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Surname Saturday

Surname - BERGMEISTER

Meaning/Origin – The Bergmeister surname is not listed in the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, which is the reference book I usually use for my German surnames. However, in German berg means “mountain” and meister means “master”. According to Wikipedia, a Bergmeister was a mine manager or foreman in German-speaking Europe who, along with the Bergvogt, was one of the officials serving on a mining court (Berggericht). 

Countries of Origin – The surname Bergmeister is German. According to the World Names Profiler, the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are Austria with 21.83 individuals per million, Germany with 5.55, and Italy with 2.64.  The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are Norway (0.28) and the United States (0.24).

Spelling Variations - Variations include PERGMEISTER or PERMEISTER. The name was originally spelled with a “P” but evolved into the “B” spelling by the 18th century. Other spelling variations may include similar names beginning with “BURG” or ending with -MASTER, -MEIER, -MAIER, -MEYER.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the BERGMEISTER surname in Austria and Germany.

Distribution of the BERGMEISTER surname in Austria.

Distribution of the BERGMEISTER surname in Austria.

SOURCE: Dynastree Surname Mapping database, http://www.verwandt.at/karten/detail/bergmeister.html, accessed January 26, 2013.
Distribution of the BERGMEISTER surname in Germany.

Distribution of the BERGMEISTER surname in Germany.

SOURCE: Dynastree Surname Mapping database, http://www.verwandt.de/karten/absolut/bergmeister.html, accessed January 26, 2013.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Jörg Bergmeister (b. 13 Feb 1976) is a race car driver from Germany. There was also a rather famous (and really cool-looking) motorcycle built in Bavaria in the 1950’s called the Victoria Bergmeister V 35.

My Family – My BERGMEISTER family comes from a small town in Bavaria, Germany called Puch which is located near Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. My Bergmeister ancestors arrived in this town in April 1688 and apparently originated from Tyrol in the Pflersch valley near Gossensaß. Today this area is in the Bolzano province of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy. For many years I wished I had Italian heritage only to find out that my Bavarian-Tyrolean ancestors come from what is actually Italy today.

My earliest documented ancestor so far with this name is Jakob PERMEISTER, a miller born in Tyrol who immigrated north to Puch by 1688 and purchased a mill. My line of descent is as follows (all were born and died in Puch and worked as millers until my great-great-grandfather): Martin (1689-1752) > Johann Paul (1721-1784) > Joseph (1763-1840) > Jakob (1805-1870) > Joseph (1843- before 1885) > Joseph (1873 in Vohburg a.d. Donau – 1927 in Philadelphia, PA, USA) > Margaret (1913-1998). This last Joseph was my great-grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. While the earlier generations of his family are well documented, I have yet to find the death date for his father Joseph, who worked as a flour merchant for the family’s mill.  More information on their children can be found on the Bergmeister Family Page. Today I am in contact with not only second cousins who descend from the same immigrant great-grandfather, but also with cousins in Germany who descend from other lines from both Joseph born in 1763 and Jakob born in 1805.

My Research Challenges – The challenge is finding records to connect the Tirol Bergmeister family with my ancestral line living in Puch in the late 1600’s. My fifth cousin once removed is diligently working this back in Germany. We would like to connect our Puch line with another family of Bergmeisters originating in Hördt in the Rhineland-Palatinate area of Germany (whose descendants immigrated to Philadelphia, PA, USA thirty years before my great-grandfather did). My challenges are 1) to continue with the research until the records end, 2) attempt to “connect” the various Bergmeister families to one common ancestor, 3) find the death record for my great-great grandfather some time before 1885 in or around Munich, and 4) contact descendants of my great-grandfather’s brother, Ignaz.

Other Bergmeister Families – As noted above, there is a branch of the family from Hördt that likely connects to our Puch branch back in the mid 1600’s. The name is uncommon enough for us to reasonably assume that all Bergmeister’s are related if you go back far enough!

Surname Message Boards – None that I have found.

Links to all posts about my Bergmeister family can be found here.

This post is #12 of an ongoing series about my family’s surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Welcome to the very first “Surname Saturday” of 2012.  Somehow I managed to go through all of 2011 without a single surname post! But I have many more family names to get to, so I am hoping to post a different Surname Saturday at least once a month.  Let’s see what happens this year…

Surname - ZAKRZEWSKI

Meaning/Origin – The name ZAKRZEWSKI is derived from the Polish town names of Zakrzew or Zakrzewo or from the Polish word krzew meaning “shrub”.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Country of Origin – The surname ZAKRZEWSKI is Polish.  According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at  374.78 per million.  Germany is second with  a distant 13.8 per million.  The United States comes in next at 9.19.

Spelling Variations - Other names derived from the same root include ZAKRZEWICKI and ZAKRZEWICZ. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman) The feminine version of the surname is ZAKRZEWSKA.

Surname Map – The following map illustrates the frequency of the ZAKRZEWSKI surname in Poland. The name is far more popular than many of my other Polish surnames with over 13,000 individuals listed with the surname. As you can see by all the colors on the map, people with this surname live just about everywhere in Poland in most of the counties and cities.

Distribution of the ZAKRZEWSKI surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/zakrzewski.html, accessed January 6, 2012.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Given the popularity of the name as shown on the map, it’s no surprise that a fair amount of famous Poles have the surname. From politicians to athletes, there’s a whole list on Wikipedia.  I wonder if any are my cousins?  The most famous Pole with this surname is Ignacy Wyssogota Zakrzewski (1745-1802), who was a nobleman during the final years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was involved with the creation of the Constitution.  Look at his photo on Wikipedia – doesn’t this guy look like a twin of George Washington? Although the name does have noble roots, my family were farmers so it is likely they adopted the surname by choice instead of birth.

My Family – My Zakrzewski family comes from the vicinity of the town of Żyrardów in the Masovian Voivodeship (województwo mazowieckie). My earliest known ancestor is Karol Zakrzewski who was born around 1800 (based on his daughter’s birth record) and died before 1859 (based on his daughter’s marriage record). Karol married Rozalia Kowalewska. Their daughter Teofilia is my third great-grandmother. Teofila Zakrzewska was born on 27 Dec 1840 in Maryampol, Masovian Gubernia, Kingdom of Poland.  On 10 October 1859 in Wiskitki Teofilia married Jan Pater (born c.1833, Kamienskie – died 04 September 1908 in Żyrardów, Błoński Powiat, Warsaw Gubernia, Vistula Land, Russian Empire.  I have ten children documented for Jan and Teofilia born between 1860 and 1884.  Teofilia Zakrzewska Pater died on 16 November 1907 in Żyrardów.  At the time her her death, her son Józef Pater had already been in America for two years.  Her teenaged grandson Ludwik (my great-grandfather), had left to join his parents just three months prior to her death.  She had many other grandchildren still living in Żyrardów at the time of her death and the death of her husband almost one year later.

My Research Challenges - I recently found the death records for Teofilia Zakrzewska Pater from 1907 on the Geneteka site, and I had her birth and marriage from previous research on microfilm.  The key is to find the marriage of her parents, Karol and Rozalia ZAKRZEWSKI from 1840 or earlier.

Surname Message Boards – Ancestry has a Zakrzewski message board.  There are some Zakrzewski graves listed at Find A Grave here.

Links to all posts about my Zakrzewski family can be found here.

This post is #11 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - HÖCK

Meaning/Origin – According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, the name HÖCK be dervived from either dwelling near a hedge (hecke) or from street trader or huckster (höcke).

Countries of Origin – The surname HÖCK is German.

Spelling Variations – The surname has many variations in the records even within my own family, including HOECK, HÖCKH, HECKH or HECK, and HICKH.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the HÖCK surname in Germany and Austria.  First, in Germany the surname had 914 entries in 183 different counties with approximately 2,432 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Germany.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, accessed November 27, 2010.

In Austria, the surname had 314 entries in 40 different counties with approximately 832 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Austria.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, accessed November 27, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Stefan Höck was a German biathlete who won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.

My Family – My HÖCK family comes from Bavaria, and it is the surname of my 4th great-grandmother, Maria Theresia Höck Nigg.  Although Maria was born in Bavaria, her father came from Tirol (Tyrol, Austria).

My line of descent is as follows: Simon HECKH > Johann Baptiste Höck (b. unknown in Hopfau, Tirol, m. Gertraudt PAUR on 18 Feb 1765 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria, d. unknown in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm) > Maria Theresia Höck (b. 27 Apr 1769 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria,  m. Karl Nigg on 10 May 1794 in Pfaffenhofen, d. after 1814 in Pfaffenhofen).

I have not yet researched all of the other children of Johann and Gertraudt Höck, but I did find births for Maria Catharina born in 1766, Johann Michael born in 1767, and Maria Magdalena born in 1770.

Johann Baptiste Höck was a zimmerman or carpenter.  Pfaffenhofen’s häuserchronik indicates that he was in town by 1765 for his marriage to Gertraudt Paur.  In this book, his surname is listed as Hickh (Höckh) and it says he is from the town of Hoepfau in Tirol.  His actual marriage record spells his name as Heckh, and says his father, Simon Heckh, is from the town of “Schofau” from Tirol.  The handwriting is difficult to decipher.  By 1773, Johann Höck is listed in the häuserchronik as the stadtzimmermeister, or the town’s master carpenter.  Research on Johann, his family, and his origins is ongoing.

My Research Challenges – While there does not seem to be a town called Hoepfau in the Tyrollean region of Austria, there is a Hopfau in Steiermark.  There is also a Hopferau in the Schwaben area of Bavaria in Germany, which is far enough south to have been within the boundaries of Tirol, Austria back at the time my Johann Höck would have been born and moved to Pfaffenhofen.  I can not find any town that appears similar to the “Schofau” on the handwritten marriage record.  At any rate, more research is needed to uncover these “Austrian” roots!

Links to all posts about my Höck family can be found here.

This post is #10 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

Surname - HÖCK

Meaning/Origin – According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, the name HÖCK be dervived from either dwelling near a hedge (hecke) or from street trader or huckster (höcke).

Countries of Origin – The surname HÖCK is German.

Spelling Variations – The surname has many variations in the records even within my own family, including HOECK, HÖCKH, HECKH or HECK, and HICKH.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the HÖCK surname in Germany and Austria.  First, in Germany the surname had 914 entries in 183 different counties with approximately 2,432 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Germany.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed November 27, 2010.

In Austria, the surname had 314 entries in 40 different counties with approximately 832 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Austria.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed November 27, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Stefan Höck was a German biathlete who won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.

My Family – My HÖCK family comes from Bavaria, and it is the surname of my 4th great-grandmother, Maria Theresia Höck Nigg.  Although Maria was born in Bavaria, her father came from Tirol (Tyrol, Austria).

My line of descent is as follows: Simon HECKH > Johann Baptiste Höck (b. unknown in Hopfau, Tirol, m. Gertraudt PAUR on 18 Feb 1765 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria, d. unknown in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm) > Maria Theresia Höck (b. 27 Apr 1769 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria,  m. Karl Nigg on 10 May 1794 in Pfaffenhofen, d. after 1814 in Pfaffenhofen).

I have not yet researched all of the other children of Johann and Gertraudt Höck, but I did find births for Maria Catharina born in 1766, Johann Michael born in 1767, and Maria Magdalena born in 1770.

Johann Baptiste Höck was a zimmerman or carpenter.  Pfaffenhofen’s häuserchronik indicates that he was in town by 1765 for his marriage to Gertraudt Paur.  In this book, his surname is listed as Hickh (Höckh) and it says he is from the town of Hoepfau in Tirol.  His actual marriage record spells his name as Heckh, and says his father, Simon Heckh, is from the town of “Schofau” from Tirol.  The handwriting is difficult to decipher.  By 1773, Johann Höck is listed in the häuserchronik as the stadtzimmermeister, or the town’s master carpenter.  Research on Johann, his family, and his origins is ongoing.

My Research Challenges – While there does not seem to be a town called Hoepfau in the Tyrollean region of Austria, there is a Hopfau in Steiermark.  There is also a Hopferau in the Schwaben area of Bavaria in Germany, which is far enough south to have been within the boundaries of Tirol, Austria back at the time my Johann Höck would have been born and moved to Pfaffenhofen.  I can not find any town that appears similar to the “Schofau” on the handwritten marriage record.  At any rate, more research is needed to uncover these “Austrian” roots!

Links to all posts about my Höck family can be found here.

Surname – HÖCK

Meaning/Origin – According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, the name HÖCK be dervived from either dwelling near a hedge (hecke) or from street trader or huckster (höcke).

Countries of Origin – The surname HÖCK is German.

Spelling Variations – The surname has many variations in the records even within my own family, including HOECK, HÖCKH, HECKH or HECK, and HICKH.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the HÖCK surname in Germany and Austria.  First, in Germany the surname had 914 entries in 183 different counties with approximately 2,432 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Germany.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed November 27, 2010.

In Austria, the surname had 314 entries in 40 different counties with approximately 832 people with this name.

Distribution of the surname HÖCK in Austria.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed November 27, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Stefan Höck was a German biathlete who won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.

My Family – My HÖCK family comes from Bavaria, and it is the surname of my 4th great-grandmother, Maria Theresia Höck Nigg.  Although Maria was born in Bavaria, her father came from Tirol (Tyrol, Austria).

My line of descent is as follows: Simon HECKH > Johann Baptiste Höck (b. unknown in Hopfau, Tirol, m. Gertraudt PAUR on 18 Feb 1765 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria, d. unknown in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm) > Maria Theresia Höck (b. 27 Apr 1769 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Bavaria,  m. Karl Nigg on 10 May 1794 in Pfaffenhofen, d. after 1814 in Pfaffenhofen).

I have not yet researched all of the other children of Johann and Gertraudt Höck, but I did find births for Maria Catharina born in 1766, Johann Michael born in 1767, and Maria Magdalena born in 1770.

Johann Baptiste Höck was a zimmerman or carpenter.  Pfaffenhofen’s häuserchronik indicates that he was in town by 1765 for his marriage to Gertraudt Paur.  In this book, his surname is listed as Hickh (Höckh) and it says he is from the town of Hoepfau in Tirol.  His actual marriage record spells his name as Heckh, and says his father, Simon Heckh, is from the town of “Schofau” from Tirol.  The handwriting is difficult to decipher.  By 1773, Johann Höck is listed in the häuserchronik as the stadtzimmermeister, or the town’s master carpenter.  Research on Johann, his family, and his origins is ongoing.

My Research Challenges – While there does not seem to be a town called Hoepfau in the Tyrollean region of Austria, there is a Hopfau in Steiermark.  There is also a Hopferau in the Schwaben area of Bavaria in Germany, which is far enough south to have been within the boundaries of Tirol, Austria back at the time my Johann Höck would have been born and moved to Pfaffenhofen.  I can not find any town that appears similar to the “Schofau” on the handwritten marriage record.  At any rate, more research is needed to uncover these “Austrian” roots!

Links to all posts about my Höck family can be found here.

This post is #10 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

This post is #10 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - DROGOWSKI

Meaning/Origin – The name DROGOWSKI (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the Polish word drogi meaning “dear” .   (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Country of Origin – The surname DROGOWSKI is Polish.  According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at  4.12 per million.  The United States comes in a distant second at .56.

Spelling Variations -  Other names derived from the same root include DROGOŃ, DROGOŚ, AND DROGOSZ. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman) The feminine version of the surname is DROGOWSKA.

Surname Map - The following map illustrates the frequency of the DROGOWSKI surname in Poland.  The name is not very popular – there are only 158 individuals listed with the surname, and they can be found in 36 different counties and cities.  The large yellow area in the left center area of the map is where my Drogowski family comes from (Konin area).

Distribution of the DROGOWSKI surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/drogowski.html, accessed October 16, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – none that I have found.

My Family – My Drogowski family comes from the town of Wilczyn near Dobrosołowo in Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this surname is Wojciech Drogowski, who was born in Wilczyn in 1773.  The line of descent is as follows: Wojciech (b. 1773, Wilczyn – d. unknown, married Maryanna née Przygodzka) > Jan (b. 14 June 1818, Wilczyn – d. 29 October 1896, Wilczyn, married Konstancja Kubicka) > Stanisława (b. 23 May 1860, Wilczyn – d. 30 December 1918, Dobrosołowo).  Stanisława married Wincenty ŚLESIŃSKI on 03 September 1879 in Wilczyn.  Their oldest daughter, Wacława Ślesiński (b. 14 Aug 1885, Dobrosołowo, Poland – d. 20 May 1956, Philadelphia, PA, USA), is my great-grandmother.  She immigrated to the United States in 1903 following her husband, Jozef ZAWODNY.

My Research Challenges - I found the 1818 birth record of Jan DROGOWSKI earlier this year when I visited the FHL in Salt Lake City.  I am very fortunate that the Catholic church records for the town of Wilczyn are microfilmed beginning in 1750.  From Jan’s birth record, I learned that his father Wojciech was 45 years old and from Wilczyn.  Therefore, I should be able to locate Wojciech’s birth around 1773 in the Wilczyn records and go back one more generation!   The Wilczyn films are at the top of my genea-to-do list.

Other Drogowski Researchers – Paul Kankula has a web site with research on his DROGOWSKI great-grandparents.  Some of the Drogowski families on his “Unknown Individuals” page were born in Wilczyn and immigrated to Pittsburgh, PA.  I will have to investigate to see if this Drogowski family are cousins to my Drogowski family.

Surname Message Boards – Ancestry has a Drogowski message board.  There are some Drogowski graves listed at Find A Grave here.

Links to all posts about my Drogowski family can be found here.

This post is #9 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this week, I have chosen to highlight an Irish surname.  The only problem with that is that I personally have no Irish ancestry.  But my niece does from her mother’s paternal side!

Surname - MCGEEHAN

Meaning/Origin – The name MCGEEHAN is an anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Gaoithín or ‘son of Gaoithín’, a personal name derived from the diminutive of gaoth which means ‘clever’ or ‘wise’. (Source: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press)

Countries of Origin - The surname MCGEEHAN is Irish.  According to the World Names Profiler, Ireland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at  49.37 per million.  The United Kingdom comes in second at 10.9, and the United States is third at 6.9.

Spelling Variations -  Other variations of McGeehan include Mageean, Mageehan, McGehan, Mac Gaoithín, MacGeehan, MacGeehin, MacGeehon, and McGeehon.

Surname Maps – The following map illustrates the frequency of the MCGEEHAN surname in Ireland in 1848-64.  The numbers on the map show the number of McGeehan households in the county found in the Primary Valuation property survey of 1848-64 (known as Griffith’s Valuation).  The surname name is found mostly in Northern Ireland.

Distribution of the McGeehan surname in Ireland, 1848-64.

SOURCE: Irish Ancestors database, http://www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/surname/, accessed March 13, 2010.

My Family -As I said above, I have no Irish ancestry.  However, my niece’s 2nd great-grandmother was named Nellie McGeehan (1890-1920).  Her father was Edward McGeehan, who was born in 1858 in Pennsylvania – likely in Philadelphia.  Edward’s parents were born in Ireland.

My Research Challenges – Right now the challenge with finding Edward McGeehan’s birth record is the fact that there was no civil registration required in Pennsylvania until 1860, two years after his birth.  More information about Edward’s parents may be obtained from his death record, which I have not yet found.  Census records have conflicting information, but Edward may have been a Philadelphia police officer.  His daughter Nellie married William Lee.  Unfortunately Nellie died at the age of 30, leaving behind a 10-year-old daughter, Catherine Lee.

Surname Message Boards - Ancestry has a McGeehan message board as does GenForum.

 

Links to posts about Irish Surnames and families I am researching for others can be found here.

This post is #8 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - WOJCIECHOWSKI

Meaning/Origin – The name WOJCIECHOWSKI (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the Polish first name Wojciech, which in turn comes from the root woj-, meaning “battle”, and ciech, meaning “joy”.   (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Countries of Origin – The surname WOJCIECHOWSKI is Polish.  According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at  897.5 per million.  The United States comes in a distant second at 21.68.

Spelling Variations -  Other names derived from the same root include WOJCIECHOWICZ, WOJCIESKI, and WOJCIESZEK. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman) The feminine version of the surname is WOJCIECHOWSKA.

Surname Maps - The following map illustrates the frequency of the WOJCIECHOWSKI surname in Poland. As you can see, the surname is rather popular.  There is a wide distribution across the country over 378 counties and cities.  According to Wikipedia, it is the 15th most common surname in Poland!

Distribution of the WOJCIECHOWSKI surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/wojciechowski.html, accessed February 23, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Stanisław Wojciechowski (1869-1953) was the President of Poland from 1922-26.

My Family - My Wojciechowski family comes from the town of Mszczonów, Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Maciej Wojciechowski.  I have no birth or death dates for him yet, but he was named on the marriage certificate of his son, Jan.  The line of descent is as follows: Maciej > Jan (b. c.1816, Mszczonów – d. unknown) > Franciszka (b. 01 Oct 1840, Mszczonów – d. 29 Apr 1914, Langhorne, PA, USA).  Franciszka has a special distinction in my family tree – she is my only 3rd great-grandparent to immigrate to the United States.  All that I know about her is that she married Ludwik PLUTA and had at least two children: a son, Jan, and a daughter, Antonina Rozalia.  Antonina is my 2nd great-grandmother.  She immigrated to the US with her husband, Jozef Pater, and their seven children from 1905 – 1907.  In 1909, Franciszka immigrated alone at the age of 69 to join her daugher’s family.  The passenger list describes her as 4′10″, limping, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a dark complexion. What an amazing journey for a woman her age! She lived with her daughter’s family until her death in 1914.

My Research Challenges -I need to continue my research, which I plan to do on a visit to the FHL later this year.  The church records from Mszczonów are available, and I should be able to fill in some missing dates and names for this family.

Surname Message Boards - Ancestry has a Wojciechowski message board as does GenForum.

Links to all posts about my Wojciechowski family can be found here.

This post is #7 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - FISCHER

Meaning/Origin – The surname FISCHER really does mean “fisher” as in “fisherman.”  According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, the frequency of the name in Germany “is evidence of the former importance of this ancient occupation.”   I find it ironic that my particular Fischer’s were actually farmers!

Countries of Origin – The surname FISCHER is German; however the English spelling FISHER is considered to be of English origin.  If you are descended from a FISHER, you could have English ancestry or German ancestry in which the “C” was dropped to anglicize the name.  In fact, nearly every country has an “equivalent” name derived from the occupation of fisherman.  According to the Internet Surname Database,

Recorded in several spelling forms including the popular Fisher (English), Fischer (German), Fiszer (Czech and Polish), Visser (Dutch), de Vischer (Flemish), Fiser (Danish), Fisker (Norwegian), and many others, this interesting surname does seem to have a pre 7th century Old English origin. If so it is from the word ‘fiscere‘ meaning to catch fish, and it may be an occupational name for a fisherman, or it may be a topographical name for someone who lived near a fish weir on a river. Here the derivation is from the word “fisc” plus the Middle English “gere” a development of the Old Norse “gervi” meaning weir or apparatus. It may in some case be an Ashkenazic name for a fisherman from the Yiddish word “fisher“.

According to the World Names Profiler, for the spelling FISCHER the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are Germany with 3,369 individuals per million, Switzerland wtih 3,104, and Austria with 2,139.  The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are Hungary (605), Denmark (559), Luxembourg (553), the United States (359), and Canada (267).  The English spelling FISHER seems to be slightly less popular, and the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are Australia with 1,211 individuals per million, the United Kingdom with 1,087, the United States with 914, Canada with 864, and New Zealand with 821.

Spelling Variations - As noted above, the most common variation is FISHER.  German variations include Fäscher, Ficher, Fischera, Fascher, and Vischer.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the FISCHER surname in Germany and Austria. According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/fischer.html, there are nearly 102,000 people with the surname in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in California.  In Germany, there are 270,000 people with the surname, which makes it the 4th most popular surname in the country.  Even without the numbers, the surname’s popularity is evident on the map:

Distribution of the surname FISCHER in Germany.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed January 16, 2010.

In Austria, the name was the 15th most common surname, and most Fischer’s live in the Wien area.

Distribution of the surname FISCHER in Austria.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed January 16, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – There are many, many famous people with this surname including American chess champion Bobby Fischer, American actress Jenna Fischer, and German historian Fritz Fischer.  Wikipedia has a list of all the famous people with the Fischer surname.

My Family -My FISCHER family comes from Bavaria, and it is the surname of my great-great-grandmother, Margarethe Fischer.  My line of descent is as follows: Wolfgang Fischer (1775-1820) > Franz Xaver (b. 06 Oct 1813 in Agelsberg – d. unknown) > Margarethe (b. 21 Jan 1845 in Langenbruck – d. 04 Oct 1895 in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm).

Margarethe married Karl Echerer on 18 May 1874 after her first husband, Bartholomew Kufer, died.  Their first child was Maria, born on 27 February 1875 – my great-grandmother.  Maria married Joseph Bergmeister in 1897 and they immigrated to the United States.  More information on their children can be found on the Bergmeister Family Page.  Maria’s youngest child, my grandmother, was named Margaret – presumably after her mother’s mother.  Margarethe and Karl had at least three other daughters, Magdalena, Teresia, and Christina, but I have not yet discovered if they lived to adulthood.  They also had at least one son, Karl, who was born on 28 June 1878.

My Research Challenges -My Fischer line is short so far.  The towns of Agelsberg and Langenbruck are very small, and the church is located in a town called Fahlenbach.  The LDS has microfilmed church records for this town going back to 1732, so I should be able to learn the names of the parents of Wolfgang Fischer.

Other Fischer Families -With a name as common as Fischer, there are a lot of other people researching Fischer’s!  There is a Fischer Family Genealogy Forum as well as an Ancestry Fischer Message Board. Fishergenealogy.com has a list of those researching both the Fischer and Fisher surnames.

Links to all posts about my Fischer family can be found here.

This post is #6 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - ZAWODNY

Meaning/Origin – The name ZAWODNY (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the Polish word zawodny, meaning “unreliable” or “deceptive”.  The root zawod- comes from the word zawieść, which means to disappoint or deceive. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman and the University of Pittsburgh Online Polish-English Dictionary.)

Countries of Origin – The surname ZAWODNY is Polish.

Spelling Variations -  Other names derived from the same root include ZAWODNIAK, ZAWODNIK, or ZAWODZIŃSKI. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)  in the U.S., the name can be mis-spelled as ZAVODNY because of the way it is pronounced in Polish. The feminine version of the surname is ZAWODNA.

Surname Maps – The following map illustrates the frequency of the ZAWODNY surname in Poland. There are only about 500 people with the surname ZAWODNY spread out over 67 different counties and cities.  My immigrant ancestor with this name came from the area just to the right of the upper red concentration.

Distribution of the ZAWODNY surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/zawodny.html, accessed January 8, 2010.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Janusz Zawodny (b. 1921) is an author and historian.  He found in the Polish Army during World War 2 and is well known for his books Death in the Forest: The Story of the Katyn Forest Massacre and Nothing But Honor: The Story of the Warsaw Uprising, 1944.

My Family – My Zawodny family comes from the town of Dobrosołowo, Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Szymon Zawodny, likely born around 1820 and deceased by his son’s marriage in 1875.  He married Katarzyna Ratajewska.  My line of descent is as follows: Wawrzyniec (b. 1853 – d. 13 Dec 1917, Dobrosołowo) > Józef (b. 29 Jan 1880, Komorowo – d. 09 Jun 1944, Philadelphia, PA, USA) > daughter Marianna (b. 02 Aug 1907 – d. 30 Apr 1986 Philadelphia, PA).  Marianna, my grandmother “Mae”, had several sisters and two brothers to carry on the family name.  One brother changed the surname though – see my biography of Joseph Zawodny for more information.  From the brother who did not change his name, there are male descendants today.  My great-grandfather Joseph also had a brother, Stefan or Steve, who was born in 1882 and immigrated in 1903.

My Research Challenges -I need to continue my research. Although I have death records for Wawrzyniec Zawodny and his wife Katarzyna (Marianska) and their marriage record, I do not have birth records for either.  I only have their parents names from the marriage certificate.  Also, I need to find more information on my great-grandfather’s brother Stefan since he “disappears” after his arrival to the U.S.

Surname Message Boards – Ancestry has a very inactive message board.  There are some other Zawodny families in the U.S. in Ohio, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Links to other posts about my Zawodny family can be found here.

This post is #5 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname - PLUTA

Meaning/Origin – The name PLUTA (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the Polish word pluć, meaning “to spit”.  Pluta means “spitter” or bad weather!  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Countries of Origin - The surname PLUTA is Polish. According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at 385 per million. Germany is next at almost 15 per million, with Canada at 8 and the United States at 6.75.

Spelling Variations - PLUTA is the most common variation of the name, but other names derived from the same root include PLUCIK, PLUCIŃSKI, PLUTECKI, PLUTOWSKI, AND PLUWAK.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Surname Maps – The following map illustrates the frequency of the PLUTA surname in Poland.  There are about 15,258 people with the surname PLUTA spread out over 320 different counties and cities.  The greatest concentration are in the city of Warsaw (Warszawa) with over 400 residents.

Pluta Poland Map

Distribution of the PLUTA surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/pluta.html, accessed November 14, 2009.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – Wilhelm Pluta (1910-1986) was a bishop in Poland who is now a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic church.

My Family – This is the surname of my great-great-grandmother.  My Pluta family comes from the town of Mszczonów, Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Ludwik Pluta, born around 1790-1800 and deceased by his son’s marriage in 1842.  He married Helena Redłowska.  My line of descent is as follows: Ignacy (b. 1821) > Ludwik (b. 26 Aug 1843 – d. by 1885) > daughter Antonina Rozalia (b. 11 Jun 1863, Mszczonów – d. 12 Dec 1938, Philadelphia, PA, USA).  Antonina had at least one brother to carry on the family name, Jan Pluta.  He was living in Żyrardów at the time of his mother’s immigration to the US in 1909.

Antonina Pluta married Józef Pater in August 1885.  They immigrated to the U.S. with their seven children from 1905-1907.  More information is found on the Pater Family Page.

My Research Challenges -I need to continue my research.  On a trip to Poland, the priest at the church in Mszczonów was unable to find the baptismal record of Ignacy in 1821, which is the presumed year based on his marriage record from 1842.  The Family History Library has microfilmed church records for this town from 1808 to 1877, so I need to take a closer look myself.  The records are not early enough to find Ignacy’s father’s (Ludwik) birth, but I may be able to find the marriage record for Ludwik and Helena Pluta.

Surname Message Boards – Ancestry has a Pluta message board here.

Links to other posts about my Pluta family can be found here.

This post is #4 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Slesin, PolandSurname – SLESINSKI or ŚLESIŃSKI

Meaning/Origin – The name SLESINSKI or ŚLESIŃSKI (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the place name Ślesin, a town in central Poland near Konin founded in 1231.  The suffix -ski is usually added to a person or place name to indicate a relationship such as “son of” or “from”.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Countries of Origin – The surnames of SLESINSKI and ŚLESIŃSKI are Polish. According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at 11.73 per million.  The United States comes in a distant second at 1.48.   The results are the same for either spelling.

Spelling Variations - The main Polish spelling of this name is ŚLESIŃSKI; however, because of the unique characters it is often written as SLESINSKI.  Other variations include ŚLESZYŃSKI and ŚZLESZYŃSKI.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the ŚLESIŃSKI and SLESINSKI surnames in Poland.  According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/slesinski.html, there are about 363 people with the surname Slesinski in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in New York state.  The Polish surname map shows only 400 people with the surname ŚLESIŃSKI spread out over 78 different counties and cities.  The greatest concentration are in Grodzisk Mazowiecki with 40 residents.

Distribution of the Ślesiński surname in Poland.

Distribution of the Ślesiński surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/%25C5%259Blesi%25C5%2584ski.html, accessed October 23, 2009.

For a very different map, I entered the American spelling without the Polish letters  – SLESINSKI.  Only two people in Poland use that spelling!

Distribution of the Slesinski surname in Poland.

Distribution of the Slesinski surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/slesinski.html, accessed October 23, 2009.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – I could not find any famous folks, but there is the Kanał Ślesiński, a water channel in Poland that connects the Warta River with Lake Golplana.

My Family – This is the surname of my great-grandmother (my mother’s mother’s mother).  My Ślesiński family comes from Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Maciej Ślesiński, born around 1800 likely in Ślesin, Poland.  My line of descent is as follows: Józef (b. 1821, Ślesin) > Wincenty (b. 1851, Wilczyn) > daughter Wacława (b. 29 Aug 1880, Wilczyn).

Wincenty did have at least one son to carry on the surname, Feliks, who was born on 24 Dec 1885.  I am not sure if Feliks survived to adulthood.  Wacława Ślesińska married Józef Zawodny in 1902 and immigrated to the U.S. (Philadelphia, PA) the same year.  Wacława’s four sisters also immigrated to the U.S. after their father’s death on 01 Jan 1919 and settled in McKeesport, PA.

My Research Challenges – Wincenty Ślesiński died in Dobrosołowo, near Wilczyn, two days after his wife died.  His wife, Stanisława Drogowska, was about 58 years old.  Wincenty was about 68 years old.  If Poland had obituaries during this time period in a town as small as Dobrosołowo, I would like to learn more about the circumstances of their deaths.  At this time, World War I was raging and their town, in the Russian Empire until Poland returned to Europe’s map, was extremely close to the German border.

It is interesting that my earliest ancestors with this name were recorded as having been from the town of Ślesin.  There are still microfilmed records available to allow me to pursue research on this line when I have the time.

Other Ślesiński Families – One site I would like to highlight is not about genealogical research, but it is about family.  Lori Ann Slesinski was 24 years old when she went missing in June, 2006, from Auburn, Alabama.  Please take a look at this site and contact the authorities listed if you have any information.

Surname Message Boards – None – please leave a comment if you find any.

Miscellaneous - The American Soundex code for Slesinski is S425 and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code is 484645.  There are 159 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Pater (as far as I know, none are related to me – the Slesinski sisters all married and no longer used their maiden names).

Links to other posts about my Slesinski family can be found here.

This post is #3 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname – ECHERER

Meaning/Origin – I have not found a definitive answer on the origin of the ECHERER name, but it may be related to ECKER or EGGER.  According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, these names are found frequently near Munich and they mean “from the dwelling place on the corner (uff der Egg)”.  The name may also be derived from the place name Eger or Egerer.

Countries of Origin – The surname Echerer is German.  According to the World Names Profiler, the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are Austria with only 2.58 individuals per million, and Germany with .82.  It is not a very common name. The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are the United States (.13) and Spain (.1).

Spelling Variations - As noted above, the “CH” is often noted as “GG” or “CK”. In my own family, in the earlier records the name was spelled EGER, EGGER, or EGGERER and stabilized as ECHERER in the 1700s.  My grandmother’s sister thought her mother’s name was ECKERT based on the pronunciation, and she adopted that variation as her surname.

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the ECHERER surname in Austria and Germany. According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/echerer.html, there are about 50 people with the surname in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in South Carolina.

Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Austria.

Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Austria.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed October 11, 2009.

In Austria, the name was found in three different counties.

Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Germany.

Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Germany.

SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed October 11, 2009.

In Germany, there are about 56 people in seven different counties, all located in close proximity in Bavaria.  The highlighted district to the far right is Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, the town from which my Echerer family came.  A heavier concentration of Echerer’s is just to the left in Landkreis Aichach-Friedberg.

Famous Individuals with the SurnameMercedes Echerer (b. 16 May 1963) is an Austrian actress and politician.  Wikipedia has a list of several famous people with the EGGER surname, a variation of ECHERER.

My Family – My Echerer family comes from Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm in Bavaria, and it is the surname of my great-grandmother, Maria Echerer Bergmeister.  Her family history goes back for generations in the town of Pfaffenhofen.  In fact, I have not yet completed the research.  The church records begin in the 1500’s, and I am certain that I can continue to trace the family to the earliest history of the town.

My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Leonard EGERER, a shoemaker born in the 1630’s (the spelling transitions to ECHERER in the late 1700s). My line of descent is as follows (all born and died in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm): Leonard (b. 1677) > Bernhard (1721-1778) >Ignaz (1763-?) >Ignaz (1803-1874) > Karl (1846-post 1882) > Maria (1875-1919).  Maria married Joseph Bergmeister in 1897 and they immigrated to the United States.  More information on their children can be found on the Bergmeister Family Page.  Maria had at least one brother who was named Karl after his father.  Karl was born on 28 June 1878.

My Research Challenges -My Echerer line has been one of the easiest to trace back so far, and one of the few that reaches back to the 1600s.  My challenges are 1) to continue with the research until the records end, 2) discover what happened to my great-grandmother’s brother, Karl (do his descendants still live in Pfaffenhofen?), and 3) attempt to “connect” the various Echerer families to one common ancestor (see Other Echerer Families below).

The surname Echerer as written in German "Sütterlin" script.

The surname Echerer as written in German "Sütterlin" script.

To see your surname in Sütterlin script, go to Write Your Name in Suetterlin. This script was mostly used in the 20th Century, but it shows the difficulty of researching in foreign records.

Other Echerer Families – As you can see from the maps, the name is very uncommon.  Therefore, we all must be related, right?  One possible “cousin” (at least that’s what we call each other) is the Echerer family currently located in South Carolina.  Scott Echerer has done an excellent job of documenting the various Echerer branches in the United States on his page USA Echerer Family Tree.  Scott’s ancestors immigrated to the U.S. in 1930 from Neukirchen, a town in Bavaria close to Pfaffenhofen. I have not yet taken the time to research the Neukirchen Echerer’s to see if there is any connection to the Pfaffenhofen family back in time.  Scott still has cousins in Bavaria from this line.  Scott also documents another U.S. Echerer family descended from Anton Echerer from Bohemia.

In addition, there is the Echerer Family website run by Michael Echerer from Munich.

Surname Message Boards – None, but there is an Egerer board.

Miscellaneous - The American Soundex code for Echerer is E266.  There are 6 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Echerer (none are related to me).

Links to all posts about my Echerer family can be found here.

This post is #2 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

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Surname – PATER

Meaning/Origin – The name PATER comes from the Latin pater, meaning “father”.  In English, it is pronounced PAY-ter or PAH-ter.  Hear it pronounced by a Polish speaker here.

Countries of Origin – The surname Pater can be found in several countries.  According to the World Names Profiler, the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are the Netherlands, with 176, and Poland with 115.  The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are Luxembourg (43), France (8), Belgium (7), Canada (6), United States (6), and Germany (5).  Although Great Britain is not currently listed with a high frequency, in past centuries Pater was also considered to be a British name.

Spelling Variations - The spelling does not vary in the Netherlands, but in Poland you will find a few variations, including Patera, Paterak, Paterała, Paterek, Paterkiewicz, and Paterski. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the PATER surname in the Netherlands and Poland.  According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/pater.html, there are about 1,500 people with the surname in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in Pennsylvania.

Distribution of the surname Pater in the Netherlands.

Distribution of the surname Pater in the Netherlands.

SOURCE: familienaam.nl database, http://www.familienaam.nl/, accessed October 10, 2009.

Distribution of the Pater surname in Poland.

Distribution of the Pater surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/pater.html, accessed October 10, 2009.

Famous Individuals with the SurnameWalter Horatio Pater (4 August 1839 – 30 July 1894) was an English writer and art critic (see some of his works here at Project Gutenberg).  Jean-Baptiste Pater (29 December 1695 – 25 July 1736) was a French painter.

My Family – My Pater family comes from Poland.  My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Hilary Pater, born between 1800-1814 in Poland.  My line of descent is as follows: Jan (b. 1834, Kamieńskie Budy) > Jozef Pater (b. 21 Sep 1864, Ruda Guzowska, which later became Żyrardów) > Ludwik (Louis) (b. 24 Aug 1893, Żyrardów) > Henry (b. 25 Mar 1912, Philadelphia).  Jozef and his family immigrated to the U.S. (Philadelphia, PA) from 1905 to 1907.

A female Pater (daughter of Jozef) may have settled in New Jersey or New York with her husband and family.  The family is rumored to have cousins in Chicago as well (possibly owners of a movie theater in the 1940’s).

Based on information in the IGI, my great-grandfather’s cousins remained in Żyrardów – Jozef (son of Marcin, brother of my Jozef) died in 1942 at the age of 45, and his son Bronislaw died in 1943 at the age of 22.  I can only assume they died as a result of the war, but more research is needed about their lives and deaths.

My Research Challenges – I need to find evidence of Hilary’s birth, marriage, and death in Polish records.  He was named on his son’s marriage record, but I have not yet located his own records.  I would like to trace the name as far back as possible to determine if the family immigrated to Poland from somewhere else.  In addition, I would like to track down the descendants of my grandfather’s (Henry’s) brothers, Walter Pater and Eugene Pater (Walter used the alias Walter Miller) and fill in some missing information about my great-grandfather’s sisters and their families.

Other Pater Families – The Family Organisation Pater in the Netherlands is led by Bram Pater.  They have researched over 30,000 names in seven different Pater lines – including some in Poland (though not my own branch).  If you can read Dutch, check it out!

Surname Message Boards – There is a rather inactive message board on Ancestry here.

Miscellaneous - The American Soundex code for Pater is P360 and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code is 739000.  There are 386 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Pater (four are related to me – Elizabeth, Henry, Mae, and Eugene).

Links to other posts about my Pater family can be found here. I also have a Pater Family page with photos and more information on my particular Pater line.

This post is #1 of an ongoing series about surnames.

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