olish names are a bit enigmatic for those of us native English speakers of the Polish diaspora. Now let me hasten to add that Stanczyk is not of the Jewish faith, but is Catholic, but none-the-less there was a large Polish diaspora to many parts of the English speaking world, particularly my, corner America. Like any good Polish-American, I knew that our name meant, ‘Elijah’ like the prophet. This knowledge was deeply rooted in me by my Busia (grandmother), who used to show me her copy of the bible, which was of course written in Polish. Sure enough, in the Old Testament, amongst the books of the prophets was the story of Elijah and it was indeed written as ‘Eliasz’.
My family is from the Russian partition of Poland in the old wojewodztwo (or gubernia) of Kielce in the villages surrounding the Biechów and Pacanów parishes. So in the years from about 1868 to 1918 the church records were written in Russian using the Cyrillic alphabet. In Russian, Eliasz looks like:
Елиашъ Елияшъ Элиашъ
Over the years, I have found the ELIASZ name written as Eliasz, Eljasz, Elijasz, Elyasz, and Heliasz. Those are just the correct spellings. Now I know what you are thinking, how is ELIASZ Polish. It is only six letters long and half of those letters are vowels. This proponderance of vowels is very un-Polish. Any way, I was treated to a little lesson by one of my favorite Genealogy authors, lecturer, group members: Fred Hoffman. Fred is the Polish Surname guy and linguist extraordinaire in the Yahoo Group -> Polish Geniuses .
In an earlier post, this jester wrote about Ann Faulkner and how she found my great-uncle Jan (John) Eliasz death documents. Besides one entry written as Elijasz, it also listed my great grandparents names in particular my great-grandmother’s maiden name. It also listed a new great-uncle: Thomas (undoubtable Tomasz) Eliasz. Now flash forward a couple of weeks and I returned to a Polish web site: Nasza Klasa (“Our Class”), a kind of Polish Reunion.com — at least it is a social network site ala Facebook or MySpace. I had given up on Nasza Klasa due to my rather limited Polish language skills (Trojhe rozumiem po polskiu). I had managed to find Eliasz and Heliasz in Poland and near to my ancestral villages but nobody in my direct line. Well because of Fred Hoffman mentioning to me about consonantal Y’s and such polysyllabic linguistic jargon and due to the data Ann Faulkner had found, it finally dawned on me to search for Elijasz. Now I had never pursued this as I thought it was just a Russification of our correct name ELIASZ and surely after 1918, my family would have returned to either ELIASZ or HELIASZ and left that particular Russian transliteration in the proverbial dust.
Needless to say I was wrong. Recently, two Dorotas emailed me at Nasza Klasa. Dorota Blome (Elijasz) and Dorota Turner (Elijasz) both from Pacanów roots. These two lovely women are using friends and family to help me locate family records and are actually sending me scanned pictures of relatives. I think one or both of these may be direct line cousins of mine. Now in an even better chance of luck, I happened to meet Elzbieta Heliasz. Now Elzbieta’s family is from Biechów parish, but she speaks no English. Old Stanczyk speaks trojhe po Polskiu. Via google translators and such I was able to trade some emails and I think I determined she is from a line HELIASZ/ELIASZ that are cousins to my grandfather (not direct relatives, but close). Well fortunately, Elzbieta has a very clever son, Łukasz, who speaks pretty good English. Well this lovely duo of near ELIASZ relatives from the parish of the earlier ELIASZ family that may have seeded Pacanów ELIASZ family lines. They actually went to the Biechów priest and retrieved my grandparents marriage documents! Now I am not certain what marriage documents they found or are sending, but the excitement builds. It turns out that my Pacanów Joseph Eliasz and my Biechów Walerya Leszczyńka got married in Biechów, not Pacanów. This is not that surprising, since it is customary to marry in the bride’s village — but it is hardly definitive as I have counter examples in my family tree.
Well it is 102 years later, but here is to my grandparents and their marriage (28-January-1907) in Poland, without which I would not be writing these words today from America. Go to Klasa America, Nasza Klasa may hold the ancestors of your family that did NOT come over from the old country. Think Globally and work on the Internet.
May God Bless my new found Heliasz and Elijasz relatives for their kindness.