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52 Ancestors #14: Dārta Andersone

Time for Week 14 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 Dārta Andersone, born c. 1825 and died after 1884. She is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my maternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother, Doroteja Matilde Plūme.

Dārta was probably born on Nabe estate in northern Latvia, just south of Limbaži, but since there are no revision lists prior to 1858 or birth records prior to 1834 for the local Lēdurga church, I can’t be certain. At the time of her marriage to my great-great-great-grandfather Mārtiņš Plūme on December 9, 1845, she was living on Putniņi farm on Nabe estate, and was listed as “farm manager’s daughter”. Thus it is likely that her family had lived there for some time – if they were newcomers, they’d be more likely to be farmhands instead. It is possible that her parents were Jānis and Dārta – a “Dārta Andersone, widow of Janis, age 72″ is listed in the 1858 revision list record for Putniņi, but I can’t confirm that she is the mother of my Dārta. It is possible that her parents were both already deceased by this point and that the people listed are aunts, uncles and cousins.

Dārta and her husband Mārtiņš would go on to have a number of children – Marija (c. 1846), Anna (c. 1850), Jānis (c. 1857) and Doroteja Matilde (my great-great-grandmother, 1865). These are only the children I know about, there could be more as well. Also interesting to note that Dārta and Doroteja are names that are sometimes used interchangeably in Latvian records, meaning that mother and daughter technically had the same name. However, I have not seen Doroteja Matilde referred to as Dārta – always Doroteja, or, more commonly, by her middle name Matilde. Dārta was still living at the time of her daughter’s marriage in 1884.

Even though Dārta moved to neighbouring Kroņi farm upon her marriage, it would seem that Putniņi also stayed in her branch of the family, since by the early 1920s, when her son-in-law Roberts Francis died, he was the owner of both Kroņi and Putniņi. He willed Kroņi to his daughters and Putniņi to his sons. The fact that Roberts Francis was from outside of Nabe (see my post about his father Jēkabs Francis), combined with the fact that Doroteja’s father Mārtiņš Plūme had bought Kroņi in 1871, leads me to believe that both Kroņi and Putniņi were inherited by Doroteja, and then passed to her husband after her death in 1918. This means three generations of daughters inheriting – Dārta from her parents, and then Doroteja from hers – in both cases over siblings who were male – and then finally Roberts’ and Doroteja’s daughters. I know in many countries inheritances were typically only granted to male descendants, and sometimes even only the firstborn male, but in Latvian territory this was not the case, even before the fall of the Russian Empire. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, three out of four of my great-grandmothers were the property owners of the family, not their husbands. I haven’t found any scholarly references to this, but given how prevalent female inheritance and property ownership is in my own family, I believe that it has to be pretty widespread in late 19th and early 20th century Latvia in general.

Do you have female Latvian ancestors who also inherited the family properties? Share your stories in comments!

52 Ancestors #13: Indriķis Štelmahers

Time for Week 12 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 Indriķis Štelmahers, born c. 1833 and died 1917. He is my great-great-grandfather by way of my maternal grandmother’s mother Jūle Štelmahere.

Unlike most of my “most ancient” ancestors, most of what I know about Indriķis comes from family, because the records are scarce and surnames even scarcer. This is what the records tell me: according to the 1897 All-Russia Census, Indriķis was born c. 1833 in Varieši parish, north of Krustpils, in what was then the Vitebsk guberniya of the Russian Empire, now the province of Latgale in Latvia. His family line is the only one of my family lines that comes from Latgale (meanwhile, his daughter’s husband – my great-grandfather – has my only family line from Zemgale, all of my other ancestors are from Vidzeme – I have no known Kurzeme ancestors). His father’s name was Jānis. At the time of the 1897 Census, he was living with his wife Ieva, daughters Jūle (my great-grandmother), Emīlija and Karlīne, and son Jānis. My great-grandmother Jūle was born on May 19, 1874, and her baptism was recorded in the Krustpils Lutheran Church records. That is all of the documentary evidence that I have regarding Indriķis.

My family stories, however, provide a lot more. Before he married my great-great-grandmother Ieva, Indriķis was married to another lady whose name I believe was Māde, and they had a daughter Ieva. Then Māde died, and Indriķis remarried, and had his other four children. His daughter Ieva would go on to have many children, and the descendants of these children make up most of my known relatives in Latvia.

At any rate, Indriķis was a wheelwright, as indicated by his surname (Štelmahers is the Latvianized form of the German Stellmacher, which means wheelwright). Being as surnames in that part of Latgale didn’t become common until after the 1860s, it is quite possible that Indriķis was the first person in his family to hold a surname, if his father was already deceased at the time the requirements came about. He worked at the Krustpils estate. I have a family photograph with him holding one of the wheels that he made.

When the First World War broke out, Indriķis was quite elderly. Nevertheless, since the war front was often concentrated along the Daugava river, he and his family had to flee. While his daughter Jūle (with her husband Brencis Līcītis and daughter Marta) fled almost all the way to Moscow, Indriķis, his wife Ieva and daughter Karlīne only went so far as Rēzekne, about 100km east of Krustpils. It is here that Indriķis allegedly died of dysentery in 1917, though I have not been able to find a death record to that effect.

Family stories are important. Without them, I’d barely know anything about Indriķis – but since he is within the memory of people that I knew, and people that I know that knew people who knew him, I am able to know more about his life than what is in the records. I hope that eventually the records will tell me more, but thus far, I have not found very many from that part of the country.

Do you have family stories that have provided much more information than records have? Share your stories in comments!

52 Ancestors #12: Kristīne Kvante

Time for Week 12 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 Kristīne Kvante, born July 11, 1833 (some sources say 1830, but she is not even a year old at the time of the 1834 revision list), and died sometime after 1867. She is my great-great-great-grandmother, by way of my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather, Jēkabs Šīrs (you read about Jēkabs’ paternal grandfather Marcis Šīrs several weeks ago).

Kristīne Kvante was born on Cāļu folwark (“half-estate” – a small estate that was a subsidiary of a larger estate), on the south shore of Lake Burtnieki, to parents Jēkabs and Marija. Jēkabs was a carpenter. Kristīne had five older siblings, Jānis (c. 1818), Jēkabs (c. 1819), Anna (c. 1822), Pēteris (c. 1827) and Marija (c. 1831). The family moved estates frequently – they had moved to Cāļu folwark from Burtnieki estate in 1826, and then they moved again to Briedes estate prior to Kristīne’s marriage in 1851. Kristīne married Jānis Šīrs on November 21, 1851 at Matīši Lutheran Church.

Kristīne would continue to move around for much of her life. The family moved to Stāberģi estate near Aloja in 1858, which is where my great-great-grandfather Jēkabs Šīrs was born in 1862. They moved to Milite estate in 1863, and then Vilzēni in 1868. This is where the trail ends, though there are some indications that they may have continued on to Limbaži at some point, but I have not found them there yet. By this time, there are so many people with the names Šīrs and Kvante running around northern Latvia that I haven’t had the opportunity to trace them all. In addition to Jēkabs, Kristīne and her husband Jānis had at least three more children – Jānis, Pēteris and Marcis.

Kristīne’s family story highlights the importance of the incoming/outgoing registers to keep track of people who moved about frequently – without them, people could easily just disappear without a trace, even if they only moved a few kilometres away. But thankfully, in the areas where these registers survive, they will provide detailed information about who left a place, when, where they went, and then on the other end, when they got there and from where. So even if a register on one end might be missing, the other can still provide some of the information and you can keep your trace going.

Have incoming/outgoing registers been vital to your research? Share your successes here!

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!