Finally, some answers to overcome the brick wall that was my great grandmother’s family! It wasn’t easy – the documents I needed to ensure I had the right people were not available online and I needed help from a professional genealogist stationed in Riga – Antra Celmina. She found my great great grandparents Fricis Ozolins and Matilda Ozols’ passport applications (complete with pictures) from 1920 at the Latvian State Historical Archives. They were listed one after the other suggesting they had applied as a couple, and listed children’s names that match what I know of my family. And they were from the right area – Lubezere village in Arlava parish, just a bit north of Talsi, where most documents say they were from.
According to his passport application, Fricis Ozolins was born November 23, 1868. His (much younger)wife Matilda was September 18, 1890 – which means I actually already likely found her baptism record before when I was searching the nearby parish of Nurmuiza for the family of a DNA match of my mother’s.
I went to Arlava’s parish books and found Fricis’ baptism right where it should be near the end of the book for 1868. Fricis, son of Kristaps(1841), son of Ans (1815), son of Gotthard (circa 1785). A long line of men all from Lubezere estate. Residents of Arlava parish frequently mingled with those from neighbouring Nurmuiza parish, and it seems like female lines woven into these Ozolins all hailed from Nurmuiza. There are two Grietas – Grieta Nikodemus, wife of Kristaps Ozolins, and Grieta Olms (Olmans?), the wife of Ans Ozolins (Gotthard’s wife was named Anna). Arlava kept detailed marriage records – unlike most of my family’s parishes so far – that actually denote birthdate, parish and page number of baptism. Mysteriously, Grieta/Margrieta Nikodemus’ information doesn’t check out – her marriage claims she was baptized in 1839 at Nurmuiza but there is no record to be found. Her last name intrigued me, since it doesn’t have a very traditionally Latvian sound, so I poked around some neighbouring parishes and found a larger Nikodemus family at Kuldiga. Perhaps she was originally from Kuldiga – time will tell.
210. Fritz (Fricis) son of farmer at Essern (Lubezere) estate, Smilkti farm Christoph(Kristaps) and his wife Margareta. Godparents: Fricis Ozolins, bachelor and Julie Frohlich, maiden.
Matilda’s family is more of a mystery still. Her father was Janis Ozols – a name that might as well be the “John Smith” of Latvia, since it is so common. Her mother is a glimmer of hope – Madlena Briedis. Briedis is also a very common surname but at least the first name Madlena stands out a bit. Still, no baptism to be found for a Madlena Briedis at Nurmuiza, although I HAVE located one that would fit for a MaRlena Briedis, but it seems too big of a spelling error to accept. Janis and Madlena were married in 1886 at Nurmuiza parish, which kept sadly detail-less marriage records – literally just first and last names and date of marriage. They had a daughter in 1888 and Matilda in 1890 and then disappear from records – aka moved or died. Another loose end waiting to be tied up!
A few details about the setting here – the town of Talsi is fairly inland, but the parish of Nurmuiza to it’s east included residents right from the Talsi city limits over west to the Baltic coast on the Gulf of Riga. There was a decently busy port at Roja, just to the north along the coast, and Nurmuiza residents were actually sometimes shipbuilders and fishermen as well as your typical farmers. This could potentially be a reason for Fricis’ advanced age at marriage – he was 22 years older than his wife. I had previously figured it was possible that he had been a soldier, but now sailor is also a possibility. Of course, there’s always personal preference too, I suppose!
More to come…