[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] surnames with evidence of aristocracy

Jerry Frank FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca
Tue Apr 5 06:26:02 PDT 2005


I think your theories are fine.  Certainly our ancestors took pride in 
their German heritage and culture and that could be the reasons for the change.

But do remember that they are just theories.  Unfortunately we cannot get 
into the minds of our ancestors to determine the true reasons for their 

At 10:22 PM 04/04/2005, Eduardo Kommers wrote:
>Hello members,
>Maybe my ancestors's history could be appreciated.
>My grand-grandfather died in 1962. He came to Brazil in 1897, with 8 years 
>Actually, I don't know where he was born.
>A teory is that my grand-grandfather jump back from Volhynia to Germany 
>before coming to Brazil.
>Or, he was born in Germany.
>By the way, my surname is Kommers. In SGGEE site I just found the birth 
>records of my grand-grandfather's brothers.
>In the database my surname was written Kommers. No mistakes. All of my 
>grand-grand-father's brothers were found with "Kommers".
>Except one record: Anna Wilhelmine Komminski. She was my grand-grand's sister.
>She was the first among seven brothers. Only she got Komminski. The other 
>were Kommers.
>In the arrival document here in Brazil, the name is Kommers. Normal!
>So, I conclude that the german families used to change their names. But 
>most important,
>I think they used to return to the original german name, even in Volhynien 
>For this, another teory: a grief or a bad feeling caused for the bad 
>sittuation in Volhynia.
>So, they really loved Germany, even with the misery in those times and 
>they wanted to preserve their origins.
>What do you guys think about it?
>Eduardo Kommers
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Jerry Frank" <FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca>
>To: "Nancy Gertner" <nancygertner at mac.com>
>Cc: <ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
>Sent: Monday, April 04, 2005 11:52 AM
>Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] surnames with evidence of aristocracy
>>The statement seems reasonable but the original article contains no
>>citations so it is difficult to prove.
>>An important distinction relative to his story is that between royalty and
>>nobility.  People often get the two mixed up.  There is a much better
>>chance of a connection to nobility than there is to royalty and, if the
>>story is true, it was probably a nobleman who conferred this name change on
>>the family.
>>Note however that such a change does not apply to everyone with that
>>surname but rather only to the family of the person who performed the
>>service.  In the example given, it would make sense if ALL branches of the
>>Teichrob family could trace their name to one specific location.  However,
>>if there are several different Teichrob branches living in different places
>>at the time of the supposed change, then the story would not be valid.
>>In Russian Poland, German ethnics with Polish surnames seemed, at times to
>>jump back and forth between the Polish and German with no relevance to the
>>Napoleonic era.  It is evident that some at least reverted back to the
>>German surname upon migration from Russian Poland to Volhynia.  However, I
>>don't think there is enough consistency in this practice to make it a firm
>>genealogical research tool.  People working back through records in these
>>eras simply have to be aware of the possibilities and take that into
>>consideration in their research.
>>At 08:04 AM 04/04/2005, Nancy Gertner wrote:
>>>Has anyone seen evidence to support the statement of Henry Teichrob that
>>>Napoleon's reign of Prussia in the early 1800s caused people to drop
>>>evidence of nobility from their names?  And did they revise their names
>>>again after Napoleon disappeared from political power?
>>>by Henry Teichrob
>>>Our family name connects us to our ancestors and places us into a family
>>>tree. Nationality, ethnicity and family relationships are inherent in it.
>>>This identifies us in the larger picture of life. It show that we are
>>>rooted in the human family.
>>>The study of surnames can be most interesting. Not all societies have
>>>considered family names very important. In Western Europe family names
>>>became important when rulers listed their citizens for taxation purposes.
>>>In Christendom, especially in Northern Europe the common use of family
>>>names seems to parallel the rise of nationalism. From the Middles Ages we
>>>know of Leaf the Lucky, Eric the Red and later of Ivan the Terrible.
>>>Napoleon Bonaparte insisted on the use of family names in his day.
>>>It seems that in Northern Europe several naming patterns were used.
>>>Occupations like baker, butcher, carpenter, cooper, hunter, miller,
>>>plumber, smith, tanner, tailor, wagoner and many others became family
>>>names. Physical or personal characteristics like long, short, swift,
>>>stout, sweet, strong, etc. all became family names. Some used colors like
>>>green, brown, black, white and gray.
>>>In some regions the adding of son to the fathers personal name produced
>>>names like Jackson, Johnson, Williamson, Thomson, Cornelson and probably
>>>Klassen and Thiessen.  In days when people were largely illiterate the
>>>spelling was often done phonetically leading to a variety of spellings for
>>>the same name. Much can be learned about people and societies by studying
>>>Today much genealogical material and the internet allow for good research.
>>>Russian Mennonites can easily trace their migration from the Danzig
>>>(Gdansk) region. The Registration ordered by Fredrick the Great (der Alte
>>>Fritz) in 1772 and completed in 1776,  sometimes called a Consignation, is
>>>readily available. Research beyond that registry can be difficult. Some
>>>call that registry a firewall almost impenetrable.  Germanization was
>>>still often resisted by the largely Dutch Mennonite people of the lower
>>>Folklore handed to my father by his grandfather gave us as children some
>>>pride in our name. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the folklore but it
>>>pleased us. He told us that some generations ago our name was Dyck and the
>>>reason for the added syllable was the awarding of the title of Count
>>>(Graf). This was brought about by the bravery of an ancestor who rescued a
>>>princess of the royal family from drowning after slipping down a dike. Of
>>>course in Napoleons rule of Danzig (1806 1812) any evidence of
>>>aristocracy was dangerous. Knowledge of the guillotine had spread
>>>throughout Europe. Obscuring all aristocratic symbols was expedient.
>>>On Apr 4, 2005, at 8:28 AM, Jerry Frank wrote:
>>>>At 04:57 AM 04/04/2005, David Wade wrote:
>>>>>Can anyone explain to me why it seems there are so many surnames from
>>>>>this area that end in 'ski' or some variation of 'ski' (or is it my
>>>>>Thank you,
>>>>There are a variety of possibilities for this situation with respect to
>>>>Germans in East-central Europe.  First, understand that the 'ski' suffix
>>>>is equivalent to 'von' in German.  Like von, it can have two
>>>>connotations.  One is nobility.  It implies that you are "from" a noble
>>>>family.  The other is locational, implying that your are "from" a certain
>>>>So how do peasant class people get such a name?  Several
>>>>possibilities.  One might be that a noble family loses its fortune or the
>>>>fortune gets spread thinly among the descendants so that they become the
>>>>same level as peasant class people.  Another way was that a nobleman
>>>>could grant the right for a peasant to use his surname, especially for
>>>>some form of meritous service, perhaps in battle.
>>>>Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
>>>>FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca
>>Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
>>FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca
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Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca  

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