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Looking Into The Surname Bednarczuk: Ukrainian, Polish, Ruthenian, Belarusian, etc?

9 Feb 2011 #1
My Great-Grandparents had the surname Bednarczuk. Family lore has always placed them coming from Ukraine, but the terms Ruthenian and Galician as well as ternopil have popped up in searches.

I figure at least they were from Western Ukraine, but i've also seen the suffix -czuk refered to as Polish in Origin, which leads to questions, which my family has very little answers to.

Other surnames involved include Kowalczuk, Turchyn, and Berykela (not sure if that is the correct spelling).

Any insight to this surname's origin, meaning, or anything would be appreciated, especially if it has Polish roots...
Calabrien - | 20
9 Feb 2011 #2
Hmm... I found information that the surname Bednarczuk has Ukrainian origin and it's name comes from "bednarz" (cooper)

Kowalczuk - comes from the root "kowal", meaning smith or blacksmith The -czyk suffix is a variation of "son of," so this surname literally means "son of Smith." It is poular surname in Russia and Ukraina although it has polish origin
Lukasz K - | 103
9 Feb 2011 #3
Name and nationality don't have much in common. You are still using your name Bednarczuk but you are not Ukrainian nor Polish.

They nationality can be guessed if you know what language they were speaking, what alphabet they were writing, what church they belonged to.

Names ending with -uk are refereed to be of Ruthenian origin but because eastern Poland was settled by Ruthenians (Podlasie) or was Ruthenian (south-east) since middle ages and then were Polonised now such names are also found in Poland very often and people that use them are 100% Polish...

It is not the name that decides your nationality so I find those attempts to guess nationality by name not sensible. Especially in CE where borders were shifting, people migrating etc. you would find many Polish with German names many German with Polish names, many Polish with Russian and Ruthenian names, many Russian with Polish names and of course Jews who could have German (Yiddish), Polish or Russian names...

Of course name can give you a hint about the "origins" of your family but the family could already change their nationality twice beafore they emigrated...


Trevek 26 | 1,702
9 Feb 2011 #4
I knew someone of Slovak heritage called Bednar.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
10 Feb 2011 #5
TURCZYN: Turk, one of many natioanality-derived surnames in Polish including Rusek, Rusin, Niemiec, Czech, Szwed, Cygan, Żydek, Węgier, Madziar, Włoch, Szwab, Duńczyk, Holender, etc.
10 Feb 2011 #6
Of course name can give you a hint about the "origins" of your family but the family could already change their nationality twice beafore they emigrated...

All too True. Going into this search expecting to find definite answers to ethnic or national identity would be foolish. My surname is considered mostly English, but my roots belie Scottish, Irish, Ukrainian, German, and French-Canadian origins to name a few.

I do however, like you said , think I can get a few hints as to where my Great-Grandparents came from thru their name, and what stood out was the -czuk suffix which ive read is Polish in origin. Now my Great-Grandparents all but confirmed, considered themselves Ukrainian (and possibly Ruthenian) and what hints lead us to them coming from the Western Ukraine also lead me, due to history, looking for a needle in a very large haystack.

For Instance, like you said, thye could have lived in land that was once a part of Poland but could be totally Ukrainian/Ruthenian. On the other hand they could have lived in land that was once Ukrainian, then Polish, then back to Ukrainian (with other Nations claiming rights to the land in between). Ive read that the -czuk suffix is the Polish version of the Ukrainina -chuk. Im not entirely sure if this is correct or not, but it could mean the family once spelled their name differently. Then theres the matter of immigration documents coming thru Ellis Island, for who knows if they decided on the surname based on whatever spelling they chose to interpret. This is all at the moment unknowable but hints are helpful in any way.

Which is why I posted this here. I wanted to see if anyone had any insight into a Polish connection to the surname, wether it be ethnic, national, or simply grammatical, any info is helpful.

I dont have many other clues to offer besides names of regions and towns they were possibly from which are remembered by relatives thru somewhat fuzzy memories. Im pretty sure they were christian, more than likely protestant since ive never heard of any roman catholicism in my family. As for language, alphabet, etc, thats a subject that has my mother and other relatives placing face to palm, regreting not making an effort to remember or ask them. From what ive heard they werent to forthcoming about their pasts as it were. Some family rumors tell they were escaping/hiding from someone, possibly an austrian(or russian) general that my GGF worked for previously.

Also to Trevek, I also read on the net that Bednar is slovakian for cooper, so that substantiates it somewhat.

Thanks to you Lukasz for your candor and insight in responding to my question as well as thanks to everyone else who posted, and if anyone else can shed light on the subject it would be much appreciated.

...And sorry for this post being so long :)
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
10 Feb 2011 #7
FYI -chuk is not the Ukrainian spelling of the Polish ending -czuk, it is the customary English transliteration of Ukrainian -чук. Incidentally, the Germans would transliterate is at –tschuk. (Khruschev’s name was spelt some 30 different ways by different Western newspapers.).

Bednarèuk is the speling in Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
18 Feb 2012 #8
Bednarczuk is a name of Ukrainian origin and your great-grandparents were ethnic Ukrainians from western Ukraine who were Greek-Catholic. The reason why this surname is specifically spelled with a 'czuk' ending is because your great-grandparents came from the only part of Ukraine that used to be occupied by Poland, the west of Ukraine. Spelling NEVER tells you the ethnicity behind a surname in Eastern Europe, since different languages spell names differently (Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, etc). Just know that 'CHUK' or 'CZUK' are suffixes of Ukrainian origin (btw UKRAINIAN = RUTHENIAN!!) while the similar suffix 'CHYK' is Polish. Had the surname been Bednarczyk, your great grand-parents would have been Polish. I guarantee you they were Ukrainian - you can check Greek-Catholic church records if you don't believe me, and for sure from the west which explains the Polish spelling. Another thing to remember is that if any Ukrainian with that surname would immigrate to the states NOW, the name would be phonetically changed in English from its Cyrillic spelling back in Ukraine - it would turn into something like Bednarchuk or Bednarchouk. However, any immigrants with Polish surnames that immigrate to the states NEVER get their names changed since its already in Latin form! Your great-grandparents' Ukrainian last name was officially spelled Bednarczuk in Polish occupied western Ukraine and their name stayed that way after immigration.
johnocz 1 | 2
19 Apr 2012 #9
Name and nationality don't have much in common.

Thanks. I needed to hear this. I've been obsessing about my nationality a bit since a very recent discovery of a different spelling of my last name and a 1902 ship manifest showing ethnicity of Ruthenian. So true and so well put. Thanks again.
rdweinert - | 1
19 Aug 2012 #10
Hi all,

I am looking for the meaning, and orgin of Wajnert. I have many records of this part of my family coming to america, but not much of where in poland they originated from. Also, any help with ginski would be appreciated as well.


boletus 30 | 1,366
19 Aug 2012 #11
Mods: could you please move the last two posts to a proper thread?

I am looking for the meaning, and orgin of Wajnert. I have many records of this part of my family coming to america, but not much of where in poland they originated from.

Wajnert is a polonized name of German origin, derived from Weiner, and this in turn from Wagner or Weiner.

Wagner: from Middle- and High- German wagener; or from Middle-German wainer, or weiner. It means a craftsman involved in making wagons, or the wagon driver (in southern Germany). In the North-East and the South-West Germany it means a wheelwright, cartwright; here and there it also means a smith making wheel rims or even a saddler making harnesses.

Polish alternatives: Wagner, Wajner, Weiner, Wojner, Wujner.

The database "Moi Krewni" produces the following map for the surname Wajnert in contempory Poland. The biggest concentrations of people with this name are in several counties of Greater Poland Voivodship and Kuiavian-Pomeranian Voivodship - which once belonged to Posen Provinz (Poznan Province) of Prussia.

Here is the detailed count-by-county distribution of the surname Wajnert:
47 - Środa Wielkopolska
30 - Jarocin
20 - Oleśnica
19 - Bydgoszcz
19 - city of Bydgoszcz
18 - city of Poznań
16 - Września
15 - Poznań
11 - Warszawa
10 - Brzeg
dn85752002 - | 4
20 Aug 2012 #12
I am also looking for info on Bodnarczuks-My great great grandfather Nicholai Bodnarczuk married Anastasia Kowalchuk- My greatgrandfather was Hrynko (1872-1935) married Mary Lapczuk(1879-1942)- I think one of the Lapczuk family married a Turczyn. Maybe we are connected somehow- Would love to hear from you Thanks Diane Bednarchuk Ryan

I am also looking for info on Bodnarczuk-Bednarchuk- My great-great grandfather was Nicholai or it could be Micholai married to Anastasia Kowalchuk- I dont know how many children they had -am still trying to find that out- I know they had a son which is my greatgrandfather Hrynko (1872-1935) immigrated to Canada around 1907-His wife (my greatgrandmother ) Mary Lapchuk came to Canada in 1911 with 3 children Basyl-Mary and Michol... I know that a Turcyn fits in somewhere in this-but without knowing Hrynkos' siblings it is really hard to figure out...Their son Basyl was born in Ostriv..I have proof of that and thats where I got the greatgreat grandparents names re Micholai Bodnarczuk and Anastasia Kowalchuk. Hrynko (Harry-Gregory) and Mary had more children afterwards , Nicholai,Josefine,Anthony, Bertha(Catherine) and John who was my grandfather. They lived in La Macaza, quebec. I am still trying to find out if Hrynko first lived in Winnipeg upon arriving here, and then went east and settled in Quebec. Research is now leading to Czernowtzy and Bucowina.... hopefully this helps both of us...can you please let me know, Thank you Diane
12 Oct 2012 #13

hello and thanks for sharing your information. Your posts were very eye opening as what you shared has a lot of similiarity to my family history.

My GGF's name was Walter (Wasyl) Bednarczuk (1883-1970) and my GGM's maiden name was Anastazia Berykela (1891-1975)
Walter's parents were Anthony Bednarczuk, who married Mary Kowalczuk.
Anastazia's Mother's maiden name was Chema Turchyn, who married Theodore Berykela

We know that Walter had siblings, how many we aren't sure tho...the name Steve comes up, and it is likely one of his siblings immigrated to Brazil as we have family connections there

According to family knowledge, Walter came to the US sometime between 1900 and 1905, a rough estimate, and then returned and brought back Anastazia and their 3 children at the time. this was in 1912. Afterwards they settled in Buffalo, New York, where my grandfather was born, eventually settling for good in Ohio.

Tracing Walter thru Immigration records and passenger lists have been hard, its rumored he may have used an alias when traveling and there are several discrepancies in the spelling of the name Bednarczuk, usually different by one or two letters but the info matches what we do know.

We also believe that Walter and Anastazia lived in the area of Ternopil in Ukraine.

The similarities in the surnames is certainly interesting to say the least. if you want anymore information, just ask, if im able to answer id be glad to.
dn85752002 - | 4
24 Oct 2012 #14
Hi Again,
Thank you for responding...I will keep looking for info on the Bednarczuks, I have someone in Ukraine looking for me and as soon as I get any info, I will get back to you. As I see it maybe your gggrandfather Anthony might have been Nicholai's brother and they married Kowalczuks sisters.. I also think that there is a Steven associated, and Peter,Michol,nicholai,anthony,and sisters Mary,Katerine,Helene, but I wont know for sure till I get info from Ukraine. I have been working on it for 2 years, and it is an ongoing project,I never could imagine there were so many Bednarczuks...and as you say so many different spellings. I know from my father that they were in Winnipeg, but he cannot remember any names as they had passed away when he was small. Again, I will get back to you with more info as it comes along, hopefully soon. Diane
2 Nov 2014 #15
Two years later, but hoping you can respond:

My Grandmother was Mary Rynski. Based on her baptismal record from 1914, her godfather was Hrynko Bernarczuk. She was born and baptized in La Macaza. The family later moved to Montreal. Family records suggest Hrynko was her uncle. We have no other information. Can you help?

Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
3 Nov 2014 #16
BEDNARCZUK: is a Ukrainian patronymic meaning the cooper's son or apprentice; the more Polish ending wojuld be -czyk or -czyk.

KOWALCZUK: same as above; Polish would be Kowalczyk or Kowalczak (blacksmith's son or helper).
dn85752002 - | 4
21 May 2015 #17
The original spelling was Bodnarczuk- when my greatgrandparents were in Galicia (1874-1907) Poland was not involved- so they were Ukrainians
singingfalls 3 | 50
28 May 2015 #18
My Paternal great grandfather Stanislaw Petraszczuk and grandfather Ludwik Petraszczuk were from the Ukraine but claimed to be of the Polish "race" and Russian nationality in all official documents here in the USA and also in the ship's manifest. Should I not trust their claim?

Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
28 May 2015 #19
I'd be careful before blindly accepting such info at face value. When was the ship's manifest from? Problems of language, illiteracy, ethnic origin and terminology combined to complicate things at a time when there was no Poland on the map (before 1918). Some immigrants said they were from Russia, Prussia or Austria even though they were ethnic Poles because that was the citizenship they held. As regards terminology, English once used such terms as Russian also for Ruthenians: Little Russians (Ukrainians) and White Russians (Belarusians).

The surnames you gave defintiely look Ukrainian but names do not necessarily reflect ethnicity. There are many people in Poland with such names as Szulc, Pietrow, Hawryluk, even Bardini who consider themselves ethnic Poles even though centuries ago they most likely had a non-Polish ancestor. Your ancestor may have had a reason for giving his nationality as Polish. Maybe he figured no-one in the US had ever heard of Ukraine which had not been a separate country since the Middle Ages.
singingfalls 3 | 50
29 May 2015 #20
Polonius3, I agree but given he married my grandmother who was from Adamówka, Poland and that Dzjadek consistently claimed Polish ethnicity I lean toward accepting it. That said, my younger brother claims that when Babush and Dzjadek would argue that she would say, "You Ruski!" (Phonetic). I never heard the phrase myself but Dzjadek spoke Polish and I never heard him say a word of English. I know the records that are associated with my paternal line from the old country are in Latin. Either way, we are of haplogroup I2a and subclade I-4882 which is generally accepted as Polish. No matter, I am not concerned. The distance of all of my ancestry is no more than 160 miles radius geographically with all maternal relatives and my paternal grandmother from the southern Poland. He never gave his nationality as Polish. He claimed Russian "nationality" but Polish "race" on the ships manifest.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
29 May 2015 #21
The -czuk of Kowalczuk as you know is Ruthenian, Turczyn is an Old Polish (and probably also Ukrainian) word for Turk but the B-name stumps me. Could it have been Beryłka?
Trfcoleman - | 1
19 Dec 2018 #22
We are family! I have a lot of background information, but not nearly as much as I would like. We can share notes- contact me at I am Bohdan Bednarczuk's granddaughter
26 Dec 2019 #23
Hi, I am trying to figure out what the name Skiczuk means. My grandparents are from Bukovina, so I guess the suffix could be -czuk?
Prince krzysztof
7 Dec 2020 #24
So I have confirmed my last name szańczuk. Is a polishified version of the original, from Belarus whom my past family is now translating to Shanchuk. Basically anything with the czuk is east east Belarus during the polish Lithuanian commonwealth mainly the area of Grodno and Shchuchyn.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,322
10 Dec 2020 #25
Basically anything with the czuk

That's not true. It's an ending found among those in the Ukrainian/Belarusian communities, and -uk was normally a patronymic. It wouldn't have been from any particular area.
20 May 2021 #26
Many czuk'S are from the area and my last name was originally spelled Шаньчук, translated into polish it is now Szańczuk, I have traced my family in Belarus in 1850
23 Jul 2021 #27
Can't find any references to my father's family from Lodz. He was Gregori Lawarik, but no mentions of that name occur anywhere

Home / Genealogy / Looking Into The Surname Bednarczuk: Ukrainian, Polish, Ruthenian, Belarusian, etc?