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Rīga Passport Database Index is Available!

Okay, so admittedly, I’m late with this post, since the database I’m going to talk about came online a few months ago, but with the other projects I’ve got going on, I hadn’t gotten around to this post yet. Better late than never!

If you’ve been paying attention to Raduraksti over the past few months, you’ll see that a new category has appeared – the “Database” section, which contains one item right now – “List of Latvian inhabitants 1918-1940″. Sounds exciting, right?

It is an exciting resource, however, it is not as exhaustive as it might sound. More accurately, this should be called an “Index of Rīga internal passport holders, 1918-1940″. “Internal passport” is important – in the interwar period, this was a document that everyone over the age of 15 was supposed to have as proof of identity. Not only did it record one’s vital statistics – photograph, birthdate, birthplace, father’s name – but also addresses that the person lived at, stamps confirming participation in different elections, and so on. An internal passport can really help track someone who moved around a lot because of this.

The other important thing to know is that this collection only encompasses passports of Rīga residents – now, how they define “Rīga residents” can be a bit confusing. There are many people who lived in Rīga who officially “belonged” somewhere else – for example, my great-grandfather Pēteris Eduards Celmiņš is found in this index, though he was born in and officially belonged to Vijciems parish in northern Latvia, despite living in Rīga during that time period. His wife, Anna Liepa, a born-and-bred Rīgan, was also officially registered in Vijciems parish due to her marriage to Pēteris. The passports will list all addresses that the person lived in during the passport’s validity, including those outside of Rīga. But whenever the passport’s validity was up is presumably when the passport was returned to the government and then became a part of this archival collection. However, since there’s nothing saying that everyone returned their passports, and many could have been lost or stolen along the way, this collection is not a firm determinant of everyone who lived in Rīga during this time period. Plenty of people who lived in Rīga might not appear in this database, especially if they were born in the 1920s or later, since they might not have had their own passport yet (or still had it in their possession when the Second World War started, and thus may not have turned them in to become a part of this collection).

Now, the database does not provide all of the information that is on the passport. It just provides the barebones outline – name, surname, father’s name, birthdate, birthplace, and place of registration (“place of origin” in the English-language version, but that doesn’t seem accurate, based on what I describe above). But if you find this information in the database, then you know that the passport is there, and you can look at it at the Latvian State Historical Archives and make copies.

It is possible to search the database, but they don’t make the process easy – you need to enter the name you’re looking for and press “Enter”, and only then “Search”. You also have to enter all of the proper diacritic marks – ā, ē, ī, ū, č, ģ, ķ, ļ, ņ, š, ž – otherwise you will not get any results. Don’t forget to search both male and female variants of surnames, since they will be listed separately. To search for both at once, enter the stem of the name (for example, “Celmiņ” for Celmiņš/Celmiņa), and then search using the “>” sign instead of the “=” sign, and your results will include all names starting with that stem.

Unfortunately, the database does not provide the entries for “maiden name”, which is a shame, since they are available in the on-site database in the archives. This means that if a woman is married, she will be listed under her married name, and she will not appear in the index under her maiden name, unless she had a previous passport issued under her maiden name.

Now, what about passports for places other than Rīga? In some cases, some local parish document collections will have these passports available, but this is relatively rare. A few parishes have well-preserved collections, but unfortunately most do not. The ones that do exist are not found in this database, and I don’t know if they intend on adding them in the future.

Have you had any luck finding your ancestors in this database? Made any new discoveries? Any other questions about this database? Please share in comments!

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.

WW1 Diary – March 14, 1917

Thirty-eighth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

March 14, 1917

Crazy days indeed… the czar and czarina have been arrested. The Mother of the land, for whom we had to pray to God every Sunday, for her health and so that she would protect the land, is said to be the biggest traitor to the country. Now that it is allowed to write anything, there are all sorts of dirty stories coming out about court life. The Czarina herself has been completely wanton – and who should be the one to cast the first stone?

All of the big ministers have been imprisoned, who ate the people’s profit for so long. The people and the soldiers march with red flags – “Long live a free Latvia! Long live the Revolution!” Meetings, gatherings and demonstrations are taking place everywhere.

There are many victims of the Revolution, but still, Imanta rises and will destroy the terrible enemy Germans and peace will rule in the land, then Latvia will live, our dear fatherland!

52 Ancestors #10 – Ēde Jansone

Time for Week 10 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 ancestors is Ēde Jansone, born May 27, 1845, died sometime after 1897. She is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother Karolīne Matilde Baburs. Ēde was born on Dandas farm on Vibroka estate in central Latvia, northwest of the town of Mālpils. She was baptized in the Mālpils Lutheran Church. Her parents were Indriķis and Ieva. She was the youngest of five siblings, having one sister, Līze, and three brothers, Juris, Indriķis and Mārtiņš.

I don’t know much about her early life, only that she must have lost her father at a young age – he does not appear in the 1858 revision list in any way. The 1850 revision list is missing, but the ages at last revision provided in 1858 indicate that a revision list was done in 1850. If he had died between 1850 and 1858, he would be noted in the 1858 revision list as having died in the interim. Since he was not, and his wife Ieva is listed as a widow, this means he died sometime between Ēde’s birth (since he was still living at the time) and the time of the 1850 revision list. I have not had time to look for his death record yet.

The next time Ēde pops up after the 1858 revision list is marrying my great-great-great-grandfather Māŗtiņš Baburs in the town of Ikšķile on October 16, 1866. Ikšķile is about 50km southwest of Mālpils. I’m not sure what she was doing there or how she got there. As mentioned in my post about her father-in-law Ādams Baburs, the Baburs family was living on nearby Stopiņi estate at the time, but I’m not sure what brought Ēde there. After their marriage, Ēde moved to Rīga with Mārtiņš and his family, where their only child, my great-great-grandmother Karolīne Matilde Baburs, was born in 1867/1868.

Just like Ēde lost her father at a young age, so did her daughter – Ēde’s husband Mārtiņš died in 1870, though I have not yet found his death record, just a notation in the 1897 tax list that he died in 1870. His death record does not appear in the Rīga Jēzus church where Karolīne was baptized and other Baburs family deaths are recorded. However, even after Karolīne married in 1892, it seems as though Ēde stayed with the Baburs family, since she appears under their listing in the 1897 tax list. What happened to her after that, I don’t know. It is possible that she moved to Bolderāja with her daughter and son-in-law, or she may have stayed in Rīga. I know only that she did not appear in the Rīga Jēzus congregation lists of 1914-1939 (nor do any other Baburs), nor does she appear in the family funeral photo of her son-in-law Jēkabs in 1929.

Truth be told, I can’t be completely certain that the Ēde from Dandas farm on Vibroka estate is my Ēde until I find her death record (which would hopefully list her place of birth). The only document I have linking them together is a family document from the 1940s which provided a three-generation family lineage for my great-grandfather’s brother (and therefore my great-grandfather as well, since they had the same mother and father). This information was probably provided by Ēde’s daughter Karolīne, and backed up by archival documents found by a relative who worked at the archives. I need that death record!!

Next week we’ll be moving on to one of my more puzzling female ancestors – stay tuned!

WW1 Diary – March 5, 1917

Thirty-seventh installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated to a home near Valmiera. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.

March 5, 1917

My mind is racing trying to understand the meaning of recent events. An event unheard of in human history has occurred, something as if out of a storybook, impossible. In the space of 24 hours two rulers rejected the throne. The Romanov dynasty, which ruled from Russia’s helm for 300 years, has been forced to abdicate the throne and power over the land. The power from the people has united in one call: Down with the Czar!

A big conference has taken place in Petrograd, where the vice-prosecutor requested to have the Czar’s throne removed from the hall, as a symbol of the end of Czarism. All of the old government men have been arrested, big ministers, who everyone feared, are now sitting locked up in prisons. Political prisoners have been released from jail. The police officials and deputies have been relieved of their weapons, patrols are being done in their place. The Red flag, for whose sake so many have suffered, is now raised across Russia. But what will happen to Russia, what will happen to us? Now we stand at the eve of big changes, which everyone is awaiting with troubled minds.

We are the children of a crazy age, what all have we experienced, and what more will we survive? What kind of a life will our children have?

52 Ancestors #9: Kače Rožlapa

Time for Week 9 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 Kače Rožlapa, born c. 1822 and died after 1886. She is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my paternal grandfather’s paternal grandfather Pēteris Celmiņš.

Kače was born c. 1822, probably on Vecbūdas farm on Vijciems estate in northern Latvia, south of Valka. Vecaurīši farm is the home of the only Kače Rožlapa of the appropriate age in the 1826 revision list. If this is indeed the Kače we’re looking for, her parents’ names are Matīss and Kače, and they moved to Vecaurīši farm in 1823 from Vecbūdas farm, ergo the belief that Vecbūdas is where Kače (Junior) was born. Kače had at least three siblings at the time of the 1826 revision list – Jānis (c. 1813), Līze (c. 1815) and Liene (c. 1820).

At the time of her marriage to Kārlis Celmiņš on September 29, 1846 at Trikāta Lutheran Church, Kače was living on the Īcēni farm. She subsequently joined him on Stampvēveri farm, where they had four children: Pēteris (b. 1847, my great-great-grandfather), Marija (b. 1850), Minna (b. 1855) and Dāvis (b. 1858).

I have not yet located her death record, but I do know that she died after her husband Kārlis, who died on February 2, 1886 of gastric problems. He is listed in his death record as “married” (rather than widowed, indicating a living spouse) and “husband of Kače”. The 1875 population register (with additions into the early 1900s) does not list any remarriage, so that means that it would be the same Kače.

Where will we go next week? Only time will tell.

Surname Saturday - More Latvian Olympians!

We already celebrated Latvian Olympians in last week’s Surname Saturday post, but I’m dedicating another week to them, since Latvia scored one last medal on the final day of the Olympics! This was a silver medal in men’s 4-man bobsleigh, to go along with the two bronzes in luge and silver in skeleton won previously, making it Latvia’s best Olympic showing! We’re moving up in the world.

The members of the 4-man team that won the silver:

Oskars MELBĀRDIS – This surname could have a variety of meanings. The last part, “bārdis” is clear enough – this means “beard” (or more accurately, “bearded” or “someone with a beard”). The “Mel” part is more difficult though. By itself, it could mean “liar”, which would make the name meaning “lying beard” or something like that. But I’ve also seen “Melbārdis” and “Melnbārdis” used interchangeably to refer to the same person/family – which would make the meaning “black beard” instead.

Arvis VILKASTE – I like this one. “Vilks” (wolf) + “aste” (tail) = “Wolf tail”.

Daumants DREIŠKENS – This one I’m not certain on. Could be related to the German verb “dreschen”, which means “thresh”. My German surname dictionary also suggests that similar names could be unusual patronymic forms of “Andreas”, so there is that possibility as well.

Jānis STRENGA – This name could come from the word “streņģe”, which refers to a rope that is a part of a horse’s harness.

Now that Olympic fever is over, time to move on to new names! There have been a lot of additions to the Latvian Surname Project recently, so pop over to check it out!

Surname Saturday - 2014 Latvian Olympians

Just like in 2012, Surname Saturday here at Discovering Latvian Roots is celebrating Latvia’s Olympians!

Now, I’m not sticking only to the medalists. And there’s a reason for that, which most Latvians, and others paying attention to the Latvian Olympic team (which this week included all of Canada), will know full well – whatever the medal accomplishments of Latvian athletes in Sochi, the real darling of the Latvian sports world right now is 21-year goalie Kristers Gudļevskis.

For those that missed it, here’s the short version: Latvia’s ice hockey team often makes it to the Olympics, but fails to get out of preliminary rounds. This year was no different – they lost all of their preliminary round matches – but in the playoff round, they had a surprise win against the Swiss team, which sent them into the quarter-finals against Canada, the defending Olympic champions.

Gudļevskis – Latvia’s second goalie – was chosen to start in this game, since Edgars Masaļskis, the veteran goalie who had played against the Swiss, was suffering from exhaustion. Gudļevskis, a 5th round 2013 NHL entry draft pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning currently playing for their AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch, was now up against over $140 million worth of Canadian NHL players.

Now, Latvia did lose the game 2-1. But consider this – apparently 90% of the game was in the Latvian end. Gudļevskis made 55 saves, letting in only two goals. That’s pretty phenomenal, especially for a rookie. Now, I don’t really know anything about hockey, but considering all sorts of hockey experts (including Canada’s goalie Carey Price) said that his goaltending was phenomenal, I’ll trust their judgement. I’ll certainly be following his career development, and I hope to see him as starting goalie in the 2018 Olympics.

So, after all that, the first name we’re looking at in Surname Saturday is GUDĻEVSKIS. Unfortunately, I don’t have a firm meaning for this name. It is of Slavic origin, as evidenced by the the -skis ending. It is probably related to the Polish names Gudlewski and Gudlewicz. I did find one Polish surnames website that connects names starting with Gud- to meanings associated with pigs or liars. Another possibility is a Scandinavian connection (by way of Slavic territory) where the “Gudļev” in “Gudļevskis” comes from the Norse name “Gudleif”, which means “God’s heir”. In light of Gudļevskis’ performance, and several memes going around Twitter, Wikipedia and Facebook, I think this second option will prove most popular! I know I certainly prefer it.

But we can’t neglect Gudļevskis’ teammates, many of whom have much more easily recognizable names – longtime NHL veteran Sandis OZOLIŅŠ (diminutive of “oak”) has a pretty straightforward name, as do Lauris DĀRZIŅŠ (diminutive of “garden”), Zemgus GIRGENSONS (patronymic, “son of Jirgens”), Armands BĒRZIŅŠ (diminutive of “birch”), Ronalds ĶĒNIŅŠ (“king”), Ralfs FREIBERGS (“free mountain”) and Vitālijs PAVLOVS (patronymic, “son of Paul”). Latvia’s goalie against the Swiss, Edgars MASAĻSKIS, has a bit trickier of a name – like Gudļevskis, it is also a name of Slavic origins. It could have a variety of connections, Polish “masa” (mass, substance) or perhaps Russian “масло” (maslo), meaning “oil”. A Polish surname website suggests that it could be to do with weight (as in “masa” mentioned before), or have a connection to the name “Mosiej”, a variation of Moses.

Now we will turn our attention to the Olympic medalists!

Skeleton silver medallist Martins DUKURS, as well as his brother Tomass who finished in 4th, have an interesting surname. Dictionaries tell me it means “scoop net” – that is, a handheld net that is used for fishing. This isn’t a surname I see very often, but my surname project shows it as appearing in Mazsalaca, Sēļi and Skaņkalne parishes, all in northern Latvia. Wikipedia tells me that the skeleton racers’ roots are in Alūksne, which is also in northern Latvia, though further east than the abovementioned parishes.

Latvia also acquired two bronze medals in luge – in doubles and in the team relay. Doubles winners were the brothers Šici – Andris and Juris. ŠICS is also a surname whose meaning I am not certain about. It looks more like a name ending than anything else. I thought perhaps German, but it doesn’t appear in my German surname dictionary. It could be related to the German surnames Schütz or Schütze, which mean “shelter” and “rifleman”, respectively.

Rounding out the team relay, along with the brothers Šici, were Elīza TĪRUMA (“field”) and Mārtiņš RUBENIS (“grouse”).

Best of luck to Latvian athletes in their endeavours after Sochi 2014, and see you in Rio in 2016 for the Summer Olympics, and Pyeongchang in 2018 for the next Winter Olympics!

52 Ancestors #8: Pēteris Celmiņš

Time for Week 8 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 Pēteris Celmiņš. Now, the first question to answer here is – which one? I have five in my paternal line. Evidently this was a popular family name – nowhere else in my family lines do I have a name repeat that often. I’m certain that if I go down collateral lines I’ll see names repeat with more frequency, but to have five people with the same name in one direct line in only eight generations must be pretty remarkable, especially given that there was no strict order in the naming of sons (that is, birth order was irrelevant in terms of when the Pēteris showed up, but most of them appear in my direct line). One might wonder how I didn’t end up with the name Petra. But moving on.

We’ll start with the furthest back Pēteris Celmiņš that I have any amount of information on, who was born c. 1755 and died 1828. He was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, by way of my paternal grandfather’s paternal grandfather, whose name was also Pēteris Celmiņš (surprise surprise). This furthest back Pēteris’ father’s name was Pēteris as well (again, big surprise). He was married to a woman named Anna. He had four sons that I’m aware of, Jēkabs (c. 1784-1819), Jānis (c. 1785-1813), Dāvis (c. 1790-1839, my great-great-great-great-grandfather) and Kārlis (c. 1796-after 1858). Even the earliest revision lists show no sign of a daughter, and no son named Pēteris, though the name would reappear in later generations.

Pēteris died in 1828, according to the 1834 revision list. It is likely that his wife Anna also died between 1826 and 1834, since she does not appear in the 1834 revision list either.

Pēteris spent most of his life on Stampvēveri farm on Vijciems estate in northern Latvia, south of Valka, but the earliest revision lists (1795) show that he was originally from the nearby Paukulītes farm. This means he would have attended religious services and celebrated life events at the Trikāta Lutheran Church, as his descendants did, who would remain on Stampvēveri farm until well into the 20th century. His great-great-grandson, my great-grandfather Pēteris Eduards, moved to Rīga in the early 20th century, but at least one brother of Pēteris Eduards remained on the Stampvēveri farm into the 1940s. I wonder if Celmiņš descendants still own the farm today – I attempted to visit it a year and a half ago when I was in the area, but a freak snowstorm made the minor roads around Stampvēveri impassable, so that is something I will need to do some other time.

Next week we will pursue more of my paternal grandfather’s line. Stay tuned!

52 Ancestors #7: Līze Mildere

Time for Week 7 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 Līze Mildere, born April 27, 1825, and died prior to October 1892. She is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather Jēkabs Lūkins.

Līze was born on the Melluži farm on Vecate estate in northern Latvia, another one of my ancestors from the Lake Burtnieki area. She is the daughter of Jēkabs Milders and his wife Ēde. Līze had at least four siblings, Ēde (c. 1813), Indriķis (c. 1816), Jānis (c. 1819), Mārīte (c. 1822), and several probable half siblings, including Tenis (c. 1831) and another Ēde (c. 1833) . While she was born on the Melluži farm, by the age of 9 she was living up the road at the Zērbele farm, according to the 1834 revision list (and was still living there according to her 1844 marriage record). I’m not certain why, her older sister Mārīte is still living at home, though the elder Ēde is not – she would be 21 years of age in 1834, so she could have been married, or she may have died (given that there is a younger daughter named Ēde as well).

For whatever reason 9-year old Līze was living separately from her family, she was still there on Zērbele farm in 1844 when she married Līberts Lūkins on October 29, 1844 in Matīši church. After moving with him to Jaunate estate, they had a number of children, one of the youngest being my great-great-grandfather Jēkabs Lūkins in 1862. She died sometime prior to Jēkabs’ marriage to my great-great-grandmother Karoline Matilde Baburs in 1892, since she is listed as deceased in his marriage record.

Līze’s family and home farm showcase the importance of paying attention to residences, ages and parents – for on the Melluži farm, Līze had a cousin by the same name only two years older, and, what’s more, the two women married within days of each other, leading to many opportunities for confusion, especially if one didn’t know that my Līze had moved to Zērbele farm. The other Līze’s parents were Jānis and Mārīte, and she was born on February 27, 1823. This Jānis was the elder brother of Līze’s father Jēkabs, and his other children also shared names with Līze’s siblings – Ēde, Indriķis, Mārīte, Tenis. What possessed a pair of brothers living on the same farm to give their children the same names, I don’t know, but this happens frequently within my family history, and is frustrating to no end.

Do you have any stories to share about cousins with the same names? Feel free to comment!