Homeland – January 18, 1911

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 note.

Source: Tēvija (“Homeland”), January 18, 1911

The barons of Vidzeme are increasingly getting rid of forest guards who are of Latvian ethnicity, replacing them with German colonists, who are graduating every year from the Vijciems Forestry School. It is known that Latvian youth are longer being accepted at this school. Many German colonists are studying there on the barons’ dime. And people are saying that the Baltic region is not being threatened by German colonization!

This article, while not dealing specifically with migration or genealogy, does have some important facts to consider. Firstly, the political climate one hundred years ago compared with today. Today, when talking about concerns of being assimilated or destroyed by other nations, the worry is always about Russia and Latvia’s large Russian minority. One hundred years ago, while Latvia was part of the Russian Empire, most of the concern was regarding Germans, who had been the local government for centuries, regardless of who was the big empire in charge at the time. This article clearly illustrates that worry.

As to why the German barons may have been replacing Latvian forest guards, it is important to note that this article was written a few short years after the 1905 Revolution, when forests were prime staging grounds for groups of peasants to attack infrastructure and the grand estates of the barons. They were perhaps trying to retake control of the forests. How successful they were, I’m not sure. But the 1905 Revolution showed the barons that the people were not going to take being oppressed much longer.

A third reason why I’ve posted this article is more personal – the Vijciems forestry school is right next door to Stampvēveri, the farm where my Celmiņš ancestors have lived since my earliest records of them. Since they were ethnic Latvians, I wonder what they thought of all the goings-on at the time.

1 comment on this post.
  1. Pauline:

    So fascinating to learn about localised events. This is a really good find. Thank you for sharing with us.

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