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Created by Administrator Account in 10/15/2009 1:32:16 PM


... I am trying to find the origin and history of my surname, Antoszewski, I have read a few messages in Genpol and thought you may be able to help...


I probably can't tell you as much as you'd like to know, but I can tell you a little, and will be glad to do so.


Names ending in -owski or -ewski usually started out designating a person who came from a place by a similar name. In this case, we'd expect Antoszewski to mean "guy from Antoszew or Antoszewo or Antoszewa," something like that. It doesn't always have to mean that, -ew- and -ow- are possessive suffixes in Polish, so that Antoszewski really means no more than "one connected to some thing, person, or place connected to a fellow named Antosz." But in practice, the connection is of a person with a place with a name ending in -ew(a/o) or -ow(a/o) . Note that the -ow- or -ew- can be appended not only to personal names (as in Antoszewski or Janowski) but also to other nouns, e. g., Kowalew or Kowalewo, from the root kowal, "smith," = " place or thing connected with smiths." That in turn yields a surname such as Kowalewski, "guy from Kowalew/o."


The ultimate root of this name is Antosz, which is a kind of nickname for Antoni (Anthony). Thus Antoszew/o/a, if it existed, would have meant "Antosz's place." It might be a village or estate owned by an Antosz, or founded by Antosz, or Antosz was a prominent citizen -- hard to tell exactly what.


Often these place-derived surnames refer to some local name for a place, and that place may be too small to show up on maps. I read a letter from one fellow who was visiting Poland and was looking for a village called Iwany that wasn't on any map. He and his guide were driving on a little road through a field near where they thought the village should be, based on other info he had, so they stopped to ask some peasants where Iwany was. The peasants were surprised and said "This is Iwany!" It was a bend in the road with one house! Apparently there once was a village there, but now it's mostly just farmland, and the name is one only the locals would even recognize. So it can be very tough finding the precise place a surname referred to centuries ago. (Imagine if your name is Iwanowski and you're looking for this place!)


I did find one place called Antoszew in a 19th-century Polish gazetteer. It was located in Samogitia, a region of what's now Lithuania, near the town of Poniewiez (Lith. name Panevezys). Here's what the entry said:

Antoszew, in Samogitian Antosava, a small town in Poniewiez county, about 40 km. from Poniewiez. It has a Catholic church, St. Jacek's, built of wood and built in 1782 by the Antoszewskis, a branch of the Wobolniki parish church. There is a manoral farmstead by this name 8 km. from the town.

I found this village in an atlas of Lithuania; it's now called Antasava. It's northeast of Panevezys, northwest of Kupskis, and nearby is Vabalninkas, which is the Lithuanian equivalent of the Polish name Wobolniki. There is a parish church in Antasava, so it is possible there are some parish records available for research. If the Family History Library in Salt Lake City doesn't have them on microfilm, you may need to write the Lithuanian State Archives. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.


You see, this does not have to be the Antoszew your family's name came from. But the gazetteeer entry indicates there was a family named Antoszewski that built the local church -- chances are they were minor nobility, since their name is connected with the name of the estate near the town. So this is at least one possible candidate for the right place.


One reason I caution you about this is that as of 1990 there were 1,910 Polish citizens named Antoszewski, spread out all over the country. Usually when a surname is that widely spread, it suggests it got started in many different places; so even though only one Antoszew shows up in the gazetteer, there were probably many others too small to appear in gazetteers or maps... Of course, that Antoszew/Antasava might be exactly the right one, but it might prove to be a costly and disappointing error to jump to the conclusion that that has to be the right one.


As of 1990 the Polish provinces with the most Antoszewskis were Warsaw (176), Ciechanow (151), Ostrołęka (108), Poznan (130), Torun (95), and Wloclawek (126). (I have no more detailed info, such as addresses, first names, etc. -- what I give here is all I have). The nobles tended to move around, it's possible all these Antoszewskis came from the family with its estate in Lithuania -- but it seems pretty unlikely. A fair number of those Antoszewskis are probably connected with the ones from Lithuania, but odds are a lot of them aren't. They were probably peasants who came from or worked on other, small estates named Antoszew/Antoszewo/Antoszewa scattered all over Poland that were just too small to appear in the gazetteer.


I wish I could give you a definitive answer that would tell you just where to look, but I think you can see that's just not possible without a lot more info on the family. I hope, however, that this info will give you something to work with, so that when you combine it with your own research it will give you good leads.


 Copyright ©1998 W.F. Hoffman



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