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My great grandmother's surname? Kiela?

maksym 2 | 47
1 May 2012 #1
I have a document which has my great grandmother's name written on it. Her surname is listed as Kielów. I can't find any reference to this surname. My great grandmother lived in the village of Pniewo just northeast of Warsaw.

1 May 2012 #2
Your grandmother's surname was Kiela; 'z Kielów' is its declined form.
OP maksym 2 | 47
1 May 2012 #3
Thank you very much!!!
boletus 30 | 1,366
1 May 2012 #4
Her surname is listed as Kielów

I think you great grandmother maiden name was KIELA, not KIELÓW.
Here is why:
+ Spelling wise, Kielów is not a typical Polish name.
+ Whoever wrote that certificate must have taken the expression "Z DOMU" (from the house of) too literally - thinking in terms of "Z DOMU RODZINY KIELÓW (from the house of KIELAs family) , which is a perfectly correct plural form.

+ Three kilometres NW of Pniewo is Topolnica, a picturesque village among forests. In the description of its architecture, shown in the Atlas of Polish Villages,, it states:

Topolnica has 37 buildings including 27 brick houses and 10 wooden ones, of which four were built in the interwar period. These are the houses of the families: Zawadzkich, Kielów, Zychów and Okulskich (English: Zawadzkis, Kielas, Zychs, Okulskis).

It looks like some of your relatives still live nearby Pniewo.
+ Googling [Topolnica Kiela] brings several Kiela names, such as Wiesław Kiela a local businessman, a roofer.
+ Googling [Zatory Kiela] brings more Kielas into focus. (Zatory is a gmina, where Pniewo belongs).
+ The Moi Krewni database shows 227 persons in Poland of surname Kiela. They live in 31 districts and towns. Most of them - 68 persons - live in Pułtusk district, where your Pniewo belongs.
terri 1 | 1,664
2 May 2012 #5
z Kielow - this is a perfectly normal form to indicate that the lady came originally from the house of Kiela. This form remains until today, many times in funeral notices you see this form.

IN England, we used to indicate ...'nee', for a young lady i.e. her former surname
boletus 30 | 1,366
2 May 2012 #6
z Kielow - this is a perfectly normal form to indicate that the lady came originally from the house of Kiela. This form remains until today, many times in funeral notices you see this form.

Well, this is nothing new in Polish language. The form "z domu", "de domo" (Latin), "née" or "nee" have been in use for centuries in Poland. However, the typical usage would be - as in this case, "de domo Kiela", " z domu Kiela", "nee Kiela" - in the singular, nominative case, not "z domu Kielów". The only grammatical exception from such rule would be to indicate the femininity of the person, whenever appropriate; as in "de domo £abuńska", rather than "de domo £abuński".

The plural declensed expression "de domo £abuńskich", or " z domu Kielów" is actually incorrect, even though it might sound logical. This is why I tried to justify the transition Kielów=>Kiela in my previous post, by providing some auxiliary supportive evidence.

As a form of amusement, here is what the uncle Google found: An early 19th century advertisement with the word "Kielów". I corrected some of the spelling caused by errors of optical character recognition (OCR) firmware, but I have left the ancient spelling intact, otherwise.

Jakób Czerlo.
Niżey podpisany podaie do wiadomości każdego, kogo to dotyczeć może, iż zyiąc w separacyi z Żona moią Rachłą Netsencederborr, nie należę do iey handlu, będącego przy ulicy Królewskiey w domu KieLów pod Nrem 1076 w sklepie Nro 5, i ze na mocy układów między nami zawartych, ona sama tylko obowiązana iest zapłacić długi tak w kraiu tuteyszym iako i za granicą.

I undersigned Jakób Czerlo notify everyone, who might be concerned about it, that - being separated from my wife Rachła Netsencederborr - I am not part of her business, located at 1076 Królewska Street in the Kielas House, shop no 5, and that according to our arrangements she is alone obliged to pay back her debts both in this country as well as abroad.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
6 May 2012 #7
KIELA: possibly derived from the old first name Kilian???
boletus 30 | 1,366
6 May 2012 #8
Possible; that would point to Celtic, Gaelic origin.

There is another explanation, closer to home. KIELA is a popular Lithuanian surname (male version). The corresponding female surname is KIELIENĖ (Latin capital E with dot above). Google returns 162,000 results for [Kiela Lietuva].

Genealogical service Geni provides access to 11 family trees KIELA, here: All of them point to Lithuanian roots.

Someone on internet stated that KIELA in Lithuanian means a wagtail, pliszka in Polish.
I tried to verify it via Google translate. Pliszka in Polish translates to kielė in Lithuanian. I do not speak Lithuanian, so I cannot judge the differences between the two: kiela vs. kielė, so I'll stop here.

Colonization of Podlasie and booty raids against Pułtusk areas:
The village of Pniewo, the OP's family nest is in the Pułtusk County, Province of Mazovia. The neighbouring Podlasie Province further east and north used to be very intensively colonized by peoples of several nationalities: Polish (Mazovians), Lithuanian, Rusyn and Tatar. Some of this could have trickled south-west, to Pułtusk.

The late 13th and early 14th century was the period of the largest increase in booty raids. Jan Dlugosz in the "Opera Omnia" says that in the years 1253-1307 there were 11 Lithuanian raids, one Prussian, one Rusyn, and one of Teutonic Knights.

The Pultusk was the target of attacks in following years:
1324 - On the orders of Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, Dawid, a castellan of Grodno attacks princely and church estates. On November 20, he reaches Pułtusk - destroying 130 villages, burning 30 churches and murdering more than 4000 people.

1336 - the sons of Gediminas (Olgierd, Kiejstut, Patrick, Lubard,Tołwit and David Rusyn), crossed Narew river over the ice, again in November. They burnt villages on both sides of the river and grabbed cattle and about 1,200 people.

1337 (Długosz dates it in 1338) - A Lithuanian expedition ravages Pultusk and Ciechanów. The invaders, who moved along "secret routes" through the Primeval Forest have been defeated by Mazovian knights on the way back when crossing Narew river. Their booty and slaves were recovered and most of the invaders drowned.

So much for Polish-Lithuanian relationship. The destructive raids lasted until the Polish-Lithuanian Union was established.

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