Tag Archives: surnames

Expanding the family tree


It is always fun and exciting expanding the family tree. I have talked with cousins from around the world, from Australia to Germany. That is often thanks to this very blog. People find my notes on so-and-so, and then write to me.

Recently I learned about a man named Milczewski — Zygmunt Milczewski. It is such a rare surname that I am sure he is a distant cousin, so I am working on learning more about him and his work.

I have a Google Alert set up for that name. Every time the Google bots find something with that name included, I am alerted via email. I highly recommend using Google Alerts.

I am particularly interested in the ethnic diversity of where my ancestors lived in Germany, near the Polish border. There were many Jews, Poles, and Kashubians living among the Germans, or Germanized people, in the Bütow area, where my great-grandparents lived before emigrating to America.

One of the questions I want to answer: Is the Milczewski name German or Polish? I am guessing that it is Slavic and that through the years some with the name became more and more Germanized, including a few of my ancestors.


Embracing my Irish heritage


Besides the potato famine and the resulting hordes of immigrants, Irish history is mostly neglected in America, despite the fact that many have some Irish blood in them.

In 1916, a rebellion began, or rather continued, and although successfully repressed by the Brits, independence finally came six years later, in 1922. The Irish, including some of my relatives, had been fighting the English for centuries. Some still are.

One branch of the family, on my paternal grandmother’s side, arrived in America in 1790. But when an insurrection against English rule began in 1798, some of the boys returned, itching to help in the fight, despite having to make the perilous transatlantic crossing yet again.


A Hollywood Exec Named Fromkess


While browsing video on YouTube the other day I came across a film directed by George C. Scott. It’s not a good film, despite coming on the heels of his Oscar-worthy performance as Patton.

It’s called Rage, and based on a real-life incident. The best thing about the picture are the posters. The poster imagery is fantastic.

fromkessThe only reason I am writing about it is because of an executive producer of the film. His name is Leon Fromkess. I noticed the name on the credits and made note of it because my mother’s maiden name is Fromke.

I got to thinking about the origin of the Fromkess surname. Is there any connection? It’s doubtful, I think, but I like investigating such curiosities.


Playing Around with Wolfram|Alpha

When I first heard of Wolfram|Alpha, in a news story, the search engine tool sounded pretty cool. And it is.

For some reason I don’t recall, I found myself at the site and decided to experiment with various keywords to see what results were returned. There may have been a link to something in one of my Google Alerts.1

My first search was Bytów, the town where my maternal great grandparents were married. It was a German town prior to World War II, but has been Polish since. Among the information given is a map of where it is located within Poland, the current weather, population figures, and nearby cities and airports. A chart shows a steady decline in population since 1999. The Baltic Sea is 36 miles to the northwest.

Searching for Pomorskie, the province where Bytów is located,  didn’t yield much. I decided to see what was available for Berlin, London, Dublin and Paris. Some of the city nicknames are cool. For example, London’s is The Big Smoke.

Then I moved onto surnames: Hill, Hay, Lentz, Wolf and Wolfe. Some, such as Fromke, Boal2, and Van Note, don’t have anything within the Wolfram universe. For some word searches, Scrabble scores (varying based on American or British spellings) and anagrams are given.

I then started playing around with Christian and complete names, starting with my own, Aaron Hill. Other neat features include having a list of people associated with a particular town or city and famous people with a given name. I searched for famous folks named Aaron.

I wanted to see what popped up when I typed James Hill, the name of the patriarch of the Hill family.

Moving onto to geographic place names, I went from Colo, Iowa to just plain Iowa to Watertown, South Dakota and Lake Preston, South Dakota, ending on South Dakota.

I then stumbled upon the examples pages. The ones that interest me the most and will likely be the most useful to me are: Human Genome, Words and Linguistics, Places and Geography, and People and History.


1. I’ve since remembered that a link to a page on Pommern, a place in Germany, was in my inbox, and, ever curious, I clicked on it. I was hoping it would have something to with Pommern the province, but Wolfram doesn’t have much on the region, even using the word Pomerania, merely giving the apparent dates of its existence, from 1013 AD to 1806, the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. However, I don’t think it is accurate. The end of Pomerania really should be placed in 1945, after the collapse of Nazi Germany.

2. There is a fish with the name boal.