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″

Mystery Monday: Akerfelds in Tomsk

Currently I’m emailing back and forth with someone in Russia about old church records from Tomsk. The email address I obtained by posting a query on http://genforum.genealogy.com/. I’m hoping that Jekabs and Ieva Akerfelds baptised their son Martins in Tomsk in 1902, (and possibly even my great-grandfather Janis) leaving behind some records. They were Lutheran in Latvia, but chances are a Lutheran church did not exist in Siberian Tomsk at the time, so I’m banking on at least some form of Protestant church being located there, in a mainly Orthodox country.

Obviously, English being my only fluent language, speaking Russian (a language that even uses a different alphabet all together) is not my forte. I seem to get by with the aid of Google Translate, (as crude as that is). Google Translate seems to be pretty easy to use for Russian, as long as you stay away from using any sort of slang and keep to your point. I am also lucky enough to work with a man who speaks Russian, so every now and then I ask him to get me through any difficult translations. I am to the point where I can look at a word written in Cyrillic and sound it out, but that knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is about as far as I get, without a good grasp on the actual Russian language.

This Russian contact of mine is very quick to respond, usually in one business day, although the email comes over night, since Tomsk is pretty much literally on the other side of the world.

Wish me luck that this Russian resource turns up some Akerfelds evidence! Maybe a clue to what exactly they were doing in Siberia!

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.

Old Photo: Where is This Rollercoaster?

Do YOU know where this rollercoaster is??

This is a picture of my grandparents Arvids Akerfelds and Rasma Vinakmens. On the back of this photo is written “Mai 1955″, so they were definitely in Germany. Arvids looks like he is still serving in the Labor Service, although where he was stationed at this time I do not know. Some of my grandmother’s other photos from around this time period are labelled “Freiburg”. I haven’t been able to find any information about where this rollercoaster might have been!

Place of Interest: Tomsk, Siberia

 

Tomsk (English), Томск (Russian)

Tomsk is the largest city in Tomsk Oblast, Russia. It is named for the river on which it is situated, the Tom. Officially founded in 1604, it is one of the oldest cities in Siberia.

Tomsk Oblast within Russia

Gold was discovered in Tomsk in (he 1830′s and mining operations soon set up camp, which helped bolster the economy and growth. However, the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed Tomsk in favor of Novosibirsk to the south, and with it went the development boom in the area.

The Trans-Siberian Railway route

When the Akerfelds family was here around the year 1900, Tomsk was a growing city, with two new universities (Tomsk State University, the oldest in Siberia, founded in 1887 and Tomsk Polytechnic University, the oldest technical university in Siberia, founded in 1900).

Old wooden houses in Tomsk

Ancestor Story: Janis Akerfelds, Part 1

Janis Akerfelds, c. 1948

Janis Akerfelds was born on September 27, 1898 supposedly in Nikrace. He was (likely) the third child of Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols.

Shortly after his birth his family went to Tomsk, a city and also a district (oblast) in Siberia (I am not sure if they mean the city or the oblast). Presumably this was due to Jekabs working either on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which was a huge project underway at the time, or possibly working as a miner, as Tomsk was the site of many mineral resources, including gold.

In any case, their Siberian adventure did not last for long. Jekabs took ill, maybe from harsh conditions, hard labour, freezing winters, etc. By 1904, the family had returned to Embute parish, where 5-year-old Janis lost his father Jekabs in July of 1904 at age 34, with either lung or kidney disease listed as the cause. He left behind a 6-month-pregnant Ieva, and Janis’ sister Katte was born that November at Cepli farm, the fifth and final child of Jekabs and Ieva.

After this, the story is a little unclear about where Ieva and her children went. Janis attended elementary school in Nikrace from 1907 to 1913, but his younger sister Katte attended “grundschule” somewhere in Estonia in 1917. At some point, Ieva’s surname changed to Blazges (and I have found Blaschge families in the Embute parish church books) so perhaps she remarried, and was widowed again.

The family must have returned to Nikrace once again by 1924, as Janis married Anna Ziverts sometime around this year (April 23, the date he is listed as beginning to live at Skrundenieki?) and they welcomed their first child Arturs in August of 1925.

Janis and Anna had 14 children in total, 10 of which ended up in Colorado, USA, 1 in Ontario, Canada, 1 in Augsburg, Germany and two daughters perished in Latvia at a young age. One was named Elvina, she was born in 1929 and appears on the 1941 census, but is gone by the time the family fled Latvia. The story is that at age 12 she stepped on a rusty nail and died of tetanus. The other daughter is said to have fallen off a chair, hit her head and perished as an infant.

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…