Veisbergs Migration

My great great grandmother Emilija Karoline Veisbergs was born in 1885 in Rezekne, the second child of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis, who  lived in nearby Struzani estate at the time. Mikelis and Line were married in 1882 in Rezekne. What is noteworthy is this family migrated WEST after Emilija’s birth, at a time when most Latvians were migrating EAST to avoid conflict during the Russian Empire’s 1905 revolution. Emilija married Vilis Vinakmens in 1904 in Tukums, halfway westward across the country.

I had given up hope in finding any more information about Mikelis and Line, seeing as they “disappeared” from the records after Emilija’s birth, when I stumbled across them at Slokenbekas estate near Tukums, where I was looking for my Vinakmens relatives. In 1896 and 1900, they baptized two children at Tukums Lutheran church while living at Slokenbekas. That left an 11 year gap between Emilija’s birth and the next child. Again I did not expect to have my questions answered about their whereabouts during that time. And again! I stumbled across two children baptized by MIkelis and Line Veisbergs, at Dobele parish in 1890 and 1891.

So, they were married in 1882. First child in 1884 at Rezekne. Emilija in 1885 at Rezekne. I next found children in 1890 and 1891 at Dobele. And then two more at Tukums in 1896 and 1900.

The Brugis surname can be found in a few parishes in Latgale and Vidzeme. But the Germanic background of the name Veisbergs suggests perhaps Mikelis originated in Kurzeme and had migrated east to Rezekne for a short period, to return later.

New clues!

Amanuensis Monday: The Baptism of Rasma Vinakmens

My mother had found an old suitcare that belonged to my grandmother recently, and let me go through it to see if I could find anything of genealogical value. While I didn’t find much new information, I did find her German Reiseausweis, Caandian Citizenship certificates and 3 different copies of this curious document:

Certificate of Birth and Baptism

Rasma Lilija Vinakmenis, daughter of Karlis Vinakmenis and his wife Berta Helen Vinakmenis nee Ozols-Ozolins was born on 23 September 1937 at Tukums, Latvia and baptized on December 25, of the same year by the local paster the Rev. Alberts Virbulis at the Evang.Lutheran Church of Tukums according to the Ev. Lutheran ritual.
This statement is based on the Parish Records of the Latvian Ev. Lutheran congregtion at Esslingen.
Esslingen/Neckar Oct. 21, 1954
Pastor Elmars Rozitis
Minister of the Ev. Luth. congregation at Esslingen/Neckar

(Seal)
Secretary to the Archbishop of the Latvian Ev. Luth. Church

Signed by Adolfs Donins, 28. October 1954

This seems to be some form of birth certificate/identification for my grandmother, who turned 17 in 1954 (Where was her original birth certificate?) 

The first interesting thing that caught my eye was the stamp of the Commanding Officer of the 7566 Labor Service Engineer Dump Truck. This confirms that my great-grandfather Karlis was still a part of this Labor Service unit in 1954. Until now, besides handwritten, I had never seen “official” anything from the 7566 LSC.

The second interesting thing is now I know my grandmother was baptised on Christmas, by Dean Alberts Virbulis. Mr. Virbulis was also Dean of neighbouring Kandava parish. I found a picture of Virbulis, at the altar of ther Tukums Lutheran church on the site Zudusī Latvija.

Another name of note is Elmars Rozitis, of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran church of Esslingen am Neckar (who appears to still be alive??).

The last, and perhaps most interesting name is Adolfs Donins. Adolfs Fricis Donins was the OBERSTURMBANNFÜHRER, or Commanding Officer of the 19th Latvian Legion during WWII, until it’s surrender in 1945. Why would an identification document of my grandmother’s bear his signature? Is this perhaps a hint that her father, Karlis Vinakmenis DID serve in the Latvian Legion? I bear in mind that he had been in the Latvian Navy, and then probably jailed in Rezekne by the Soviets until the Germans invaded and “liberated” him. Did they conscript him?? (More on Karlis’ military service.)

Ancestor Story: Emilija Karoline Veisbergs

Emilija Karoline Veisbergs was born October 25, 1885, the second child of Mikelis Veisbergs and his wife Lina Brugis. She was baptized at Rezekne Lutheran church, in eastern Latgale. Her baptismal record lists her family’s residence as Taunaga estate, and her older brother Janis Rudolfs was born at Gribuli estate just 2 years earlier. Both estates were in modern Struzani pagast (“Struschan” in German). Her godparents were Karhl Swihkel, Karline Sch…., and Karline Brugis.

Emilija Veisbergs’ baptismal record from Rezekne Lutheran church

For ten years after Emilija’s birth, the Veisbergs family is a bit of a mystery to me. They must have left Rezekne at some point and travelled westward, ending up in Tukums around 1896. Mikelis and Line had at least two more children that I have found so far: Julius Roberts, born  in August 1896 at Slokenbekas, and Berta Ida, born in February 1900, both baptised at Tukums Lutheran church. Emilija must have met Vilis Wihnstein whilst living in Tukums, and the next record I have of her is her marriage to him in 1904.

Emilija and Vilis’ marriage record from Tukums Lutheran church

I won’t re-iterate the story of Vilis and Emilija’s children again, but long story short, they had 5 children between 1905 and 1921, before Vilis abandoned the family, leaving Emilija for another woman. Note that there is some pencilled-in writing around their record, perhaps this gives some details as to why the marriage ended, but I cannot make out many words well enough to translate…

The last I have record of Emilija is her listing in the 1941 Latvian census,  living with Alise and Fricis in an apartment in Tukums (more on their census record: http://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/the-1941-census-of-latvia/). During WWII, when her sons (Janis, Arnolds, Karlis and Fricis) all left Latvia, I believe Emilija and her daughter Alise stayed behind in Latvia. Alise went on to marry a man with the surname of Erdmanis, and lived in an old farmhouse in the countryside near Saldus with their two sons. It is possible that Emilija lived with Alise and her husband until her death. I did not ever hear my great-grandfather speak of his mother Emilija, but from my great-aunt I have learned that she died just before WWII ended, a civilian casualty of bombing in the area…

Place of Interest: Slokenbeka Manor

Slokenbekas manor, c. early 1900's

Slokenbekas manor, present-day

Šlokenbekas (Latvian), Schlokenbeck (German), Шлокенбекъ (Russian)

Slokenbeka is Latvia’s sole remaining fortified manor house. Originally belonging to the Livonian Order, the manor/castle was first mentioned in documents from the mid 1500’s. It is located on the eastern side of Tukums, in the village of Milzkalne, in Engures novads, and draws it’s name from the small stream that runs near it called Slokas. Today, the manor exists as a historical tourist attraction and part museum, housing old farming artifacts and displaying examples of fortified defensive walls and gatehouses.

The earliest known residents were a German noble family named von Buttlar, and it passed through several other noble families – Schenking, Putthammer, Brueggens, Grothuss, Medems and Blumerings, through the ages. Matthias Dietrich Rheinhold von der Recke, a successful maker of liquor and spirits, purchased the manor and his family owned it from 1848 to 1920. During World War 1, the German army had a military hospital established at the manor, and after the war ended ownership of the manor passed to the forestry ministry of Tukums. A restoration project began to take place around 1977, to help turn it into what it is today.

Both Vinakmens and Veisbergs families are listed in baptismal records as living in Slokenbeka at different points of Matthias von der Recke’s ownership of the manor. Whether this refers to living on the actual manor grounds or on the manor’s surrounding estate property is up for debate – likely it refers to farms on the estate property surrounding the fortified manor, but who knows? Either way, the manor would have been a close, familiar landmark to the Vinakmens/Veisbergs families.

While browsing the Tukums church records I noticed Mikelis Veisbergs and his wife Line Brugis must have moved to Tukums from Rezekne sometime after the birth of their daughter Emilija Karline Veisbergs (my great-great grandmother) in 1885. Their son Julius Robert’s baptismal record in 1896 states Slokenbek as his family’s residence. A baptismal record of a daughter of Fricis and Anna Veisbergs also exists in the same year at Slokenbeka. Perhaps Fricis and Mikelis Veisbergs were brothers, who migrated to the Tukums area together.

Janis Rudolfs Wihnstein, son of Vilis and Emilija was born at Slokenbeka in 1905. How long the family stayed there is unknown to me, perhaps their next two sons Arnolds and Karlis were also born there, in 1911 and 1913. It would make sense, since the family’s fleeing to Russia at the beginning of World War 1 would coincide with the German military hospital being set up at Slokenbeka – perhaps it was the advance of the German army that pushed Vilis and his family east to Russia.

(click to enlarge) Janis Rudolfs Vinakmens’ baptismal record – Slokenbekas is mentioned as the family’s residence, on the far right
Here’s a link to a very good site about Slokenbeka’s history, complete with many modern-day photographs: http://www.ambermarks.com/_Pieminekli/GarieApraksti/TukumaRaj/SmardesPag/ESlokenbekas_vid_pils.htm
 
Beautiful historical photographs of Slokenbekas on Zudusi Latvija: http://www.zudusilatvija.lv/objects/object/8519/ 
 

Ancestor Story: Janis Rudolfs Vinakmens, Part 1

 

Janis' baptism record, pg.1

Janis’ baptism record, pg.2

Janis Rudolfs Wihnstein was born September 7, 1905 (the above states August 25th, the Julian calendar date) at 5am in Slokenbekas estate, on the eastern side of Tukums. His parents were Vilis Augusts Wihnstein and Emilia Karline Veisbergs. He was baptised October 29th (October 16th, according to the Julian calendar) of that same year, and his godparents were his uncle Janis Rudolfs Veisbergs and aunt Greete Paulina Wihnstein.

Janis grew up in Tukums town, and neighbouring Kandavas district, and was an only child until the age of 6, when his brother Arnolds was born. Janis was around 10 years old when his parents migrated east to Russia in search of jobs. His father worked in a meat-packing factory until the Russian Revolution began, and many factories were shut down, including Vilis’. They returned to Tukums somewhere between 1917 and 1921, around age 15 for Janis, and shortly thereafter Vilis abandoned Emilija and their five children for another woman.

It’s not clear exactly when, but sometime in the 1920’s (likely around 1927), Janis married his wife Emma. Emma is a little confusing, as her maiden name is either Baldins, or Dzelzitis. She is either born August 21, 1913 in Kiegelu pagast, Valmiera aprinki, or September 7, 1901 in Allazu-Vangazu parish. I have conflicting evidence. I have her DP card from the 1940’s, with Janis’, which states Emma Baldins, daughter of Janis Baldins and Natalija Smits, born in Kiegelu. But in newspapers from Latvia in the 1930’s speaking about Janis’ name change from Weinstein to Vinakmens, she is listed Emma-Matilde Dzelzitis, daughter of Janis Dzelzitis and Anna Rosenberg from Allazu-Vangazu. Interestingly, in 1931 they are listed as living in Aluksne as well, not Tukums to Riga. Quite a conundrum!

Whoever his wife was, Janis was part of the Latvian army. My translation is poor, but it seems like he was a Deputy Officer in the army’s communications department. This job would have been based in Riga, and it is here that he and Emma lived when they had their first son in 1938, and daughter in 1943. They lived in Riga as long as they could, until the Soviets moved through Latvia for a second time in 1944. It is possible that they first went to Tukums and met with my great grandfather Karlis, Janis’ younger brother before fleeing westward, as these two families were together for a large portion of their refugee days in Germany.

Document: Latvian House Registers

 

House registers were kept in Latvia in later years as cities grew and so did their need for administration. When a person moved, they would notify the authorities who would record:

- New street address
– When occupant began residing there
– Surname, name, marital status, maiden name, as well as any children under the age of 16 in their care(typically children would be listed with their mothers)
– Date and place of birth
– Employment
– Former place of residence
– Passport information
– When authorities notified of move
– When occupant departed place of residence
– When struck off list by police (aka, authorities notified of move?)

These records are kept by the Latvian State Historical Archives in Riga. They’re the kind of record that you need to physically go to Latvia and visit the archives for (unfortunately for me). However, I have been lucky enough to have a fellow Latvian history researcher/enthusiast volunteer to help me by finding two house registers for both Karlis Vinakmens and his wife Berta Ozolins and sending me transcriptions. Rather than posting his transcriptions, I’ll tell you what new information I was able to assume based on the transcriptions I was sent.

Karlis and Berta were probably married around December 11, 1936. Berta’s passport information says that this is the date she was issued a new passport (likely due to a name change to Vinakmens).

It seems that they first lived at Rigas iela 16, then moved to Kaleju iela 5, apt#4 on April 6, 1938, then Balozu iela 3, apt#8 on May 5, 1939 (all are in Tukums). These 3 addresses are all very close, in the same section of Tukums, not far from Karlis’ work. Note the close proximity to the train station as well, where Berta is said to have worked prior to her marriage.

Interestingly, their daughter Rasma is listed on her father’s house register for Balozu iela, rather than her mothers, which is not unheard of, but also isn’t common. She doesn’t appear on either house register for Kaleju iela, which is also sort of odd, since she was born in 1937.

Karlis’ current Pase at the time was issued to him on January 24, 1929. He would have been 16 years old. Perhaps this is the age when one would have been issued an official piece of ID?

On his Balozu iela register, it notes that Karlis was in the town of Rezekne (his mother’s hometown) from March 3, 1941 to July 15, 1941. Because this is written on his Balozu iela register, perhaps it can be assumed that the family lived here until at least July 1941. They did not leave Latvia until December of 1944, so it’s always possible more house registers do exist for Karlis and Berta.

Karlis’ profession on both register s is craftsman/carpenter. From his IRO application we know that he worked at a carpenter’s shop on Elizabetes iela in Tukums from at least 1938 onward.

It seems it is safe to assume he left the Latvian Navy around the time he married Berta, or at least when he became a father.

(click to enlarge) A map of the centre of Tukums town. Red dots mark the 3 addresses of Karlis and Berta on Rigas, Balozu and Kaleju ielas; one dot for Karlis' carpenter's shop on Elizabetes iela; and one red dot for the address of Karlis' mother Emilija, who resided in 1941 with Karlis's youngest two siblings on Talsu iela. The Tukums train station is marked out already, the railway shown as a black line, just south and east of the Rigas iela address on Dzelceja iela.

Document: Tukums Church Books 1906-1909 Search Results

So a good search through the Tukums Lutheran church books from 1906-1909 turned up no new, solid information on any brothers or sisters of Karlis Vinakmens.

But, it did present a few other interesting facts:
1. There are “Siwerts” in the area
2. There are other Wihnstein families in the area (this I knew already, but I am now piecing them together)
3. Greete and Willis Wihnstihn are the godparents of another Wihnstihn child(Greete is the name of my Willis’ sister) while this certainly isn’t proof of a relation between this other Wihnstihn family and my Wihnstihn family, it does lend some weight to the idea (are you good friends with anyone else who shares your last name but isn’t related?? …me either!)
4. As for the concept of “Vinakmens” over “Weinstein” I now have evidence of this name’s variations earlier than before. I found a baptism from 1908 with the spelling “Wihnakmens”. This is also interesting because up until now I had never heard “Wihnakmens” – always “Vinsteins”, with the beginning part of the name Latvianized rather than the latter half.
5. Ans Rudolfs Wihnakmens is the son of Willis and Kattrine. I have not yet found any other Willis Wihnstihn in the area aside from my great, great-grandfather, who has not been painted as the greatest husband or father so far. Is this the same Willis? Ans is listed as a legitimate child. Did he leave Emilija and come back to her later? Emilija’s middle name is Karline… Could the church book have confused Karline and Kattrine? Not likely but…

(click to enlarge) Ans Rudolph Wihnakmens Baptism

Document: Tukums Church Books 1905-1909

Raduraksti now has the Lutheran church books from 1906-1909 available. This is great news, because as far as I know, Vilis Wihnstihn and Emilija Veisbergs were married in 1904, had their first child in 1905, and then a second child in 1911. Six years is a considerable gap between children, and I’ve always suspected that perhaps there were more children who maybe died, or I just never even know of.

I can’t wait to dig in and see if I can find any more brothers or sisters for Karlis Vinakmens, and more clues to his parent’s stories.