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Created by Administrator Account in 12/23/2009 9:46:43 AM


...My Grandparents came to America from southeastern Poland (Galicia) at the turn of the century. My Grandfather, Michael Filanowski, was from the town Brzoza Krolewska and after serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army. I would like to find his service records and any other information about the Filanowski name. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I've been told that my last name is unusual. I can not speak Polish and I am finding the language barrier to be an obstacle in my admittedly awkward attempts to learn about my ancestors...

The name Filanowski is not extremely common, but you couldn't really call it rare: as of 1990 there were 298 Polish citizens by that name. They lived all over the country, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Lodz (48), Płock (39), Rzeszow (53), and Warsaw (21). As with most names ending in -owski, this probably originated as a reference to a place with which the family was associated, meaning something like "person from Filany or Filanowo." I can't find any such place listed in any of my sources, but often surnames refer to places that have since changed their names, or been absorbed into other communities. In theory, if you have good luck researching the area of Brzoza Krolewska you might find reference to some little hamlet or local subdivision called Filany or Filanowo. Those place names derive from "Filan-," which is a kind of nickname formed from the popular first names Filip (Philip) or Teofil (Theophilus); Poles often took the first syllable of a popular first name, dropped the rest, and added suffixes, kind of like "Edward" and "Eddy" in English. So the surname could be interpreted as meaning "one from the place of Filan."

According to the War Archives in Vienna, records for people serving in the Austro-Hungarian army were usually kept locally, so if any military records survive, they'd probably be in a registrar's office in whatever town served as the local recruitment center. I notice that Brzoza Krolewska was in Lancut administrative district, in what is now Rzeszow province, so that's my guess as the best place to start. If they don't have the records, I'd think odds are decent they could tell you where to look...

Brzoza Krolewska had its own parish, so vital records were probably kept there. Unfortunately, the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City has had trouble getting authorities in southeastern Poland to agree to microfilming, so there's no guarantee the FHL has the records for Brzoza Krolewska. Still, it would be worthwhile finding and going to the nearest LDS Family History Center -- that's always the first place to look, because if they do have the records you need, they're by far the cheapest and easiest way to get them. If they don't have them, then I'd suggest writing to the parish church in Brzoza Krolewska and seeing what they have. People often have good luck doing this -- but the letter really needs to be in Polish, or you're cutting way down on your chances of getting a reply.

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



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