Novletsky - Nowolecki - Winograd
Created by Administrator Account in 5/16/2010 4:10:36 PM

...I am trying to do research on my father's family. Nobody seems to know much about them. I know that both of my father's parents came from an area near Warsaw, in a shtetl named Bendzin. I'm wondering what info you could give me regarding each of their last names. One of them, Winograd, which is also my name, has been said to mean "vinyard" in several languages...

Winograd does indeed mean "vinyard" in Polish (and other Slavic languages, if you adjust the spelling slightly in view of each language's phonetics). It's difficult to tell in a given case whether an ancestor got this name because he lived near a vinyard, owned a vinyard, or worked in a vinyard -- about the most we can say for sure is that there was some kind of connection with a vinyard... I was surprised to see that as of 1990 there were only 46 Polish citizens named Winograd, I would have expected a lot more (however, there were 526 with the related name Winogrodzki). The 46 lived in the following provinces: Białystok (6), Bydgoszcz (11), Legnica (1), Skierniewice (1), Walbrzych (3), Wroclaw (13), and Zielona Gora (11), so they were scattered pretty much all over the country. (I'm afraid this data is all I have access to, I don't know how to get details such as first names and addresses).

Alexander Beider mentions Winograd in his Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (which included the Warsaw area), so it clearly is a name sometimes borne by Jews. But I haven't run into it often enough to know whether it's justifiable to conclude anyone named Winograd would probably be a Jew. In theory, it's one of those names that could be used by any religion; in practice, sometimes such names do prove to be associated primarily with one or another. In view of Jewish dietary precepts, however, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if this name is primarily associated with Jews; if so, that might have something to do with why it's less common than I expected, and it may have been considerably more common before the Holocaust.

Novletsky or Novlotsky is a bit of a problem. The form doesn't really "sound" right to me, and as of 1990 there was no one by either name in Poland. Even if you adjust for phonetic differences, turning it into Nowlecki or Nowlocki (Poles write the sound "ts" with the letter c, and the sound "v" with the letter w), it still doesn't seem quite right. However, an extra O can often get lost quite easily, and as of 1990 there were 12 Nowolecki's living in Poland, all in Warsaw province. I can't be positive this name is connected with the one you're asking about, but from a linguistic point of view such a connection is plausible, and the area seems to be about right... Oddly, Beider's book doesn't mention any of these names, and usually he is pretty good about listing any name borne by Jews living in the eastern 1/3 of modern Poland. As for the meaning, its form suggests it is derived from a place name, probably something like Nowolec or Nowolek. I can't find mention of any such place in my sources, but this is not necessarily odd -- surnames originated at least two centuries ago (although Jewish names are often of somewhat coinage), and the places they originally referred to might have been too small to show up in any official map or gazetteer, or might have been renamed, or absorbed into larger communities. Often we have a very hard time finding the places surnames came from.

If you would like more help, perhaps you can find some useful leads at the Website of the publication Avotaynu
, or from Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation. These are connected with folks who have greater expertise in Jewish research than I, and you just might be surprised what you can find if you hunt for records of the Bendzin shtetl or other such sources.

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