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Missing/unknown letter in my great-grandmother's last name. Any ideas?


lateStarter 2 | 45
3 Jan 2010 #1
I have given up trying to trace my Polish roots through my grandfather's last name since it was obviously 'Americanized' at some point and nobody in my family on that side seems to have a clue or interest in helping me dig any further. I did find a copy of my grandfather's application for Social Security from 1944 with his mother's name listed as: Sophia Rypy?a.

Unfortunately, where the '?' is that I typed, there is a large white streak that makes it impossible to tell what the underlying letter is. I know that there are only a limited number of possibilities with Polish spelling being what it is. Any ideas? If I could narrow the possible choices, it would make the search a bit easier.

I don't know what area in Poland they really came from (I have heard a couple of widely divergent stories) but I did hear that they left from Galitcia (sp) during the 1890's even though they weren't originally from that area.

Shawn
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386
3 Jan 2010 #2
I did find a copy of my grandfather's application for Social Security from 1944 with his mother's name listed as: Sophia Rypy?a.

if this is hand written... please, scan and post some of the text

it might be possible to compare the writing with other parts of the text.
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
3 Jan 2010 #3
Wroclaw - It is a typed (although poorly) application. It appears from some of the errors on the application that accuracy was not that important for the job. There are spelling errors and it looks like the typewriter was old or hadn't been cleaned in a while. The small letters 'a', 'e', and 's' are often indistinguishable. I am assuming that the final 'a' on her last name is accurate as that seems to reflect common spelling for a Polish woman's last name.

I have been over the entire document with a magnifying glass comparing all the available letters. Is there a size limit for attachments? I will try to scan it in, if you or anyone else wants to play detective with me. Thanks...
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
3 Jan 2010 #4
Is there a size limit for attachments?

100kB
strzyga 2 | 993
3 Jan 2010 #5
Here's a site where you can check the frequency and distribution of Polish last names. Type the name in the box and click the Szukaj button.

moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/kwiatkowski.html

I've tried some probable variants of Rypy?a, but unfortunately got no results.

How large is that white streak? Could it be that more than one letter is missing?
Trevek 26 | 1,702
3 Jan 2010 #6
It could be that the letter of the name didn't work on a US type writer. Might also be a problem that the handwritten version of the name wasn't readable either. I know of a few instances where family names have been changed, even between siblings, because an official couldn't spell properly.

Are their any numbers on the application? Perhaps an address? This might make it easier to trace through regional records offices.
markskibniewski 3 | 200
4 Jan 2010 #7
There are a few possibilities.
1. Was your grandfather an American citizen. If so you can look for his Declaration of Intent and Petition for Naturalization records. These records are a great source of information and are most probably more accurate as they were legal documents.

2. Was your grandfather married in the states? Was he christian/roman catholic? If so was he married in a Polish church? Even if the church wasn't Polish the records are also a great source of information. They often list where both husband and wife were baptised. Which is great for finding the town where your relatives were born.

good luck
nincompoop_not 2 | 192
4 Jan 2010 #8
the surname was probably RYPY£A

no other letter from Polish alphabet would be used in this particular sequence of letters.
jolamac
4 Jan 2010 #9
maybe Rypuła?
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
4 Jan 2010 #11
@strzyga - it looks like only space for 1 letter looking at the other spacing. It almost looks like another 'a' only lighter.

@trevek - could have been a character that doesn't appear in english alphabet (as nicompoop_not pointed out. Probably just misread or misunderstood if info was taken verbally.

everyone else: thanks for the ideas...

Since 100k is the limit for attachments, I'll just scan in that area or as much around it as possible for anyone that wants to take a look. Give me a bit and I'll post it.
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
4 Jan 2010 #12
Here is part of the application with the missing letter.


  • SS application
nincompoop_not 2 | 192
4 Jan 2010 #13
if you look close - it might not be Y-Y but U-Y
Rypyła - or - Rupyła

bit too pointy the first one for 'u' but not as pointy as the second one which definitely is 'y'

unless the scan is a bit skewed...?
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
4 Jan 2010 #14
The first 'y' is not a 'u'. In other places where 'u' appears (June) it is very obviously the letter 'u' On the other hand - 'y' is right next to 'u' on the qwerty system layout!
nincompoop_not 2 | 192
4 Jan 2010 #15
Rypy£a then
there's a Polish verb - rypała - maybe it got changed somewhere along the way?

Rypała as a surname in Poland is much more more popular than Rypyła
maybe it's better for you?
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386
5 Jan 2010 #16
wisdom in this house says either Rypyla or Rypyka

i say it's Swedish: Sofia

the best i can get with a name search takes me to asia, which i doubt, or Sweden.

there appears to be something very wrong with the spelling of the surname.

either way Sophia is spelt in English and shouldn't be, if it's Polish.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386
5 Jan 2010 #18
of course, yes.

it's just that i found Sofia for Sweden. And then made a mess of my post :)
Barney 15 | 1,472
5 Jan 2010 #19
Is it possible that the typed name could be a transcription of the name Rujna or similar(I dont know where the p could fit). Just a guess.
strzyga 2 | 993
5 Jan 2010 #20
IMO Rypała is the best guess so far. The name could have easily been messed up with one "a" changing into "y". Rypała is actually an existing name, see the map: mapa/kompletny/rypa%25C5%2582a.html

Most Rypałas live in Krapkowice and the neighbouring districts. The area used to be Galicia once.
If you are able to find any place names from where your grandfather originally came, you could check if it is the same area.
asik 2 | 220
5 Jan 2010 #21
Here is part of the application with the missing letter.

After looking at the word and letters , I think the missing letter can not be l or ł. The ł was not available in tapewriters with English letters.

Also, it doesn't appear it's l because the spots are indicating it's more then just a simple "line" (as for the letter l).

It could be k or h or even d, g, n, m
Rypyka, Rypyha or Rypyda, Rypyga, Rypyna..
nincompoop_not 2 | 192
5 Jan 2010 #22
After looking at the word and letters , I think the missing letter can not be l or ł. The ł was not available in tapewriters with English letters.

yes - and that's why it was a question mark

all the rest - were
asik 2 | 220
5 Jan 2010 #23
The question mark was put by lateStarter and it doesn't appear on the document (anyway, why would ? appear on the document - if ł can not be written letter l appears instead)
nincompoop_not 2 | 192
5 Jan 2010 #24
true

but my statement still stands - no other letter in Polish language could be placed there.

Just not possible from Polish alphabet point of view. Unless there's some mistake

In terms of orthography- that's the only possibility.
asik 2 | 220
5 Jan 2010 #25
but my statement still stands - no other letter in Polish language could be placed there.

All the letters I've mentioned (and many more) could be placed there but i don't think it'll be l or ł because it looks more like k or h.

In Polish language (as in many others) the grammar "logic" doesn't apply to the surnames, that's why many letters could be placed there.
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
5 Jan 2010 #26
My wife is leaning toward a 'd' even though it doesn't 'fit' orthographically. It does appear that there is a bump to the left similar to an 'a'. But there is also something higher than the top of the 'a' next to it. Unfortunately, there are no other occurences of the letter 'd' typed on the application to compare it to.

I think that it was probably 'ł' originally. As for the first name: I'm sure it was modified also. I have even seen her listed as 'Susie' in the 1900 US Census report and 'Susan' in the 1910 report. This makes me suspect that her name was probably not even Zofia but rather the Polish equivalent of Susan (Żosia?).

Thanks for all the other suggestions. I will contact someone back in the states to look into the Naturalization records. My greatgranfather is listed as 'NA' in the earliest census reports I could find (Code for Naturalized).
strzyga 2 | 993
5 Jan 2010 #27
This makes me suspect that her name was probably not even Zofia but rather the Polish equivalent of Susan (Żosia?).

Zosia (without the dot over Z) is a diminutive from Zofia. Susan in Polish is Zuzanna, shortened to Zuzia.
asik 2 | 220
5 Jan 2010 #28
My wife is leaning toward a 'd' even though it doesn't 'fit' orthographically.

Why do you insist it should fit orthographically?? There are no grammar rules with surnames. It could be Rypyda .
It could be any letter and on the document the whole surname could be misspelled same as with the first name, which is completely different; it's Sophia and later she named herself Susan.

I was searching a little bit . I put the 1890 for immigrants/ passengers list of people going to America. There is Rypyla Natalia, look maybe it's a connection:

They offer 2 wks free time on that site , you need to register to see the details.
OP lateStarter 2 | 45
5 Jan 2010 #29
Thanks Asik.

I don't have a credit card though, so I can't register for the 2 weeks free trial. I don't insist that the name should fit orthographically, I just wanted to use that word in a sentence one time in my life! :)
markskibniewski 3 | 200
6 Jan 2010 #30
Thanks for all the other suggestions. I will contact someone back in the states to look into the Naturalization records. My greatgranfather is listed as 'NA' in the earliest census reports I could find (Code for Naturalized).

If you know the state and county that your Greatgrandfather lived when he 1st came to the states or where you think he was living when naturalized, there are many records listed online that will assist you in finding the record. The only drawback is it will most likely cost you $15- $20.00 to obtain the record. If you need any assistance let me know as i have obtained my grandfathers record this way


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