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Augustyn - Augustyniak - Kęsek
Created by Administrator Account in 5/3/2012 6:58:23 AM


… I am trying to find out information on the family surname of Kensek. Apparently we spell it "kensek". My uncle spells it "kesek". And my grandfather who came to the US told the census taker of 1920 that it was "kiesek".

It's tough to give anything reliable on a name if you don't have a reliable spelling -- change one letter, and it can make all the difference in the world. Still, it sounds to me as if we're probably dealing with the name Kęsek (ę is pronounced most of the time like en); we often see ę spelled en in names, so that Kęsek would often show up as Kensek. As for Kiesek, that's not too hard to explain; in proper Polish the combination Ke- is not supposed to happen, there should always be an I between them, thus Kie-. That rule doesn't apply to nasal ę, but many Poles would stick an i in there anyway, by force of habit. So Kesek, Kensek, and Kiesek would all make sense if the original name was Kęsek.

This name comes from the root seen in kęs, "piece, bit," and kęsy, "short, scanty"; the suffix -ek is a diminutive, meaning either "little" or in names "son of." My best guess is that this name would be applied to a short fellow or his son. As of 1990 there were 674 Polish citizens named Kęsek, with by far the largest numbers in the provinces of Kraków (448) and Nowy Sącz (49) in southcentral Poland. There are smaller numbers of Kęsek's living in other provinces, but the Kraków-Nowy Sącz area is the site of the main concentration.

… My grandmother's maiden name was something like "agustyn" or "agustynick".

It's pretty certain this would be a surname formed from the first name Augustyn, in English "Augustine." The most likely candidates are Augustyn (7,143 Poles had that surname as of 1990), Augustyniak (14,211, meaning "son of Augustine"), or perhaps Agustyniak (13, a variant of Augustyniak, meaning the same thing). The variant Agustyniak is quite rare, but is possible; the other forms are extremely common. The Chicago-area Polish-language newspaper Dziennik Chicagoski had an obit in its 28 Dec 1927 issue for a Jan Agustyniak, and as best I can determine that was how he spelled his name, it wasn't a misprint for Augustyniak. Those are the surnames that seem most likely to be relevant in your case.

If you want to see if you can find more Agustyniak's, you might visit the Website of the

Polish Genealogical Society of America

  and use their searchable databases for the Chicagoski obits, and also for Haller's Army volunteers, to look up the name. Who knows, you might find some relatives?

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