Latvian Ancestors


My oldest known ancestor Pēteris Ulmkalns was born after the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. The only data that we have about him is that he had two sons.  The elder was named Mačs (roughly pronounced: Match) who in 1795 lived at the Ulms‘ farmstead with his three daughters: Laža (born 1781), Greta (1791) and Līze (1790).

I am descended from Mačs’ younger brother Juris Ulmkalns (born roughly in 1757) who by 1811, during the Napoleonic wars, once again was living in his ancestral home – “Ulmi.”  There’s no word about where his brother Mačs and his family had gone.  Inheritance descended by the male line, and if Mačs only had surviving girls, then your ancestor Juris was the obvious heir.

Juris had two wives, but there is no record of the first wife’s name.  Juris was running “Ulmi” in 1811, but an interesting change occurred in 1816 when he, his second wife Līze and their son Ansis were transferred to “Vilplūči.” Perhaps 59 year old Juris had suffered an injury which made the estate owner believe that he couldn’t lucratively run “Ulmi” and hence was moved to another farm to be a farmhand, while his second son Janne became the head of “Ulmi.” Alternatively, perhaps his son Janne didn’t get along with his stepmother (or vice versa), who at 35 was only 7 years older than Janne. Whatever the truth, by 1820 Juris and his wife moved back to “Ulmi” when his first son Jānis became head of the household, and Janne moved to the nearby “Bāliņi” farm.

I believe Juris was still alive in 1835 when surnames were being given out.  He had 3 sons who were definitely alive at that time, and only your 13 year old grandfather’s grandfather Jānis was a minor.  Per the law, if brothers were of age in 1835, they could choose separate surnames – and this did occur, but I’ve no idea how frequently.  However, if the father of grown sons was alive, then they all had to have the same surname.

With his first wife, Juris had two sons, the eldest named Jānis was born roughly in 1779.

The first son – Jānis

In 1811 when his father and stepmother were living at “Ulmi,” 32 year old Jānis Sr was working at the “Lipši” farmstead, but by 1820 he was running “Ulmi” when he was 41 years old.  His father, 39 year old stepmother Līze and 15 year old half-brother Ansis also lived at “Ulmi.” Thereafter there are no data about this Jānis Sr, and we don’t know precisely when he died.  I believe that it possibly was after 1829, because a Jānis Ulmkalns was born with a father named Jānis, who became the foster son of  Jānis Senior’s brother – Janne.   It would be very natural for an uncle to adopt his orphaned nephew.  Jānis Jr is shown in the 1850 revision list as being born in 1829 and at that time coming from the “Bāliņu” farm, which is very close to your “Ulmi.”  In 1850 Jānis Jr worked at the very nearby “Bierandi” farm where he died in 1853.  In the following year 1854, a 23 year old woman named Līze Ulmkalns passed away on September 21 from a tumor at “Bierandi.”  Was she the widow of Jānis Jr?  There is no marriage record, but this is the only mention of any Ulmkalni at “Bierandi” in that decade and I can’t help wondering whether she didn’t marry into the Ulmkalns family. I also wonder whether they could have had a son named Jānis III.  Once again, there’s no birth record for a Jānis III.  But there is a stray Jānis Ulmkalns who turns up at the end of the century, married to Ieva (nee Strēle).  There are only birth and death records for their daughter Margarieta who died as an infant in 1898 and was buried at Kumsteri cemetery.

(1911 map: “Ulms,” “Bāliņš,” “Bierands” 4 squares to the R(ight), 1st row.  All directions are from the top left corner of this map.  Farm names in bold I’ve found on the historical map: “Lipsnis” 3 sq R, 3 sq D(own); “Strēļi” is in the southern portion of Gudenieki – 3 sq R, 5 sq D; “Vilplūčis” 3 sq R, 2 sq D).

The second son – Janne

Janne was born in 1788 to Juris and his first wife.  Prior to 1811, Janne worked at the “Āžupi” farm, but then moved closer to home to “Bāliņi.”  By 1816 when he was 28, he had taken over running “Ulmi” and lived there with his 21 year old wife Babe and their one year old son Juris.  There are no other subsequent records for this son Juris, and it appears that Babe may have passed away around 1823.

By 1824 when Janne was 36 he was married to his second wife Ilze (about 20 years old), with whom he had a daughter Lūcija and in the following year 1825 – a son Pēteris.  During the 1820’s I believe that his elder brother Jānis was running “Ulmi” until his death.  However, there’s no clear indication where Janne, and his wife Ilze and the children were living in the 1830’s into the 1840’s.  It may have been  “Bāliņi,” which is where perhaps Ilze came from.  The first Ulmkalns buried in the “Bāliņi” family cemetery was Ansis’s son Toms in 1834; since there are no religious records prior to 1833, for all we know other Ulmkalns prior to then also may be interred there.  The last known Ulmkalns to be buried in Bāliņi cemetery is your greatgrandmother in 1899.  The burial records for the 19th century clearly indicate that the Ulmkalns and “Bāliņi” farm family were blood relations.  Perhaps Janne was even running the “Bāliņi” farm in the 1830’s-1840’s, which would explain why after his elder brother’s death after 1829, he didn’t move back to “Ulmi,” since he would have been next in line to take it over.  What we do know from the 1850 census is that he had been living at “Bāliņi” in the late 1840’s, along with his nuclear family and foster son Jānis (Jr).

Janne’s wife Ilze must have passed away prior to 1849 when Janne, 61 years old, married his 3rd wife, the 37 year old widow, Babe/Baiba Bulle on July 10th.  That they didn’t remain at “Bāliņi” makes me think that his late wife Ilze’s family may have had a male descendant (or son-in-law) who took over running their ancestral farm.  In 1850 Janne and Babe had a daughter who passed away that same year when they all lived at “Jaunarāji.” By 1862 they both moved to the Jaunāmuiža estate, where Babe passed away from pneumonia two years later.  As far as we know, he didn’t remarry a 4th time after age 74. : )  There isn’t a date of death for Janne.

Janne’s son Pēteris

When Pēteris was 23 he married his first wife Marija (nee Pētersone) who was 20 years old.  In 1851 when their daughter Trīne was born, they lived at “Muižarāji,” which is quite close to “Ulmi,” but by 1858 when Ādams was born they were back at “Ulmi,” and still there when their daughter Anna was born there in 1863.  He may have been at “Ulmi” to help your grandfather’s grandfather Jānis – who was almost the same age as Pēteris – but perhaps was suffering from bad health, despite his relative youth.  Tragically, Pēteris’ own wife Marija died from pneumonia in the winter of 1864 when she was 36, and his son Ādams died of a tumor at the end of the summer. Between these two deaths, 3 months after Pēteris’ first wife Marija passed away, Pēteris who was 39 married the 25 year old Griete Baltiņa (Trīne’s out-of-wedlock daughter) who at the time came from the “Ratinieki” farm.  When they married, Pēteris had four children under 9 at home, and clearly needed a mother for them.

Pēteris and his new wife Griete remained at “Ulmi” in 1865 when their son Krists was born, and in 1866 when Anna was born.  By 1870 they had moved to “Dižarāji” where their son Mārtiņš was born, and were still there in 1873 when Līze was born.  A few years later in 1876, they lived in the Dzīri estate, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a good distance north, half way to Ventspils.  A decade later, Pēteris’ son Mačs/Matīss was at Dzīri, too, with his nuclear family, so perhaps a relative (or a sibling of a wife) owned a farm there.  At Dzīri Pēteris’ daughter Anna passed away from a fever.

All told, Pēteris had 10 children – 4  by his first wife Marija, at least 6 by his second wife Griete, but only 4 survived him when he passed away in 1880 from cancer.  He died close to home at “Muižarāji” when he was 55 years old – his widow Griete was 41 – and was buried at the “Bāliņu” cemetery.

Janne’s grandson Mačs/Matīss

Relatively speaking, Matīss had an uncomplicated life, since he was married only once in 1875 when he was 23 to Babe/Baiba Griķe who at the time was 25 and came from the “Siseņi” farm.  Of the six children they had together, 5 survived his early death at age 42 from tuberculosis.  He ‘farm-hopped’ for the first 15 years of his marriage and I suspect may have been ill when his daughter Griete was born at “Ulmi” in 1891.  His first cousin once-removed Andrejs (your grandfather’s uncle) and his family were also living at “Ulmi” and undoubtedly running it at the time. He died 4 years later in 1895, and unlike many of his family, he’s buried at Lapu cemetery.

(1911 map: “Jaunarāji” 2 sq D, 4 R; Jaunāmuiža estate 4 sq D, 3 sq R; “Muižarājs” & “Dižarāji” same square as “Ulmi”; “Ratinieks” 2 sq D, 4 R )

The third son – Ansis

Ansis was the son of Juris’ second wife Līze, and was born about 1805.  By age 15 he was living at “Ulmi” with his parents, and may have continued to live there until he married Ilze Sēkliņa before 1828 when their first son Jānis was born.  They definitely were at “Ulmi” when their second son Toms was born in 1834, as well as when Anna was born in 1836.  But by 1838 they were at “Kukši” in the Gudenieki estate when Ādams was born, and in 1839 they were at “Bierandi” when Mačs/Matīss was born.  In 1841 they were at Ilze’s ancestral home “Čīmi” when their son Pēteris was born.  If Ilze didn’t have adult brothers who could run “Čīmi” perhaps they remained there until her death prior to 1850.

Pēteris’ birth his worth mentioning, because it’s one of the rare times that godparents are noted – Pēteris and Lūcija Ulmkalni.  I believe they may have been first cousins to the newborn, the son and daughter of Janne (the 2nd son).  If Pēteris’ father was indeed running “Čīmi” this would have been a fairly festive christening followed by a grand party.

Ansis next married the widow Griete Grāvīte (nee Granta) in 1850 when he was 45 and Griete 20 years old.  She was roughly 20 years younger than his first wife Ilze, and not much older than her step-children.  From 1856-1861 they lived close to “Ulmi” at “Muižarāji” where they had 2 children Anna and Marija, and lost a son Pēteris, who was buried at “Bāliņi.”  Ansis himself passed away in 1861 at “Muižarāji” when he was 56 and also was buried at “Bāliņi.”  It’s interesting that his death record only mentioned that he was survived by Griete and the two daughters that he had with Griete.  His four children with his first wife – Anna, Ādams, Pēteris and Mačs – were ignored, and the three sons were definitely alive at that time.  It’s hard to say whether this oversight is significant and indicates an estrangement between Ansis and his first wife’s children, or was just an error by the scribe.

Ansis’ son Mačs

Mačs only married once in 1863 to Lūcija Sapala (from “Grāveri“) when he was 24 and she was 28.  He was one of the rare Ulmkalni who apparently never lived at “Ulmi.”  In the 1860’s and 1870’s they had four daughters, while working at the Jaunāmuiža estate and “Ezerkukši” (on the shore of the fairly large Kukšu lake).  And in 1889 their son Pēteris was born at “Krēsli” in the Kuldīga estate – a fair distance from Alsunga.  Mačs was 49 when he died from tuberculosis at “Pinkuļi” and he was buried at Lapu cemetery in the Jaunāmuiža estate.  All of his children survived, as well as his wife Lūcija.

(“Čīmas” 5 sq D, 3 sq R; “Grāveri” 3 sq D, 3 sq R; “Kukša” 5 sq D; “Ezerkukši” 2 sq D, 4 sq R)

Juris’ only known daughter Anna

Juris and his 2nd wife Līze had a daughter born in 1816 named Anna.  The only record that we have for her comes from the 1850 census.  At that time she was living at the “Upleji” farm, with her out of wedlock 3 year old daughter Marija.

The fourth son – Jānis

Your grandfather’s grandfather Jānis was the youngest son of Līze and Juris and he was born in 1822 at “Ulmi.”  There is no record of where he might have lived after his father’s death (presumably after 1835), but by 1842 when he was 20, he married 17 year old Ķērste Valciņa (who probably came from the “Valceņi” or “Valcenieki” farm).  Their first son Andrejs was born in 1843 at “Ratnieki” as was their daughter Anna in 1846.  Lūcija Ulmkalne, who I believe was Janne’s daughter, is listed as Andrejs’ godmother.  So once again, she’s acting as a godmother for a first cousin, as she did in 1841 for Ansis’ son Pēteris.

By 1849 Jānis and Ķērste were both at “Ulmi” when their first son Jānis (my grandfather’s father) was born on July 28, 1849.  They continued to live at “Ulmi” for the subsequent decade when  Ieva (1853), Pāvils (1856) and Mačs (1859) were born.  Perhaps Ķērste died during childbirth with her last son Mačs (Feb 19, 1859) because 37 year old Jānis 4 months later married 23 year old Ieva Buka/Puķe from “Bāliņi.”  At the time of his re-marriage, he had 6 children under the age of 16 at home.

Jānis and his second wife Ieva continued to live at “Ulmi” at least until the birth (and death) of their daughter Marija in 1861.  But by 1862 when their son Andžs/Andrejs was born, they had moved to “Kalnmeiji” and in the following year were closer to home at “Bāliņi” where Jānis died from pneumonia when he was 43 years old, leaving a 29 year old widow.

There are birth records for a total of 9 children, four of whom definitely survived – Andrejs (1843), Jānis 1849 (your grandfather’s father), Mačs 1859 and Andžs/Andrejs (1862).  There were two children who didn’t reach maturity: Marija (born and died in 1861) and Anna who was born in 1865 a month after her father’s death and passed away from either chicken pox or small pox when she was 4 years old.  There are no records for the remaining 3 children, who may or may not have reached adulthood-  Anna (1846), Ieva (1853), and Pāvils (1856).

Jānis’ eldest son – Andrejs

Andrejs is the only Ulmkalns that we know was inducted into the czar’s army.  He *may* be the same Andrejs that Bruno Martuzans mentioned as living on a ‘soldier’s parcel’ according to 1912 records.  However, I don’t know whether army veterans who served for a short period of time (if I’m not mistaken: only for 7 years) qualified to receive a parcel of land.

After his stint in the service, Andrejs was working at “Brūni” where he met and married Trīne Akote in 1875 when he was 32 and she was 18.  Together they had 9 children.  The first, Jānis, was born in 1875 at “Ezerkukši” in May 1875 – only 3 months after his parents’ marriage. (It happens. : ))  It may or may not be significant that 5 years later Andrejs’ first cousin Mačs (Ansis’ son) also lived at “Ezerkukši.”  Perhaps this was a farm held by a relative.  Also intriguing is that his first son’s Jānis’ godfather was Jānis Ulmkalns.  Could he have been your great-grandfather Jānis, Andrej’s younger brother?  Unfortunately this young Jānis passed away within two years.  And as frequently happens among 19th century Latvians, Andrejs’ and Trīne’s next son born in 1877 on the Tožgaļi estate was *also* called Jānis.  He lived to marry Marija (nee Dinovska) with whom he had two children at “Kundziņi” in 1901 and 1902, who both died from childhood illnesses.

Andrejs’ and Trīne’s daughter Kāte was born in 1880 but died within two years.  But the rest of their children all survived until the end of the century: Ieva, Pēteris, Andžs, as well as three daughters, all of whom were born at “Ulmi” between 1890 and 1898: Anna, Marija and Margrieta.   Daughter Ieva’s godmother in 1882 may have been her father’s sister – Ieva (1863).  And daughter Anna’s godfather may have been uncle Andžs (1862), Andrejs’ half brother.

As mentioned elsewhere, Andrejs was back at “Ulmi” no later than 1890, probably running it.  And his father’s brother Mačs (1853) along with his nuclear family were also living there by 1891, though he may already have been ill with the tuberculosis that took his life in 1895.


Jānis’ second son – Jānis (your great-grandfather)

Jānis was 27 when he married my 22 year old great-grandmother Griete Kantiķe/Kantīte.  Currently (in 2009) the area on the northern tip of Lake Zvirgzdu by the “Grīnberģi” farmhouse (not marked on the historical map, but marked on the satellite map) is called ‘Kantiķi’.  In other words, this area was once populated by your greatgrandmother’s clan.  She, however, prior to marrying came from “Ratiņi” – which may be the same farm as “Ratinieki” where their first son, Matīss was born the following summer in 1876.  But their next 5 children were all born at “Kundziņi“- Anna (1880), Pēteris (1883), Jānis (1889), Ādams (1890) and my grandfather Krists (1885).  To have remained at the same farm for at least 10 years does imply that they were relatively happy there, since after 1849 there were no travel restrictions and they could easily have moved elsewhere.  Even so, it wasn’t an easy time for my family.  Pēteris died of whooping cough when he was a year old, Jānis died within two days of his birth and Ādams within 5 months.  All were buried at the Bāliņu cemetery.  Close to the end of the century, my great grandmother Griete also passed away from pneumonia on May 11, 1899 and was undoubtedly buried near her sons at “Baliņu” cemetery.  Although my great grandfather didn’t need a wife to help with children – only my grandfather Krists was under-age, but already 15 years old – perhaps your greatgrandfather did remarry in the 20th century, merely for companionship.

(“Brūns” and Lake Zvirgzdu 3 sq R, 3 sq D; “Ezerkukši” 2 sq D, 4 sq R; “Kundziņš” 3 sq R; “Ratinieks” 4 sq R, 2 sq D; “Valceņi” and “Valcenieki” 5 sq D)

Before I wrap up with my great-grandfather’s family, I wanted to mention that I also spotted a house on the historical map named – “Orna,” quite clearly within the Gudenieki estate’s southern boundary.  *Perhaps* this was my grandmother’s Margrieta’s ancestral home where all Ornas originated from their ancestors living there in 1835.  This would also explain why Raimonds didn’t find other records, except for the late 19th century when farmhands were greatly making use of their freedom to travel.  On the full historical map “Ornas” is 6 squares down and 2 squares to the right.

Jānis’ youngest son – Andžs/Andrejs

Andžs/Andrejs, a child of a second marriage, was born only 3 years before your grandfather grandfather’s Jānis’ death in 1865.  Though his mother Ieva did re-marry, Andžs was already 19 years old by that time.  And he himself married five years later when he was 24 and working at “Lāči.”  His bride, Babe/Barbara Kruča was 22 and came from “Bunti” on the Grāvere estate.  Together, they had 8 children, 5 of whom survived: Marija, Mačs, Ieva, Katrīna and Margarita. Of particular interest may be that Mačs’ godfather *may* have been his uncle Mačs (1859) and Ieva’s godmother – her aunt Ieva (1853).  They both were siblings of my great-grandfather Jānis, who were half-siblings to Andžs,’ and maybe took a greater interest in their half-brother, which led to a deeper friendship. For at least six years, between 1889-1898, Andžs and his wife lived and worked at “Kukši.”  They, of course, had their share of sorrow, since they lost 3 additional children, two named Jānis (1889 and 1898), the first dying from scarlet fever, and a daughter Anna (1900) who passed away from dysentery.  The last two were buried in the Dūri cemetery.

Ulmkalni who ran “Ulmi” and/or are known to be buried at Bāliņu cemetery. 

Do note, not all death records indicated where the deceased was buried.  It’s probable that almost all of my ancestors who died between 1834-1899 – with the few rare exceptions toward the end of the century noted on the detailed trees – are buried at Bāliņu.  (Bolded is your direct line.)

Who was running “Ulmi” in which year(s):

1795 – Mačs Ulmkalns (b < 1757- ?)

1811 – Juris Ulmkalns (1757- > 1835)

1816 – 2nd son Janne (1788- >1862)

1820 – 1st son Jānis (1779- >1829?)

1833-1836 – 3rd son Ansis (1805-1861); buried at Bāliņu cemetery, as are his sons Toms (1833-1834) and Pēteris (1852-1856) 

1849-1861 – 4th son Jānis (1822-1865); buried at Bāliņu cemetery, as are his daughter Anna (1865-1869) and daughter-in-law Griete nee Kantiķe (1854-1899) my greatgrandmother, and three of her children: Pēteris (1883-1884), Jānis (1889-1889), Ādams (1890-1891) – My grandfather’s brothers

1858-1866 – Pēteris (1825-1880) – son of 2nd son Janne; Pēteris is buried at Bāliņu cemetery, as is his first wife Marija nee Pētersone (1828-1864).

Note that there’s an overlap with two nuclear families living at “Ulmi” simultaneously, as there would be again 30 years later.  My grandfather’s grandfather Jānis‘ family was there from 1849-1861 and then his nephew Pēteris and his family arrived no later than 1858 and stayed until after Jānis’ death in 1865.  My grandfather’s grandfather was only 43 when he passed away from pneumonia, but if his health were poor, he may have needed the help of his nephew Pēteris, who was actually his contemporary, being only 3 years younger.

1870’s-1889 – there are no religious records of any Ulmkalns being born or dying at “Ulmi” or being buried at Bāliņu cemetery.

1890-1898 – Andrejs (1843-) – son of 4th son Jānis; daughter Kāte (1880-1882) buried at Bāliņu cemetery

While his 2nd cousin once-removed Andrejs ran “Ulmi,” Mačs/Matīss (1853-1895) – the grandson of 2nd son Janne – appears to have come home to “Ulmi” in 1891 with his family and died from tuberculosis four years later.  It must be meaningful – but how? – that he is buried at Lapu cemetery and not Bāliņu.  It can’t be a case of the cemetery no longer being used, since my greatgrandmother Griete was buried at Bāliņu 4 years later.



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