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Chałupczak - Chałupczok
Created by Administrator Account in 12/28/2009 2:55:20 PM


I had found your email on the Polishroots website and was wondering if you could give me some insight to my last name. I have been researching my family tree and traced it back to Szczedrzyk Poland, to my 5th grandfather born around 1808. The way he signed his name on his naturalization paper spelt Halupczok,i have also found it spelt Chalupczok. Any info or direction would be of much help.

In Polish the H and CH are pronounced the same, kind of like the guttural German "ch" in "Bach," except not quite so harsh. Thus it is quite normal to see names spelled H or CH, and the variation in spelling in your ancestor's name is not unusual. The standard form would be Chałupczok, using Ł to stand for the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W. The surname is pronounced roughly "hah-WOOP-chock." The spelling you use now makes sense as an Anglicized or Germanized form of the original Polish name -- which is quite normal, eastern European names have often been extensively Anglicized, sometimes past all recognition. Yours is still, at least, recognizable.

The suffix -czok is a Silesian variation of the standard Polish suffix -czak, and if I'm not mistaken, Szczedrzyk is near Opole, and thus in the region of Silesia. So it is reasonable to assume Chałupczok is the Silesian version of the name that appears in standard Polish as Chałupczak. It means literally "son of the hut," but obviously was meant more along the lines of "son of the one who lived in a hut."

That is the probable meaning of the name, referring to one who dwelt in a chałupa, a rather modest (not to say "ramshackle") cabin or hut. There is also a noun in Polish, chałupnik, that we see quite often, it referred to a fairly poor individual who didn't own any land, just a small hut and -- if he was lucky -- maybe also a garden. I would think in most cases the surname Chałupczak probably referred to the kin of someone in that category, although it certainly might also be used for someone who built huts, was shaped like a hut, etc. The most we can say for sure is that, at the time the name developed, there was some association perceived between an individual or family and huts that made this name seem appropriate to those who knew him/them. All these centuries later it is difficult to say exactly what the association was, but there must have been one and it must have made sense to the people at the time, so we can venture some plausible guesses as to the probable nature of the association. (Usually the obvious answer is correct).

As of 1990, according to the best data available (the Slownik nazwisk wspolczesnie w Polsce uzywanych, "Directory of Surnames in Current Use in Poland," which covers about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 431 Polish citizens named Chałupczak, living all over Poland but especially in southcentral and southeastern Poland. There were only 5 named Chałupczok, with an O, however, all living in the province of Katowice (in Silesia). I should explain that as literacy became practically universal among Poles, there also arose a tendency to standardize and normalize names, so that dialect forms and variant spellings are gradually disappearing, as people say "Oh, only hicks use that name," and thus change the name to the version recognized as normal among Poles. So it's quite possible some of those people now going by Chałupczak used to be called Chałupczok -- if they lived in Silesia -- but have since standardized the name.

So in summary, the form of the name is distinctively Silesian -- and it sounds as if you've traced it to its native region -- and means something like "kin of the cottager, kin of the one who lived in a hut, kin of the hut guy." That's about as precise as we can get without the kind of really detailed info genealogical research might eventually produce on the context in which the name first developed.

Copyright © 2002 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.





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