This is part of my series of interesting newspaper articles and snippets that I find in the old Latvian newspapers available through Periodika. Most of the articles I post are in some way related to migration, wars or other events that are of particular genealogical or historical note.

Source: Baltijas VÄ“stnesis (Baltic Herald), January 11, 1906

News from Smiltene. On their way to Smiltene on December 24, dragoons burned one home in CÄ“rtene, whose owners were not home. In Smiltene, there were large-scale searches and arrests. So that they could scare the residents, the soldiers fired a cannon from the hilltop, but it did not cause any damage. Local photographer Cukurs was not home when searches took place, so all of his property was removed from his home and burned. A local constable was wounded by two shots to the stomach. In the evening, all of the roads in town were watched, and no one was allowed in or out. Only armed dragoons traversed the streets. At night, the dragoons arrived at the Smiltene estate and removed all of the estate horses from their stalls and replaced them with their own. They also took feed without payment. Prince Lieven was not home. It has been heard that prince Lieven has made efforts to prevent such arbitray action by the military. After a few more days, the house of the constable was burned down.

This news is more revolution-based than genealogy-based. However, since the 1905 Revolution – and the reprocussions from the authorities for years to come – were felt throughout the country, and caused the migration of thousands of people (be it voluntary to the West or forced to prisons and labour camps in Siberia), I think it is important to consider. Articles like this illustrate the fact that while not everyone was an active participant in revolutionary activity (though, depending on the parish or town, a majority could be), the authorities suspected almost everyone who was not a German aristocrat or Russian military officer. An interesting thing that this article shows is that even the aristocrats thought that the military could over step their bounds – in this case, the aristocrat was Prince Paul Lieven. From the accounts that I have been able to find about him, he was much more benevolent than most barons and landowners, creating the town of Smiltene and many of its improvements (including a hospital and railway), and sometimes he even stood up for his peasants against the military and other authorities.

Baltic Herald – January 11, 1906
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3 thoughts on “Baltic Herald – January 11, 1906

  • January 12, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Can you explain who the dragoons are affiliated to? thanks, really interesting!

  • January 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Dragoons are mounted infantry units. In the Russian Empire, they also performed some internal policing duties (they were particularly prominent in the Baltics in this revolutionary era), such as suppressing rebellions, punitive expeditions, etc. Many battles between Czarist forces and revolutionaries in this time period featured dragoons as the main Czarist force.

  • January 15, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    I think such newspaper articles are very valuable, first hand accounts, for what our ancestors had to live with. Keep ’em coming! And thanks.

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