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Bies ancestry

lbeetle 1 | 2
11 May 2009 #1
Anyone ever heard of this Polish last name? Where did such families reside? What are some associations with the name?
McCoy 27 | 1,275
11 May 2009 #2
bies in old polish language means evil spirit, devil, demon
OP lbeetle 1 | 2
12 May 2009 #3
Thanks so much for your response, and esp. for the link to the mapping program. So, this connotation of evil or devil begs the question: how did this become a surname? It is not common across languages/culture for this to be a last name (at least in modernity). Was it common at some point? Is it a shortened form of some other last name? In German, the word is associated with "reed". Yet, we are told the name is Polish, and might have been part of a Jewish migration to the Alsace Lorraine area, and then to other points globally. Any one know of any of this? Or other explanations?
8 Jan 2010 #4
Hi, my great-grandfather was Frank Bies, his father Michael Bies. The family minus Michael who was deceased arrived in the US sometime around 1880. They were from around the town of Bydgoszcz. Possibly to the north-west of there. For the life of me, I can not remember much about him except that he was born around 1860, died in February of 1929 (I think) as the result of being run over by a wagon when a team of horses spooked. This was related to me by my mother. Frank's wife Anna remarried a Paul Heron. Frank is buried in Fisherville (Auburn) MI, Anna is buried in BAy City MI next to Paul Heron.

There is a large number with the name Bies in Minnesota, had been quite a few in upper Michigan who worked in the mines.

If you wish to send me your emailaddress, when I obtain more information, I will forward it to you.

Jerry Gwisdala
1527 Gay Ln
Midland, MI 48640
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
9 Jan 2010 #5
BIES: devil, demon, evil spirit in Polish and other Slavonic tongues (cf. Dostoevsky's novel 'Biesy' - translated into English as 'The Possessed'). Used by some 540 people in today's Poland, around 300 of whom live in the mountainous Bielsko-Biała area of south Poland along the Czech and Slovak border.

It could have been a Jewish name, since most Slavonic names have been used by Jews at some stage.
How could it have become a surname? Imagine a big burly raven-haired Jewish cartwright or blacksmith with black glowing eyes
whom someone had met in the forest and was scared sh*tless (excusez mon français!) ‘I thought I’d met the devil himself,’ the hapless soul told a neighbour. Someone who overheard told another villager: ‘Moshek called blacksmith Shmul “a devil”.’ Someone else heard it, repeated it, it caught on and soon became the common way of describing Shmul.

That of course is only a hypothetical scenario, but the fact remains that nearly all Polish (and not only Polish) surnames started out as local nicknames: Jan Bednarczyk (the barrel-maker's son John), Antek Nosal (big-nosed Tony /Soprano?!/), Jędrek Brzeziński (Andy from Birchville), etc., etc.

GWIZDA£A: One of a small group of Polish surnames formed from the past tense singular of verbs which includes Biegała (literally: she was running), Świtało (day was breaking), Przybył (he has arrived, ie a newcomer). Stach Gwizdała (from gwizdać=to whistle) would probably best translate into English as Stan the whistler.
pawian 173 | 12,662
8 Sep 2012 #6
Anyone ever heard of this Polish last name? Where did such families reside? What are some associations with the name?

In my childhood, my parents forced us (their kids) to go to the theatre with them. It was horrible. I remember we went to see the most boring plays, among them Biesy by Dostojewski.

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