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52 Ancestors #23: Ieva (Lapiņa?)

Time for Week 23 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 Ieva Lapiņa (?), born c. 1847 and died sometime after 1917. She is my great-great-grandmother, being my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother.

I put her surname with a question mark (?) because I have no definitive proof of this. She was born at a time and place where surnames were not yet common, and thus I have not been able to find a birth record – or even a marriage record – for her and her husband Indriķis Štelmahers. Her maiden name comes to me only via family lore.

My first documentary evidence of her existence is the birth of her first daughter, my great-grandmother Jūle, in 1874. She had two more daughters, Emīlija (born 1877) and Karlīne (born 1878), and one son, Jānis (born c. 1880). They are all enumerated together in the 1897 Census in the town of Krustpils, at the time a part of Vitebsk guberniya. This same document gives her the Russian patronymic “Ivanovna”, which means her father’s name was Jānis (the Latvian version of Ivan).

The census document also tells me that Ieva was not born in Krustpils. While I’m not entirely certain where she was born, because the writing is a mess, it is probably somewhere nearby, since I can at least make out Vitebsk guberniya, so she wasn’t from across the river in Kurland guberniya (with the town of Jēkabpils directly across the Daugava river from Krustpils, the two towns are now united under one authority of Jēkabpils).

I don’t know when Ieva died, but I know that she outlived her husband, who died of dysentery in Rēzekne during the First World War. I assume she returned to Krustpils with her daughter, and died sometime prior to the 1935 Census, since I have no record of her there.

Will I ever be able to find more on Ieva? I don’t know, to be honest. Lutheran records for Vitebsk guberniya are spotty at best, and lacking surnames at worst. I may never really have documentation about her maiden name – if she even had one when she married!

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