The haunted manor house where she was born

The haunted manor house where she was born

My paternal grandparents were born on neighbouring estates in the Talsu District of Latvia. As the crow flies there are approximately 8kms between Nurmhusen, my father’s family’s estate, and Dursupe where my grandmother Sophie Elisabeth Marie von Hohenastenberg-Wigandt, was born on 21 September 1881. I wish I had known that when I visited Nurmhusen.

According to the book Latvijas Pilis un Muižas (Castles and Manors of Latvia), Dursupe was built in 1820 and then reconstructed in the second half of the 19th century in a neo Gothic style. The photo above has been taken from this book. After an afternoon of Googling, I discovered several websites which mention Dursupe. This one details the history of the estate. Apparently the land was first parceled out in 1390 and went through a couple of owners. Then, in the 16th century, the land belonged to a Johann Altenbokumu. Interestingly a member of his family was the Governor of Tobago. Poor Johann was, according to the website, stabbed on a barrel of wine! There is no mention of a house on the estate in those early years, so I wonder where everyone lived before the manor was built.

Over the years the estate changed hands many times and the ownership becomes slightly confusing for me to follow – a situation not aided by Google translate. However it seems that Dursupe was bought in 1846 by my grandmother’s grandfather, Gustav von Hohenastenberg-Wigandt. Now, it looks as though Gustav sold Dursupe to his son Heinrich, my great grandfather, in 1873 for 80,000 rubles. The document I found in the New Kurlander Chronicles which details this, and subsequent real estate deals to do with the property, is in German and not easy to translate, but it seems as if there was some sort of credit owing on the estate.

According to my aunt, the eldest sister of my father, Heinrich enjoyed travelling much more than he enjoyed looking after his children, so, after the death of their mother, my grandmother and her siblings were brought up by their grandparents. In 1899, when my grandmother was 18, Heinrich sold Dursupe to Reginald Otto Woldemar von Boenninghausen-Budberg for 117,000 rubles. In hindsight Heinrich was smart to sell as apparently in 1919, during the Latvian War of Independence, the owners of Dursupe were murdered as a result of the uprising.

But, you ask, why is the manor haunted? Latvijas Pilis un Muižas (Castles and Manors of Latvia) tells us there is a round room in Dursupe where a Countess hung herself and it is out of this room ghosts often appear. I have attempted to trace this Countess but so far have been unable to discover who she was. It seems that official inspectors were sent to the manor to look into the ghostly hauntings. They discovered that, after eleven o’clock at night an unusual noise could be heard, lasting until one o’clock in the morning when everything went quiet again. The inspectors concluded that indeed something very strange was happening at Dursupe.


Alex de Fircks is a writer of memoir and short fiction. She blogs about family, moments in time, memories and travel. Alex is passionate about history, genealogy and family stories.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lloyd de Vere Hunt

    An interesting story!

    I am looking forward to the end of COVID-19 to visit the area. My fourth great grandfather Colonel the Baron George Friedrich Wilhelm von Pfeilitzer gennant Franck (1767 Senten – 1853, Bath England) did some schooling at Nurmhusen before becoming a page to Frederick the Great, winner of Pour Le Merite, a Prussian then British Major for the Hanoverian Duke of York.

    During this period he worked in French and was known as de Pfeilitzer and involved in the operational transfer of superlative military strategy from Prussia to England. Again relevant to this story, after he retired from the military, he went into the English civil service, where one of his appointments was head of customs for Tobago.

    His first Baronin was from St. Kitts from the Garvey Plantation at Trinity Palmetto, now a hotel.

    I had thought the the Altenbockum misfortune had happened at Klein Senten before my fifth great grandfather bought it from his dad, Franz George from Struteln. But I could be wrong.

    I believe the ultimate von Altenbockum story is second cousin Ursula

  2. Alex

    Thanks for reading! Your fourth great grandfather certainly had an interesting life!

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