JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Latvian languages #general
In the 1880's, my ggp's lived in Riga and by the mid 90's had moved to
Wenden, now Cesis, which was not in the Pale. I have a picture of my ggf
posing with what is clearly the Wenden volunteer fire brigade. In the
background is a partially unfurled flag with the word "Spritz" visible.
The photographer's seal on the back also is in roman characters.
Family lore alleges that my ggf spoke German, Lettish, Russian and Yiddish
and was learned in the Talmud. I have yet to determine where he was born
(Riga, Ukraine or Astrakhan). My ggm was >from Lithuania, so I assume they
spoke Yiddish at home.
Family lore and the history I've read indicate that the major landowners
in the area were German. In fact, during the abortive 1905 revolution,
many of the manors were burned and some of the aristocrats were murdered.
The Letts associated the Germans with the czar. The German domination of
some areas of Latvia should not come as a surprise as it was a major
outpost of the German-dominated Hanseatic League that dates back to the
1300's. Over the years it has been a crossroads and attracted different
cultures and their various languages.