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Created by Administrator Account in 7/4/2010 12:54:08 PM


... I am researching my family name Karbowski. I noted in your Home Page that you might be able to provide a short analysis of Polish Surnames. If it is possible, I would appreciate it if you could send me a brief analysis of my family name.

There are a couple of possible derivations for Karbowski. Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut notes that names beginning with Karb- generally come from the root karb, "notch, nick"; but he also notes that names with Karbow- can come from the term karbowy, "overseer," i. e., the man on a noble's estate who supervised the peasants as they worked. It is quite possible that Karbowski could be interpreted as "kin of the karbowy," since the -ski ending is adjectival and usually means "of, from, pertaining to."

The other interpretation is that Karbowski could mean "one from Karbów, Karbowo, Karbowa, Karby," in other words Karbowski is an adjective that fits several different place names. Of those, the only name for which I could find a place that actually exists was Karbowo -- there's a village by that name in Elblag province (the nearest parish and civil registrar's office is either Orneta or Lubomino), and another in Torun province (just a few km. north of Brodnica, which is probably where they went to register births, deaths, etc.). There may be more too small to show up on my maps, but it is thoroughly plausible that this surname started out meaning "person or family from Karbowo." Of course, the interpretation "kin of the overseer" is also perfectly plausible. In fact, we often see that a given surname can end up having derived two or three different ways, and that seems to be true here.

... I might mention that my goal is to find my ancestral village in Poland. I have been able to track my ancestors back to the year 1852 in a Polish settlement in Parrisville, Michigan. So far, I haven't been able to find out how these Polish settlers came to Parrisville, or where, in Poland, they came from.

Well, either of the Karbowo villages I mentioned above, in Elblag and Torun provinces, might be the place your ancestors were named for. I should caution you that surnames developed centuries ago, and over those centuries villages have disappeared, or been renamed, or been absorbed by others, so there may once have been other places named Karbów or Karbowo or Karbowa or Karby that this name could have come from. But these two might suggest areas to start looking in.

I'm afraid I have no other info that will help you pinpoint where your ancestors came from. As of 1990 there were 3,999 Polish citizens named Karbowski, living all over the country, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Suwałki (385) and Torun (413), and only 93 in Elblag province. So the frequency and distribution pattern offers no useful clues.

You say your ancestors settled in Michigan -- have you checked out the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan, c/o Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48202-4007. If anybody can help you uncover some leads, I'd think they're the ones.

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




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