Olga and Ida.
When her husband Indriks passed away (somewhere between 1920 and 1935), her son Arturs inherited the farm and was responsible for her care and upkeep for life, as per his father’s will and testament (also pinched from the 1941 Latvian Census).
Of course, she fled with her family in October of 1944. She turned 67 years old that year, and this must have been a very difficult journey for a senior citizen. She was with the Ziverts clan in Gotenhaufen/Kelsterbach/Friedberg/Bidingen/Dieburg between 1944 and 1946, and the last recording I have of her is a record of her leaving Dieburg for Darmstadt on October 21, 1946.
In most documents from the ITS I received about her, she is listed with Arturs, Katte and their children, but herself, Olga and Ida are usually listed after the main family, and may have had to fill out some of their paperwork separately as single persons.

Arturs and family left Germany in March of 1949, I know that since I have the SS General Langfitt’s Passenger Manifest. But no Jule, Olga, Irma or Ida.
I do also have a form that states that Olga and Irma were successfully resettled, going from Hochfeld DP Camp in Augsburg to Calesburg, North Dakota, USA on December 6, 1949. Why didn’t Irma go with her parents, Arturs and Katte? And what of Ida? (I remember reading somewhere that something was wrong with Ida and she could not work hard labor. I can’t remember where I read this and can’t find it again – can’t stress enough to importance of keeping your records straight!)
My theory is that Jule perished while in Germany. She would have been around 70 years old, in forced labor camps on tight rations. I just don’t know if she ever made it to the USA with her family.
I have written the ITS again regarding Jule… awaiting response..

A snippet from Arturs Ziverts IRO Assistance Application

A snippet from Arturs Ziverts IRO Assistance Application

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/

Roadblock: Akerfelds

Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds is Arvids’ grandfather. He was born c. 1870, but as to where, I still have no clue. He married Ieva Sedols in 1892 at Embute Lutheran Church, where they baptised 2 children: Ernest in 1893 and Anna in 1894 while living at Muizaraji farm in Lieldzelda. Then the family disappears until 1904. Their son Janis (Arvids’ father) was born in 1898, supposedly in Nikrace parish (which did not exist at the time, but was rather called Brinki, or Brinkenhof estate)but I cannot find his baptismal record.

The next brother, Martins (for whom Arvids is named) is lrecorded as being born in 1902 in Tomsk, Siberia. It is noted that some Latvians did go to Siberia (voluntarily this time, not forcibly!) for work, and cheap land around 1910 when the Trans-Siberian railway was built, but alas, I have no documents from the Akerfelds family at this time. Church baptismal records do exist in Tomsk, but getting my hands on them is proving to be a challenge.

The next I know is their last child Katte was baptised in November of 1904, back in Embute parish while living at Cepli farm in Lieldzelda, and that same year Jekabs died, his cause of death listed as lung or kidney illness.

I don’t know where to begin searching for a birth record for Jekabs since I don’t know his place of birth, and can’t find listing of his parents anywhere. The exact reason why he went by Grinbergs and yet also Akerfelds is still a mystery to me also. “Grinbergs” is a fairly common surname though, and it is easily assumed that “Akerfelds” was chosen as a way to distinguish a certain family from the other, unrelated Grinbergs families in the area.

 I believe Jekabs had at least one other brother named Ernest, for whom his first son was named, and who was the godfather of his first son. This Ernest Grinbergs alias Akerfelds (c. 1868) married Annlise Grinbergs and they had a few children in Embute parish, Janis’ cousins they would have been. Again, note that during the naming of the Latvians, many different, unrelated families were given the same common names, Grinbergs being one of these common choices. So, probably Annlise and Ernest were not of the same ancestors, even though they shared the Grinbergs surname.

The Akerfelds name though, if chosen to differentiate one Grinbergs family from another, is much less common, since it is basically invented. Since both Jekabs and Ernest chose this new surname to define their families, it is not a far stretch to assume these two were brothers.

Organization: The US Army Labor Service Co.

This is the topic I’m just beginning to research, and am quite new to. The long and short of what I know so far is, when the DP Camps closed shop, the US Army hired Germans and other DP’s to help repair war torn Europe, and sometimes keep security watch. I am finding relatively little information regarding this time period – suprising, because you would think that because it was the US Army, there would be immaculate records kept somewhere.

Both Arvids Martins Akerfelds and his soon-to-be father-in-law Karlis Vinakmens found employment in the Labor Service Co (LSC). Is this why they stayed in Germany after the majority of their families had been accepted to the US and Canada? Perhaps they were denied immigration rights, or were low on the priority list since they had already been accepted for immigration to Belgium as coal miners. Whatever the reason, Karlis and family would stay in Germany, employed by the Labor Service until 1956 and Arvids until 1957.

It seems that Balts (Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians) were fairly highly regarded by the US Army. They had special insignias and patches distinguishing them from others, and units of strictly Balts. Also it looks like they were living significantly more luxuriously than while in DP Camps.

Karlis was a part of the 7566 LSC from 1951 onwards, and Arvids the 7132 LSC from 1950. Both units were stationed at Mannheim-Kafertal at the time, and then later Ettlingen near the city of Karlsruhe. More about Allied-occupied Germany here: ‘http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/places-of-interest-allied-occupied-germany/

 The 7566 LSC were active sportsmen and upheld a sense of Latvian community and culture for themselves and their families. A chapter of the “Daugavas Vanagi”, a charitable Latvian  refugee relief organization was established amongst the men. In their spare time, they held organized concerts and lectures, as well as sporting events. They were the first LSC unit to begin building apartments and housing for their families in Germany. I cannot say much aout the 7132 unit yet, but one would assume that their story is similar, being a twin Latvian unit stationed at the same location.

Here is a site of interest on the topic:
http://www.usfava.com/LaborService/
http://www.usfava.com/LaborService/baltic.htm

Ancestor Story: Akerfelds Fremdarbeiter

When I first pieced together the story of the Akerfelds family and the manner in which they left their farm Skrundenieki in October of 1944 to flee to a sawmill in Echzell, I assumed they left on their own will as they watched the Soviet army march back through Latvia, and fled to the sawmill of Hermann Mogk III, some sort of temporary safe-haven for refugees. A sawmill in the German countryside brought pastoral, green, peaceful thoughts to me, but the more I learn, the more I see this is probably very far from the case.

Many young Latvian men were drafted by the German army as the Russians began pushing them back west. It is entirely possible that the older Akerfelds boys were drafted and used to man anti-Allied, anti-aircraft guns. I have no documentation supporting the Akefelds involvement in this, but perhaps being a part of the German army was not something you would have advertised in days as a displaced person. This could help explain why the Ziverts were in Liepaja periodically as well.

This conscription of Latvians into the German army could also explain the mystery of Karlis and the three armies, but until I learn more I will not jump to any conclusions just yet.

In either case, German army or not, the Akerfelds were most certainly forced to evacuate to Germany by the German army, to be used as foreign forced labourers in the German homeland.

The sawmill was not the safe haven it seemed to me at first. The family was probably used to help gather resources to support the German cause during the war. Reading about eldest son Arturs time at forced labor camp Bad Rotenfels brought this situation to light for me.

Luckily, it was not long before Hitler committed suicide and the Germans surrendered. Echzell became occupied by the American army in May 1945, thus “liberating” the foreign forced workers(“fremdarbeiter”) and beginning their days as “displaced persons”.

…So what became of Skrundenieki, forcibly abandoned in the countryside of Kurzeme in the fall of 1944?

An excerpt from Arturs Ziverts' IRO Application, re-telling his story. The Akerfelds story is the same, except when the Ziverts were in Friedberg, the Akerfelds were in Echzell.

Tombstone Tuesday: Arvids and Rasma Akerfelds

 

The headstone of my grandparents Arvids and Rasma. Located in Woodland Cemetery, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. This headstone was not put into place until Rasma’s death in 2007. Another smaller marker at the foot of the plot was installed when Arvids died, 25 years earlier in 1982. I did not take a picture of Arvids’ smaller stone, although I suppose I should have and will in the near future! Karlis Vinakmens’ favoured oak leaves are carved at the top corners, and their marriage date is featured on the intertwined rings in the middle. The rest is self-explanatory.