History of the Palevich Family Name
 

One of the unintended side-effects of choosing the domain name palevich.com is that I've become a center for questions regarding the history of the Palevich family name.

To start things off, here's my dad's report on the history of the name in America:

John Edward Palevich

All Paleviches in America may well be related, at least distantly, because the name is so seldom encountered. And this is also the case in Poland, where I was stationed (1963-66) as a consular officer and interviewed literally thousands of Poles. There was one listing in the Warsaw telephone directory, for a female opera singer as I recall (Poles often list their professions), and once I actually interviewed a visa applicant who had the name. She was from the Baltic coast area, married but clearly intending to leave her husband about whom she did not want to talk - so I was unable to learn anything about her relatives by marriage. Moreover, I have had rather close contacts with large numbers of Poles (I have traveled there about six or eight times since 1990) and they often ask about the name and whether it is Polish. Once, however, I did meet an individual who had a similar name and claimed that it is actually Byelorussian, not Polish, in origin. (It's important to recall, however, that one's definition of Polish, Byelorussian, etc. depends on exactly where the border was on any given day - and it certainly has changed frequently /as well as violently/ in that part of the world).

My grandfather died many years before I was born in 1934 and in the absence of the above-noted family tree I am ashamed to admit that I cannot recall his first name. Family lore has it that he immigrated from the Suwalki area near Bialystok (that is a mixed Polish-Lithuanian-Byelorussian region), going first to England where he met and married in Liverpool a Polish girl who was originally from the area of Poznan. They ended up in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania where he became a coal miner - exactly where all they lived in the Wyoming Valley (Wilkes-Barre - Scranton), I'm not certain, but during my lifetime my grandmother and most of her descendents lived in Kingston, where my father was born.

[This is in regards to a request for information by someone else. -- jhp]

The names of Walter (Vaclav - or Waclaw) and Mike (Michal) do not ring a bell with me nor does any association with Erie. That doesn't prove anything, of course, because my parents' generation typically was interested in being Americans, scoffed at the language and customs of the old country, and left genealogy to the WASPs, DAR, etc. What a shame, really, as I would like to be able to track backwards in this area.

As you probably know, the original Polish spelling of the name would be PALEWICZ, so it was not too badly garbled, I guess, by the Irish-American or whatever immigration officials at Ellis Island. (I assume the family entered there - have you been able to check it?) I think my grandparents probably arrived in the States in the late 19th century because my father and his siblings were all born here just after the turn of the century.

If you are not familiar with it, I would like to draw your attention to a book entitled Korzenie Polskie - Polish Roots, written by Rosemary A. Chorzempa, published in 1993 by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202. My wife picked up a copy at the National Archives bookshop in Washington; it costs $17.95, is extremely readable, and is packed with a lot of historical and cultural information in addition to tips on tracing Polish lineage. I highly recommend it.