27 May 2011


Genealogists who blog are called Geneabloggers (at least the ones who find mutual fellowship among the growing Geneabloggers network, and who try to keep up with following each other; we are nearing the 2,000 mark as Thomas keeps us updated). Many of us (most?) have not met each other in person. Never mind: personality and character come through in the written word. Support, assistance, and comfort are always being offered.

Thanks to Greta at http://gretabog.blogspot.com, I believe I've identified an important ancestral portrait that long eluded me.

OTTO FREIBERGS (1855-1906)
No-one had written on the back of this photograph to identify the man. It was in my “Latvian Collection” from my mother and grandparents. Some members of my two major families left Latvia well before the First World War, so photographs were constantly being sent from those who stayed behind. The man could have been from either of my two families who lived in quite separate places in the old country.

Although over the years I had different volunteers translating letters and postcards in Latvian and Russian, I had overlooked this one. All it had on the back was a faded, stamped inscription in Cyrillic script.

Serendipity glowed to life when Greta picked up on one of my blog posts and offered Russian translation. The scan was sent. YES! It was merely the photographer's stamp, BUT his address was Sissegal. The town named Sissegal (German) is Madliena (Latvian). You have to know something of the contemporary political powers in play to appreciate the Latvian-German-Russian place name variations. 

That was the crucial identifier. My Freibergs lived close to Madliena, a town of some authority in the district. My Jurikas family lived nowhere near there and would have had no occasion to visit the town, especially for a photography sitting. Otto did. Elected by his fellow parishioners, he had become a prominent reform leader in the district.

In fact, it was to Madliena that district police force-marched him, under orders from the embattled Vatrāne (German: Wattram) estate owners, to face a firing squad on 4 February 1906.

Thank you, Greta! Geneabloggers are the best! Thank you also to Callie who also offered language assistance (what will I find next in the archaeological-genealogical midden?!).


Barbara Poole said...

Brenda, I'm so glad Greta was able to help, she is always willing to assist others. She is one of the special bloggers.
Also, I enjoyed your Silent Sundays post for May 23rd.

Greta Koehl said...

You are very welcome! And this one was an easy one; let me know if you have anything else you need help with - the geek in my loves when genealogy and foreign language intersect. (And BTW - I'm just "passing it on" - I have had so much help from Genea-Bloggers who are also genea-angels, it's amazing!)

CallieK said...

I'm glad you got your translation! I hope to some day join the geneabloggers network, I've actually set up a new blog just for that purpose but I've barely written a thing for it. I'm headed to England this summer to research my dad's line so hopefully I will have lot of things to write about come fall.

BDM said...

Good for you, Callie, a new blog. Lucky you, a visit to ancestor territory .. it *will* give you plenty to say! I want you to know I'm just as asparagus-loony as you are and while I love the soup recipe idea, I never put aside enough to puree. Sort of like how I wanted to make that incredible beet rosti but I ate them al dente instead.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but WHO WAS He and how is he related to you and why did he get killed by firing squad. That sounds like an interesting story. If your family kept his picture, he must have meant something to them.

BDM said...

Anon -- see sidebar on the right for *Freibergs*. But you're right, I should have identified Otto as my maternal grandfather's father.