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Otfinowski - Otwinowski
Created by Administrator Account in 5/12/2010 11:03:19 AM

 


...I am wondering if you have any information on the Polish surname Otfinowski or Otwinowski. My great grandparents went by Otfinowski but were buried as Otwinowski. I think it originates from a town named Otfinow(ska), in the Tarnów region of Poland, or perhaps maybe there were just alot of Otfinowskis who lived there. Your information would be helpful in pinpointing an exact location.

In my book on Polish surnames, Otfinów (also spelled Otwinów) in Tarnów province is the place I suggested as the origin of this name. Usually -- not always, but usually -- names in -owski refer to a place with a similar name ending in -ów or -owo, so you expect Otfinowski or Otwinowski to mean "person from Otfinów/Otwinów." And that was the only place I could find in Poland with a name that qualified. There might have been more, too small to show up in my sources, but I think this village in Tarnów province is by far the most likely one to have served as the source of this surname. If so, it's an exception -- very few names can be traced back to just one place, most of the time if there's one village in Poland with a particular name, there'll be 2, 3, even 20 more!

Please realize, though, that surnames typically originated 200-400 years ago, sometimes more, and records don't go back that far (except, sometimes, for nobility). So there may not be any records that go back far enough to settle the matter of exactly when and where this surname and this village linked up. But it does seem likely that's where the Otfinowski's came from -- that name, Otfinów, is unusual, I doubt there are too many other places with similar names, and my references show none.

As of 1990 there were 425 Polish citizens named Otfinowski, and 931 named Otwinowski, so these aren't rare names. Of the Otfinowski's, the largest numbers lived in the provinces of Katowice (36), Kielce (120), Kraków (36), Tarnów (57), and Walbrzych (54), so they were all in the southern part of the country, from southeast through to southwest. The Otwinowski's were really scattered all over, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Katowice (102), and Kielce (253) -- only 3 in Tarnów province. This distribution may suggest there was more than one place that could spawn this name -- or it may just be that the name has been around a long time and people have spread all over. Kielce and Katowice provinces are in southcentral Poland, just north and west of Tarnów province, and that could still be consistent with origin in Tarnów province... All in all, it's not 100% certain that all the Otfinowski's and Otwinowski's came from that village in Tarnów province, but that's the most likely place of origin.

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

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