TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© TARG All rights reserved.
Newsletter for September 2004
Big "Beginning of Fall" greetings to all of you TARG members! Much to
share with you this issue. Hope you find it all informative and enjoyable!
Just a bit of news, first. The TARG surname list has now grown to over
30,000 occurrences -- 30,044 to be exact. I'm trying to see if I can post it
online somehow and make it searchable. In the meantime I may be able to make
a hard copy (thick book) available for those interested.
Also, I'm on the short list for possible speakers at the 4th Annual
Czecho-slovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI) Winter Symposium to
be held February 11 & 12, 2005 in Orange County, CA. They want me to talk
about the Goral and the Tatra region. Will let you know if I'm selected!
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. TARG's website is: http://mytarg.net (or also www.mytarg.net).
2. Cousin Lucjan sends these three gems:
A) Old map showing almost all of Europe:
B) Direct link to Jurgow, PL area:
C) Updated aerial photos of all of Malopolska, PL province:
3. New Kezmarok, SK page (English button, too): http://www.kezmarok.sk/
4. Nowy Targ, PL (a sister city of Kezmarok): http://www.nowytarg.pl
- See "Plan Miasta" with 112 streets identified
- Gallery of photographs in 12 categories
- Chicago pictures + Minnesota's "Goral Chapel" in 2003
5. Great Nowy Targ city pictures: http://www.nowytarg.pl/picofday.php?cat=1
6. Live Nowy Targ Webcam: http://www.nowytarg.pl/webcam.php
---Hi Paul, Thank you for the most recent edition of the newsletter.
Contained in it, I saw a correspondence with an individual (George
Stefaniak) who is working on research in the village of Rel'ov, SK. As it
turns out, my maternal great-grandfather (Bednarcik) is from this village. I have not started
research on that branch yet, but I think I would like to touch base with
someone else who has already been working in Rel'ov. I would appreciate you
forwarding this email to George. And as always, thank you for the time and
energy you expend to share with others. -- Dan Zelonka
***Dear Dan, Thank you very much. I passed on your e-mail to him -- Paul
---Hi Paul, Helene of the Slovak Newsletter fame gave me your name as a
person to contact regarding research for ancestors. I wrote you a Mail and
did not receive an answer, so I'll try again. Please respond. -- Norman Wytas
***Hi Norm, I've had some trouble both on my end and on other's servers
lately with the "spam filters" deleting e-mail again. I'm sending this via
my SBC account and hope it gets through to you okay this time. If so, please
write back and I'll try and help you if I can. -- Paul
---Hi Paul! Would you please change my e-mail address to my new address?
Don't want to miss the monthly TARG newsletters! Thanks. -- Pat Smith
***Hello Pat, I changed it as you requested. Thanks for your note to let me
know of the change! -- Paul
---Hi Paul, You are right there is a world of knowledge out there----if I
could just read it !!!! I have these FHL Films on loan at the Mesa, AZ
library if anyone wants to use them. They will be there until late October.
The villages are: Torban, Bolgar, Gnezda, Heinzden, and Baroliny, SK. They
are Films 1739195, 1739196. The Film 1739197 I purchased a couple of years
ago for the library. This contains information which was useful to me. The
other two are for different areas. 1739195 is about Krsteni 1624-1831,
Sobaseni 1636-1801, and Zomreli 1665-1801. Film 1739196 is about Krsteni
1831-1888, Index k matrike pokrstenych 1801-Sobaseni 180101879, and Zomreli
1801-1879. Film 1739197 is about Krsteni 1888-1904, Zomreli 1880-1910,
Sobaseni 1880-1945, Index k matrike pokrstenych 1624-1901, and Index k
matrike sobasenych 1624-1952. Film 1729193 is about Kristeni 1750-1882,
Zomreli 1750-1858, and Birmovani 1818. Film 1739194 is about Kristeni
1882-1906, Sobaseni 1863-1848, Zomreli 1858-1930, and Index k matrike
pokrstenych 1772-1855. Anyone needing to search these films will probably be
interested in knowing they are going to be there. Thanks. -- Lila Mondrush
***Hi Lila, Thanks for sharing! We do have a few TARG members in the
Phoenix/Mesa area. I will pass this along for their benefit! -- Paul
---Hi Paul, Could you update my #4 spot on the guestbook by copying and
pasting this new message? (I hate to loose the #4 spot.) Also remove the
reply. Thank You. -- George Stefaniak
"Looking for STEFANYAK from Hagy, SK. John Stefaniak married
Maria BAKA in 1874. Also the FRONCZEK family from Niedzica, PL. Michael
Fronczek married Anna HOVANEC around 1870. Parents were Jon Fronczek & Zofia
POJEDYNIEC // Jon Hovanec & Maria PUKANSKA. Anything from these towns or
names would help in our family research."
***Hi George, What you ask is a little tricky...but I'll certainly try! -- Paul
ON NAMING NAMES_______________
The following article was written by William Serchak who has probably
been a member of TARG longer and contributed more to a knowledge of our TARG
ancestors than most anyone. He's graciously agreed to share his surname
spelling insights with us. I think you will find this treatise highly informative:
"I have an interesting letter in my files from the Instytut Jezyka
Polskiego (Polish Language Institute) in Krakow, Poland. It is in reply to
my query to the Institute concerning the origin of my family name
"JEZIERCZAK". The letter, written February 2, 1997 reads as follows:
"Dear Mr. Serchak,
"In reply to your letter of January 6, 1997 concerning the origin of
your ancestors, I explain you, as follows: Your ancestors came, in fact,
from the territory that, in times of partition of Poland, belonged to the
Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Till nowadays in the region of Trybsz, a part of
the population is of Slovak nationality and speaks Slovak.
"However, the surname Jezierczak is of Polish origin. This is a pet
form of a personal name Jeziorko or a name of an inhabitant of a village
called Jeziorko. The nickname Jeziorko has been very well known in the Nowy
Sacz province since the 17 century. The base of this nickname, namely
Jezioro, already in the 16 century. Today, there are in Poland 39 people
bearing Jeziorczak as their surname (in the Nowy Sacz province there are 28 of them).
"The conviction that the surname Jezierczak was of Russian origin is a
misconception. The phonetic structure of this surname doesn't allow it. The
appellative base, from which the surname Jezierczak came, namely jezioro
'lake', sounds in Russian ozero and in Slovak jazero. Therefore, all records
of the surname Jeziorak, quoted by you, speak in advocacy of Polish origin
of this family name. Sincerely, Janina Szymowa M.A."
Quite early in my research of our family name "SERCHAK" it became
obvious that our name had evolved over the years with different spellings
and in other languages. Many foreign names are changed following immigration
to another country. Some names are changed or become 'corrupted' due to the
difficulty of pronouncing the original name in the new country. Whole books
have been written about the origin of surnames and their evolution. This
evolution has resulted in different spellings and sometimes in completely
new and unrelated surnames.
Following intensive research at home and visits to Poland and Slovakia
in the early 1990's, I found a large number of variants of my family name in
church & civil records, on gravestones, and even in government census
documents. In Poland today, the descendants of my grandfather's siblings
spell the family name as JEZIERCZAK on correspondence and on recent
gravestones. As it was pointed out in the letter above, the root of the name
is derived from the Polish word jezioro that translates as 'lake'. The
suffix -czak is a common ending for many Polish surnames. Together the words
jezioro and czak translate as 'man from the lake' according to another source.
Another complication in researching my family name is that the vital
records found in St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church in Trybsz, Poland,
where my grandfather Andrew and his ancestors were baptized, were written in
several different languages over the years. Some early records were in
Slovak as the church was in the Slovak-speaking part of Austria-Hungary. For
another period of time, the records were kept in Latin, then in Hungarian,
and presently they are written in Polish. Since the alphabets in these four
languages are somewhat different, the family name was spelled differently over the years.
After grandfather Andrew, his older brother, Jacob, and his youngest
sister, Anna, arrived in America their family name continued to change
independently of each other. For example, a few years ago I met a second
cousin in the Carbondale, Pennsylvania region who introduced himself as Jack
Zerchak. He said it was very strange to hear me introduce myself as Bill
Serchak, yet his grandfather, Jacob, and my grandfather, Andrew, were brothers!
Finally, a sampling of some of the variations in the spelling of
grandfather's surname in America will illustrate the frequently puzzling
task of finding our ancestor's name in official documents.
Date: Document & Grandfather's Name:
1892 Passenger Manifest-SS Trave, Andro Jezrscsak
1905 New Jersey State Census, Andrew Cyrchak
1910 Passaic, NJ City Directory, Andrew Yezircak
1910 Thirteenth Census of the US, Andrew Syarchak
1912 US Declaration of Intention, Andro Yezorcak
1920 14th Census of the US, Andrew Yezerchak
1924 31 Mahar Ave, Passaic, NJ Deed, Andrew Yezercak
1940 INS Alien Registration Form, Andrew Yezerchak
1944 NJ Death Certificate, Andrew Jezercak
1944 Herald News Obituary, Andrew Sherchak
1944 Gravestone at St Mary's Cemetery, Andrew Yezerchak
PODHALE BOOK TRANSLATION - PART 5______________
A part of the Rocky Highlands is located north of Gubalowka, a mountain
terrain where the forest mingles with scattered villages and grazing land.
Here villages are not as concentrated but more open. The homes are placed in
hollows or on the slopes of the mountains. The homes here are situated in
the shadow of Tatra Mountain Ash trees, wayside chapels are decorated with
folk sculptures, and every now and then there is a wooden campanile or
roadside shrine. The chapels are usually made by the local self-taught
artists, here called "Swiatkarze". (This is a dialect word for an artist
who's work features primarily holy themes.)
The Rocky Highlands are also a source for a fine arts. The mountaineers
are born with an enormous amount of taste and appreciation for art. It can
be clearly seen in the local architecture. A highlander's cottage is built
from a thick and beautifully cut "bierowin" or "plazy" (dialect for types of
local hewn wood.) The roof has acute angles and the top has the decoration
of the spreading beams of the sun. The typical arched "odrzewie", or Goral
door frame, is also ornamented with bolts. Often they are decorated with
"leluje," a favored ornamental theme looking somewhat like lilacs.
Inside a cottage the main beam supporting a roof is called a "sosrebem,"
usually a large single beam made out of spruce. It is always decorated with
various themes and often with a date of the dwelling's construction.
Everyday useful domestic items are also artistically fashioned, like the
wooden "lyzniki" (shelves for wooden spoons), painted chests, carved tables,
and paintings on glass. These often portray the lives of the highland
robbers from long ago, but which are still very much alive in the memory of
the mountaineers today.
A beautiful collection of highlands fine art is located in the Museum of
Tatra in Zakopane, where one can see an entire mountaineer's cottage.
Highlander style in building homes was an inspiration to many artists and
architects who later designed and built mansions and resorts.
Aside from architecture, the local clothing is very characteristic for
the Tatra Highlands, especially the clothing of the men. Their hats are
black, made out of felts and girdled with shells. Their pants are made of a
white wool richly embroidered with "parzenice," the special and intricate
Highlander's trousers designs. There are shoes called "kierpce," or Goral
moccasins, and the beautifully embroidered cape called "grunie", or "cuchy"
(both dialect words for specialized capes). Then, there are beautiful metal
cuff links, belts, and ornamented Goral alpine axes. The women Highlanders
outfits are often not as ornate as the men. In the winter highlanders wear
embroidered parka called "serdaki"(a dialect word meaning a sleeveless
furred vest characteristically embroidered for that region.)
The music of Tatra Highlands is energetic and very beautiful. To its beat
the highlanders dance their unique dances. Some dance names are "drobny"
(petty), "maly" (little), "krzesany" (the strike), "zbojnicki", (the
robbers), and "goralski" (the Highlanders). Often one can see these dances
in various regional shows. The spoken part of these performances is usually
written in rich, often sappy, Highlander dialect. Since the beginning Polish
writers have been fascinated with the Highlander's spoken language.
(Part 6 of 12 in our next issue.)
To contact the TARG Editor, the new e-mail address is: editor-AT-mytarg-DOT-net. Our "snail" mailing address is still TARG, P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033. use it for sending in orders or photos and anything else you want to share with the group. (If for some reason you are unable to contact us at the new editor-AT-mytarg-DOT-net e-mail address, go ahead and use the old address. It is still: targ_net-AT-hotmail-DOT-com.
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