Ancestor Story: Arvids Akerfelds

1. Early Life

Arvids Martins Akerfelds was born on September 30th, 1927 at “Skrundenieki” farm in Nikrace, the second of fourteen children born to Janis Akerfelds and his wife Anna (nee Ziverts). Skrundenieki was owned by Anna’s brother Arturs Ziverts at this time, and there were nine people residing there: Arvids, his parents, and his older brother named Arturs (presumably for Arturs Ziverts), his uncle and aunt (Arturs Ziverts married Katte [nee Akerfelds], two Akerfelds siblings married two Ziverts siblings), their first child Alberts, and finally both his widowed paternal and maternal grandmothers, Jule Ziverts (nee Dzerve) and Ieva Akerfelds (nee Sedols).

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. 1940 in Latvia

Between the first and second World Wars, Latvia underwent some drastic political and social changes, including writing a new Constitution, establishing a Parliament (called the Saeima) and electing Latvia’s first president, Janis Cakste. A new influential political party was also formed, called the Latvian Farmer’s Union, headed by Karlis Ulmanis which helped pass reforms to divide State property which had once been owned by German landowners and make it available to Latvian peasants who could now own the land they lived and worked on. This boosted agriculture greatly in Latvia, which in turn helped boost the economy even through the worldwide Great Depression in the 1930’s. The number of farms increased significantly. Latvia began producing electronics, cars and even airplanes.

The Ziverts and Akerfelds families grew rapidly in this peaceful time. A census was taken in 1935, at which time the number of residents at Skrundenieki had grown to 20, all Akerfelds or Ziverts, except for one Arons Tevlovs, listed as a cattle buyer and seller. Perhaps he was a migrant worker of some kind. Arvids would have worked on the farm as a child, like everyone else living there, and he attended the equivalent of elementary school at the Nikrace pamatskola from 1936 to 1943 (ages 9-16) with his many brothers and sisters and cousins. Another census was taken in 1941, showing 24 residents (Tevlovs was gone).

2. “Displaced Person”

By mid 1939 however, the situation in Latvia had severely bleakened. On October 5, 1939, Latvia was forced to sign a “mutual assistance” pact with the Soviet Union, which gave the Soviets permission to station 25,000 troops on Latvian territory. On June 16, 1940, The Russians accused the Latvians of violating the terms of their pact. The very next day, the Soviet army took control and occupied Latvia. A rigged election was staged, and a puppet government was put into place. On August 5th, 1940 Latvia was officially annexed by the USSR. Arvids would have seen at least one of his uncle’s entire family deported by Soviet officials who had taken over the government to Siberian gulags (forced labor camps), mostly for being supportive of the Farmer’s Union political party. These families would not return.

With WWII in full-scale, the Germans invaded and occupied Latvia between 1941 and 1944. Compared to the terrors of the Soviet regime, the Germans would have appeared to be the lesser of the two evils to some Latvians. German military forces managed to push the Russian forces back east, and retained control of western Kurzeme in Latvia until mid 1944. Being occupied by Nazi German military forces was actually good news for the Akerfelds/Ziverts, as luck would have it, this allowed them to escape from Latvia before the horrific Soviet regime took control once again.

In early October of 1944, Arvids and the rest of the growing Skrundenieki clan were forced to leave their home and flee west, as the Soviet army made it’s way through Latvia from the east. Both Anna and Katte were pregnant, 7 and 9 months respectively. The clan stopped for a few days in the large, German-occupied port town of Liepaja, where Katte gave birth to the seventh Ziverts child. On October 23, 1944, the German military forcibly evacuated the group to Gotenhafen, a major German-controlled port town that is now known as Gdansk, Poland. Here they were put in a camp for foreign workers, but only for days before being transferred to a gathering camp at Kelsterbach, Germany. Another few days later, in November 1944, the Akerfelds family went to Echzell, Germany, where the men were employed at a sawmill owned by Hermann Mogk III. They were separated from the Ziverts for a while at this time. Here Anna had the twelfth Akerfelds child, and here they stayed until they were liberated by the US Army in July of 1945.

In September of 1945, WWII was officially ended, and in October the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) took on full responsibility for all those who had been displaced by the war. “Displaced Persons” camps were set up all over Europe to house these people until they could be repatriated. At this time, Arvids’ father was employed by the US Army as labourers in Wiesbaden, Germany, presumably helping to rebuild damaged infrastructure in the area. Arvids himself was employed as a labourer by the Wiesbaden DP Camp. The family next found themselves in Bidingen in February of 1946 and Dieburg in May. In October of 1946, Arvids was employed as a lumberjack by the DP Camp in Darmstadt. Here he stayed with his family, his father employed by the US Army once again as a bricklayer until 1947.

3. Belgian Coal Miner

The UNRRA tried to repatriate all displaced persons, but many would not (or could not, depending on your viewpoint) return to their country of origin. Many Latvians, in particular, did not wish to return toLatvia because it was still under Soviet control. Most other countries were reluctant to accept huge numbers of refugees, but on January 23, 1947 the Belgian Government, the US military authorities and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees established a framework for the resettlement in Belgium of displaced persons currently in the American zone in Germany and guarantee them employment in the Belgian coalmines. Arvids took this opportunity, whether by choice or force I am not sure. He left his family in the DP Camp in Germany and went to Waterschei, (now called Genk) Belgium. The story is that he met his future father-in-law here, but I can’t find proof of this yet, as Karlis Vinakmens was living in Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont and worked in different mines.

He worked in the coal mines until August of 1949 when (for reasons yet unknown to me), he illegally returned to Germany and wound up in the Hanau transit camp. Why he returned to Germany is speculation, but his parents and youngest ten siblings had been cleared for resettlement in the USA in May 1949, and it’s possible he returned to try to go with them, or at least see them off. At Hanau, there was a vocational training centre for displaced persons, but I am unsure if he received any training. He was at Hanau until at least January of 1950. His parents and all siblings, save for his elder brother Arturs, left Germany from the port of Bremerhaven, aboard the SS General Harry Taylor on August 19th, 1950, bound for Berthoud, Colorado. Whether he was able to see them beforehand or not, I do not know.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, taken from a document recorded upon his return to Germany in 1949

4. Labor Service Days

Arvids was in Germany for the second time from 1950-1957 working for the US Army Labor Service Co.  He was a part of the 7132 LSC, stationed first at Mannheim-Kafertal, Germany, then Ettlingen,Germany at the Rheinland Kaserne. This was a transport unit, and it was tied in closely with the 7566 LSC. More on the 7566 and 7132 LSC here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/ancestor-story-karlis-vinakmens/

Apparently Arvids’ job with the Labour Service Co at this time involved driving important figures to sports games, meetings, and other events. One of the items in my grandmother’s possession at the time of her death was his German “Furherschein”  like a driver’s license, and a document titled “Reiseausweis” which seems to be some sort of passport, supporting this story. My grandmother also had a lot of photos of Arvids in his Labor Service days. A gallery is here: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/old-photos-labor-service/

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, from his German "Fuhrerschein"

Near the end of his Labor Service days, Arvids was living in close quarters to Karlis Vinakmens, his wife Berta and their 3 daughters. The story is that Karlis Vinakmens asked some sort of refugee authority for some money to purchase a farm, or a large manor house to be used as housing for the LSC men and their families. A large mansion was purchased and split into apartments. While living in such accommodations, Arvids and Karlis’ oldest daughter Rasma fell in love. Sometimes, Arvids would climb out of his apartment’s window to climb onto a balcony that led to Rasma’s window, and they would meet this way.

5. Canada

When the Vinakmens left for resettlement in Canada in 1956, Arvids, who originally had hoped to join his family in Colorado, decided to try and switch his VISA application to Canada instead, to follow Rasma. This took time and he was not able to leave for Canada until the end of January 1957.  In the meantime, during their separation, he and Rasma became engaged inter-continentally, via the mail. Arvids sent Rasma a silver-toned ring with his initials, “A.A.” engraved on it, and he wore one with her initials “R.V.”.

What is really interesting about Arvids’ trip to Canada is that he did not travel on a boat, as was par for course for displaced persons at the time, but on a plane. The money for his ticket was loaned to his future father-in-law Karlis Vinakmens by a Latvian-Canadian man in Kitchener, a family friend named “Kurmis”, which Arvids eventually paid back once he was employed in Canada. http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/lockheed-super-constellation-dalid/

Arvids married Rasma Vinakmens on August 10, 1957, seven months after being reunited with her in Canada. (http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/wedding-wednesday-arvids-martins-akerfelds-and-rasma-lilija-vinakmens/).The pair welcomed their first of three daughters, Irida one year later.

Arvids worked for a company called GenLabor based out of Waterloo, Ontario at first. I believe he was involved with construction for the duration of his stay in Canada, and he was a foreman for MWM construction company at the time of his death in 1982. While on the job, he perished after choking on a piece of celery from his soup he had brought for lunch. The circumstances of his death are sort of shady, it was not just the celery that killed him, he also had an enlarged heart and a few other contributing factors that ultimately led to his death at age 54. Arvids died on April 16, 1982, leaving behind his widow Rasma, and three daughters, ages 23, 15 and 13.

Arvids Martins Akerfelds, c. September 1957 in Kitchener, Ontario

http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/tombstone-tuesday-arvids-and-rasma-akerfelds/

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/

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″

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 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!

Timeline: Indriks Ziverts

**update: I have decided that this is not the birth record of Indriks Ziverts. The surname looks to me more like “Strasds” or something to the like. There’s more of this surname in Embute. The rest of the info about Indriks here is accurate, but I do believe the search for his baptismal record is back on**

Indriks Straute

 

To me, it looks like this record has some Russian cyrillic letters mixed in with the German, but Indriks, as well as everyone else listed on the page has a “someone Von Lundberg” named in their baptism. A landowner/baron? The pastor? Sounds pretty German to me, so that would be my best guess. Along with Von Lundberg, I can make out Lize Berzins, and Indriks and Bille Jankowski (sp?) Jankowski is a guess, but there are other Jankowskis in the area. These 3 are godparents I assume? Not very helpful just yet but they may be good clues later.

Indriks married Jule Dzerve around 1895. From then on, they resided at Skrundenieki (according to the 1941 census).

Their first child, Klavs Schanis (sp?) was born one day in April 1896 at 11pm, at Skrundenieki. (I haven’t made out the exact day yet). He was baptised at Embute. His parents are both listed as Lutheran, and his godparents are Klavs Schanis Ziverts and Karlis Jekabsons.

Their second child Peteris was born November 28, 1897 at 10 am. He was baptised December 26, 1897 at Embute and his godparents were Peteris Ziverts, Karlis Jekabsons and Lawise Dzerve.

Their third child Fricis was born June 9, 1900 at 5am. He was baptised June 24, 1900 at Embute.

Their fourth child Arturs was born November 2, 1901 at 7pm. He was baptisted December 2, 1901 at Embute.

Their fifth child Lucija was born in Agugust of 1904 at 6pm (havent made out the day yet). She was baptised that October at Embute.

There were more children, the youngest, Ida was born in 1919 I believe. Again their birth information does not yield much useful information yet, but the godparents may be helpful later when I know more.

Combing through the Embute church books from 1852 back seems to be my only lead. I may finally have to take a crack at the revision lists on Raduraksti too. It does look positive that I may be able to find the next generation here. All I need to do is find the time to go through the records!

Blog: Nigrande to Priekule

http://walkacrosslatvia2008.blogspot.com/2008/08/day-22-past-nigrande-to-priekule.html

I just stumbled across this blog by accident. This man walked across Latvia from east to west, and happened to go right through the Akerfelds/Ziverts home county. Check out some of his pictures and read his tale! Nikrace and Embute are between Nigrande and Priekule.

Places of Interest: Skrundenieki

Farmsteads in Latvia were given names, much like some farms you might find in the Canadian countryside today (Green Acres, Mapleview Farms, etc). The names were chosen in a similar way as well. They were named after nearby surroundings, people, type of farming, etc.

“Skrundenieki” was a farmstead in modern-day Nikrace pagast, olden-time Brinkenhof/Gross Altdorf estate located in the Aizpute district of the province of Kurzeme. The name means “people from Skrunda”, Skrunda being the largest nearby city. (Possibly a clue that the original owners were from Skrunda? I have yet to prove.) It was listed as “vecsaimnieciba” or old, established farm on the census form of 1935, and was spring-fed. The farm existed since at least the early 1800’s and probably even earlier.

My great-great grandfather Indriks Ziverts owned Skrundenieki at one point. The earliest I can prove his residence there is 1894. The baptism of his first child has he and his family recorded as residing there. During Latvia’s independence in the 1920’s, laws were passed that allowed Latvian peasants to purchase property much more easily, and it is perfectly possible that this is when Indriks would have become the owner of Skrundenieki.

Prior to 1925, Nikrace as a pagast did not exist, and the area was known as Brinki, from the nearby Brinkenhof manor/estate. (Side note: the old building that was Brinkenhof manor is currently for sale)

The residents of Nikrace attended Embute parish Lutheran church, (now in ruins) and the children would have attended Nikrace pamatskola (elementary school). At least 3 generations of my Latvian ancestors lived at Skrundenieki. My great-grandfather, Arturs Zīverts inherited the farm after his father Indriks passed, and most of his children were born there as he was. In October of 1944, as WWII ripped through Latvia, Arturs and family were forced to abandon Skrundenieki in order to flee for safety.

Nikrace pagast was subsequently savaged by the Soviets, and they constructed a nuclear missile silo and bunker there. (Pictures of the Soviet structures)

It should be noted that place names in Latvia typically have a German counterpart, or “exonym”. Depending on the time period of a document you may come across, you might find the German version, or a Russian Cyrillic translation of the German name.