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Balonek - Bałonek - Kajfasz
Created by Administrator Account in 5/12/2010 2:04:20 PM

 


... Do you have any information on the orgin of the following Polish surnames: Balonek and Kajfasz.

I only found one source that mentioned Balonek or Bałonek (the Polish l with a slash through it sounds like our w). It said it can come from balon, "balloon, circular object," or bałon, "person with large, staring eyes." It seems likely someone would get this as a nickname because something about him was large and round, and his eyes seem the most likely candidate. As of 1990 there was no one in Poland named Bałonek, and there were 113 Polish citizens named Balonek; the vast majority lived in the province of Bielsko-Biala, in far southcentral Poland, southwest of Kraków. There were a few scattered in other provinces, but the main concentration was definitely in Bielsko-Biala province.

The same source -- a book on surnames in the area of Cieszyn, which is in Bielsko-Biala province, right on the Czech border -- also mentions Kajfasz. It says Kajfasz comes from the Biblical name rendered in English as "Caiaphas," the by-name of a Jewish high priest involved in the trial of Jesus. When I see people with names like that or Judas or Pilate -- names you would hardly expect devout Christians to give their children -- I can't help wondering if a person might have gotten that as a nickname because he played that character in a Passion play or similar religious activity? I can't account for it otherwise. Anyway, as of 1990 there were 271 Kajfasz's in Poland, with the larger numbers in the provinces of Bielsko-Biala 119, Gdansk 23, Katowice 23, and Kraków 32 (there were also 48 who spelled the name Kajfosz, 31 in Bielsko-Biala province and the rest in neighboring provinces).

This data seems to suggest strongly your family came from the area of Bielsko-Biala, that part of southcentral Poland that protrudes down near where the Czech Republic and Slovakia meet. That doesn't necessarily have to be true, but the numbers sure make it seem likely. If you have no information on where the families came from, this might be a helpful clue, although it still leaves a lot of area to cover. Unfortunately I have no access to first names or addresses or any other data besides what I've given above, so I have no way to help zero in on a specific town or village.

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

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