My boring ancestors.

naming a child - ancestors to modern

during baptism

Why do I consider my ancestors boring? Because I am frustrated. And I am frustrated because my ancestors took a family tradition to a whole new level! It goes like this:

An unusual name in a family tree. Once we have seen it, we hit gold. I think everybody know this feeling! Sheer joy – everybody but me that is!

I am dealing with very stubborn ancestors on pretty much any branch of my family tree. I was prepared to have a lot of the same surnames, but nothing prepared me for the first names bonanza!

Just as a taste: my mum’s name is Maria. She had three brothers; the oldest named Marian (can you guess this is a male form of the same name?). He was the son of Jan who was a son of Marian. This older Marian’s father was called Paweł Tomasz or Tomasz Paweł or Tomasz or Paweł depending on a source I am looking at, but he had a brother and a son called Jan. His father name was Jakub, but Jakub’s father was called Stanisław and so is another of my mum’s brothers. The third brother is called Henryk and so is my grandfather’s brother. Are you confused yet? So am I; and so was the post office at times delivering letters to my uncle and great uncle who used to live in the same village. This is just one branch of my family. It should be mentioned here that my great-grandfather Marian had five brothers. They had quite a lot of sons between them and acted like there were only about ten possible names to use… The name giving business became a family joke when every time one of my great uncles was asked about a name chosen for his new grandson (and he has a few) he used to answer: “there already is one like that”.

I am not even going to try and explain the “fun” I had with another branch of my tree called Stępień and Stępień-Drzazga. Lots of kids in every generation and very little name variety. To the point where Józef Stępień was marrying Józefa Stępień, both from the same village and not related!

In a moment of frustration when my FTM software would ask: “This is the 7th Jan Kominek. Are you sure this is not the same person?” I did a little bit of statistics. There are just over 1300 individuals on my tree. Roughly half men half women. Have a look at the names and percentages in the table below and try to understand my frustration.

Adam 13 1.93
Andrzej/Jędrzej 26 3.85
Antoni 10 1.48
Franciszek 33 4.89
Grzegorz 10 1.48
Henryk 7 1.04
Jakub 15 2.22
Jan 54 8.00
Józef 48 7.11
Kacper 5 0.74
Kamil 6 0.89
Karol 7 1.04
Kazimierz 14 2.07
Krzysztof 10 1.48
Maciej 9 1.33
Marcin 18 2.67
Marian 7 1.04
Mateusz 14 2.07
Michał 21 3.11
Mikołaj 11 1.63
Paweł 22 3.26
Piotr 20 2.96
Stanisław 44 6.52
Sylwester 5 0.74
Szymon 9 1.33
Tadeusz 6 0.89
Tomasz 26 3.85
Walenty 12 1.78
Wawrzyniec 10 1.48
Wincenty 17 2.52
Wojciech 20 2.96
Zygmunt 5 0.74
overall 79.11%
Agata 5 0.80
Agnieszka 39 6.24
Aleksandra 8 1.28
Anna 36 5.76
Antonina 6 0.96
Apolonia 7 1.12
Barbara 14 2.24
Elżbieta 9 1.44
Ewa 11 1.76
Franciszka 19 3.04
Helena 14 2.24
Jadwiga 13 2.08
Józefa 22 3.52
Katarzyna 48 7.68
Magdalena 15 2.4
Małgorzta 15 2.4
Maria 19 3.04
Marianna 111 17.76
Róza/Rozalia 9 1.44
Salomea 8 1.28
Teresa 9 1.44
Wiktoria 9 1.44
Zofia 20 3.2
overall 74.56%

So as you can see, although there are over 400 different male names and over 300 female names known in Poland my family mostly used a fraction of that. It does becomes a problem as I have about 20 females called Marianna Stępień, 7 males named Józef Stępień, 7 Jan Kominek, 7 Jan Siudak, 6 Jan Stępień and so on.

Oh, how I longed for a really whacky name! Have to say I did came across one -Anelm- I was overjoyed! But soon after, I discovered that in a day to day life he was using the name Józef. Rather common among my family as the table above proves. So then he was Anzelm one time but Józef another what only made my life harder instead of easier! How frustrating.

On the other hand, there is only one other Jolanta on my tree (same generation than me and related by marriage). So in a way very unusual name. And it saddens me that I don’t belong to a long line of name sharing women… Guess no pleasing me, is it?

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