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Ski_MKE



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Post Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2022 4:01 pm      Post subject: Szarafiński
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The surname “Sharafinski” appears to have been “Szarafiński” before undergoing Americanization. Written records lead back to Western Prussia in the 1860s, specifically the towns of Osie and Drzycim in Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Numerous other versions of the name appear in local records… Serafinski, Sarafinski, Szarapinski, etc. Presumably some of these are just mis-read by the indexer, but maybe not. It has been suggested that this name probably started as “Serafin” or “Sarafin”, a religious/Christian reference. Surname maps indicate that Serafin/Sarafin are much more common, but concentrated in areas outside of northwest Poland. I’ve also wondered about the town near Bydgoszcz called Szaradowo… perhaps Szarafiński is borne of this location? Any ideas or perspectives are appreciated.
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Ski_MKE



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Post Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2022 7:49 pm      Post subject:
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Still hoping for help with this, if anyone has an idea.
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Sophia
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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 9:37 am      Post subject: Re: Szarafiński
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Ski_MKE wrote:
The surname “Sharafinski” appears to have been “Szarafiński” before undergoing Americanization. Written records lead back to Western Prussia in the 1860s, specifically the towns of Osie and Drzycim in Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Numerous other versions of the name appear in local records… Serafinski, Sarafinski, Szarapinski, etc. Presumably some of these are just mis-read by the indexer, but maybe not. It has been suggested that this name probably started as “Serafin” or “Sarafin”, a religious/Christian reference. Surname maps indicate that Serafin/Sarafin are much more common, but concentrated in areas outside of northwest Poland. I’ve also wondered about the town near Bydgoszcz called Szaradowo… perhaps Szarafiński is borne of this location? Any ideas or perspectives are appreciated.



It seems reasonable that the name Sharafinski started off as Serafiński, with the root "serafin" being "seraph" in English. If you have not yet come across it, you might be interested in this explanation of Polish names:
https://feefhs.org/sites/default/files/guide/Basic%20Explanation%20of%20Polish%20Surname%20Endings.pdf
Starting on page 6 is a section called "Surnames ending in SKI" and of particular interest is the explanation there of the ending -IŃSKI . I wonder whether the root of your surname is Seraf rather than Serafin.

The word "szara" means the color gray. As an adjective, its ending needs to match the gender of the noun it describes, so you have masculine szary, feminine szara, neuter szare; all mean gray. I think that is the likely root of the name of the town Szaradowo. There is probably no connection between Szaradowo and the surname you are researching.

Best regards,
Sophia
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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 10:56 am      Post subject: Re: Szarafiński
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Sophia wrote:
Ski_MKE wrote:
The surname “Sharafinski” appears to have been “Szarafiński” before undergoing Americanization. Written records lead back to Western Prussia in the 1860s, specifically the towns of Osie and Drzycim in Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Numerous other versions of the name appear in local records… Serafinski, Sarafinski, Szarapinski, etc. Presumably some of these are just mis-read by the indexer, but maybe not. It has been suggested that this name probably started as “Serafin” or “Sarafin”, a religious/Christian reference. Surname maps indicate that Serafin/Sarafin are much more common, but concentrated in areas outside of northwest Poland. I’ve also wondered about the town near Bydgoszcz called Szaradowo… perhaps Szarafiński is borne of this location? Any ideas or perspectives are appreciated.



It seems reasonable that the name Sharafinski started off as Serafiński, with the root "serafin" being "seraph" in English. If you have not yet come across it, you might be interested in this explanation of Polish names:
https://feefhs.org/sites/default/files/guide/Basic%20Explanation%20of%20Polish%20Surname%20Endings.pdf
Starting on page 6 is a section called "Surnames ending in SKI" and of particular interest is the explanation there of the ending -IŃSKI . I wonder whether the root of your surname is Seraf rather than Serafin.

The word "szara" means the color gray. As an adjective, its ending needs to match the gender of the noun it describes, so you have masculine szary, feminine szara, neuter szare; all mean gray. I think that is the likely root of the name of the town Szaradowo. There is probably no connection between Szaradowo and the surname you are researching.

Best regards,
Sophia


Hi,

It would be more accurate to say that the surname Szarafiński, Sarafin, Sarafinski, etc. all share the same root, Serafin. In the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions the Serafin are one of the choirs of angels. All three are derived from a Hebrew word. Since written Hebrew did not symbolize the vowels one fluent in the language could supply them in a text. However, a person less fluent in the language may choose incorrectly when supplying a vowel (like the variation between Serafin and Sarafin). William F. Hoffman in the 1998 edition of his Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings listed the following surnames as being derived from the Hebrew word: Sarafin, Sarafiński, Serafin, Serafiniak, Serafinowicz, Serafinowski, Serafiński, Szarafin, Szarafiński, and Szarafin. Szarafiński was the fourth most commonly used surname of the group. To me it would be more likely that Sharafinski was Anglicized directly from Szarafiński rather than from Serafiński as Sophia suggested. I seldom disagree with Sophia’s ideas but in this case I do. Sz, cz, rz combos usually were a problem for those who only spoke English and thus the substitution of sh which sounds like but isn’t the Polish sz.

As Sophis wrote, the root of Szaradowo is the adjective szary (gray) so I agree that it is most doubtful that there is any connection between the town and the surname of interest to you.

You mention that written records lead back to the villages of Osie and Drzycim in the 1860s. Do those docs include records from Europe or are they strictly from this side of the pond? Records like Census returns from the USA most likely account for the variations you’ve experienced. The informant gave the info verbally to the census enumerator and so the enumerator wrote what he heard. The name of the enumerator is found at the top of the census page. If the enumerator was Polish the spelling would probably be accurate but if not the chances of a correct spelling would be slim. The villages you mentioned are the sites of parish churches in Poland. In what was commonly called the German Partition during the 19th Century Catholic priests and Protestant (Lutheran) ministers submitted transcripts of the parish registers which until 1874 served as civil vital stats. After that year free standing civil registry offices were established and members of the clergy no longer were involved in the keeping of civil records. Immigrants often used the name of the village of the parish rather than the actual village where they were born when stating where they were from.

Since the written records refer to the two villages you mentioned there should be no reason to look farther afield at this point.

I hope that this answers your questions and is helpful to you.

Dave
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Ski_MKE



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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 10:59 am      Post subject:
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Thank you, Sophia. That surname article looks very interesting - I’ll definitely read it.

My first ancestor to immigrate has Szarafinski on his gravestone. Others subsequently modified the name, with one group using “Grayson”… presumably a direct translation. Serafin is a common Polish surname, but https://nazwiska-polskie.pl/ shows no results for the surname Seraf. In fact, Seraf appears to be an Algerian surname - https://forebears.io/surnames/seraf.
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Ski_MKE



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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 11:14 am      Post subject: Re: Szarafiński
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dnowicki wrote:
Sophia wrote:
Ski_MKE wrote:
The surname “Sharafinski” appears to have been “Szarafiński” before undergoing Americanization. Written records lead back to Western Prussia in the 1860s, specifically the towns of Osie and Drzycim in Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Numerous other versions of the name appear in local records… Serafinski, Sarafinski, Szarapinski, etc. Presumably some of these are just mis-read by the indexer, but maybe not. It has been suggested that this name probably started as “Serafin” or “Sarafin”, a religious/Christian reference. Surname maps indicate that Serafin/Sarafin are much more common, but concentrated in areas outside of northwest Poland. I’ve also wondered about the town near Bydgoszcz called Szaradowo… perhaps Szarafiński is borne of this location? Any ideas or perspectives are appreciated.



It seems reasonable that the name Sharafinski started off as Serafiński, with the root "serafin" being "seraph" in English. If you have not yet come across it, you might be interested in this explanation of Polish names:
https://feefhs.org/sites/default/files/guide/Basic%20Explanation%20of%20Polish%20Surname%20Endings.pdf
Starting on page 6 is a section called "Surnames ending in SKI" and of particular interest is the explanation there of the ending -IŃSKI . I wonder whether the root of your surname is Seraf rather than Serafin.

The word "szara" means the color gray. As an adjective, its ending needs to match the gender of the noun it describes, so you have masculine szary, feminine szara, neuter szare; all mean gray. I think that is the likely root of the name of the town Szaradowo. There is probably no connection between Szaradowo and the surname you are researching.

Best regards,
Sophia


Hi,

It would be more accurate to say that the surname Szarafiński, Sarafin, Sarafinski, etc. all share the same root, Serafin. In the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions the Serafin are one of the choirs of angels. All three are derived from a Hebrew word. Since written Hebrew did not symbolize the vowels one fluent in the language could supply them in a text. However, a person less fluent in the language may choose incorrectly when supplying a vowel (like the variation between Serafin and Sarafin). William F. Hoffman in the 1998 edition of his Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings listed the following surnames as being derived from the Hebrew word: Sarafin, Sarafiński, Serafin, Serafiniak, Serafinowicz, Serafinowski, Serafiński, Szarafin, Szarafiński, and Szarafin. Szarafiński was the fourth most commonly used surname of the group. To me it would be more likely that Sharafinski was Anglicized directly from Szarafiński rather than from Serafiński as Sophia suggested. I seldom disagree with Sophia’s ideas but in this case I do. Sz, cz, rz combos usually were a problem for those who only spoke English and thus the substitution of sh which sounds like but isn’t the Polish sz.

As Sophis wrote, the root of Szaradowo is the adjective szary (gray) so I agree that it is most doubtful that there is any connection between the town and the surname of interest to you.

You mention that written records lead back to the villages of Osie and Drzycim in the 1860s. Do those docs include records from Europe or are they strictly from this side of the pond? Records like Census returns from the USA most likely account for the variations you’ve experienced. The informant gave the info verbally to the census enumerator and so the enumerator wrote what he heard. The name of the enumerator is found at the top of the census page. If the enumerator was Polish the spelling would probably be accurate but if not the chances of a correct spelling would be slim. The villages you mentioned are the sites of parish churches in Poland. In what was commonly called the German Partition during the 19th Century Catholic priests and Protestant (Lutheran) ministers submitted transcripts of the parish registers which until 1874 served as civil vital stats. After that year free standing civil registry offices were established and members of the clergy no longer were involved in the keeping of civil records. Immigrants often used the name of the village of the parish rather than the actual village where they were born when stating where they were from.

Since the written records refer to the two villages you mentioned there should be no reason to look farther afield at this point.

I hope that this answers your questions and is helpful to you.

Dave


Thank you for the scholarly explanation, Dave. You mention that the root is likely Hebrew in origin. Do you suspect this is incidental, as in the original patriarch just “chose” this surname because of its religious connotation? Or do you think it implies that the original bearer held a certain faith… Jewish, Muslim, etc?

The records I refer to are on Geneteka, PTG, and Poznan Project. This surname line has been VERY difficult to research, because all variations and spellings of the surname appear to have been used over the years. I have seen the same couple, in the same village/parish, have their surname documented as Serafiński - Sarafiński - Szarafiński for three christenings in the span of five years. I’ve seen men and women with the surname documented one way at their christening and a different way at their marriage and/or death. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. It lends credence to the idea that all of these names mean the same thing, but it sure makes genealogy difficult.
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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 1:29 pm      Post subject: Re: Szarafiński
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Ski_MKE wrote:


Thank you for the scholarly explanation, Dave. You mention that the root is likely Hebrew in origin. Do you suspect this is incidental, as in the original patriarch just “chose” this surname because of its religious connotation? Or do you think it implies that the original bearer held a certain faith… Jewish, Muslim, etc?

The records I refer to are on Geneteka, PTG, and Poznan Project. This surname line has been VERY difficult to research, because all variations and spellings of the surname appear to have been used over the years. I have seen the same couple, in the same village/parish, have their surname documented as Serafiński - Sarafiński - Szarafiński for three christenings in the span of five years. I’ve seen men and women with the surname documented one way at their christening and a different way at their marriage and/or death. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. It lends credence to the idea that all of these names mean the same thing, but it sure makes genealogy difficult.


Hi,

The root, Serafin, is definitely Hebrew in origin. Of the 3 traditions I mentioned, Hebrew is the oldest since it predates the Christian and the Muslim traditions by many centuries. In regard to the belief in angles... not all angels are equal. Catholic tradition list 9 “choirs” of angels among which are the Seraphim/Serafin and the Cherubim (think of the cherubs which float around on Valentine Day cards). Cherubs are depicted as “cute” but seraphim/serafin were depicted as a burning flame. The whole question of angels is a bit strange. The word itself comes from Greek and was translated into Latin as “angelus”, which means “messenger” and in the ancient mindset they were thought to be divine messengers but they were not always recognized as such by the person whom they visited. Personally I find the entire concept rather strange. In the Middle Ages following the rise of the universities during the 13th Century some well known philosophers and theologians had a sort of nickname added to their title of “doctor”. To name a few, Thomas Aquinas was known as the Angelic Doctor, John Duns Scotus as the Subtle Doctor and Bonaventure was known as the Seraphic/Serafic Doctor.

The question of surname use among peasants in Poland is rather long and complex. It wasn’t until the late 18th Century that almost all Christian peasants had/used surnames and even well into the 19th Century surnames were mutable. (Jewish surnames are a whole different topic.) It wasn’t exactly like a person sat down one day and said “Hey, I think I’ll be Szarafiński from now on.” If that were the case why would a person want to use a surname like Szczur (Rat) or Pająk (Spider)? But how surnames came to be used is a topic for another place and time. In western Poland like in Kujawsko-Pomorskie the three main faith traditions were Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish. Muslims were pretty much limited to the eastern provinces of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Basically, you can be pretty certain that religious affiliation played no role in the choice of surname for your ancestors but how that choice came about is not always clear, although in some instances it is very clear. Here is an example from one of my ancestors. During the last quarter of the 18th century and throughout the 19th Century the family was known as Kucharczyk (Cook). A record from the 2nd quarter of that century records the parents in a baptismal record without a surname but the Latin text makes it perfectly clear where Kucharczak came from. The father of the child is recorded as Andreas coquus aulici—Andrzej, the cook of the manor house. It is no surprise that later records give him and his descendants the surname Kucharczyk. Too bad that it can’t always be that clear and easy.

As far as spellings are concerned...During the 2nd half of the 19th Century the German Partition had the highest literacy rate of the 3 Partitions. In some villages between 50% and 60% of the inhabitants were literate. But that still leaves 40% to 50% who were illiterate. Priests recorded surnames as they heard them more often than not. In the 3 variations you gave it all comes down to clarity of enunciation in the first syllable of the surname. Different degrees of clarity produce the different spellings you encountered.

Wishing you continued success,

Dave
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Ski_MKE



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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2022 2:28 pm      Post subject: Re: Szarafiński
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dnowicki wrote:
Ski_MKE wrote:


Thank you for the scholarly explanation, Dave. You mention that the root is likely Hebrew in origin. Do you suspect this is incidental, as in the original patriarch just “chose” this surname because of its religious connotation? Or do you think it implies that the original bearer held a certain faith… Jewish, Muslim, etc?

The records I refer to are on Geneteka, PTG, and Poznan Project. This surname line has been VERY difficult to research, because all variations and spellings of the surname appear to have been used over the years. I have seen the same couple, in the same village/parish, have their surname documented as Serafiński - Sarafiński - Szarafiński for three christenings in the span of five years. I’ve seen men and women with the surname documented one way at their christening and a different way at their marriage and/or death. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. It lends credence to the idea that all of these names mean the same thing, but it sure makes genealogy difficult.


Hi,

The root, Serafin, is definitely Hebrew in origin. Of the 3 traditions I mentioned, Hebrew is the oldest since it predates the Christian and the Muslim traditions by many centuries. In regard to the belief in angles... not all angels are equal. Catholic tradition list 9 “choirs” of angels among which are the Seraphim/Serafin and the Cherubim (think of the cherubs which float around on Valentine Day cards). Cherubs are depicted as “cute” but seraphim/serafin were depicted as a burning flame. The whole question of angels is a bit strange. The word itself comes from Greek and was translated into Latin as “angelus”, which means “messenger” and in the ancient mindset they were thought to be divine messengers but they were not always recognized as such by the person whom they visited. Personally I find the entire concept rather strange. In the Middle Ages following the rise of the universities during the 13th Century some well known philosophers and theologians had a sort of nickname added to their title of “doctor”. To name a few, Thomas Aquinas was known as the Angelic Doctor, John Duns Scotus as the Subtle Doctor and Bonaventure was known as the Seraphic/Serafic Doctor.

The question of surname use among peasants in Poland is rather long and complex. It wasn’t until the late 18th Century that almost all Christian peasants had/used surnames and even well into the 19th Century surnames were mutable. (Jewish surnames are a whole different topic.) It wasn’t exactly like a person sat down one day and said “Hey, I think I’ll be Szarafiński from now on.” If that were the case why would a person want to use a surname like Szczur (Rat) or Pająk (Spider)? But how surnames came to be used is a topic for another place and time. In western Poland like in Kujawsko-Pomorskie the three main faith traditions were Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish. Muslims were pretty much limited to the eastern provinces of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Basically, you can be pretty certain that religious affiliation played no role in the choice of surname for your ancestors but how that choice came about is not always clear, although in some instances it is very clear. Here is an example from one of my ancestors. During the last quarter of the 18th century and throughout the 19th Century the family was known as Kucharczyk (Cook). A record from the 2nd quarter of that century records the parents in a baptismal record without a surname but the Latin text makes it perfectly clear where Kucharczak came from. The father of the child is recorded as Andreas coquus aulici—Andrzej, the cook of the manor house. It is no surprise that later records give him and his descendants the surname Kucharczyk. Too bad that it can’t always be that clear and easy.

As far as spellings are concerned...During the 2nd half of the 19th Century the German Partition had the highest literacy rate of the 3 Partitions. In some villages between 50% and 60% of the inhabitants were literate. But that still leaves 40% to 50% who were illiterate. Priests recorded surnames as they heard them more often than not. In the 3 variations you gave it all comes down to clarity of enunciation in the first syllable of the surname. Different degrees of clarity produce the different spellings you encountered.

Wishing you continued success,

Dave


Thanks again, Dave. I’ll be on the lookout for a surname-less baptismal record that describes one of the parents spontaneously bursting into flames Laughing

Speaking of eastern (well, southeastern) provinces, the Serafin surname is most densely concentrated in Podkarpackie. Is there a chance that holders of the surname migrated to the northwest, before or around the time records starting being kept, and added a -ski at some point along the way?
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