Anthology of Kashub-Polish Family Names in Poland, Canada, USA.

Kashubian Names A-K | Kashubian Names L-Z | Map of the Kashubian Region

The griffin is a legendary monster of old Greek mythology portraying the combined features of a creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the lower body half of a lion. The animal-like ears are usually shown in the forward position denoting alertness and acute hearing. The creature is an art form derived from animism and had its origin in southwest Asia before 1000 B.C. The griffin was generally believed to be a ferocious monster of enormous size – so large that drinking cups could be made from its claws. Since the days of the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries), griffins could be found in the early heraldry of many western nations as a symbol of eternal vigilance. Its use was usually associated with acting as a guardian of treasure or of something to be valued.

The Kashubian author Ceynowa writes that the white griffin of the early eastern Pomeranian people was used as the Kashubian emblem. When the medieval east Pomeranian Duke Swietopelk (1200-1266) established the capital of his embryonic Kashub nation at Gdansk (Danzig), the griffin was displayed over the main gate of the city. This symbol was viewed as a guarantee that the Slavic character of the city and region would be protected against the Germanic aggression of the Teutonic Knights, and later, the increasing power of the State of Brandenburg-Prussia. The griffin was unable to stay the subsequent rising tide of Germanization in the region which spelled doom for the Kashubs and their dreams of a nation-state.

Kashubian Surnames

This collection of Kashub names is written mainly from the viewpoint of the Barry’s Bay, Wilno, Renfrew settlement of Kashubs in Ontario, though it has a lot of information about Kashubs in Poland and in the Stevens Point, Polonia regions and the Winona, Pine Creek areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin areas in the U.S.A. These are by no means all the Kashub names that exist. There are dozens of other names, especially in the Stevens Point area phone directory, which may be either Kashub or Polish, but I am not familiar enough with them. Stevens Point region seemed to be the largest Kashub settlement in the U.S.A. The Barry’s Bay area has 3 Kashub Polish parishes; the Stevens Point area must have 10 or 12 quite large parishes, e.g.: Stevens Point, Polonia, Rosholt, Bevent, Torun, Fancher, Guster, Hatley, Galloway, St. Casimir’s, Hull, Heffron. ***In Poland, Kashubs living 30 miles north and northwest of Lipusz generally have completely different surnames with very few ending in “Ski”. “By 1900, there were 10,000 Poles, mostly Kashub in the Stevens Point area of Wisconsin, 5,000 Kashubs in the Buffalo metropolitan area, 5,000 Kashubs in the Detroit metropolitan area, 5,000 Kashubs in the Winona, Minnesota region, ranked fourth after Stevens Point, 90,000 Kashubs in U.S.A. by 1900; more than 10 times the number in Canada at that time. About 600 families in the combined Sturgeon Lake, New Brighton and St. Paul, Minneapolis areas in Minnesota.” (Information from article: “They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State’s Ethnic Groups” by Frank Renkiewicz) By 1900 there were more Kashubs in the Winona area alone than in Renfrew County today. Four-fifths of the Polish people in the Winona region were Kashubs. The same would apply approximately to the proportion of Kashubs to other Poles in the Stevens Point region and in Renfrew County, Ontario. Emigration of Kashubs to the U.S.A. seemed to start about four years earlier than to Canada, beginning about 1855. But the villages of emigration named in documents are about the same as those mentioned emigrating to Canada. Thus: Wiele, Lipusz, Lęsno, Brusy, Sierakowice, Ugoszcz, Borzyszkowy, Słęzyca, etc., from the southern edge to Kaszuby (Cassubia). You will notice that in the U.S., the Poles stuck as closely as possible to the original spelling of their names where as their Canadian cousins have anglicized their names much more. A further variation in the Canadian names is that most of them have added an “e” to the “ski” in their name, e.g.: Olsheskie, Chapeskie, Sernoskie, Recoskie, Kedroskie, Gutoskie. To avoid complications, I only entered the “ski” as it came from Poland, understanding that many, maybe most of the people presently add an “e” to the “ski”.

Names of German origin among Kashubs in Lipusz region of Poland and in North America.

Hildebrandt, Kleinschmidt, Stoltz, Szmidt (Schmidt), Neubauer, Klein, Kranz, Burmeister, Hering, Gowin(?), Majer, Knitter, Singer, Kaiser, Radke, Schultz, Nygbur(?), Schroeder, Weiss, Hinz, Graf, Brauer, Kreft(?), Eichmann, Krezel(?), Neumann, Knuth, Kirstein, Blum, Retzlaf, Hendrich, Gillmeister, Heldt, Wejher, Maschke, Burghardt (Borchardt, Borchert), Frymark. All the people with these names living in Kaszuby today have become assimilated through the centuries and thoroughly Polonized and would probably be offended if they were called Germans. In the north and northwest regions of Cassubia, near the Baltic Sea, the proportion of German names (or non-Polish names) is much greater even. It is an oddity that among the early Kashub settlers in Ontario, so few carried German names, even though they were often called Prussians. Not all the Polish names in the Barry’s Bay area are of Kashub origin. The following Barry’s Bay names are not Kashub, but either from Galicia, Poland or the Poznaý area: Maika, Jaroszkiewicz, Chod—r (Hudder), Pleban(?), Lechowicz, Murach, BÈaszkiewicz, Bieniarz, Krawczyk, Czapla(?), Minta, Tomczyk, Zielny, Baderski, Wiater, Szarlej (Shire, Wikiera, J?drzejczyk, Kowalski, Zappa, Bo—ek, Puchalski, Sarchan(?), Piorunek, Je—yk(?), Gółabek, Krupa, Szpilek, Wąsik, Wojcik, Afelski, Szmyt, Matuszewski(?). It is safe to say that the great majority of these people, living among the Kashubs became Kashubized before they became Canadianized. The Kashubs are known to have great assimilative qualities. There are roughly three section of today’s Cassubia. There is first the southern section extending from Kościerzyna and Byt—w, south to Chojnice. The middle section would be the area around Kartuzy, the cultural capital. The northernmost section would extend from Wejherowo to Puck and to the Baltic Sea and as far west as L”bork. Each of these have distinct dialects of Kashub. What is interesting is that most of the names in our study of people who emigrated to North America in the second half of the 19th century seem to have come from the southern third of Cassubia. Those from the northern and northwestern sections were more heavily Germanized and ended up emigrating to Germany in great numbers. The land seems to be very sandy and poor in the southern third which certainly contributed to early emigration. Nevertheless the names listed in this study appear to this author to be names of character. There seem to be more names ending in “ski” than in other parts of Poland and the “ski” has the same connotation as “von” in German or “de” in French. Some connection in the distant past with nobility. Here is a short list of Kashub names from the district of Żarnowiec in northern Cassubia: Ladach, Bekish, Kafka, Ruc, Pieniążek, Hassa, Semerling, Kur, Studziński, Budnik, Langa, Lesnat, Dominik, Tesman, Patok, Hochszulc, Ratnat, Dytlawa, Derc, Parus, Formela, Necel, Wejer, Kunc, Reszke, Perszon, Kulovikowski. Here is a further list of northern Kashub names from the regions of Wejherowo and Puck noted down for me by Fr. Jan Perszon of the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland: Topp, Klein, Hinz, Loewnau, Lesner, Lademann, Groth, Konkel, Gronau, Kepke, Kortals, Kidas, Bigus, Ziemann, Siemann, Semmerling, Grubba, Buchholz, Stolz, Szulc, Dampc, Mielke, Miotk, Białk, Trybull, Szwabe, Wejher, Went, Wittbrodt, Wittstock, Willa, Kreft, Mudloff, Trella, Stowy, Bojke, Myller, Neumiller, Machol, Block, Westphal, Wica, Wiecki, Lkas, Klotzke, Riegel, Roszman, Szreder, Krieger, Hoeft, Hebel, Wicon, Perszon, Mach, Kunz, Trybowski, ˜elewski, Tempski, Pob—ocki, Magulski, Maszota, Sikora, Patelczyk, Ustavbowski, Browarczyk, Bladowski, Wojewski, Kędzora, Kwidziýski, Formella, Buja, Wicki, Nadolski, Wr—bel, Zelewski, Dzenisz, Labuda, Lorek, Luiski, Szlas, Wysiecki, Walkusz, Stenka, Baranowski, Dawison.

Lawrence R. Schultek, San Diego, Ca. in his book: “The Schultek Families of Europe and America”, lists the following Kashub names amongst his relatives, in-laws and acquaintances: Bebenek, Borchard, Cisewski, Czapiewski, Erdmanszyk (Erdman), Fliss, Hinz, Jakubowski, Kiedrowski, Kiedrowicz, Klopotek, Knopnik, Kosobucki, Kowalewski, Kozlowski, Kuklinski, Kulas, Leterski, Majkowski, Mashke (Maszke, Mazk), Orlikowski, Ostrowski, Peplinski, Rekowski, Rolbieski, Schultek, Stolz, Stoppa, Trador (Tredor), Waldoch, Wantoch, Wera, Wirkus, Wysocki, Zabrocki, Zblewski. Quite a few Kashub names have had variations with double letters in them. Polish words generally have only single consonants. If there are double letters, they both have to be pronounced. In perusing the parish records of Lipusz, I noticed that in 1889 the parish priest by the name of Zylla starts using double letters in name, e.g.: Kullas, Litterski, Guttowski, Pellowski, Ettmanski, Machutt. Fr. Stenzel in the late 1880’s seemed to germanize everything in the books in those years, even first names, e.g.: Franz; names of villages: Libbusch, Kalisch; family names where possible: e.g.: Maszk to Maschke. The name of the professional organists who were hired from outside and brought in to train the choir, play the organ, teach catechism and do other clerical duties in the early days of Wilno’s St. Stanislaus Church were: Edmund (Apolinary) Watkowski – 1897 -1908; John Kawa – 1908 – 1912 (His sister, Wanda Kurczynska came with him and served as cook and housekeeper for Msgr. Jankowski); Andrzej Skr~zyzowski – 1913 – 1914. The position of “organista” was a very important and honorable one in Polish parishes.