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WW1 Diary – December 12, 1917

Fifty-first installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated (again) to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing.

December 12, 1917

The whole country is shaken by the feverish firestorm of war, everything is topsy-turvy, one after another… The civil war is raging in its full insanity… the bloody events indescribable. Newspapers are full of horrible news. Pastors are holding services in their homes, for churches are still being used for rallies. Listening to the services, my heart is full of fear, hearing what the pastor is saying about famine, plague and the end of the world. It is possible, that that which I feared as a child will come to pass.

The pastor says, that for the Christian person, the Judgement will come as a spring breeze, but for the irreligious, it will scare them like a cold fall wind, when one does not have warm clothes. Gangs are going around and taking away the estates, along with the movable and immovable property. Even we were thrown out of our warm nest, taking from us our work and bread for no reason. Now we are living in our landlady’s second estate, where life is still comfortable and warm, despite everything that has happened. We still have an apartment and support for free until January 1st. Then our money will melt away, because everything is so expensive. Meat costs 350 kopecks, butter 700 rubles, milk is 80 kopecks a quart, soap is 280 kopecks, and so on.

Luckily Papa has a new job, as the supervisor of the Crown horses, which are being brought to us and then sold. His salary is 400 rubles per month. Horses and carts are being demobilized, and soldiers are leaving their positions in disarray, and heading home, for those who still have a home. Who will save us from the destruction and terror? Some are hoping for Lenin, the Bolshevik’s war leader, who is creating all sorts of confusion with Trotsky, and who are believed and followed by half the army. Others are hoping for Kaledin, the leader of the Cossacks, who wants to save Russia, and is fighting the “Bolshevik” battalions, who have been joined by our irrational Latvian “free riflemen”. Others are still hoping and longing for the Germans, wishing that they would come and deliver us from the horrible chaos, looming famine and destruction. My house and I will trust in God, who has been blessing aDend helping us up to now. He will continue to keep us and protect us. Who is sad, who is sorrowful – Jesus is standing next to us…

Tombstone Tuesday - Karlīne Slēgere, 1856-1880

In this series, I am providing pictures of tombstones from Latvian cemeteries, all with death dates prior to 1945. I do not have any further information on the people mentioned.

DSC02672_limbazi

Photo taken by me, August 2014. Click to enlarge.

Top Inscription: “Še dus Dieva mierā” (Here in God’s peace rests)

Name: Karlīne Slēgere, born 1856, died 1880.

Location: Jūras ielas kapi, Limbaži

Tombstone Tuesday – Miķelis and Anna Stegers

In this series, I am providing pictures of tombstones from Latvian cemeteries, all with death dates prior to 1945. I do not have any further information on the people mentioned.

DSC02696_limbazi

Photo taken by me, August 2014. Click to enlarge.

Top Inscription: “Svētīgie sirdsskaidrie, jo tie Dievu redzēs” (“The holy and pure of heart, for they will see God”)

Names: Miķelis Stegers, born October 7, 1852, died February 26, 1932; Anna Stegers, born December 18, 1852, died February 6, 1933

Location: Jūras ielas kapi, Limbaži

Tombstone Tuesday – Antons Maurītis, 1883-1919

In this series, I am providing pictures of tombstones from Latvian cemeteries, all with death dates prior to 1945. I do not have any further information on the people mentioned.

DSC02704_limbazi

Photo taken by me, August 2014. Click to enlarge.

Name: Antons Maurītis, born September 27, 1883; died October 29, 1919

Location: Jūras ielas kapi, Limbaži

WW1 Diary – November 10, 1917

Fiftieth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing.

November 10, 1917

The bloody civil war is raging. There is news about the fallen and injured, these numbers are huge. Other countries are calling Russia a “[unintelligble – but something not nice]” country, where everything is torn apart and destroyed. One thinks that “Russian” will be a shameful and curse word for everyone for a long time. All of the diplomats from other countries have left Petrograd. It is possible that soon all of the representatives of the country’s culture will leave Russia, for they have nothing to offer these barbarians. Only Wilhelm’s [NB: German Kaiser] military power is longing for Russia and maybe soon they will reap the fruits that the Bolsheviks have sown while repressing the sad, betrayed and shamed country.

WW1 Diary – November 1, 1917

Forty-ninth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing.

November 1, 1917

Everything is going topsy turvy. Latvian riflemen have returned from the front, arrested their officers, broken open Valmiera church and are holding rallies there. They’ve burned all of the arriving newspapers at the station. Each rumour is more outlandish than the next. Petrograd is fully in the hands of the Bolsheviks. And all of their sheep in the towns. Battles are not happening, the enemy is waiting, when the real civil war will start in Russia, and then he will come and bring order.

In Loving Memory: A Special 52 Ancestors Post

This is my Week #39 52 Ancestors post, and it is dedicated to a very recent ancestor of mine, my grandmother Aina Margrieta Līcīte, married name France, who passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

Aina Margrieta (Līcīte) France

October 19, 1919 – October 29, 2014

Passport photo of Aina Līcīte, c. 1947

Aina Margrieta Līcīte was born on October 19, 1919 to parents Brencis Līcītis and Jūle, maiden name Štelmahers. Her older sister, Marta (who passed away four years ago, you can read my memorial post dedicated to her here), was eight years old at the time.

However, the precise place of her birth is shrouded in mystery. All of her later documentation states that she was born in Krustpils, Latvia, and her sister Marta also confirms this. However, given the circumstances of the time period, I have my doubts about the veracity of this statement. First of all, the registry office archives were not able to supply me with her birth record – it did not exist in the otherwise fairly complete (I’m given to understand) registers of Krustpils. Then you must consider that while the First World War ended in 1918, the Russian Civil War and the concurrent Latvian War of Independence, with its multiple opposing armies, were still raging at the time of Aina’s birth. Not only were they still going on in the abstract sense of “somewhere”, they were going on in a very real sense of right around where she is purported to have been born. The Free Latvian forces had taken the town of Krustpils on June 5, 1919, but in October – when Aina was born – they were still battling the Reds in Līvāni -barely 20 kilometres to the southeast – and the rest of Latgale province.

Given that I know that Aina’s parents and sister were living near Rzhev, Russia, during the First World War, a fact I know both from Marta’s stories and documentary evidence, and the fact that most Latvian First World War refugees did not return until 1920 at the earliest because of the ongoing conflicts, I think it is highly unlikely that my great-grandfather Brencis brought his pregnant wife and young daughter back to their hometown so that their daughter could be born there. I think it is much more likely that Aina was born near Rzhev, and the family returned in 1920-1921. I am currently trying to confirm this with refugee registers.

Why lie about her place of birth? It was not unusual for children to be born outside of Latvia during this time period, so many Latvian children born in that era are listed as being born in Russia. But at the same time, they may have thought that the family would have problems getting their young daughter Latvian citizenship since she was born outside of Latvia. I haven’t ever seen this be a problem, but they may have been worried nonetheless, and thus lied about it. With no documents to contradict them, then they could easily continue telling that story. But I am intent on finding the truth of the matter.

Regardless of her place of birth, Aina grew up in Krustpils, attending school there, where she got average-to-good grades in all subjects. She had top marks for behaviour, but lower ones for paying attention – I know where I get my classroom inattentiveness from then! She also participated in some theatrical productions. In this photo, Aina is in the center of the first row.

Aina graduated from Jēkabpils State Gymnasium in 1938. She had “good” or “very good” grades in all subjects. After this completion of high school, she left her family home of Krustpils and moved to Rīga to attend nursing school, which she completed in 1941. Finding employment as a nurse in the midst of war was not a difficult task – and it was through this occupation that she was able to make it out of Latvia. Along with her sister Marta, who was a nurse’s aide, they made it out of Latvia to Poland, and then by ship from Gdansk to Germany and Denmark. When they arrived in the Displaced Persons camps, they did not have everything that they had brought out of Latvia with them – just the backpacks they were carrying. Their other luggage had been lost on a different ship that had been sunk by the Allied forces.

In the Displaced Persons camps in Denmark, probably at Gurrehus, Aina met her future husband Aleksandrs Francis, who was the Latvian leader at the camp, despite only being 25 years old. Eventually the refugees moved to Copenhagen, where Aina worked at as a dressmaker at Modepalæet on Osterbrogade for two years, until the opportunity finally came for the sisters to emigrate to Canada in the summer of 1949.

When Aina arrived in Canada, she had a work contract with the Toronto Hospital and lived in the Nurses’ Residence in Weston. Once this one year contract was over, she worked for the Convalescent Centre at the Weston Sanatorium. In this same year, she married Aleksandrs Francis on May 24, 1950, in Toronto.

A few years after the birth of their daughter in 1951, Aina and Aleksandrs moved to Saint Catherine’s, where they built their own home – scandalously placing their living room in the rear of the home, overlooking their beautiful garden, instead of at the front, where nosy neighbours would have preferred to see it. Aina and Aleksandrs became Canadian citizens in 1957. In addition to family trips to Mexico, the family also acquired a cottage in northern Ontario, where they would spend time in the summer.

Aleksandrs died suddenly in 1983, leaving Aina a widow. It would be another thirty-one years until she would join him in the great beyond.

I was born in 1984, and I have all sorts of memories of my grandmother from my childhood. I remember visiting her in Saint Catherine’s, where we’d play tennis with foam balls in her hallway. I remember going to the German store in Hamilton to buy Central/Eastern European Christmas goodies. I remember sitting on the windowsill of our house up on the hill, waiting and watching for my grandmother’s blue VW Beetle coming up the road, signalling that she and her sister were coming to visit.

When I was nine years old, they moved up from Saint Catherine’s to live in the same town as my parents and I, living just down the street. Marta moved to a nursing home after breaking her hip, and Aina moved there as well a few years later. Marta passed away in 2010. Aina had been getting weaker over the past few years, though this year she did improve substantially for a period of time. The last time I was able to visit, we were even able to take her outside in the wheelchair. But then the end came, and like her sister, she slipped peacefully into the eternal sleep.

Aina is survived by her daughter, son-in-law and granddaugther (me).

“Vediet mani dziedādami, Nevediet raudādami; Lai iet mana dvēselīte, Pie Dieviņa dziedādama.”
Latvian folksong (daina): “Escort me while singing, not while crying; May my soul go, to God while singing.”

52 Ancestors #38: Karolīne Matilde Baburs

Time for Week 38 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors. And I know, I know, I have some catch-up to do. Working on it!

This week’s ancestor is Karolīne Matilde Baburs, born December 31, 1867 and died c. 1940. She is my great-great-grandmother, my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother.

The first important note – Karolīne was born on December 31, 1867 according to the Old Style (Julian) calendar that was still in use in the Russian Empire at the time of her birth. According to calendar conversions, this should be January 12, 1868 when the New Style (Gregorian) calendar was adopted after the Russian Revolution. However, Karolīne’s documents from the interwar era, such as her passport, put her date of birth as January 4, 1869 – a year later than the earlier documents attest. Admittedly, these sorts of mistakes happen fairly regularly, and the name Baburs is sufficiently uncommon that this doesn’t present an issue in her identification.

Karolīne was born to Mārtiņš Baburs and Ēde Jansone in Rīga – the earliest known ancestor I have born in the city. Her parents and paternal grandparents had moved to the city in the year prior to her birth. They are recorded in the 1890s Rīga tax lists in the “worker” social class. Karolīne was baptized at the Rīga Jesus Church in the Moscow suburb of Rīga, south of the Old Town. The only Baburs mentioned in the 1877 Rīga address book – not, however, a known relative – lived on Moscow Street, the main street of said suburb, so he may be family after all.

Karolīne married Jēkabs Lūkins on October 11, 1892 in Daugavgrīva Lutheran Church, north of Rīga, and subsequently moved to Daugavgrīva/Bolderāja with her husband. They had five known children – my great-grandfather Augusts Roberts, Antons, Vera, Olga and Vilis. Her husband Jēkabs died in 1929, and I’m not sure where she lived afterwards. She may have continued to live in her home in Bolderāja, or she may have moved to live with one of her children, but I know that child was not my great-grandfather, since she does not appear in the 1935 census for his household (though his mother-in-law Kristīne Šīrs nee Kukurs does). I suppose I can check the census records to see if she appears at the address I know she lived at with her husband.

Karolīne died c. 1940, but that is only family lore, I do not have her death record. I should acquire it sometime – in fact, I should make a list out of all the death records I am missing for my family, and just go down to the registry office archives and get them all for my records! Of course, this will only work for death records after 1910, but I do have a fair number of those that need to be taken care of. I’m living here in Rīga after all, there’s no excuse not to!

WW1 Diary – October 26, 1917

Forty-eighth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing.

October 26, 1917

Worse and worse news arrives. Soldiers are doing mindless things, destroying, stealing, burning. The threat of famine is inching closer, there is news from Finland about total famine. Despair is stalking across the land. Unending bands of refugees, who have been turned out from their homes by the fire and violence of war. Everyone is calling for help. Winter and its harshness is at our doorstep. Rallies, meetings, without end. They have broken into the church in Cēsis and held their first rally. Words, words, and nothing is being done. There are no results from the promises that the Bolsheviks promised in their speeches, they have fulfilled none of them. There are rumours from Petrograd about pogroms, the fall of the Provisional Government, Kerensky committing suicide. Let’s hope that this is all bringing us towards peace, rather than destruction.

52 Ancestors #37: Marcis Graumanis

Time for Week 37 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge! As noted in my first post of this challenge, I am starting with my most ancient known ancestors.

This week’s ancestor is Marcis Graumanis, born June 1, 1823 and died December 15, 1873. He is my great-great-great-grandfather by way of my maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother Līze Graumane.

Marcis Graumanis was born on June 1, 1823 on Dikļi estate, Grotūzi farm, in northern Latvia. He is the son of Jānis and Grieta. How do I have a precise birthdate for someone born prior to 1834? Not the usual source (parish registers), if that’s what you’re thinking. No, in this case his birthdate comes from confirmation records – which don’t always survive in this parish, but when they do, they can be invaluable (especially if a family moved from elsewhere – then they can provide a place of birth). He was confirmed in 1841, while living on Skrīveļi farm.

The following year, their great wanderings began – which may or may not have had something to do with Jānis’ work as a schoolmaster. They moved to Pociems in 1842 and Sigulda in 1849, and somewhere in the interim Marcis married Trīne (probably Krastiņa) and had a son Pēteris (born c. 1848). Either before or after his death that same year, Marcis and his wife and son moved to Stalbe, where my great-great-grandmother Līze was born in 1855. They left Stalbe in 1857 and moved to Lāde estate, where they would then stay for generations. There are no records of any other children, and while the family appears in the Lāde 1858 revision list on the Gaiļi farm (down the street from where they would eventually come to settle on Lejas-Samši farm), Pēteris all but disappears after this point.

Wanderings having come to an end, Marcis remained on Lāde estate until the end of his life at the age of 50 of “brain inflammation” on December 15, 1873. He was buried in the Limbaži cemetery, and his place marked with one of the iron crosses that was typical of the time period – and which have a good survival rate into the present day. His burial site is shared by several members of his extended family, most specifically his grandson Vilhelms (the only other family member who is named), but also probably his wife Trīne, daughter Līze and son-in-law Ansis.

I have visited this gravesite, and I think it is one of the only ancient family gravesites that I have been to. I have been to some more recent ones, of people who died in the 20th century, but this is the only one from the 19th century. And considering Marcis died 141 years ago, it is pretty remarkable that his grave marker still survives. It may be that this is because the gravesite has still been used in more modern times, for other family members, I’m not sure.

I hope to eventually track down other familial burial sites as well, but this is the oldest one I have so far. Here’s to more in the future!