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52 Ancestors #5: Marcis Šīrs

Time for Week 5 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 Šīrs, born c. 1792 and died after 1857. He is my great-great-great-great-grandfather, by way of my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather, Jēkabs Šīrs.

I do not know very much about Marcis’ life, since all I know comes from the revision lists, which do not provide much information. His father’s name was Tenis, I don’t know his mother’s name. I know that Marcis spent much of his life living on the Staiceles farm on Pučurga estate, in northern Latvia near lake Burtnieki. Marcis arrived at the Staiceles farm between 1811 and 1816 from the Dreimaņi farm, also on Pučurga estate. He married a woman named Anna in the same 1811-1816 time frame. Even less is known about her – her father’s name was Pēteris, she was the same age as Marcis and she died in late 1850 or early 1851 (since she was living at the time of the 1850 revision list in September 1850, but had died by the time of her son Jānis’ marriage in November 1851).

They had five known children – Marija (born c. 1817), Jānis (my great-great-great-grandfather, born 1819), Līze (born c. 1821), Jēkabs (born 1825) and Marcis (born 1835). Being as Jānis, his wife Kristīne and their first three children left Pučurga in 1858 (my great-great-grandfather Jēkabs was born a few years later), I suspect Marcis might have died not long after the 1857 revision list. However, the death records for the year in question are missing from the Matīši congregation church records, so I cannot confirm this. It is possible that he stayed there with some of his younger children.

While researching this branch of my family, I happened upon a geographic problem that genealogists might often face – places with the same name. I was initially stymied in my research regarding this branch of the family, since I misinterpreted a placename. Jānis Šīrs’ marriage record from 1851 says that he was born in “Staizel” – I initially interpreted this as meaning the village Staicele, north of the town of Aloja where his son, my great-great-grandfather Jēkabs, was baptized. Thus I was searching Aloja-area records for the family. It was only later that I learned it wasn’t the town of Staicele at all, but rather Staiceles farm on Pučurga estate near Matīši, 35 kilometres away. If you spot a birthplace, but aren’t finding anything in that town, keep in mind it could be a farm name instead of a parish/city name. Nearly every major city/town/parish in Latvia also has namesakes amongst the rural farms, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away – for example, I found a “Liepājas” farm just outside of the city of Daugavpils, over 400 kilometres away from the city of Liepāja. There is also a Limbaži farm near Daugavpils and a Valmieras farm near Kuldīga.

Those are just a few examples. Keep this in mind when doing your searches – maybe the place you are looking for is not that place at all. Also remember that placenames changed, or were called by different names in different records, depending on the language they were kept in. The town of Cēsis is known in German as Wenden, Polish as Kieś and Estonian as Võnnu. The above-mentioned Pučurga estate was called Galantfeldt in German.

Do you have a placename you’re stuck on? I might be able to help with it! More 52 Ancestors to come next week.

2 comments to 52 Ancestors #5: Marcis Šīrs

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