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Created by Administrator Account in 2/8/2010 12:41:01 PM


My grandmother was from Szarwark, Poland, and her maiden name was Mozdzierz. I am doing my genealogy and would like to know what this name means or where it came from.

In Polish Mozdzierz is usually spelled with an accent over the first Z. So this name would be spelled Moździerz, and is pronounced roughly "MOZH-jesh."

You might also sometimes see it spelled with that first Z having a dot over it instead of an accent. This reflects a subtle difference in pronunciation, and to be honest, it's not significant for our purposes. Just remember it might be spelled with a dotted Z instead of an accented one, and this is just a minor spelling variation. As of 1990 there were 37 Poles who spelled it that way, scattered in small numbers all over the country.

Polish name experts say Moździerz derives from the noun moździerz, which means "mortar." Thus it probably began as a nickname for an ancestor whom people associated with mortar. Perhaps he made or sold mortar, or used it extensively in his work. That's typically how such names get started, although one can never be sure of the exact meaning of a nickname without detailed research into the specific family that came to bear the name. Still, it makes sense that a family wouldn't have come to be called "Mortar" unless an ancestor had some clear, obvious connection with the making, sale, or use of mortar.

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 952 Polish citizens named Moździerz. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Katowice 69, Krakow 46, Tarnow 491, and Wroclaw 91. Unfortunately I don't have access to further details such as first names or addresses, so I can't tell you how to find that info.

This data makes it clear the name is found all over Poland but tends to be concentrated primarily in southwestern to southeastern Poland, especially near the city of Tarnow in southeastern Poland. This is consistent with your info, since the only place I can find named Szarwark was in Tarnow province under the setup in force 1975-1998; it's northeast of Tarnow. So the Tarnow area is where you need to concentrate your research.

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



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