Remember the story of Arvīds Pūrs, who was conscripted into the Latvian Legion of the Germany Army and ended up in England after the war? I wrote about him in a blog post recently. While looking for information about Arvīds, I also researched his family house - Teņi farm in the then Misa civil parish.
Arvids' home must have been very important to him because he drew a plan of the house in his war and post-war diary.
Teņi or Teņas was a large farmhouse. The 1935 census lists it as an old farm with twelve (!) rooms. How many farmhouses do you know with twelve rooms? In my experience, there are usually 3-4 rooms in a farmhouse, sometimes I have seen 6, but 12 is really rare in Latvia. So, it was a big farm.
More interestingly, in the same 1935 census, it is stated that several of the inhabitants work in the telephone exchange. An interesting 1938 telephone wiring plan has recently appeared on the site vesture.dodies.lv. It shows Teņi as one of the telephone exchanges.
Looking further in periodicals, it turns out that the telephone exchange was still in operation in 1966. A resident complains about the lack of logic in use of place names (Komunisma ceļš, No 27, 19.03.1966):
“The Davini Soviet farm is known even outside the district. Right in the village centre next to the state farm's office is a post office. It is only very strange that it is not called the Dāviņi post office, but Teņi. Now I have to tell the truth, that the inhabitants and all the telephone users do not ask for Teni but say: "Please give me Dāviņi '27." The name Teņi seems to have been preserved only from the old farm, where the post office initially was located. Naturally, that this name disorients, no one in Bauska town will tell you which way the post office Teņi was to be found. Even bus drivers who drive along this line, don't know about Teņi.”
The article shows that after the war the post office and the telephone exchange had retained only their names, but were no longer located in Teņi.
From cousin Aina's letters to Arvīds, it is clear that the former inhabitants of Teņi had been evicted. In 1948 Aina wrote to Arvīds: "As your mother already wrote to you, she and Zete are going to Kākari to sleep, so their living is bad. They want to give my mother a bigger flat, but as she says, where will you find a bigger flat around here? It was only in Teņi. If there was another flat, we could all be together."
Kākari is a neighbouring house, still on today's map, but the buildings in Teņi as they were before the war can be seen on the 1920-1940 cadaster map. I counted seven different buildings and a small backyard pond.
Who lived in Teņi after the war? I found some information about it in the book "Latvian Civil Parishes" (Latvijas Pagasti, 2001): "The Dāviņi school was opened in 1944 in the Teņi farm with Russian as the instruction language, in the 1990s classes with Latvian were also opened, but in 1999 the school was closed".
There is also a photograph in the book, but I can't quite make out whether it is the old Teņi house that has been rebuilt or another building? The book was published in 2001, but today there are only a few stones and large trees on the Teņi site. Has the building really collapsed or been demolished so quickly? The Dāviņi librarian doesn't really know the answer but promises to ask around.
The next step to find out who lived in the building after the war would be to go to the regional archives in Jelgava. There they keep farm registry books from the Soviet period. These list people who lived on farms incorporated in the Soviet kolkhozes after World War II. Is there more information about the Dāviņi school?
There are still many questions, but in the meantime this story serves as inspiration for an artwork in England. I promise to write if there are new developments in the story.