Also a big hitter in the Latvian surname department are patronyms, or names derived from one’s father’s name. Here are some that I’ve come across, with their German equivalent. They’re fairly straightforward:
I can’t say that I’ve come across any variations of these patronymic surnames yet, and I think that concept would be fairly uncommon due to the nature of the name!
Ķīsēlis, (or as we Canadians of Latvian descent unknowingly called it until now: Cheesaline) is a traditional Latvian fruit dessert, served as a hot or cold soup, or a jelly. These are popular in other Eastern European countries as well(generically known as Kissels)
My mother makes cranberry ķīsēlis around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we eat it as cold soup. It’s delicious!
1/2 lb cranberries
1 quart water
sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons potato flour
1. Rinse cranberries and put to boil in water.
2. When all the berries have burst, strain and force through a sieve.
3. Retain the liquid and pulp; discard the skins.
4. Reheat the juice while mixing in the sugar to taste.
5. Slowly stir in potato flour until consistency is almost like syrup.
6. Cover and cool.
I have often wondered what exactly brought my Latvian ancestors to settle in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. The first of my Latvians to settle here was Fricis Vinakmens with his family. I am not sure if Kitchener was their original destination or not, nor do I know the entire story of his immigration (maybe one day I will find out!), but Karlis Vinakmens joined him here in 1956 with his family. Maybe Fricis helped him to secure a job here? Again, not sure! Arvids Akerfelds followed suit in 1957, to be reunited with his future wife.
In any case, whatever brought them, probably to their surprise they settled in a city with a very strong German heritage, home of North America’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations. Kitchener was settled by German mennonites, and originally named Berlin, but the name fell out of fashion quickly during WWI, and was changed to Kitchener in honor of British Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl Kitchener who died the same year as the re-naming. The festival has been officially running only since the late 1960’s, understandably since a festival with such roots would probably have been frowned upon in the WWII era.
Celebrations in Kitchener kick-off on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and typically include a parade, a Miss Oktoberfest pageant, polka music, traditional German dress (lederhosen and dirndl), a free-for-all pancake breakfast, an official keg-tapping ceremony at city hall, a barrel- or keg-rolling race, schnitzel and Oktoberfest sausage with sauerkraut, and of course, beer. Festhallen and biergartens are run by local German clubs (the Concordia club, Shwaben club, etc). The festival’s mascots are Onkel Hans and Tante Frieda, two roly-poly orange-skinned characters in traditional German garb.
Imagine the Latvians’ surprise when they came to Canada only to meet people with German surnames of German descent and watched Kitchener transform into a Bavarian festival for nine days each October! Or, was the prevalence of German-speakers part of the reason why Kitchener was chosen as a new home?
I may or may not have found Fricis Ozolins’ baptism record. It’s hard to put all your eggs in one basket when searching for a common surname in a large parish, but my reasons for believing that this might actualy be my Fricis are:
1. While there are a slew of Ozols, Ozolins families are relatively few in Talsi. I have turned up 5 couples who were bearing children during the specified time period. Only one Fricis baptised.
2. The record is from 1883. This would make Fricis 31 at the time Berta was born. This seems to jive with my guess that Berta was somewhere in the middle of the birth order of her 6 siblings. If he was born in 1883, he could have easily have been 24-25 when he was married, bringing us to 1906ish… which we have no records for.
3. No other Fricis Ozolins to be found… Mind you, just because Berta was born in Talsi does not mean her parents both were. I wish Talsi had records up until 1909 like Tukums!
- (click to enlarge) A baptism for a Fricis Ozolins
No. 105. Fritz, born on April 6, 1883 (baptised the same day) at Luick Remmess(sp?), son of Janne Ohsolin (can’t quite make out his occupation) and his wife Lawihse, both Lutheran. Godparents are wirt Ans Wachstein, of Luick Remmess, Ehwart Jakobsons (same occupation as Janne Ohsolin), and Marri Wachstein, madchen.
Along with my grandmother Rasma Vinakmens on the left, are Olga Petrausken, a Lithuanian displaced person, and the dark-haired girl is named Marichen, possibly also Lithuanian.
I’ve begun combing the Talsi lutheran church books for Ozols-Ozolins families (and in doing so, am effectively putting off the task of going through the much larger Tukums books). Ozols and Ozolins are the surnames I am hunting, and this is no easy task, since both are quite common. I started working backwards from 1905 down. I’m at 1900, and so far I’ve found Ozols, Ozolins, and Ozollaps surnames. Ozols seems to be the most common, and I have put together several different Ozols families who were having children in this time period, as expected. I must happily note that I have only found one Ozolins family so far.
I am searching for Fricis Ozolins, his wife Mathilde Ozols, their daughters Milda, Velta, Lilija and Berta, and 2 sons, of whom I don’t know names yet. Sometimes this family went by Ozols-Ozolins, combining their mother’s and father’s surnames. I don’t believe Fricis and Mathilde were married prior to 1905, so chances are I will not find one of their children’s baptismal records. The best I can hope for is to try and find their own baptismal records… And hope that there aren’t multiple Fricis Ozolins and Mathilde Ozols baptised in the area at the same time…
So far though, I have noted the popularity of the name Mathilde in the area, and also Bertus or Berts for a man. The names here seem to be a little more inventive than the Janis, Ievas, Annas and Jekabs of the less urban Embute/Gramzdas/Valtaiki areas (although of course those are prevalent as well).
Talsi (Latvian), Talsen (German), Талси (Russian)
Talsi is both a city and a district in northern Kurzeme, known for its historic beauty. There are numerous natural parks, cherry and apple orchards, lakes, hills and cobblestone streets. Talsi is one of the oldest cities in Kurzeme, the ancient Curonians built forts here.
This is the birthplace of Berta Helene Ozols-Ozolins, and possibly the place of origin for my Ozolins ancestors.