25 February 2008

Deutschbalten or Baltendeutsche or Baltic Germans

I created this web site so that I might be able to receive messages from those who might be related to me in Latvia, Germany, Australia or the US. My family on my father's side is from Latvia, but considered themselves German. Everything that I've researched thus far confirm that. I've got records to the late 1700s to that end. The names that I have found thus far can be found throughout northern Germany. The names are: Till, Ahrens, Puls, Neumann, Wiegart, Bitte, Kerstein and Trusinski/Truschinski. In my research, Latvians would adopt German culture if they "rose" to the middle class so it can be hard to prove German heritage from Latvian heritage.

My mother's side of the family comes (mostly) from southern Germany. The names on that side include Kaiser, Meyer and...most interestingly...Deifel/Teufel -meaning "devil".

Please feel free to send me a note if you have any knowledge of these family names -especially if you know of a link to Latvia! Finally, if you know of any books or other resources that would help me further understand the Baltic Germans in Latvia, post a comment! Thanks! Danke Schon!!

24 February 2008

Research update

I spent four hours at the LDS in Oakdale. I reviewed two films for St. Martin's church in Riga, Latvia. It was the second time I had reviewed them because the first time all of the good viewing machines were occupied and my camera didn't seem to be working.

Here are my results: I have taken pictures of the records and thereby confirmed a new family name in the tree: Bitte. It was the maiden name of Anna Margarethe Ahrens. I found her death record, but not her birth record. Her birth record is from a time before St. Martins church was founded. I also have, of course, the name of her husband: Friedrich Ottomar Ahrens. I have neither a birth date nor death date for him. I also don't have a marriage date for either of them. I did see that a number of death records often listed two other churches in Riga for where the people who had died were born or baptised: St. Johannes and St. Gertrude. I am sure that I will review their records sometime, though no later than this summer. In Anna M. Ahrens death record, it lists here place of birth or baptism (not sure which it is) as Pinkenhof. That translates to Pinki in Latvian and is located near the present day port city of Liepaja, though in the 1800s and earlier it was called Libau.

The records still haven't arrived for Trusinski.

UPDATE...on the update.

In doing some online research at the Latvian government records website, I found that 'Pinki" is in more than one location in Latvia. It is also a specific area around Riga.

22 February 2008

Resource ordered

A few days ago I ordered, among other things, a book from amazon.com called Der St. Jacobi-Kirchhof in Riga (1773-1895). It was written around 1895. It is in German. It is about, as far as I can tell, the graveyard or churchgrounds of St. Jacobs church in Riga. My father's father was baptised there. I have looked at some of the text on amazon.com and it will be interesting. It will be interesting, in part, because it is in German and I will try to figure out enough of it to make it of some use. It should be here in a week or so.

13 February 2008


I went to the LDS family history center in Oakdale today for about 2.5 hours. Things didn't go very smoothly. I arrived about 10 minutes after 6 pm and all of the good machines were taken. As a result, I had to use the old machines. I should take a picture of them. They are far less user-friendly! Then, to make things worse, my camera wasn't working (not that the pictures would be very good with the machine I was using.) I went through two reels of film for St. Martin's church in Riga. I found quite a number of birth records and at least one death record for the Ahrens line of the family tree. I will have to return in two Saturdays to take some good photos of the documents. The reel of film with the deaths for St. Jakobs church in Riga hasn't arrived yet. In that reel I hope find some death records for a Trusinski or two and then in that record a birth location. I have a feeling they are Russian. I am still at a loss as to why they didn't leave Latvia with the rest of the Germans if they so closely identified themselves as "German"...