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Created by Administrator Account in 12/24/2009 9:12:31 AM


... My G.Grandmother's maiden name was Lisewski. From what I've read in your book and from the discussion on the Gen-Pol, many names ending with 'ski' are taken from a place. I have found birth records of her children in the small village of Miloslaw, Poznan, Poland. There is a town on the Polish map about 50-60 miles away from Miloslaw called Lisewo. In your opinion, would it be worth looking into to find my ancestors. It seems almost too easy! Was it uncommon in the mid 1800's to see people from different villages of any considerable distance to be getting married. Gosh....getting 50 or 60 miles without a car seems like quite a feat to me!!! I'm just spoiled by progress I suppose. If you have the time, I'd sure appreciate your thoughts and insight on this matter. And thank you once again for your wonderful book. It has really opened up a whole new outlook for me on researching my family line.

I'm very glad you enjoyed my book. I put a lot of work into it, and it's enormously rewarding when people tell me my efforts weren't wasted and the book did them some good.

As for Lisewski, in most cases you would definitely expect it to have started as meaning "person from Lisew/Lisewo" or a similar name. The bad part is that there are quite a few places in Poland named Lisew and Lisewo, so it can be awfully tough determining which one is "yours."

The one you've found could well be the right one. 50-60 miles was a pretty decent distance before the days of easy transportation, so obviously a Lisewo that's closer would seem a better bet. But I have seen enough records to know that that distance is definitely not too great. In marriage records you often see people ending up together whose original homes were farther apart than that (although obviously in the majority of cases they came from villages very close to each other). But is the distance from Miloslaw to Lisewo enough to rule out a Lisewski origin there? No.

Unfortunately, it may be hard to prove one way or the other. Surnames were generally becoming fairly well established among peasants by the 1600's, and in some cases even earlier; but most of the time it's impossible to find records dealing with peasants that go back farther than, say, 1700 or 1750. In other words, there's usually a gap of a century or two between when the name was established and when it starts showing up in any records.

Also, by the nature of things, Lisewski would be a good name for a family only after it left Lisewo. Names were supposed to help distinguish folks, so strictly from a logical point of view it seems unlikely the family would have started going by that name until they moved elsewhere, at which point "the folks from Lisewo" would be a sensible name. So even if your ancestors do appear in Lisewo records, I'm not sure how good the chances are you'll be able to tell who they are, because they may not have been called "Lisewski" at that point. How will you recognize them without the surname to help?

I know it sounds as if I'm trying to discourage you, and that's really not my intention. But I don't want to inspire big hopes, only to have them dashed later; so I try to give people the whole picture. In this case, that means pointing out: 1) that there are a lot of Lisew's and Lisewo's in Poland, there may be tiny ones closer to Miloslaw than the one you've found; and 2) even if it is the right Lisewo, I wouldn't bet the farm on your being able to find any records that help you... Still, you never know till you try. I would be delighted to hear that this does turn out to be the right place and that you find early records of your family! And it could happen, it does happen sometimes. The way I see it, you might as well take a look at the Lisewo records -- if you do find something, the payoff would be fantastic! Just realize going in that it's a bit of a long shot.

I hope this info helps you make an informed judgment on whether this line of research is worth following. That's all I can do, really - try to give people info that will help them make good decisions. And when someone writes back and says some piece of info I gave them was the key to a breakthrough, I'm almost as happy as they are!

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



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