Revolutionary Connection

fb_img_1527867769972_largeOccasionally I will Google family names, just to see if any new information has come to light out there on the internet. Sometimes this is fruitless, but sometimes it produces a gem of information. I found an article relating to my 2x great grandmother Jule Dzerve’s little brother Fricis, a student at the Kuldiga teacher’s seminary and active participant in the growing revolutionary movement in the Russian Empire in 1905 and the farm owned by Jule and her husband Indrikis Ziverts – Skrundenieki.

This article was generously translated for me by a member of the Latvian Genealogy community. It is important to note that this article was published in the 1980’s in Kuldiga, Latvia during Soviet times, and as such, is written from a Soviet viewpoint.

“75 years ago the revolutionary movement was active around Nikrace. In 1905 Fricis Dzerve, who lived at Skrundenieki, joined the LSDSP (Latvian Farmer’s Union – political party). He participated in the farm workers’ strike and was an organizer in the revolutionary violence in Aizpute and other revolutionary events. Party members from Liepaja visited Skrundenieki often. Through Fricis Dzerve, Nikrace revolutionaries as well as others in Latvia and Russia learned about the events in Liepaja.
At the end of 1905, due to the arrival of Kurmales Baron Silvio Bredrihs led forces in Nikrace, Fricis Dzerve hid in the forests around Nikrace.
On 12 Jan 1906 S. Bredrihs’ forces broke into Skrundenieki, upon not finding the Fricis, the brave revolutionary, they burnt down the house. In March, they finally found Fricis, he was imprisoned and tortured but did not betray anything or anyone. He had told his sister that he wouldn’t be either the first or last to die at the hands of the counter revolutionaries. He was shot at Priekule.
The ‘forces of punishment’ also dealt inhumanely with other revolutionaries. At Skerveli, servants Julijus Dikerts and Jekabs Pauna were imprisoned in Mazdzeldes sawmill. To liven things up the Czars forces took their prisoners to the forest and demanded that they recover whatever they had hidden. Of course there was nothing to recover. Having belittled and laughed at the revolutionaries the Dragoons took them to Dizdzelda house. Turning in the opposite direction they stopped and shots rang out. Jekabs Pauna slumped dead onto the snow. Julijus Dikerts was seriously injured. Another shot rang out. But the drunken Dragoons still had not accomplished their objective. A Dragoon who was not as drunk as the rest, rushed over and bayonetted the revolutionary.
The inhabitants of Nikrace were subjected to a bloodbath, the Dragoons acted insanely. They attacked the Manor house’s coachman Jekabs Grinerts and accused him of plotting to burn down the Manor. For having these thoughts he deserved the highest sentence without any further investigation. The threat was immediately carried out, he was shot along with Nikrace manor’s servant Oto Stepanski and Ernests Nunevics.
Janis Versinskis, servant from Dizdzeldas Manor was murdered at Kaku grava (literally cat’s ravine). Jekabs Rosentals LSDSP member and committee member of Brinki government was also shot. Ernests Iesalnieks, servant from Brinki and Ievalds Rozis, servant from Mazdzelde were murdered at Tukums Manor. A passerby saw that Ernests Iesalnieks showed signs of life and reported this to the Manor. Without hesitation a group of Dragoons immediately returned to the murder scene and bayonetted the revolutionary.
But in 1905 the flame of the revolutionary movement burned bright in the hearts of many inhabitants of Nikrace and they welcomed the Latvian Red Riflemen. When the outnumbered, the riflemen were forced to retreat, many from Nikrace went with them. 40 years ago Nikrace’s farm workers sincerely welcomed the establishment of Communist Latvia. 35 years ago Nikrace’s territory fell silent on the topic of the Great Fatherland’s war connections. Today’s inhabitants of Nikrace have not forgotten their great grandfathers, the enemies of the fallen revolutionaries are chiselled in stone. Generation after generation speak of their heroic deeds.’


The Power of Social Media

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! 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 – except the collection at 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 to see what else has been digitized!

The Dzerves

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

Born December 29, 1877 and baptized January 6  1878, No.2: Dzenija Jule Ida, daughter of Purmsati estate jungen Jukums Dzerve and his wife Lavize. Baptized by pastor Stegmann at Gramzdas church. Witnesses: widow Jule Dzerve, maiden Lize Muceniece, and jungen Janis Hilsen.

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

The Baptism of Mada Stromane

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.

Janis Sedols in the Kalna Privatmuiza Revision List

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!

The Marriage of Mikelis Veisbergs and Line Brugis

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

A Blended Family?

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!

Document: Janis Sedols and Mada Stromane

I took a stab at guessing that Ieva Sedols’ parents were married within 5 years of her birth and found a marriage record for Janis Sedols and Mada Stromane(remembering that one of Ieva’s godparents is a Stromanis) 4 years earlier in 1865 at Valtaiki church.  So Janis Sedols and Mada Stromane are my 3x great-grandparents, and here is their marriage record:

Janis Sedols, labourer at Berghof estate, born at Strebuki farm, son of Kristaps and Marija, both deceased, marries Mada Stromane, unmarried girl at the same estate (Berghof), born at Oldenburg estate, Gobzemji farm, parents Janis and Lize.

Extending the Stromanis Branch

While casually browsing Raduraksti’s list of revision lists by estate, I found myself going back through Kalnmuiza estate, where my 3x great grandmother Mada Stromanis was born. She was the daughter of Janis Stromanis, a farm labourer from Puni estate and Lize, a peasant woman from nearby Klaugi farm who did not have her own surname yet at the time of her marriage. I found Mada and her parents in the 1858 revision list for Kalnmuiza:


page 151/254 Kalna privatmuiza estate revision

The revision list shows Janis, at age 43 1/4 with his wife Lize, aged 43 and 4 of their children – Mada (she would have been aged 22 already), Kristaps (14), Ernests (12) and Ieva (7 1/2). It notes that this family came to this estate from neighbouring Puni estate in 1852. Mada is recorded as having moved with her little brother Ernests to Kalna estate’s No. 13 farm (Grigali) in 1857. One other gem of information given here is Janis’ father’s name – Peteris.

This started me off on a search tangent, since I had previously not known Janis’ father’s name, and only knew of 2 of his children. I found his marriage to Lize in 1834 at Vailtaiki draudze, 3rd from the top:


#63/October 1834/Janis, from Grigali farm, Oldenburg estate married Lize from Klaugi farm, of the same estate.
As well as baptisms for several more Stromanis children – Mada was the oldest, then Anna, Kristaps, Ernests, Ieva, who was born with a twin brother Fricis, and second set of twins Kriss and Trine, though the last 3 children did not survive into adulthood.

Valtaiki draudze happens to hold records all the way back to 1731, so I took a stab at finding Janis’ baptism, based on the fact that his father’s name was Peteris, he was born in 1813/1814, and was born at either Oldenburg or Puni estate. I found only one Janis, son of Peteris born in that time period:


#9 baptism in 1813 at Puni estate; Janis, born 26 September at Dsansi(??) farm (I haven’t located any similar sounding farms in the area, but the #1 baptism in this list was also born there) to Peteris and his wife Katte.

I pushed a little further and found a probable marriage for Peteris and Katte in 1807:peteriskattestromanisPeteris, resident of Martini farm, Aizpure estate, born at Jaunsieksate marries Katte, widow living at Sauli farm, born at Rudbarzi estate.

That’s another generation for my Stromanis branch! Peteris and Katte are my 5 great grandparents, born circa 1780. Now, I could search for Katte’s first husband, and their marriage, to try and discern her parents names, to match up with her recorded birth estate as Rudbarzi.. and I could try something similar with Peteris. Revision lists could help too. It gets hard to “trust” that you are on the right track with these records from before surnames were handed out, but it IS possible!