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 Jānis Šīrs, born October 20, 1819 and died after 1868. He is my great-great-great-grandfather, by way of my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather, Jēkabs Šīrs.

Jānis Šīrs was born on Staiceles farm on Pučurga estate, near the west coast of Lake Burtnieki in northern Latvia. His parents were Marcis and Anna. Jānis married Kristīne Kvante on November 21, 1851 at the Matīši Lutheran Church.

Kristīne’s entry describes their migration pattern – from Pučurga to Stāberģi in 1858, to Milite in 1863, to Vilzēni in 1868. It is here that their path appears to stop, though there is a notation next to the name of their son Jēkabs (my great-great-grandfather) that he moved to Limbaži and became a part of the petty bourgeois at some point (I’m assuming a great deal later, since the bulk of the revision list registers are in German, but the notation is in Russian, and I would assume that a five year old did not amass the wealth necessary to achieve that status on his own). Whether there is any truth to this, I don’t know, because I have not found him in Limbaži records and the next news I have of him is the baptism of his daughter Lilija in 1899 in Daugavgrīva, near Rīga.

The different revision lists provide a listing of children of Jānis and Kristīne – Jānis (c. 1852), Antons (c. 1854), Augusts (c. 1856) are listed in the 1857 revision list and their 1858 move to Stāberģi. The 1863 move to Milite lists four sons – Jānis and Antons again, then Pēteris and Jēkabs (1862). The 1868 move to Vilzēni loses Antons, but adds Marcis as the youngest son. So it seems that Jānis and Kristīne had six sons all together, but two (Antons and Augusts) died in childhood. There is never a mention of any daughters, but starting from the move to Milite, there appears to be a girl called Marija Brants traveling with the family – eight years older than their oldest son, but maybe she worked with the family as an extra caregiver? That’s what I would guess, anyways. She moved with them from Stāberģi to Milite, and again from Milite to Vilzēni.

Since I have no sign of them moving anywhere after Vilzēni, it is probable that Jānis died in Vilzēni, but when, I cannot say. Perhaps if I could finally find a marriage record belonging to his son Jēkabs (to the mysterious Kristīne Kukure), that might help narrow down when he died. But since I haven’t had any luck with Jēkabs’ marriage record yet (aggravated by the fact that 31 years of his life – from 1868 to 1899 – are unaccounted for, and Kristīne Kukure’s life prior to her daughter’s birth is also a mystery), perhaps marriage records for his brothers might help, since they may have stayed in the Matīši area. It is an option to look into.

Next week we return to one of my family’s repeating names – no, we’re not going back to a Pēteris Celmiņš again yet (though there is still another one to come), but to the other repeating name! Do you remember which one that is?

52 Ancestors #34: Jānis Šīrs
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