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Hrabowski surname

Nickidewbear 23 | 609
20 Aug 2012 #1
What does "Hrawbowski" mean, meanwhile? I go to UMBC, and our president has that surname.
boletus 30 | 1,361
20 Aug 2012 #2
That's Hrabowski, not Hrawbowski - the great-great-grandson of Eaton Hrabowski, a Polish-American "slave master in rural Alabama" (thus the origin of his surname).


However, Hrabowski is a very rare name in Poland - only 37 people use this surname. Compare it with very popular surnames Grabowski (male) and Grabowska (female) - 28,131 and 29,837, respectively. Surname Grabowski comes from localities Grab, Grabów, Grabowa, Grabówka; those in turn from the word "grab" - a decideus tree, hornbeam in English (a birch subfamily, according to modern botanists). Alternative explanation: from "grabić" - to rake, "grabie" - rakes, or "grabić" - to grab, to rob. Actually, the words "grabie" (rakes) and "grab" (hornbeam) are related since hornbeam wood is widely used in various fields of crafts. Due to its compactness, high hardness and abrasion resistance it is used in the fabrication of wooden carpentry tools (planers bodies) or for the production of drum sticks. It seems to me that for the same reason the wooden rakes were also made from hornbeam wood.

Hedges made of cut hornbeam were once commonly used in southern Poland to fence the fields and orchards.

What is a relation of Hrabowski to Grabowski? The spelling difference might be caused by G==>H shift in Ukrainian language. Ukrainians pronounce the character G as H. Although the surname Grabowski is transliterated from Polish to Ukrainian as Грабовскі, its phonetic representation would be Hrabovski. You can check it in the Google translate.

A man named Grabowski emigrating from Poland to USA would retain his surname, because it is already spelled with Latin characters. However, Грабовскі from Ukraine would have his name transliterated from Cyrillic to Latin, most likely to Hrabovski or Hrabowski.
OP Nickidewbear 23 | 609
21 Aug 2012 #3
Thanks. Meanwhile, by the way, does that mean that Eaton Hrabowski could've been Polish Ukrainian?
boletus 30 | 1,361
21 Aug 2012 #4
Anything possible. He could have been Polonized Ukrainian or vice versa. Although I have not researched this family tree I noticed that there were many references to Hrabowski surnames in Names Eaton and Tom appear there as well.

That's Hrabowski, not Hrawbowski - the great-great-grandson of Eaton Hrabowski, a Polish-American "slave master in rural Alabama" (thus the origin of his surname).

Correction. Freeman A Hrabowski III is not a descendant of Polish-American "slave master in rural Alabama". His great-great-grandfather was born in Ghana but was given the surname Hrabowski, after a "slave master in rural Alabama". Here is the lineage of Freeman A Hrabowski III:

- Eaton Hrabowski (1835-?), born in Ghana, Africa, married Rebecca McCord
- Tom Hrabowski (1857-1925), born in Alabama, married Litha Reeves, resided in Collirene, Lowndes County, Alabama at least to 1920
- Freeman Hrabowski (1884-?) born and resided in Collirene, Lowndes County, Alabama at least to 1930
- Freeman Hrabowski (1910-1979) born and resided in Collirene, Lowndes County, Alabama at least to 1930, died in Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama
- Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, (1950-) born in Birmingham, Alabama

The "Polish-American slave owner" line starts with Samuel Hrabowski (?-1777). He was supposedly born in Poland. He married Ann Ashley (1747-1798), a Londoner. They settled in St. Augustine, Florida in 1770, where he was granted a lot from British Government, with two stone houses, which he bought in 1771 from Jesse Fishe for £150 cash. The previous owners were Spaniards, which were forced to move out to Cuba in 1763 as a result of Spanish-British war, lost by Spaniards. In 1773 the Hrabowskis moved to Charleston where he became a merchant. He died in 1777. His widow ran their business there, and later sold the property in St. Augustine, after receiving compensation for the four years of rent income loss, after Spaniards regained Florida. The story of the houses in St. Augustine is quite confusing, murky but quite interesting. It is described in details here:

Samuel's bio seems puzzling too. Polish-Americans adopted him as semi-hero:

Hrabowski, Samuel
Contractor and purveyor. As an exile in consequence of his participation in the Confederacy of the Bar, he came to England from Poland. In 1770 he emigrated to Florida with his family and settled in St. Augustine. In 1773 left Florida with his family for Charlestown, S. C. Here he became a merchant and conducted a store of marine supplies. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he became a purveyor for the American Revolutionary Navy. Died in Charlestown S. C., on Sept. 7, 1777.
From: "Who's Who in Polish America" by Rev. Francis Bolek, Editor-in-Chief; Harbinger House, New York, 1943

I doubt his participation in the Confederacy of the Bar (1768-1772). Revolutionaries and merchants do not mix; this is out of Polish stereotypical character. Revolutionaries, after loosing their uprising, run away to Paris first, get letters of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin and then go to America to fight. This is what Casimir Pułaski and several of his friends did. They do not go to London and they do not marry a foreigner there. For that one needs strong previous UK business connections.

Ann moved with her oldest son John S Hrabowski back to London in 1780s. There were many descendants of Samuel and Ann in Charleston SC and Collirene, Alabama. It is hard to generate their exact family tree, unless becoming a paid member of, or other such services - which I am not willing to do at the moment. But apparently some people did it and concluded that:

Samuel Hrabowski, who came from Poland and sold supplies and provisions to sailing ships in Charleston, South Carolina as early as 1773, owned slaves, and his grandsons later owned as many as fifty in South Carolina and Alabama.

Ann Hrabowski (1768-1843), a daughter of Ann and Samuel, still continued with the family business in Charleston SC. She married George Wagner; Wagners were known plantation owners, who owned many slaves.

Samuel Hrabowski still remains a puzzling character, unless the following can be taken seriously in the context of this American story.

December 20, 1720
The mayor and the city council of the town of £obżenica, at the request of Michael Lindebein - a deputy mayor and Samuel Hrabowski - (illegible, could be a chandler), present this testimony of a good birth for Johann Cholevius - a tailor, son of Michael Cholevius - a former member of the town council and Anna Magdalena Eveitschin.
Martinus Gritzmesser, Pro Consul of £obżenica

This is one of hundreds documents found in Toruń archives; specifically, this is a letter of recommendation required by guilds when a person wished to find employment in another town.

So what is £obżenica, Lobsentz in German? This is a small town in North periphery of Greater Poland province, Poland. Under protection of its owners, Grudziński family, it had become a heaven for followers of religious reformations taking place in Europe. German Lutherans, Scottish Presbyterians and Jews settled there. The working language was German, not Polish. Weaving was the main business there. Scots found Lobsentz quite attractive due to its location. They build Scot quarters there, "a new town" and called Lobsentz "A Little Danzig". The town was quite small and did not have patriciate there. Town had basically one class only, made of various artisans: bakers, brewers, clothiers, canvas majers, shoemakers, tailors, coopers, smiths, potters, masons.

Jews were present in most of such towns in Greater Poland, with some exceptions. In £obżenica the Jewish community had 324 members in 1773, 283 in 1788, 508 in 1815 and 860 in 1827.

There were few Poles living in small towns like this; they either lived in noble estates in countryside, or they were peasants. This particular Samuel Hrabowski could be a Jew, or a Polish Protestant. Whoever he was, he could have developed business connections with people abroad - directly or via Scottish inhabitants of the town. For this reason marrying a Londoner would not be out of character. But the question is still open - was he the same Samuel Hrabowski who settled in America?

This info comes from this service: []. See the little map at the left hand side. It clearly shows Ghana, Africa as Eaton's birthplace. It is wikipedia that is clearly confused, even though it provides enough clues, authorized by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, how to follow his family tree from Eaton to the three Freeman Hrabowskis. Mundia service delivers more details, which I used in the previous post.
OP Nickidewbear 23 | 609
22 Aug 2012 #5
I found his public family tree on and provided (and cited) the info, which comes right from the tree. He also claimed that his great-great-granddad was a Polish slave owner in the CBS interview (which someone found and cited). I had no idea about Mundia, etc.. As I stated, you ought to contact the family--they might have no idea about what yo found out.
31 Jan 2013 #6
Boletus I am a descendent of Samuel Hrabowski. Would you like to talk further?How best to do that? RNP
31 Jan 2013 #7
I have located the marriage record of Ann Ashley, Spinster, and Samuel Hrabowski. The license is #323 issued from Ann's church in London --St. Bartholomew the Great where she married Samuel Hrabowski, a member of the parish of St Stephens Walbrook, London. The date is 26 June 1768.
23 Jul 2014 #8
see catholic:

Akta urodzeń 1622-1705, 1825-1835 FHL INTL Film 529606 at the FHCs

Unlikely to pick him up if he died in 1777

For Hrabowski see £obżenica Akta urodzeń Catholic 1622-1705, 1825-1835 FHL INTL Film 529606 in the FHCs

It's unlikely that you will find him there unless he was really old when he moved to London but you may find other Hrabowskis.

The name Samuel does not necessarily indicate a Jewish background - given the location of the town in question it is more likely that he was a Protestant as Biblical names were common there.
Polonius3 990 | 12,349
23 Jul 2014 #9
HRABOWSKI: Ruthenianised pronunciaiton of Grabowski; in addition to numerous toponymic sources in Poland, there are also a number of localities called Гpaвбoв in Belarus and Ukraine, where they would be pronounced Hrabow or Hrabiw. Someone hailing from there would have been nicknamed Гpaвбoвcкий or ГpaвбoвcЬкий which in Ruthenian would be pronounced Hrabowskij or Hrabowśkij and ended up in Polish as Hrabowski.

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