[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Virginia Less-Surname:LESS

GVLESS at aol.com GVLESS at aol.com
Wed May 10 11:54:32 PDT 2006

Hi, Otto - Really appreciate your comments on the LESS name.  I have  
expected that there would be different spellings as the oldest son in my  husband's 
grandfather's family named Erdmann is spelled in the St. Petersburg  films as 
Laess (or could be Loess).  After 1876 the other birth records  show it as 
Less.  The Ellis Island lists over 80 names of "Less" with some  in the late 19th 
century and early 20th coming from Germany direct, some from  Poland and a few 
from Russia.  Someone recently in response to my note on  SGGEE also said 
there were currently over 200 Less names in the German telephone  directory.  So 
the spelling today seems to be just Less.  I do recall  in a family history 
trip that my husband and I took over into the Volhynia area  in 1993 that one of 
the today's relatives on my husband's mother's family  (Bergstraesser) saying 
that the name Less was pronounced with what I  thought sounded like "Loesch". 
 This just goes to show you how names get  spelled differently through the 
pronunciation especially when one is not  familiar with the German language.  
So, Otto, thanks again for your very  nice explanation of this name.  As I said 
in previous note to SGGEE the  Less name spelled as Les (probably written with 
the German double S sign thus  giving it the two letters of "s") has been 
found as early as the 1790's in the  Polish microfilm records of Nowy Dwor 
northwest of Warsaw.  So the name has  been around for some time in a recognizable 
form.    I guess I  can't conceive it being spelled as Loeschke or whatever!
With Otto's explanation of the meaning of the name as - "loess" meaning  
"unstratified deposit of loam, a buff to gray windblown deposit of fine-grained,  
calcareous silt or clay" I wonder if this means that this kind of soil would 
be  found more likely near the Baltic coastal areas???
Thus people living on such soil became named as such?
I know in my research on the Bergstraesser name I discovered that there was  
a road in Germany from Darmstadt to Heidelberg called the "Bergstrasse" 
(meaning  road on the side of the mountain).  And that all who lived near it in the  
early centuries (before surnames were needed) were called the  
"Bergstraessers".  ....Anyway, that was what I was told!
One more thing -  Otto and others - what does the word "von" mean when  in 
front of a surname?  I found that with some Bergstraessers in my  research that 
had lived in the Baltic states and were also in Moscow during the  reign of 
the Czars, with one in this family serving as an officer in the Czar's  Navy had 
the "von" in front of their surname.  The descendant today said  the "von" 
referred to a title??  Their descendants today then use "von  Bergstraesser" as 
their surname.   Thus Otto, you say Marlene  Dietrich comes from a "titled" 
Losch family??  Interesting -if so.  So  there is a celebrity ancestor in this 
family line???!!!
How I appreciate the recent comments on this listserv on the spelling of  the 
German surnames and the pronunciation quirks resulting in different  
spellings.  Thank you all for your comments.  (I to wondered about the  use of the 
"umlaut" as asked by Gary Warner.  That letter "a" in the name  of Bergstraesser 
has the umlaut over it.  I just don't know how to make it  as such for this 
Virginia Less

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