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Brataniec - Niedzwiecki
Created by Administrator Account in 1/17/2010 10:45:51 AM


...The Brataniec name that you could not find, per say, as a Polish name, I found in Monovia on the Polish border in a town called Mahrisch-Ostrau. I cannot say for sure that that is where he originally came from (born in 1874) as I lack the records.

I can't remember what I wrote about Brataniec, but it clearly comes from the term brataniec, literally "brother's son," i. e., "nephew." As of 1990 there were 60 Poles with this name, living in the provinces of Katowice (4), Krakow (13), Krosno (4), Nowy Sacz (11), and Tarnow (28). This strongly suggests the name comes from southcentral and southeastern Poland, in the area that was formerly ruled by Austria and named "Galicia."

...Interesting though may be his mother's maiden name, which is Niedzwiecka. I am not sure that this is a Polish name either, especially from looking in your book... So my question is, do you have any insight to the name Niedzwiecka? If I can find out a location, I may have a chance of finding my family!

Niedzwiecka is simply the feminine form of Niedzwiecki -- the wife or daughter of a man named Niedzwiecki would be called Niedzwiecka. As it says on p. 216 of the first edition of my book, and p. 358 of the second edition, Niedzwiecki comes from a Polish word niedźwiedź meaning "bear." It might have started as a nickname for a bear-like fellow or a guy who was good at hunting bears. But in many, many cases it would have meant "fellow who owned, came from, or often traveled to __" where the blank is filled in with any of several dozen villages with names from that root meaning "bear," for instance, Niedzwiedz (at least 11), Niedzwiada (at least 4), etc.

As of 1990 there were 1,866 Poles named Niedzwiecki, 6,432 named Niedźwiecki (with an accent over the z), 1,068 named Niedzwiedzki (which is pronounced exactly the same, so the names are easily confused), and 2,382 named Niedźwiedzki. So that's almost 12,000 Poles who have what is, for all intents and purposes, the same surname. Clearly the name originated in many different places at many different times, so there are numerous separate families with the name.

This is one thing I kind of hate about answering questions on Polish surnames: people hope the name will give them a clue where in Poland their families came from. It does work that way, sometimes, and when it does both the questioner and I end up feeling quite good about it! But the majority of times there just isn't info in the name to help. There were lots of places in Poland where bears were common at one time, so places where they fed or lived often got a name like Niedzwiedz, and then people coming from those place ended up with names like Niedzwiedzki or Niedzwiecki (which are pronounced the same).

So, this info may not be much help to you. For what it's worth, if you can find a place named Niedzwiada or Niedzwiedz (from which the name Niedzwiecki can come) near Mahrisch-Ostrau (Ostrawa Morawska, which according to my sources is in the Czech Republic, very near the border), that might be the right one.

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



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