My most difficult ancestor is my great-grandmother Anna Liepa. The reason for this is because she was born in Rīga, and Rīga is a big place. This means that any record search inevitably takes forever, since there are many records to search.
So I have formulated a precise plan of attack for finally finding her and her family, and, hopefully, getting them out of Rīga to a locale that is much more friendly to research (that is, the country, or a smaller town). Since I’m in Latvia right now, I’ve got all of the archives at my disposal, which should make this easier.
Let’s start with what is known about her:
- Anna Liepa was born on September 22, 1895 (N.S.), at the time of her birth her birthday was September 10, 1895 (O.S.).
- Her father’s name was Fricis.
- She was likely not an only child – my father has mentioned that there are Liepa cousins somewhere in Australia, so they could be descended from her siblings. (If any of you Liepa cousins in Australia are reading this, do leave a comment!)
- She married Pēteris Eduards Celmiņš on September 17, 1919.
- My earliest known address for her is Romanova iela (street) 62/64, apartment 4. She left this address on December 16, 1919 to move to Skolas iela 4, apartment 22 with her husband. Romanova iela is now known as Lācplēšu iela.
- Anna was a bookkeeper, and worked for the cooperative association “Konzums” from November 1, 1912, for at least ten years, possibly longer (my family has a certificate that was presented to her on her ten-year anniversary of being with the company).
- Her son Juris was born June 8, 1920, and her daughter Skaidrīte on July 7, 1921.
- Anna and her husband moved around frequently in the years following their marriage, living both in Rīga and Jūrmala, before eventually settling at Mātīšu iela 51/53 in 1934.
- Her husband Pēteris died in 1943, her son Juris and his new wife Zenta left for the West in 1944.
- Anna died in Rīga on June 20, 1987.
So, knowing that, let’s see what I’ve got on her father. Unfortunately, nothing concrete. I know that there were several Fricis Liepas living in Rīga at this time from different address books. However, all of them also had a penchant for moving around, since the addresses are different each time.
1903 address book
-Fricis Liepa, Dundagas iela 1.
-Fricis Liepa, Zeļļu iela 6, apartment 21.
1912 address book
-Fricis Liepa, Vidus iela 4, apartment 17.
-Fricis Liepa, Sabiles iela 16.
-Fricis Liepa, Dārtas iela 50. (Dārtas iela is now E. Smilģa iela)
1925 address book
-Fricis Liepa, Matīšu iela 43, apartment 46.
-Fricis Liepa, Talsu iela 9, apartment 57.
I plotted these all out on a map (with the exception of Dundagas iela, which does not appear to exist anymore, and I can’t find an alternate name for it), and found that four of them were concentrated in the same area, in the district of Āgenskalns in “Pārdaugava” (the left bank of the river Daugava, while the Old Town and main “city centre” are on the right bank). Could this make it more likely that three out of the four are actually the same person? Maybe, maybe not.
However, the only birth record I have for an Anna Liepa is from the St Paul’s Lutheran Church, which is in the main city centre, quite distant from the addresses in Āgenskalns. I would need to find an address book closer to her date of birth.
My theory is that the address mentioned above on Romanovas iela was her family’s address at the time she left it. She left that address only a couple of months after getting married, so it would make sense. This address is also close to the St Paul’s church. But this could then mean several things – a) they moved around a lot prior to settling there, since there is no Fricis Liepa at that address in any of the address books; or b) Fricis died not long after Anna’s birth, therefore none of the listings above for a Fricis Liepa are connected to Anna.
So this is all to say: Anna’s origins are a big puzzle. What am I going to do to try and straighten out this puzzle?
- Try and locate the house books for Romanovas 62/64. Problem here seems to be that the archives only seem to have the book for 1900 – which may be too early. We’ll see. Also I noticed in the index for house books that there is also a Romanova iela 62/66 – which is a bit odd, because it skips 64. Maybe I should go down there and check the building layouts out, and see if there were some changes back and forth, or if 62/66 is a completely separate building from 62/64.
- Try to find Anna’s employment records. Records do exist for the Konzums company, so maybe they have some personnel files that list her address?
- I could try looking at the tax rolls for Rīga, and see if I can find her anywhere. Since she started working at Konzums in 1912, which was before independence, there might be a record of her in 1394. fonds – Rīga tax records.
- Continue to make my way through the All-Russia Census. Since this was taken around the time of her birth, the areas to concentrate on are the ones around St Paul’s Church.
- Find more address books – the National Library apparently has a number of them, so I can go check those out and see if there are any listing a Fricis Liepa in 1895.
So that’s where I’m going to start, and see where it leads me! Hopefully the house books and Konzums files are detailed enough to get me what I’m looking for, because otherwise the tax lists and All-Russia Census could involve a great deal more legwork. Wish me luck!