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52 Ancestors #11: Kristīne Kukure

Time for Week 11 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.

At the close of last week’s post, I mentioned that this week I would be talking about one of my “more puzzling female ancestors” – this would be Kristīne Kukure, born November 22, 1872, and died July 14, 1945. She is my great-great-grandmother, by way of my paternal grandmother’s mother Lilija Šīre.

Now, one would say that I have her birth and death dates – how mysterious could she be? Well, the mystery appears because despite the numerous sources that I have that mention her birthdate, and a birthplace of Limbaži, I have not found her there – or anywhere within a 25-kilometre radius. It is like she just fell out of the sky to marry my great-great-grandfather Jēkabs Šīrs (I don’t have their marriage record either), and then have my great-grandmother Lilija in 1899 in Kalnciems (baptized in Daugavgrīva). There are several other Kristīnes Kukures, but none of them have the correct father’s name or birth year (though this is typically flexible), and they married other people at later times (that is, after my Kristīne was already married with a child).

Here’s what I do know: Her father’s name was Andrejs. She had two brothers who were living at the time of her death: Andrejs Kukurs (son of Andrejs) and Augusts Blaus (son of Andrejs). So this presents the first mystery: Where did her two brothers of different surnames come from? Was Augusts Blaus adopted? Or the son of a first marriage of her mother’s? An illegitimate child of her mother’s, who wasn’t ever officially adopted by Andrejs Kukurs? Or did their mother remarry after Andrejs’ death and this is a child from her second marriage? Or did the family change their name at some point, but Andrejs Kukurs Junior kept the old family name? Or the other way around – Blau was the original name, and then they changed it to Kukurs? Any of these are possibilities, though my suspicion is one of the first/second marriage options, since there is an Anna Kukurs with a father Andrejs who was born in 1866, baptized in the Limbaži St. Katherine’s Lutheran Church, as well as an Andrejs Kukurs baptized in 1839 – a perfect age to be the father of Anna and Kristīne.

Furthermore, I know that Jēkabs and Kristīne divorced on June 9, 1923. Jēkabs died several months later on October 14. What led to their divorce? The death record that I have does not provide a cause of death (it is a copy that was re-issued in 1942 – I wonder why? Another question!). After the divorce, daughter Lilija inherited most of the family property, and Kristīne lived with Lilija’s family – Lilija, husband Augusts Lūkins and their daughter Zenta – in what is now Vecmilgrāvis, a northern suburb of Rīga. When Lilija, Augusts and Zenta left Latvia for the West during the Second World War, Lilija signed a power of attorney giving her mother control over the family property in her absence. This document was signed on September 6, 1944. Kristīne died less than a year later, at which point her brothers signed a letter supporting the naming of two people to the administration of Kristīne’s estate. Since this was after the second Soviet invasion, I’m not sure how free of a choice that was, or what, in the end, happened to the family property. These are all documents in the possession of my great-grandfather Augusts Lūkins’ extended family, since his brother Vilis was a notary, and thus they have remained in his family’s archive.

So where was Kristīne Kukure born? Was she born in the Limbaži St. Katherine’s Lutheran Church area, and just not baptized? Or was she born somewhere else? Who was her mother? Where did she and Jēkabs meet and marry? So many questions, I just hope that I will someday be able to answer them.

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