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Michalski - Stopczyński
Created by Administrator Account in 5/11/2010 6:13:14 AM


… To my knowledge my fathers family other than one brother were all killed. He came from Warsaw my Fathers name was Tomasz Stopczynski, dob: 21st December 1908 , his only surviving brothers name was Stefan of the same surname dob: unknown.

The ultimate root of Stopczyński is clear: it comes from stopa, "foot." But Stopczyński doesn't come directly from that; more likely, it comes from a place name such as Stopka or Stopki, and that name in turn derived from the root meaning "foot," perhaps because of some geographical feature or landmark that reminded people of a foot. There are at least three places in Poland that the name Stopczyński could come from (and possibly many more too small to show up on my maps, or places that have changed names in the centuries since the surnames were established): Stopka in Bydgoszcz province, Stopki in Olsztyn province, and Stopki in Siedlce province. Obviously I have no way of knowing which of these a particular Stopczyński family was connected with; the most one can say, without considerable detailed research into the individual family's history, is that the surname derives from a place name, and Stopka and Stopki fit the pattern.

As of 1990 there were 577 Polish citizens named Stopczyński, with the largest numbers in the provinces of: Warsaw (57), Ciechanow (87), Lodz (58), Szczecin (44), and Wroclaw (58). There are smaller numbers scattered in many other provinces, but those are the ones with the largest concentrations. I'm afraid I don't see any particular pattern to that distribution, so we can't specify one area of Poland and say that's where your family probably came from. (This, by the way, is how it usually is with Polish surnames; there are comparatively few that offer clear leads as to exactly where they originated). I should add that I have no access to further data such as first names or addresses for any of the people living in the provinces mentioned.

… My mother who lives with me came from Oberniki, her mother had died when she was 8 months old, and very little of her she married a man (my grandfather who's name was Mihalski). They had 3 children, Roman, twins Lokardia, Cecylia (my mother).

I'm afraid I can't find an Oberniki on the map, but there are two Oborniki's, one in Poznan province, one (also called Oborniki Slaskie) in Wroclaw province... Mihalski comes from the name Michael (standard Polish form Michał, where ł represents the Polish L with a slash through it, pronounced like our W). Michalski is a very common Polish name, as of 1990 there were 51,325 Poles by that name, and large numbers of them lived all over the country. There was no one who spelled the name Mihalski. That, however, is not surprising. In Polish the ch and h are pronounced exactly the same, so a name spelled with a ch can very easily be spelled with h instead without any significance at all to the change. Until this century most Poles were illiterate, so there was no great pressure to spell names uniformly. Once the Communists set up compulsory elementary education for all Poles, there began to be more emphasis on spelling names the "right" way. So a great many of those Michalski's now living in Poland probably had ancestors whose names were spelled Mihalski in records... What I am saying is that in doing your research, you want to keep an eye out for both spellings, because from a practical point of view they're both the same name.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



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