My father, Arvids Kaulins, was born on October 1, 1914 (old style) and grew up in Lejasciems (German Aahof, Livland, Livonia), Vidzeme, Latvia, about 20 km northwest of the larger city Gulbene on the map. Lejasciems translated literatlly means "Hamlet in the Dale", being located where the River Tirza, known for its river pearls, meets the River Gauja (the German Livländische Aa, "Livonian Aa"), the longest river in Latvia at 452 kilometers.
Lejasciems is a small village in a county numbering only about 2000 persons. Lejasciems in its day, however, had the right to call itself the smallest city in Latvia in spite of only 500 inhabitants, having been granted city rights in 1929. Lejasciems thus has its own coat of arms. The city rights were revoked without cause in 1939, even though the city was debt-free.
My father was born in Lejasciems in the house of his father (Janis = John) and his father's father (Augusts = August) at Skolas Iela 9 (Skolas Street 9). He was one of nine children, of whom seven reached adulthood. His elder brother was one of two children not to survive infancy or adolescence (diptheria), and he grew up with six sisters as the second youngest in the family.
The house at Skolas Iela 9 had a large property to the back, and also a thatched roof and was well kept and painted. In the Soviet occupation period, thatched roofs were no longer made, so that just like all old houses in Latvia, the thatched roofs, expensive to keep up or replace, were replaced with lesser materials. The original house was large enough to accomodate a family of eleven, but in the Soviet period it was divided in two, and two separate families have lived there ever since, none of them any longer being of the Kaulins clan.
To escape deportation of the intelligensia to Siberia by the Russians, the Kaulinses fled to Germany during WWI, and were scattered across the globe thereafter, with the largest descendant factions having ties in the United States (Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska - surnames Kaulins, Larson and Bratt), Germany (Traben-Trarbach, Göttingen and Nordhorn, surname Kaulins), and Australia (Melbourne, Victoria - surnames Evele, Bruns).
One of my father's sisters fled to England during the war, but reportedy returned to Latvia at some time during the Soviet period. My father's childhood sweetheart, Anja, fled to Venezuela.
My father Arvids ultimately married Valda Antonija Putelis of Daugavpils, Karsava and Ikšķile (Üxküll), near Riga, who herself was born in Karsava, and who he met in Germany in Königstein im Taunus near Frankfurt am Main during the war. Ikskile in Latvija was the center of ancient Livonia and Bishop Meinhard (St. Meinard), according to the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia (Heinrici Cronicon Lyvoniae) by Henricus Lettus, was its first bishop.
Lejasciema dzima Zenta Maurina, (seit ar attelu) Latvijas slavenaka rakstniece arzemes, it ipasi Vacija.
Zenta Maurina (Latvian bio), Latvia's most famous female author overseas, especially popular in Germany, was born in Lejasciems, where her father was the local medical practitioner. Below is a photograph of Zenta Maurina from Zelta Fonds:
The Lejasciems Culture Historical Heritage and Tradition Centre (Lejasciema kultūrvēsturikā mantojuma un tradīciju centrs], Rīgas iela 18, p/n Lejasciems, Lejasciema pag., Gulbenes raj., LV-4412, ph. +371 64473660) is situated in the building where the novelist and philosopher Zenta Mauriņa (1897 -1978) was born. See the Tourist Portal of Gulbene.
The county board of Lejasciems (Lejasciema pagasta padome) writes that numerous well-known persons were born in Lejasciems:
"Domājot par cilvēkiem, kas dzimuši vai darbojušies Lejasciemā, nedrīkst aizmirst arī komponistu Helmeru Pavasari, 1919.gadā lielinieku nomocīto mācītāju Konstantīnu Ūderu, rakstnieci Annu Saksi, rakstnieku, dzejnieku un sabiedrisko darbinieku Robertu Eidemani, novadpētnieku un pedagogu Zelmāru Lancmani, mikrobiologu Otto Kalniņu, vēsturnieku Jāni Tālivaldi Zemzari, valodnieci Dainu Zemzari, bibliogrāfu Jāni Misiņu un rakstnieku Jāni Kārstenu (Šmitu)."
These persons include e.g. musical composer, conductor and organist Helmers Pavasars (who resided in London after 1954), actor Kārlis Sebris, pastor Konstantins Uders (who served in Great Britain, see the Lutheran Council of Great Brtain), writer Anna Sakse, philosopher Maija Kule, and also the library pioneer Janis Misins.
Janis Misins (no Kraces, Lejasciema tuvuma) dzivoja Lejasciema un sava laika tur uztureja lielako privato Latvijas biblioteku.
As written at the Latvian Academic Library:
"The Misins Library is the oldest and the most complete repository of Latvian literature. Its founder is the distinguished Latvian bibliophile and bibliographer Janis Misins (1862-1945). The Misins Library was founded on 19 September 1885 when J. Misins received permission from the governor of Vidzeme to open a private library in his father’s country house "Kraces" [near Lejasciems]. In fact, J. Misins began to lend books for reading to neighbouring residents several years earlier. An Index of Book Collection in "Kraces" compiled in 1890 has been preserved. It comprises the first 500 volumes of the library. In the book list there are many rare editions which were not suitable for peasants, but made a good contribution to Latvian scholarly library, e. g. G. F. Stender's books Lettische Grammatik and Lettisches Lexikon, K. Valdemars’s and G. Merkel’s articles in German and the like. In 1892 J. Misins moved to Lejasciems with his book collection and opened a bookstore next to the library. In Lejasciems the number of books in the library grew from 500 to 5000 volumes. In 1906 J. Misins moved to Riga with a part of his collection, leaving the rest of the books in "Kraces". J. Misins continued to collect every publication written in Latvian and about Latvia. At that time the library had already grown into a large collection of Latvian books. During World War I a part of the books, packed in boxes, were kept in the cellar of St. George's hospital. From 1919 to 1921 J. Misins kept his book collection in several flats at 25 Skolas Street. However, there was not enough space for all the books. When the independent Republic of Latvia was founded, the number of books printed in Latvia grew. Lack of money did not allow J. Misins to enlarge the library. On 22 December 1924, Riga City Council perused J. Misins’s offer to give the library over to Riga city. On 1 December 1925, an agreement was made, but the library was officially opened only on 2 March 1928. The book collection of 28 000 volumes was handed over to Riga city. J. Misins recommended a well-known man Karlis Egle for the head of the library. The Misins Library became a noteworthy cultural centre. Almost all famous Latvian writers, artists and scientists of that time - Rainis, J. Jaunsudrabins, A. Caks, J. Endzelins, P. Stradins were among the readers of the library. Public figures presented the Misins Library with books, manuscripts and even archives. In 1932 the library was granted the right to receive the legal deposit copy of each publication printed in the country. K. Egle enriched the collection of the library with Latvian books and Latvian periodicals published in the Soviet Union in 1920s-1930s. On 3 April 1941, the Misins Library, containing 65 000 volumes, was placed in charge of the Department of Education of People’s Commissariat. In 1945 the library moved to a new building at 3 Skolas Street. The building was large enough for the collection of 77 000 copies. On 5 June 1946, in accordance with the resolution of the Latvian SSR Council of Ministers the Misins Library was placed in charge of the newly founded Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR. In January 1954, in order to co-ordinate and improve the work of the Fundamental Library and the Misins Library, to rationalize work of the staff and resources, both libraries were united without merging their collections; and the Misins Library was officially named J. Misins Department of Latvian Literature of the Fundamental Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR. In 1992 the Misins Library became a library within a library. Today its name is the Misins Library of the Latvian Academic Library. After the World War II the principle of acquisition for the Misins Library collection was the same - to collect everything that has been published in Latvia, all works and their translations by Latvian authors, everything about Latvia and the Latvians. Since the late 1950s the library has acquired Latvian literature published abroad either through international book exchange or as donations. Then few copies were acquired as these publications had to be kept in a special closed department. Special permissions were needed to visit it, therefore donations were few. Since 1987 these collections have been gradually merged into a united collection that is accessible to all readers. Then the library began to receive Latvian exile literature in big shipments organized by the Latvian Cultural Foundation. Lately the Misins Library has had wide co-operation with Latvians living abroad, and publishers of Latvian books, magazines and newspapers abroad. Now the library regularly receives issues of all the biggest Latvian exile periodicals. At present, the Misins Library co-operates with 176 private persons and Latvian organizations abroad. Thanks to support from the local sections of the organization "Daugavas Vanagi" and assistance from different Latvian societies and church congregations, the Misins Library has received books from 10 private libraries from Australia, Sweden, and the USA. The most abundant donation of literature to the Misins Library was from Biruta and Janis Avotins from the USA in 1994. At present, the Misins Library is the most complete repository of Latvian science, learning and national cultural heritage in the world. The holdings contain nearly 1 000 000 items. Thanks to Misins’s tradition to collect ephemera, programs for concerts and social events, exhibition catalogues, posters and post cards can be found in the library. Abundant material on Latvian Song festivals, Days of Songs and activities of Days of Latvian culture in different countries and continents has been collected in short time. Much has been written about the Misins Library and its founder, but the aptest characterization seems to be in the book Zem karoga (Under the Flag) by Edvarts Virza, "What is the Misins Library? It is a nation turned into a book and put on a shelf." [emphasis added]
The region around Lejasciems was already inhabited in the Neolithic period, as evidenced by megalithic stones and stone axes discovered in the area. Bronze artifacts have also been found. As written by the County Board of Lejascimes (Lejasciema pagasta padome):
"Lejasciema vēsture interesanta arī ar to, ka šejienes iedzīvotāju saknes meklējamas ne tikai baltos, bet arī somugru tautās. Šīs apdzīvotās vietas somugru izcelsmes nosaukums – „Alakűla” (latv. „ciems lejā”) – varētu būt tas, no kā radies vietas latviskais nosaukums – Lejasciems.
Jau akmens laikmetā Lejasciema apkārtne bija apdzīvota. Par to liecina arheoloģiskie atradumi, piemēram, akmens cirvji un citas senlietas. Par šejienes senatni vēsta arī pie „Ceļmalnieku” mājām uzietais somugriem raksturīgais ugunskaps. Šī nav vienīgā zināmā apbedījumu vieta. Tāda uzieta arī pie „Aļļiem”, kur atrastas rotaslietas. „Viģubu” senkapos bijušas rotas, cirvji, naži, šķēpi; senkapi atklāti arī Svārbes kreisajā krastā pie „Melderiem”. Savukārt Sinoles „Krācēs”, Gaujas upes kreisajā krastā, šķiet, bijis pilskalns. Tur uziets ap 70 cm dziļš mītņu slānis, kurā atrastas keramikas atliekas, kauli, akmens cirvju fragmenti. Ir bijuši arī vēl citi atradumi, par kuriem ziņas var iegūt Lejasciema pagasta muzejā (tagad –kultūrvēsturisā mantojuma centrā)...
Vietas – vēstures liecinieces Lejasciema apkārtnē
1. Senkapi Sinolē pie Briciem (pēc nostāstiem tur atrastas bronzas rotas un cilvēku kauli).
2. Sinolē uz Grimnaužu Klaugas kalna ap 1912.gadu atrasts abos galos asināts, rupji apstrādāts akmens cirvis, kas nodots skolotājam Z.
3. Pie Majaniem Lejasciemā bijis akmens, kam vidū liels, cilvēku darināts iedobums. Domājams, ka tas bijis upuru akmens.
4. Apbedījumu vieta Lejasciema Ceļmalniekos. Arot zemi, uzieti akmeņi, sakrauti cieši viens pie otra iegarenā formā kā šķirsts. Starp akmeņiem
bijuši apdeguši cilvēku kauli.
5. Mālmuižā pie Kļaviņu mājām, kultivējot tīrumu, 1962.gadā atrasts senlaiku platasmens cirvis, kādi lietoti ap 13. – 15.gs. karagājienos.
6. Senkapi pie Melderiem Svārbes upītes kreisajā krastā, kur atrastas apbedījumu pēdas un bronzas saktas.
7. Senkapi Lejasciemā pie Sudalas upes ietekas Tirzā, kur stāvajā krastā bijuši kapakmeņi."