I’ve decided to join the challenge posted by Amy of No Story Too Small, the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge of writing a blog post each week about an ancestor. In Amy’s words, “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.
Initially, I thought I’d start the way we normally do with genealogy – the most recent ancestors first, and then work backwards. But I’ve decided to approach it from the other end – my most recent ancestors already get a lot of screen time in my blog, so it is time to hand over the reins to the ancients (well, as ancient as you can get with Latvian ancestors, I suppose) by starting with my earliest known ancestors in my family tree.
First on the list: Ādams Baburs, my great-great-great-great-grandfather by way of my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother, Karoline Matilde Baburs.
Ādams Baburs was born on April 20, 1815. A World War Two-era family document tells me that he was of the Catholic faith, but the only evidence of this that I have in other records are some scribbles in the birth records of his children that seem to indicate that he was not Lutheran, but I don’t think they say Catholic either. There is another Baburs male baptizing children in Suntaži around the same time, and he is marked as a Catholic, but I do not know if they are related. Regardless of his original faith, he married Anna Ronis or Bonis (Ronis makes more sense, since it is a known Latvian surname, but the handwriting isn’t the greatest in the marriage record and later documents clearly say Bonis) at the Suntaži Lutheran Church on June 14, 1842.
My great-great-great-grandfather Mārtiņš Baburs, born January 9, 1844, was their first child, baptized in the Suntaži Lutheran Church as well. Another son, Juris, was born in 1846 in Suntaži, but by 1852, when son Ermanis was born, the family was living on Stopiņi estate south of Rīga and baptizing their children in the Ikšķile-Salaspils Lutheran Church. Given that there is a farm in the area with the name Baburi, and the lack of Baburs records in Suntaži save for the 1830s and 1840s, it is possible that this is actually where Ādams was from.
At some point, Ādams, his wife Anna and his sons moved into Rīga, where they became a part of the workers’ social estate (class), according to the Russian system of social estates. A lot of the information I have about this family, including Ādams’ birth and death information, comes from a document from the 1890 tax lists, which are subdivided by social estate. His grand-daughter, my great-great-grandmother Karoline, was born in 1867/1868 (depending on which calendar you use), and baptized at the Jesus Lutheran Church in the Moscow district of Rīga, which was a common district for newcomers to the city to settle, and was very ethnically and religiously diverse, being home to Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox and Old Believer places of worship.
Ādams died on July 6, 1890 of old age. His age at time of death is listed in the Jesus Lutheran Church record as 80, and that he was born in Suntaži, but given the other document that lists his birthdate as 1815 (which would make him 75 in 1890), and that most Baburs activity is in Stopiņi, I’m not sure if either his birthplace or age here are correct. It is also worth noting that Ādams died two days after his daughter-in-law Kristīne (maiden name Baiše, wife of Ermanis), though the causes of death may or may not be related – she is listed as having died of a chest infection, while he died of old age (though that could have been brought on by the same contagion). They were both buried on July 7.
The reason I’ve started with Ādams is because he and his family have a great mystery that I’m trying to solve – where in the world did the name Baburs come from? It is an extremely uncommon name in Latvia, and from the research I’ve done thus far, I’m pretty certain all of the Baburs families are related. Babur is the name of some villages in northern Iran. It is the name of the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur (whose name is also spelled Baber or Babar, so I must also consider those spelling options), who was descended from Tamerlane. Babar/Babur means “lion” in Urdu, and it is a clan name in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. So with all that in mind… how did such a name end up in rural Latvia? My best guess is that it somehow involved Ottoman prisoners of war – the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire were involved in numerous wars throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. I know some Ottoman prisoners of war were shipped up to Latvia in the 1870s, it is possible that some were sent there earlier as well. So either my ancestors heard the name at that time and chose it as a surname when they needed to acquire one, or an unknown ancestor (possibly Ādams’ father?) actually was of Ottoman extraction. Possibly this is a question that will needed to be identified by genetic genealogy?
So that’s ancestor #1… who knows where we’ll go next week?