Guidelines for Commenting

1. Please do not post the same item on multiple posts. You only need to post once for it to be seen.

2. Please include a working email address - if your comment is related to your own personal family history, rather than Latvian genealogy in a more general sense, I prefer to respond by email to maintain your privacy. By leaving a comment with your email address, you consent to receiving an email reply to your query to that email address.

3. I don't sell email addresses or send anything to them besides responses to your comments. I am the only person who has access to them.

WW1 Diary – Third Day of Christmas, 1916

Thirty-third 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.

Third Day of Christmas, 1916

And also the third Christmas full of horrors and dangers. We cannot sing “peace on earth” and “goodwill towards men”. The war is taking on an even more ominous outlook. It must be hard for the soldiers far away from their families, in the cold and frost… and the longing!…

Our celebrations were beautiful. A bright full Christmas tree, warm rooms, a full table. Also peace and health. On the first feast day we had guests, on the second we headed off in the snow. Trūtiņa had learned many nice songs which she recited so well that it was a joy to listen.

I am just sad for the fate of my cousin Alma, whose banns were read in church, wedding rings were bought, an apartment arranged, and then to be separated from her fiance, who disappeared into the unknown without a goodbye. Broken heart, where will she find peace? She has a sad celebration, without peace, without luck, her hope dissolved like a soap bubble. I would shoot such a faking man, he hasn’t earned anything better, he who creates such scenarios. After awhile he wrote to her – “come here to me, you are my dream, I will protect you, I will wrap you up in safety… forever yours”… but still he runs away, leaving everything behind. How can one believe such a person? Now I just worry about Alma’s mood. In the first Christmas, our aunt died – the children lost their mother, this Christmas my cousin loses her fiance, what will the next Christmas bring?

Alma can at least sing – even if hope dissolves like a soap bubble – love disappears like smoke. I can call myself a lucky wife, there are not many, for a wife has learned to know her husband as a trustworthy person. I also want to be trustworthy to him. Trustworthy wives are also not as common these days as many people think.

Missed Diary Entries

With everything that has been going on, I missed posting two of the diary entries from my great-great-aunt’s First World War diary. I have now posted and backdated them, so you can go back to take a look: November 25, 1916 and November 30, 1916. Sorry about that! The rest will be published as planned.

WW1 Diary - November 30, 1916

Thirty-second 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.

November 30, 1916

The stories from the war are terrible. The Germans have also destroyed Romania, taking over their capital city, Bucharest. The fate of Romanian refugees is terrible – terror, famine, cold. Many fall by the side of the road and stay fall then there, unburied, mostly children. I sympathize with them, and feel their pain in my heart, and wish that life’s happiness reaches them again and God only knows what awaits us, for the Germans are strong, they could still take Rīga and scare us with their airplanes and cannons. No point in fleeing anymore, it is better to die here than to suffer famine in foreign lands. And still, even in foreign lands there is war and terror. A World War, and what will happen after? The Duma is divided, the ministers keep changing, every so often you hear about unrest amongst the workers. The year has not been very fertile. Milk is very expensive – a pound of butter already costs 226 kopecks in Valmiera.

Thanks be to God, that we have everything in abundance. The children want for nothing. Still they are sad every now and again. My dear Dagīte has started to squint, she will need an operation. Olģertiņš has been suffering with scrofula for a number of months, and tormented his nannies and caregivers. Now it is getting better. Day by day he is becoming an understanding and strong boy, he is so sweet, so sweet, the missing part of his ear will be shown – when he grows up, then he can grow part of my ear and we will be even.

Five Cents – November 25, 1927

This is part of my series of interesting newspaper articles that I find in the old Latvian newspapers available through Periodika. Most of the articles I post are in some way related to migration, wars or other events that are of particular genealogical note.

Source: Pieci Santīmi (Five Cents), the evening edition of Pēdejais Brīdis (Last Minute), November 25, 1927

Inheritance in America. The General-Consul in New York tells us that a Joe Propokovičs died in 1924, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leaving an estate of approximately 1370 dollars. The deceased has brothers and sisters that live in Latvia, but their place of residence is unknown. The sisters are Anna and Sofija, the brothers are Kārlis and Pēteris. Anyone who has the rights to the estate left by the deceased is asked to turn to the Foreign Ministry’s legal counsel.

Calculated into today’s currency, that $1370 would be about $17,500 – not an insignificant sum. I wonder if Joe Propokovičs’ family was ever located.

WW1 Diary – November 25, 1916

Thirty-first 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.

November 25, 1916

The Sicaus visited us. We spent the evening happily, because I had all sorts of treats with which to feed them, which is a big deal in these empty hungry times. We owe God so much! He has visited us with riches for the moment.

WW1 Diary – November 20, 1916

Thirtieth 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.

November 20, 1916

We were at church at 6pm, where they had organized a musical liturgy service. The Old Valmiera church was full to the last spot. Artists Kornets and Mediņš participated with musical presentations. These soft sounds awakened a deep religious feeling. No eye stayed dry. One could cry from the heart. Everyone was thinking of their loved ones who rest in the cold sands – about all of them. Pastor Pavasars reminded us of the fallen soldiers with an enthusiastic and moving speech. No one to tidy the sand on their graves, only the wind to move it, only the rays of the sun to greet them, I suppose also my brother’s grave, for it has been a whole year since we have heard anything from him.

Latvia and the World

Happy Latvian Independence Day!

What have you done today to show your appreciation for Latvia? Sang a song, made some traditional Latvian food, attended a Latvian celebration of some kind?

Something that anyone can do to celebrate Latvia today is to tell people about our country. We may be small, but that doesn’t mean we should be ignored! We need to take our place on the world stage, and make sure that everyone everywhere knows about us, our culture and our land.

Take the time to share our history with your friends. Tell them about the struggle for independence – gaining it, losing it, and gaining it again. Tell about our folk hero Lāčplēsis. Tell them about the Baltic Way, where millions of Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians joined hands to protest Soviet occupation.

Share our traditions – a love of nature, the countryside and public access to lands for mushroom and berry-picking. Midsummer’s Night. Mārtiņi, Miķeļi, Ūsiņi and all of the other seasonal celebrations. Eat some Jāņi cheese and rye bread.

Remember our heroes – the men and women, both known and unknown, who fought for Latvia’s independence and freedom and would not give up the cause. Who hid the Forest Brothers for decades. Who petitioned Western governments for acknowledgement of the occupation. Who dedicated their lives to ensuring that our people would have a home to call their own, where their language would be freely spoken, supported and encouraged, and their history taught to its fullest.

So, what are you doing today to celebrate Latvia?

Surname Saturday – Rudzītis

Today’s Surname Saturday name is Rudzītis!

This Latvian name is the diminutive of “rudzi”, which means “rye”. It is a relatively common surname, found in many Latvian parishes, including Bauņi, Galgauska, Dauguļi, Krāslava, Lēdurga, Limbaži, Nabe, Sece, Sidgunda, Skaņkalne, Stopiņi, Taurupe and Umurga.

Rye is a popular Latvian foodstuff, its most popular form being rye bread, which is a Latvian staple food. Though I have yet to see anyone with a surname meaning “rye bread”!

Rudzītis is also the surname of my genealogy fiction heroine, Aila Rudzīte, “Rudzīte” being the feminine form of the name. You can read her first adventure in short story form here, and if you see promise in a series of novels featuring this genea-fiction heroine, then please support my Kickstarter which is raising funds for the production of the first novel!

Short Story - Now Live!

Head on over to my fiction blog and read the genea-fiction short story, “A President For His Country”!

As I’ve said, this short story is only the beginning. I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first novel! All of the information is over on my fiction blog!

If you’ve enjoyed the content on this blog over the past four years, put the tips to use in your research, found something of value in the Latvian Surname Project – I hope that you can support this Kickstarter campaign. The more support I receive from people like you, the more I can focus on Latvian genealogy in my professional life, and the more content there is for you! If you don’t have the money to make a contribution right now, that’s okay – just share this project with your friends, and hopefully some of them can contribute. The more people that know about it, the more support there will be!

Thank you!

Happy Halloween!

No new puzzle today, Aila is taking the day off for every Goth’s favourite holiday – Halloween!

Now, Latvia doesn’t strictly speaking celebrate Halloween, but there are a number of Latvian pagan traditions that do mimic this holiday – most notably the practice of “ķekatas”. Now, in Latvian tradition, this going around to people’s homes dressed in costume was not a one-night-a-year event – they were more akin to the British practice of “mumming” than modern-day Halloween. The period when people would go out for “ķekatas” seems to vary, but traditionally from mid-autumn, through the winter, until early spring.

For more information, check out these two blogs – Crossing the Baltic and Hello Latvia – for their descriptions of this tradition in English.