If you’ve found this blog, chances are that you’ve got some interest in your own family tree. I realized that I’ve never written about some of the best resources I’ve ever come across. These three Facebook Groups are filled with some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable people who are all researching their own trees and are willing to help others too. Join us!
Good news! Www.FamilySearch.org now offers some digitized records pertaining to Latvian genealogy! While they have always offered a decent collection of Latvian records via microfilm, they now have some passports from the interwar period and some old church books digitized and available for viewing from the comfort of home. The church books are the same as are featured at lvva-raduraksti.lv – except the collection at FamilySearch.com was originally compiled at a different time period than that of the Latvian State Historical Archives. This has produced some minor differences in the two collections – which might just translate to genealogy gold for you, if you can find a record that was previously missing.
For example, my Akerfelds family’s “home church” of Embute is missing records from 1855-1870. I noticed that FamilySearch’s collection states that it covers this time period. A few years ago I ordered this microfilm in, and indeed, there are the years missing from Raduraksti. To my dismay, in this case only the German congregation records had been recorded during those missing years.
Another example is in Nurmuiza parish – on Raduraksti, the only records from 1834 and further back in time are for Germans. At FamilySearch, you can go back to 1711 for Latvians as well.
Nothing is indexed yet, so the passports are especially difficult to utilize in a quick manner. But don’t forget to check in periodically with FamilySearch.org to see what else has been digitized!
Jule Dzerve was my 2x great grandmother. Her parents were Jukums Dzerve and Lawise Bittner, who were married in Gramzdas draudze that same year. They lived at Purmsati estate, one that had a German baron who was particularily disliked by his peasants, wo complained that he taxed them too harshly. Surnames amongst the peasants were only used loosely even into the 1850’s. There is a small gap in records at Grazmda from 1854-1861, and this is the time I believe both Jukums and Lavize were born, so unfortauntely I have not found their parents names yet. Dzerve is a name associated with Purmsati estate since the beginning of surnames, while Bitners I believe has roots at nearby Gavieze estate.
No. 12, March 1877 Jukums Dzerve married Lavize Bitnere
Sometimes when you’ve hit a bunch of brick walls, you need a set of fresh eyes! I hit the Raduraksti books again, and within the first 15 minutes, I had stumbled across a new family discovery:
Born on February 10, 1836 and baptised February 23, 1836
Born at Oldenburg, Gohbsem (Vecpils estate, Gobzemji farm)
To knecht (worker) Janis Strohmann and his wife Lise
Witnesses 1. Madde Strohmann, 2. Anne Sauer, 3. Janis Mattison
Baptised by Pastor Katterfeld at Neuhausen (Valtaiki)
Mada is my great-great-great-grandmother, her daughter Ieva Sedols married Jekabs Akerfelds. Just as her marriage record to Janis Sedols states, she was born at Gobzemji farm in Vecpils estate.
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 record from 1865 that pertains to my great-great-great grandfather 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 means that I can go back through the Valtaiki Lutheran church books and search for his baptism in 1843ish.
Wish me luck!
Mikelis Veisbergs (Weissberg) and Line Brugis (Brugge) were married in 1882 at Rezekne Lutheran church. Since they were married in December 1882, it could be assumed that at that time they were in their early 20’s, so they were probably born around 1860-1865.
Veisbergs is latvianized from German “Weissberg” – White hills or mountains. I have scanned all available Rezekne Lutheran church books and not found another Weissberg. Brugis however, are plentiful, suggesting that they were probably well-established in the area. I was stumped on this family for a long time, until a clue from a DNA match led me to the true origin of the Brugis family, to the north in Gulbene parish.
No 15/December 1882/ Mikelis Veisbergs married Lina Brugis
Being that Janis Sedols and Mada Stromane were married in 1865, I started combing through the Valtaiki church books from 1865 onwards in search of their children. Besides Ieva in 1869, they also had Janis in 1871:
Born March 27, 1871 and baptized the same day, #78 Janis, born at Berghof estate, Jaunzemji farm. Son of Janis Sedols, labourer and his wife Mada. Godparents are Janis Sedols, jungen (young man/bachelor), Anna Stromane, knechtfrau (labourer’s wife), and Martins Jekabsons, knecht (labourer)
(Side note: since the newborn Janis Sedols is the son of Janis Sedols, and a godparent is also named Janis Sedols, this tells me that there was likely at least one other related Sedols family at the time. The godparent Janis is a “jungen” (youth or bachelor) and since he shares the same name as the father Janis he wouldn’t be his brother – my best guess is that the father Janis does have a brother, and godparent Janis is a nephew. Of course, this is speculation until I can prove! Just another tidbit a baptismal record can give you.)
But that was all that I found, which is not typical of the time period! Did the family move? There are Sedols in Embute parish as well, but I haven’t seen any Janis and Madde. I also came across this interesting baptismal record:
Born on 10 May 1865 and baptized in June 1865 #123 baptism at Berghof estate, Budenieki farm. Lavize, daughter of maiden (unmarried lady) Mada Stromane. Godparents are Lavize Kunins, maiden, Kristaps Stromanis, jungen and Lize Stromane, maiden.
I know it’s hard to read, but lightly penciled in is “Simon Konrad” as Lavize’s father. Mada and Simon had a child out of wedlock, before her marriage to Janis Sedols. Mada married Janis on May 16, 1865. 10 days before this child’s birth!