I’ve spent a few weeks digging and digging in old church records from the Priekule – Liepaja – Durbe area looking for records of my Dzerve/Bitners/Ziverts family. More specifically, a baptism for my 2x great grandfather Indrikis Ziverts, a marriage for his parents – Klavs and an unknown mother, or baptisms for either a Jukums Dzerve or a Lavize Bitnere. I’ve been searching revision lists for them too, but to no avail. The search continues!
I did however, make a few small discoveries, thanks to some new fuel put on my fire by a new DNA match with family from the Grazmda area – who, almost amazingly to me, does not match at all with my other DNA match with ancestry in this tiny, rural area. I already knew that the majority of people in this region received surnames based on the farms they lived on – almost exclusively so, aside from a few families with Slavic and Germanic surnames. Bitners, Dzerve and Ziverts are no different, though I had previously theorized that Ziverts and Bitners could be my link to some Baltic German background. Bitneri farm exists to this day in Grobinas aprinki, there are plenty of Dzerve farms in the area, and as for Ziverts – there is a Ziverti farm near the coast, closer to Liepaja, and there is Kalnaziverti farm in Paplaka village.
The fact that I have two DNA matches from the same tiny group of villages who both match me but not each other tells me something – I likely have at least two separate family lines deeply rooted in the area. This excited me, because so far, I had no “family farm” to visit, should I ever make my way to Latvia one day. All my families seem to have moved around a good deal, and I wasn’t really sure if I could associate my roots with any one clear historical group of people from any part of Latvia just yet. But… I think it’s safe to say… some of my ancestors were ancient Curonians.
You can read all about the ancient Curonians with an easy Google search. They are a pretty exciting bunch to be related to!