Early Surname Records

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  • In an incredible stroke of luck for those Novy Targ area family history researchers, there is a reference guide in existence that can lead to the earliest known records!


    This extraordinary book was published in 1970 by Jozef Bubak under the title of Nazwiska Ludnosci Dawnego Starostwa Nowotarskiego. Roughly translated, and if you can be more accurate feel free to let me know, is First Records (of the) Surnames (in the) old Sheriffdom of Nowy Targ.


    What makes this book so valuable to those of us researching in the is region is that except for a monastery this area was a royal preserve until roughly 1600 when it was opened officially for settlement. Mr. Bubak had an awful lot of time on his hands since he researched all the existing records in the town archives and churches in the area for the first listing of every surname in each. There is no detailed information but it does lead you of where to look and in what time period to begin!


    Mental Sanity Warning!

    Realize the source and people who were documenting this stuff the past 400 years! Many of these records were hand written by some fairly uneducated people writing down what some less educated and probably illiterate people were telling them! Many of the names were listed phonetically and then hundreds of years later a researcher spent hours looking at closely spaced, poorly hand written yellowed pages trying to make sense of it all! They went by the word roots to associate all the 'misspelled' names working put it all together.

    Also realize that surnames will change per the person! Examples of this are If the person in question was female many times an 'a' will be placed at the end of the name. If the person is of higher status, either by the community or themselves, 'ski' would be placed at the end while the rest of the family would still use the base name! Most names did not have a formalized accepted spelling until about mid 19th century!


    Now save yourself the effort of running down to your local Barnes & Nobles to pick up a copy because you are not going to find it. The book is entirely in Polish and it wasn’t a big seller there. Right now there are only a half dozen known copies in the United States; The U.C.L.A. library, the Library of Congress, The L.D.S Research library in Salt Lake City and mine for certain! I also know there is a copy in London and a few in Germany.


    So what I have here is excerpts of the surnames in the family lines from this book and hope that someday I can find someone to help go through those records to provide the details!