Wedding Wednesday: Arvids Martins Akerfelds and Rasma Lilija Vinakmens

Arvids Martins Akerfelds and Rasma Lilija Vinakmens were married August 10, 1957 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

In this picture, besides immediate family members: Zigurds Melderis, Ansis and Mudite Berzins, Janis and Eleonore Zommers, family friend Peteris Skrastins and Alfons Preiss.

The decals and license plates on the closer car says Racine, Wisconsin – this must have belonged to Rasma’s Vinakmens cousins from Racine! (Nice ride!)

Google Search: Akerfelds

Naturally, one of the first steps I took when I started researching my Latvian roots years ago was Googling “Akerfelds”. When you do this, you are hit with a slew of pages about Darrel Akerfelds, current bullpen coach for the San Diego Padres and former pitcher for several other MLB teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. Darrel is one of Janis Akerfelds and Anna Ziverts’ grandchildren, and Arvids’ nephew: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=akerfda01

You will come across another 2 names of sporty Akerfelds girls in the US who are not descendants of Janis and Anna. However, their Akerfelds ancestor does hail from the Nikrace/Embute area. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out exactly which Akerfelds puzzle piece he would belong to just yet, as the original Akerfelds man in that line died at a young age and left his wife Marija Rabovics and 2 sons behind. These three do appear on the 1935 and 1941 censuses, but there is no name for the husband/father Akerfelds, since he was passed away. It could have feasibly been Janis’ brother Ernests, of whose fate I don’t yet know. It was someone of that generation, and was likely a son of either Jekabs Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and Ieva Sedols, or Ernests Grinbergs alias Akerfelds and his wife Annlise (more about them in a previous post: https://chelli11.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/akerfelds-puzzle-pieces)

Tombstone Tuesday: Karlis and Berta Vinakmens

This is the headstone of Karlis and Berta Vinakmens, in Parkview Cemetery, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My opa Karlis lived to be 88 years old, and oma Berta was 91 when she passed.
You can see the oak leaves Karlis was so fond of carving on the left top corner, and a rose on top of oak leaves on the top right (perhaps for Berta’s love of flowers and gardening?).
The cross with the sunburst in the middle of the headstone is the symbol of the New Apostolic church, which Karlis and Berta converted to whilst here in Ontario.
The words “Vieglas Smiltas” literally translate to “Light Sands” which my mother tells me has a “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” type meaning.

OId Photo: A Latvian Reunion?

This is an old photo that belonged to my grandmother Rasma. There is no information anywhere on the back of it. I believe it was taken in Canada, judging by the look of age of my grandfather Arvids Akerfelds. These men are all Latvians… Arvids is 2nd from the left, top row. The 2nd from the left in the bottom row is a man named Zigurds Melderis, who I would eventually get to know much better than my own grandfather.

Back row: unknown, Arvids Akerfelds, Alfreds Taube, Antons Pizans, unknown, unknown, Mr. Karnupis, unknown, Peteris Skrastins, unknown, unknown, Janis Ozols

Front row: unknown (Melderis?), Zigurds Melderis, Niks Beinarovics, Ansis Berzins, Alfons Preiss

1st My best guess is this is some kind of ex Labor Service Co. get-together? What are the guns all about? Was this possibly taken at a Latvian club such as Sidrabene, which my grandparents used to attend?

I’d love to know what this photo was all about, or who all the people in it are!

Sidrabene:

http://www.standrewslatvian.org/sidrabene/

***UPDATE***

According to my great-aunt, the local Latvians would have a yearly competition, sort of like track-and-field but involving marksmanship, and her guess is that this photo was taken at one such competition.

Latvian Surnames: Patronyms

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:

Andersons (Andersohn)

Ansons (Ansohn)

Jansons (Jansohn)

Mikelsons (Mikkelsohn)

Petersons (Pehtersohn)

Evaldsons (Eewaldsohn)

Jekabsons (Jehkobsohn/Jacobsohn)

Karlsons (Kahrlsohn)

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!

Family Recipe Friday : Ķīsēlis

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!

 

Ķīsēlis

Ingredients:

1/2 lb cranberries
1 quart water
sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons potato flour

Directions:
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.

Gemütlichkeit!

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?