About chelli11

Researching my Latvian, French-Canadian, Italian and Ukrainian ancestry.

Filling Out My Tree – Ziverts Family

At a dead end for my direct ancestors on most of my ancestral lines for quite some time now, I decided to go to work “filling in” siblings and cousins and extended family members in an attempt to uncover more clues about how to advance my research. I revisited my Ziverts family – one that I have a lot of good documents about, but still manages to remain full of unknowns and mysteries.

The mystery: My great great grandfather Indrikis Ziverts. From my point of view, he shows up out of nowhere in Embute draudze, at Brinkenhof estate, purchasing Skrundenieki farm in 1895 and baptizing a child with a young wife he married in an unknown place in 1896. From Skrundenieki’s land file and the godparents listed on Indrikis’ first sons baptism record, I know that Indrikis’ father was named Klavs Jeannot. His mother is still MIA for me.

Anyways, hoping to learn more about Klavs Sr. and Indrikis’ possible birth or marriage locations, I began researching the most intriguing extended ancestor I’ve found so far – my 2x great grandfather Indrikis’ uncle and namesake, Indrikis Sr. Indrikis Sr. was the fifth son of Lauris and Margrieta Ziverts, born at Paplaka estate around 1847. And while I have located his eldest brother Adams’ baptism record in 1836 at Virgas draudze, and his youngest sister Bille’s in 1850, I haven’t uncovered his actual baptismal record yet, frustratingly.

At age 10, Indrikis moved from Paplaka estate, near the large port city of Liepaja, east to rural Brinkenhof estate in Aizpute aprinki with his parents and five siblings, including Klavs Sr., in 1857. They are recorded on the Revision List for Brinkenhof, first living at Mucenieki farm. Klavs Sr, aged 17, went off on his own, north and west to Dizdroga estate this same year. Evidently, Indrikis Sr. followed soon after, to Klein Ilmajen estate, right next door to Dizdroga. Both then “disappear” from records for an extended period.

Indrikis Sr. pops back up in late 1872 at North Durbe draudze, where he marries his wife, Betty Ozolins. Interestingly, he chose to use the German version of his name – Heinrich – and his wife Betty must have as well, since she was born with the more traditionally Latvian sounding first name of Bille. Indrikis Sr. had also picked up a career by the time of his marriage – he is listed as the Bierbrauer of Klein Ilmajen (Mazilmaja) estate – Beer brewer! Their marriage is actually interestingly recorded in 4 different places across 2 different churches – twice at North Durbe, the first record is crossed out. Once in a marriage index for Aizpute, and one nice long form, German congregation marriage record from Aizpute. They left me a hint here – Heinrich is listed as “Ziverts alias Wahrne” – news to me!

in 1872, though serfdom had been abolished in Latvia, still most ethnic Latvians were tenant farmers and generally agricultural workers – land ownership, skilled trades and artisan work was mostly (obviously not exclusively) still for the more upper class, typically Baltic Germans. Latvian was the language of the common people, while German was used in most written documents and official matters. If a Latvian happened to elevate their social status somehow, they might find themselves “Germanizing” their name and attending church with the German congregation – most Lutheran churches gave services in both Latvian and German. This appears to be the case with Indrikis Sr/Heinrich. My direct ancestor Klavs also tried his hand at this – his last 3 children and the only ones I have any baptismal records for were given very German names and baptized at Embutes’ German draudze.

Heinrich and Betty had one daughter at Klein Ilmajen in 1874. They “disappear” again until 1880 when they show up at Embute draudze, where my direct Ziverts ancestors were living. They had another 3 children at Embute, baptized with very German names and baptized in German. They also had very lofty sounding godparents – land owners and German millers, etc. They moved again to Pauri near Saldus, baptized another 2 sons at Saldus draudze, and evidently purchased some land, as Heinrich is listed as a ‘grundbesitzer” – land owner – in those 2 baptism records.

Later on, into the 1920’s and 1930’s, some of Heinrich and Betty’s children can be found in confirmation records from Aizpute church – perhaps they eventually moved to Aizpute, as the trend into the 1900’s was more people moving to cities from rural areas.

So some hints: the family was able to enjoy some benefits of an elevated social status – owning land, attending German congregations, learning tradeswork. Was it Heinrich who was the first to achieve this? The rest of the family seems to be your standard peasant farmers up until Heinrich’s marriage in 1872. Was it something Heinrich did? Or maybe his father Lauris? Was Heinrich in some sort of apprenticeship at Klein Ilmajen learning to be a brewer prior to his marriage? Is that what Klavs left his family for Dizdroga estate at age 17 to do, an apprenticeship?

The family sure was mobile though. Paplaka to Nikrace to Durbe to Saldus and Aizpute, Liepaja.. they definitely got around, making them harder to trace!!

The Marriage of Ans Ozolins and Margrieta Olm

In 1837 at Arlavas draudze…

  1. Ans Ohsolin (Ozolins), knechtjungen (bachelor farmhand) from Essern (Lubezere) Wilke, Gottarda (Gotthard) and his wife Anna’s son in Neuwacken (Jaunpagasta)estate, Namsche (Namsi) farm geborene (born) married with Greete (Grieta) Olm, knechtmadchen (unmarried female farmhand) at Nogallen (Nogales) estate, Brante (Branti) farm, Ottis and Juhle’s (Jule’s) T. (tochter =  daughter) in Laure (Lauris farm?) geborene (born). Both unmarried, he was 26 and she was 22.Untitled.jpg

The Marriage of Kristaps Ozolins and Grieta Nikodemus


Kristaps Ohsolin (Ozolins), jungen (bachelor) at Purrin (Purini) Farm, Essern (Lubezere) estate, son of Ans and his wife Margrieta, born at Smilkte (Smilkti) farm, marries Grieta Nikodemus, madchen (unmarried girl) at Purrin (Purini) farm, Essern (Lubezere) estate, daughter of labourer Tohms(Toms) and his wife Madlehne (Madlena), born at Maisit (Maizite) farm, Nogallen (Nogales) estate.

These lovely marriage records at Arlava draudze are nicely detailed, giving parents’ names, birthplace, ages, and even notations on where to find the bride and groom’s baptismal records. If you look after the vertical lines on the record above, it notes for Kristaps: ledig (not married), 20 jahr alt, 1841, then a bunch of numbers – the first is the record number of his baptism in the 1841 record book.

For Grieta though, it states: ledig, 22 jahr alt, 1839, 8 April, 54, 4 April in Nurmhusen. If she was born at Nogales estate, it makes sense that she would have been baptized at Nurmuiza (Nurmhusen) parish. But after searching through Nurmuiza’s books… Her baptism is nowhere to be found.

Curious, given the amount of detail provided in the marriage!!

Y3118 Positive

Results are in for the latest SNP test on Akerfelds DNA. We tested positive for the SNP Y3118. This places us in a nice little subclade filled with men from Southwestern Russia and Ukraine. Every SNP we test narrows down the options for “terminal SNP” and gives us a more and more specific group to relate to.
I haven’t posted too much about this concept, so I think a picture might suffice… Here’s a snippet from FamilyTreeDNA’s website – called a haplotree.
The term “MRCA” that is tossed around when talking about these clades refers to “Most Recent Common Ancestor” – and in this case, for the men of the Y3118 group, it’s about 2200 years ago. Which, unfortunately… is pretty far back. Like, Ancient Egypt, Rome, etc. Definitely too far back to ever trace. But still, it is amazing to believe that one man living at that point in history, probably somewhere in South Eastern Europe, lent his DNA to so many different lines, across Europe.
Next steps? Well, I can either keep picking away at individual SNP’s to see what known groupings we belong to. Another option is the oh-so-pricey Big Y – a complete sequencing of the Akerfelds Y chromosome. Individual SNP’s are definitely more my style. In the snippet below, you can see our next options, in blue. Some of these groups have a closer MRCA – 1300 years ago is the closest I’ve noted. That’s still too far to trace genealogically, however… Being that we seem to be the most northern member of this grouping of mostly Ukrainian/Southwestern Russian men, I think our opportunities for pinpointing a time in the past; an event, that brought this ancestor to serfdom in rural Latvia could be optimistic. A cossack soldier? A foreign noble, given land? A prisoner of war? A trader along the amber road?
As I’ve said before, this is still a new area of study. We are learning more and more every day about DNA, and each individual SNP and subclade and clade and how they correspond with different human migrations through history. Because research in this area is forever ongoing, for me DNA is a great investment, a gift that just keeps on giving!Untitled

My brain is taking a little break from Latvian genealogy at the moment. I’ve been off on a tangent into my father’s DNA after receiving his results. It’s probably for the better, I find I always uncover something new after taking a little break.

Research is not at a stand still however. Currently I am waiting on another set of results from Akerfelds Y DNA. So far, we are I-P37.2, then based on the results of other I-P37.2’s and where our results fit in, tested  S17250- and Y4460+. Now we are testing for Y3118, a SNP that defines one of three known subgroups of Y4460, categorizing us further into an even smaller subgroup. There are not many people in these groups – two or three at most, to date. One of the men in this category has Latvian/Germanic roots – it will be interesting to see where our results line up against his. The others seem to be from around the Balkans.

This is all relatively new information, new territory. It’s being researched and followed by a few online personalities and DNA haplogroup project administrators who are very helpful and enthusiastically knowledgeable. As more and more people test, more and more information is available and this is an area that will continuously change and grow – it’s part of what makes genetic genealogy so exciting to me.

I am guessing we will come out as Y3118-, leaving two other possible SNP definted subgroups for us to fit into: A-6105 and S-8201. A-6105 defines the other Latvian in the group.

Results due in 2-4 weeks from today…

The Kurši

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!