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18 Oct 2017 #4,381
Welcome back Polonius :) hope you are well !

Iwno is a small village but was the seat of the aristocratic Mielzynski family - in fact I think they are in discussions to get some of the property back.
18 Oct 2017 #4,382
@kaprys and @DominicB Thank you for the information! I complete forgot I posted here until today.

Dominic, you mentioned that it was highly unlikely I was related to anyone in Poland with that name unless there was documentation proving it. Why do you say that? I've done some digging in my family tree an found the following: I have a few ancestors who were born in Dabrowka, Poland (4 to 6 generations above me), then an ancestor from Katholisch, Prussia (7 generations above), and then I've hit a dead end with what I've been able to find. Does this change anything?
DominicB - | 2,704
18 Oct 2017 #4,383

Look at this map:

With a geographical distribution like that, that surname is certainly not unique to one family, but used by several totally unrelated families. And as by far most of them live very far from where your ancestors came from, near Lublin and Kraków, it is unlikely that you are related to by far most people with that surname. You would need solid documentation to determine whether you are related to anyone else with that surname.

There are about 75 places in Poland named Dąbrówka. It is one of the most common place names in the country. You're going to have to figure out which of these your ancestors came from.

"Katolisch" is not a place name. It is the German word for "Catholic", and refers to your ancestor's religious affiliation.

Seven generations takes you back to the early 1800s. Before then, records become very scarce indeed, and completely nonexistent for by far most people living at that time. Someone who had gone back that far should be quite an accomplished genealogist, but that is inconsistent with the level of questions you are asking. Are you sure you have solid documentation linking all of those generations together in an unbroken chain?
19 Oct 2017 #4,384

I'm sorry I acted over-confident in my information, it's likely not that accurate in hindsight, as I have no idea what I am doing. I am confident in my tree until it leaves the United States (4 generations above myself), then most of the information I have is from other people's tree's on, but I do not know how accurate that is. I am planning to re-do that part of the tree anyway because I believe I made some mistakes. Thank you for the information you have provided me. Hopefully I can get some more accurate information about that part of my family tree.
Ziemowit 13 | 3,916
19 Oct 2017 #4,385
dżdżownica (one of my favorite words for weirdness)

You may perhaps add 'Przecieszyn pod Brzeszczami' to your list. The village is home to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło.
19 Oct 2017 #4,386
My ancestors' surnames were Roj (I've also seen it as Rog), Lopata, Tombor & Supka. Can anyone tell me what any of these mean? I'm also curious if they were likely to have been spelled differently in Polish...they were all from Galicia (Lubasz specifically) and as I start diving in to old church records it would be really helpful to know if I should be looking for alternate spellings.

DominicB - | 2,704
19 Oct 2017 #4,387

The first three would be spelled Róg, Łopata and Tambor in Polish, and all are found in the area around Lubasz. The last one is either very rare, or a misspelling that would take some work to sort out.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
19 Oct 2017 #4,388
Róg/Rog are both used as surnames and derived from róg-horn.
Rój/Roj are derived from rój-swarm.
Łopata - shovel.
Tąbor (might have been misspelled as Tombor) probably derived from tabor - nomadic camp or Mount Tabor.
Supka might be misspelled Zupka -derived from zupa-soup or Supko also derived from zupa or customs house according to though they don't say what language that comes from :s
19 Oct 2017 #4,389

thanks very much!

Here is what I currently know - unsure what my next step should be as I begin to look into Polish records.

John Roj: born about 1885 in Poland; died Oct 28, 1923 in Ware, MA. John married Mary Lopata on on January 30th, 1907 in Ware, MA (marriage record shows her name to be Mary Opata and his to be John Rog). They had 5 children - Edward, Katherine, Sophie, Isabelle & Stanley. (Katherine is my great grandmother). Mary Opata was born on May 8, 1889 in Laskunka, Poland. She died on Sept 7, 1956.

According to the marriage record, Mary Lopata/Opata's parents were Michal Opata and Agata Cub. John Roj/Rog's parents were Michal Rog and Anna Gumula. I know nothing else about the 4 parents, and cannot find any record of John or Mary's births in Poland. Were multiple name spellings like this common? How should I best go about finding them in Polish archives?

The other side are the Supkas. Joseph (Jozsef) Supka was born in Austria in 1868. He lived in Ware, MA and he died on January 17, 1929. Magdalena (his wife) was born in Lubasz, Galizia in 1877. She arrived at Ellis Island (already married at that point) on June 5, 1912 with her 4 kids - Peter (Pietr), Mary (Marganna), John (Jan) and Michael (Michal). She died in 1957 in Ware, MA. I believe her maiden name to be Tombor/Tambor.

I am really struggling with this side, as I can't find record of any of the 4 Supka kids' births prior to their emigration to the US, nor have I found Joseph & Magdalena's marriage record. I've seen the following similarly spelled surnames - do any of these sound more right? supka / csupka / tsupka / cupko / chupko / chupka / zupka

Thanks for any and all help & insights!
DominicB - | 2,704
19 Oct 2017 #4,390

Rój is also a possibility, and probably a better guess than the unrelated surname Róg. It is especially common around Lubasz.

Tąbor is an exceedingly rare alternative spelling of Tambor. There are also a tiny number who spell it Tombor, but they don't live in the Lubasz are. There are only two people with the surname Tąbor in Poland. Coincidentally, both of them live near Lubasz. It certainly has nothing to do with "Tabor", with either meaning. That's phonetically impossible in Polish. It's derived from the name of the musical instrument (Tambourine in English).

Zupka is not a possibility. It is a Polish surname, but is it exceeding rare and does not occur anywhere near Lubasz. By far most of the 52 people with that name live close to Sokołów Podlaski, and none at all in what was Galicia.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
19 Oct 2017 #4,391
But Tąbor and Tombor would be pronounced pretty much the same and the op first wrote the name Tombor. As for Tąbor derived from Tabor, I found this explanation at - perhaps some sort of vowel shift or misspelling - who knows.

Opata is also used as a surname - derived either from a regional variant of łopata-shovel or opat-abbot.
I have to say that the variations of spellings of your family's surnames are quite impressing - no wonder you have trouble finding records. As for first names, Joseph - Józef, Peter - Piotr, John - Jan, Michael - Michał and Mary - Marianna or Marjanna (old-fashioned) - the English version is Maryann. Marganna doesn't make sense. But since Marianna/Marjanna was spelled Marganna, perhaps it was Roj/Rój not Rog/Róg. Someone might have had a problem with telling the difference between j and g - just guessing ...

I don't know ... perhaps the names were originally written in the cyrillic and then someone made a mistake translating them into the Latin alphabet?
DominicB - | 2,704
19 Oct 2017 #4,392
But Tąbor and Tombor would be pronounced pretty much the same and the op first wrote the name Tombor.

Tąbor and Tombor are both rare spelling variants of Tambor, which is the far more common spelling of both. As I said above, there are only two people with the spelling "Tąbor" registered in Poland.

I found this explanation at - perhaps some sort of vowel shift or misspelling

perhaps the names were originally written in the cyrillic

Stankiewicz made a mistake. It is impossible for a non-nasal "a" to become a nasal "ą" or "am" in Polish. That just doesn't happen. Ever. I have noticed that he often tries to find a modern Polish etymology for names even when it is clear that the etymology is not Polish, even when his guesses are pretty far-fetched and violate the phonetic rules of Polish. This is a good example of that.

perhaps the names were originally written in the cyrillic

Definitely not in this part of Poland.
DominicB - | 2,704
19 Oct 2017 #4,393

By the way, do you know about this site:

You can type in a surname, and it shows you a map with the distribution of registered people with that name by powiat. With gender-specific names, you have to either search twice (under Kowalski and Kowalska), or just double the result for either of them.

That's how I eliminated Zupka.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
19 Oct 2017 #4,394
Ok, I checked Lubasz - definitely under the Prussian partition. Still the variations of the spellings are incredible.
As for the changes in the original names - I wouldn't be so sure.
But then again, I'm just a laywoman trying to help.
DominicB - | 2,704
19 Oct 2017 #4,395

Wrong Lubasz. Check the other one in Galicia, the Austrian partition.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
19 Oct 2017 #4,396
I quoted several times here. Again not sure how reliable the information there is. I have a friend whose dad is not Polish. So is her last name. Still she was born here. She went to school, studied here and works here. Her surname doesn't appear in the search. So we can be as sure of the information there as we're sure of what says.
19 Oct 2017 #4,397

this has been hugely helpful, so first a big thank you to you both.

I know that Peter Supka (or Pietr Supka according to his Ellis Island file; possibly a variation of the Supka last name) was born in February of 1899 in Lubasz, Galizia. I just went through this collection of scans, and no luck:[1898+TO+1901]+XSKANro:t&wynik=4&rpp=15&page=1#tabSkany

Any ideas as to where else I should be looking for a birth record from 1899 in Galicia?
20 Oct 2017 #4,398
Maybe Węgorek came from fishermen who specialized in catching eels? Or cooks? How long has smoked eel been a delicacy in northern Poland?

The name Węgorek occurs predominantly in the eastern border of Małopolska. Were eels abundant in this region?
20 Oct 2017 #4,399
Because Węgorek sounds like wegorz, not like robak or glista

«węgorek» according to the standard Polish dictionary is

nicień, pasożyt kręgowców i roślin

"a nematode [worm] parasite ..."
Thus I had asked why the name would be associated with eels necessarily.
DominicB - | 2,704
20 Oct 2017 #4,400
The worm is named such because it looks and wiggles like a little eel. If you ever saw nematodes under the microscope. you would agree that that is a good description.

And,,,,, no $hit, I just looked for a Youtube video of nematodes, and the very first thing it says is "These microscopic worms look like tiny little eels". Here's the link:
20 Oct 2017 #4,401
The worm is named such because it looks and wiggles like a little eel.

I see. That explains it.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
20 Oct 2017 #4,402
It's more possible for a nickname than the name of a parasite to have become a surname. Not sure when the parasites were called węgorek and if local populations were aware of the existance of such parasites to give somebody such a nickname. Eels are known, traded and eaten Poland for centuries.

Unfortunatelly, I have no idea how abundant in eels were in Wielkopolska when Węgorek was first used as a surname.
DominicB - | 2,704
20 Oct 2017 #4,403
I have no idea how abundant in eels were in Wielkopolska

Very abundant. They made up a significant part of the diet just about all over Poland, until the 1970s, when the eel population began to crash.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,526
20 Oct 2017 #4,404
They're called 'wegorze.' The older generations (like those in their late 40's 50's and beyond) love that stuff! It's not as popular as it use to be. In the Polish markets in US they're always in stock though. My dad buys them every so often. Idk that stuff always grossed me out. Same with that galareta stuff - its like a weird jello with meat
crmondo - | 4
20 Oct 2017 #4,405

Hi again - could Supka have been Czub in their homeland? I've been digging around, and it looks like there were a lot of Czub's in Szczucin and Delastowice. Both locations in vicinity of Lubasz, which is where their Ellis Island paperwork has them coming from. Does that sound right to you, or is it there too much of a difference between the two?
DominicB - | 2,704
20 Oct 2017 #4,406
Does that sound right to you, or is it there too much of a difference between the two?

That seems very farfetched. Sorry, but guessing isn't going to help much here. You'll need documentation.
kaprys 3 | 2,302
20 Oct 2017 #4,407
Czub is more possible to have been misspelled as Cub as in Agata Cub. But that's a wild guess.
Have you got any photos of the original records we could look at?
21 Oct 2017 #4,408

Unfortunatelly, I have no idea how abundant in eels were in Wielkopolska when Węgorek was first used as a surname.

Thank you, Kaprys
I was referring to Małopolska.
The name is concentrated in the area near and around Lublin.
Are eels abundant in this area?
DominicB - | 2,704
21 Oct 2017 #4,409
Are eels abundant in this area?

Not now. They are extinct in this area every since they built the dam over the Wisław in Włocławek. But they were until recently (1970s), and even more so a century before that.
22 Oct 2017 #4,410
Very interesting, Dominic. Thank you.

Discussion is closed.