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Dziewedik - Mierzwa
Created by Administrator Account in 12/23/2009 5:42:55 AM

 


...I am just beginning my search about my mother's family. I found your articles and would like to know if you can help me find information about her maiden name. In English it was spelled Dziewedik. My grandmother's maiden name was Mierzwa. Any help would be helpful. My grandmother died when I was very young and any records disappeared when she died?

 

I'm afraid I can't help too much. With Dziewedik, the problem is that that spelling seems wrong, but I can't imagine what the correct spelling should be; usually I can look at or say a name aloud and figure out what it would have been, but this one has me stumped. It can't have been anglicized too much and still keep Dziew-, a very Polish spelling, but the -edik part sounds odd. The root dziew- means "maiden, young woman," but again, that second part makes no sense; if we knew what it was originally, that could change everything. As of 1990 there were no Polish citizens with the name Dziewedik or any likely spelling variation I could think of, so I'm coming up empty on this one.

 

Mierzwa is a name that amazes many people. It comes from the word mierzwa, which means "matted straw, the stable straw which needs to be mucked out when it gets too befouled with waste," in short "manure" -- and it's a very common name! As of 1990 there were 5,596 Polish citizens named Mierzwa, living all over the country but with the largest numbers in the provinces of Katowice (670), Kielce (247), Krakow (219), Lublin (261), Rzeszow (351), Tarnobrzeg (737), Tarnow (275), and Wroclaw (244)... How this name got to be so common is beyond me! But there have been some prominent Poles and Polish-Americans who bore this name, so obviously it's not a name to be ashamed of -- in fact, compared to some other Polish surnames I've come across, this one is not bad at all. Most likely this name was given as a nickname to farm-laborers who mucked out the stables, and eventually stuck as a surname.

 

It's a shame these names don't offer you much in the way of clues as to your family's place of origin -- Dziewedik is too rare, Mierzwa too common -- but if it's any consolation, that's the way it is with most Polish surnames. Comparatively few offer any really helpful clues.

 

Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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