Timeline: Jekabs Grinbergs, alias Akerfelds

Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds was born around 1870, judging from his death record in 1904 at age 34. He married Ieva Sedols on November 14, 1892 at Embute Lutheran church.

Their first child Ernests was born April 1st, 1893 at 2 in the morning at Muizaraji farm in Lieldzelda (a little north of present-day Nikrace). He was baptised April 17th at Embute. Jekabs is listed as a worker, and both he and Ieva are recorded as Lutheran. His godparents are listed as Ernests Akerfelds (Hakenfeld) and his wife Annlise (was Ernests Jekabs’ brother?)

Their second child, Anna was born September 2nd, 1894 at 5 in the morning, also at Muizaraji farm. Her godparents are listed as Janis Sedols, worker and Katrine Sedols, servant. (Siblings of Ieva?)

Their third child is my ancestor Janis. He was born September 30th, 1898 in Nikrace pagast, according to his DP card. This has to be incorrect, as Nikrace did not exist at the time of his birth, rather it would have been Lieldzelda or Brinki. I cannot find his baptism record anywhere.

Their fourth child Martins was born in 1902 in Tomsk, Siberia. What were they doing in Siberia? Tomsk is a city, but also a region. This is the Martins that would eventually be deported back to Siberia.

Jekabs died back in Latvia in July 1904, leaving behind his four young children and a pregnant Ieva. His cause of death is listed as either lung or kidney disease.


Their fifth and final child Katte, was born November of 1904 at Cepli farm in Lieldzelda, a few months after her fathers passing.

It would be great to find some kind of clue to look for Jekabs’ baptismal record, or what farm/estate he was on prior to living at Muizaraji with Ieva. Anything really, to help point to his father. Likely, his father was a Grinbergs, and decided to call himself and his sons Akerfelds to help differentiate from the multiple other unrelated Grinbergs families. We will see, I guess!


Roadblock: Dzerve

Jule Dzerve was Arvids Akerfelds’ maternal grandmother. She was born December 29, 1877 in Purmsati pagast, not far from Nikrace and Embute, but was baptised in the Gramzdas parish church. “Jenny” is a German translation of the Latvian “Dzenija”.

Jule Dzerve's baptismal record in the Gramzdas Lutheran church book
Jule Dzerve’s baptismal record in the Gramzdas Lutheran church book

Her parents were Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner, who were married in Gramzdas that same year.

Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner's marriage record in the Gramzdas Lutheran church book

Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner

Being that they were married in 1877, it could be assumed that they were around the age of 20 at the time, as was customary. So they would have been born around 1857. Unfortunately, a lot of church books are missing from this time period on Raduraksti, with only a few years available.
I could begin scouring the 1895 Russian census for Jukums and Lawise, assuming they stayed in Gramzdas. This will be time consuming, and will only give me birthdates of Jukums and Lawise, and maybe locations. Then hopefully those church books are still around, and will list their parents names. Their parents were alive during the naming process of Latvians….

Resource: Raduraksti’s Church Books

Raduraksti LogoThis is a crucial sresource, should you wish to research Latvian genealogy. Hosted by the Latvian State Historical Archives, it contains 3 types of records (so far) with more being added all the time. They are digitized copies of original documents. The documents are church book records, Revision Lists and the 1895 Russian Census.

The church books are birth/baptism, marriage and death/burial (BMD) records from churches all over Latvia. They are organized by religion, then parish. The Lutheran church books have proven quite easy for me to sift through and have yielded some results for me. The records are in German and Russian, depending on the time period. German is close enough to Latvian to understand names, and the Russian text usually has first names and surnames spelled out in German as well. The church books only have records up until 1905, and it is important to note that there are gaps in their coverage, as some books have been lost or destroyed.

Records you find on Raduraksti may be hard to understand for the English-as-an-only-language researcher such as myself, since are in old-German script, Russian Cyrillic, Russian translations of German translations of Latvian names and places, etc. I am still yet to use the Revision lists or Census, simply because I haven’t had the time to hunker down, figure out how to find what I’m looking for, and really go at them just yet. I can pick out my family’s surnames and first names now in Cyrillic, and make some really slow progress with the help of online translators, but the church books are really the only document I’ve gotten into just yet. I will get to the census and revision lists in time!
Here’s an excellent guide to understanding these records by a fellow Latvian genealogy blogger: http://www.celmina.com/genealogy/2011/09/anatomy-of-a-birth-record/

This is the where you can find the priceless resource: http://www.lvva-raduraksti.lv/en.html