11 January 2014

Surname Saturday: Eastern European Surnames

I came across an article this week title "Jewish Surnames Explained" by Bennett Muraskin and wanted to pass it along today. The article is quite a good reference, not just for those of Jewish descent but all Eastern Europeans.

Muraskin explains the evolution of "patronymics" and "matronymics." These are the most common surnames. Place names are the next common group of surnames, then occupational names. The article also covers religious names and personal traits as well as insulting names, animal names, Hebrew and Yiddish names, and made up names.

Regardless of your ethnic background, the article is a good read. My husband is part German (big surprise right with Eckman as a last name)! One of his ancestral surnames is Kirchner. Muraskin mentions the name as an occupational name relating to tailoring. Specifically he says: "Futterman/Kirshner/Kushner/Peltz — furrier".  Interesting that when John (yes really Johannes) Kirchner came to Lancaster he ended up working for the railroad, at least that is where he was working when he was killed.

Personally, as a Russian/Ukrainian I always questioned the background of my ancestral surnames, especially Hruszczak, Matys, Kurenda and Skrabalek. I have NO clue what their origin is ... yet!

Click HERE to go to Muraskin's article.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.