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Polish Language/Geneology research - I'm stuck


I've done almost everything I can from where I live in Salt Lake LDS Micro films.  The rest I have to make my way next year to Kielce.  

This is my problem.  My grandmother's first husband's name was Alexander Stencil.  I know he was a Professor.  My grandmother lived in Weirzbnick, Poland  which is Ilza,  now Keilce when she was born in 1910. Any info you can send my way. Would be helpful.  Name origin?  What would be a job of Professor be Pre World War II?

Also my grandmother's mom's maiden name is tricky as well.  Her last name was Feldpicer or Feldpitcher?  I can't find her either.  She married my great-grandfather Szuch.  Also same area as above.  

Many many thanks for any help.

Dear Jenn

added April 3:
I have found that some points were not presented clearly by me - so please find somme additions in the text,

There are many questions in your request.

And several mistakes as well. For example you write "Wierzbnick" whereas it should be "Wierzbnik"; and your write "Keilce" instead of "Kielce".

> My grandmother lived in Weirzbnick, Poland  which is Ilza,  now Keilce

This sentence contains many erros (apart form typos).

It's as if you had written "lived in Coeur d'Alene, USA   which is Anaconda,   now Boise".
(If you look at the map of Idaho and Montana you will catch the analogy).

There are three localities called "Wierzbnik" in Poland,
but I have to admit that the 2nd and 3rd are hardly probable before 1945.

(NB. I am giving links to Polish Wikipedia, as not everywhere there ar the corresponding English articles, or the Polish are more exhaustive; please follow the links to the English Wikipedia therefrom yourself).

The 1st Wierzbnik mentioned above

is now part of the city of Starachowice

which is a city (seat of the Starachowice poviat = county) in the north eastern part of the Świętokrzyskie (or Holy Cross) region

the capital city of which is the city of Kielce,

but Starachowice is located 50 km (35 miles) north-east from Kielce.

Wierzbnik is not Iłża (nor part of Iłża),

which is a municipality (small town with rural areas) located 30 km (20 miles) north-west from Starachowice, in another region of Poland, namely Mazowieckie (Mazovia), with the capital in Warszawa, county of Radom.

added April 3:
it means: Iłża is in the Radom county which in turn is within the mazovia region

And because you share with me the information you possess in a very scarce way, I doubt if I can be of great help.

Have you checked Ellis Island registers online for the original spelling of their surnames? (There are errors in Ellis Island as well, all surnames are handwritten the way the immigration officers heard them, but often they are still closer to the original spelling then the later forms used in registries, in schools, at work, or on cemeteries' stones deep in the USA).

1) I will start with your great-grandfather Szuch.

A) Szuch is one of the surnames used by the German (Saxon) settlers of the XVth-XVIth century in Southern Poland . They were peasants who mostly became polonized by the beginning of the XVIIIth century.  

B) Szuch is also a well known family of Polish gardeners, architects of Saxonian origing (from Dresden in Germany). The original spelling was "Schuch" but as they quickly assimilated to Poland, the family later on have changed the spelling to "Szuch" (the same pronunciation [SHUKH], remember that the European "ch" is pronounced like in German "Bach" or Scottish "Loch", not like in "church").
see; the Polish Wikipedia

His name is given to one of the important streets in the centre of Warsaw, Aleja Szucha, where the Ministry of National Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and parts of the Offices of the Prime Minister and of the Ministry of Administration (Interior) are located along with several foreign embassies, including the Nunciature of the Holy See.

"Szucha" is just the Polish masculine Genitive (compare English "Shuch's").

The present day repartition of the Szuch family mambers in Poland (cenzus 2001):
Part of the family keeps the original spelling

added April 3:
If you folow the links in the bottom of the webpages linked above you will also find present day settelement of the Schuchs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

You may check "Szuch" in the next issue of the "Polski Słownik Biograficzny" (Polish Biographical Dictionary), when it appears; the issue 198 (vol. 48 pt. 3), published 2013, ends with "Szofman"; it will contain the following information:

[3442]. Szuch zob. Schuch {it means - see: Schuch, for the earlier famous members of the family, bearing the German spelling of their surname}
[2539]. Szuch Aleksander (1893-1990), legionista; żołnierz : WP : 1920 : ZWZ : AK;
więzień : Pawiak
{this will be a biogram of Aleksander Szuch, who was a Polish soldier (officer?) since 1920, during the IInd world war in conspiracy against the Germans (ZWZ; AK = Land Army), imprisoned by the German Gestapo in Pawiak prison in Warsaw}

Information taken from:
 Menu item: Planowane hasła = Future articles

see also: Poprzednie zeszyty PSB = Past issues

Volume 36 contained the information about the other Schuchs, but about whom precisely, I cannot tell you (as I am now out of Poland, and the website above begins with the issue 172 vol. 42 pt. 1). You may also try this dictionary for "Stencel" (issue 178, vol. 43 pt. 3), there is: Stencel Maria (1900-1985), pielęgniarka [a nurse].

Good university libraries in the USA should have this dictionary.

Polish Wikipedia ( also gives:, a writer, translating books from Swedish, e.g. the novels for children by Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson. - Polish independence activist, war hero (the one mentioned in PSB) née Szuch, his daughter, also a war hero

other members of the family (with little information thereupon)

Marian von Börtzell-Szuch, Polish Consul in Goeteborg (Sweden), see under: AND

I am certain about the facts given above, I will not give a penny for the most of the information given in
- it seems too fantastic (Mongolian origin, Chingiz Khan, Hungarian settlement, Oil fields in Baku shared with Nobel etc.; also Polish biographical resources do not mention the aristocratic status of the Schuch/Szuch family). It is probably a fake invention after the personal story of the modern Hungarian handball player Timuzsin Schuch:

added April 3:
for my comment upon these informations, and those below as well, read the Talk page to this English Wikipedia article.

The surname is absolutely of German origin, and the original (medieval) form was "Schumacher" meaning "shoe-maker" (absolutely a not aristocratic occupation).

The "von Börtzell–Szuch" branch of the family seemingly obtained the nobelty - but no clear information is known when and where and under what circumstances ( and - see the red links) - probably by adoption to the von Börtzell family.

There is also a teenager book series "Dzienniki Ani Szuch" (Ania Schuch's Diaries) by Katarzyna Majgier,,
but this is probably out of the scope of your research.

added April 3:
It seems that Ania (= little Annie) Szuch here is a fictional hero, yet one may ask why Katarzyna Majgier has chosen such a surname to her hero?

2) Now to your great-grandmother. The spelling "Feldpitcher" is simply impossible in this part of the world. The sound of English "ch" (in church) is rendered in several ways in Cebtral Europe (Polish and Kashubian: cz and ć or c (before i), German: tsch, Hungarian: cs, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Latvian and Lithuanian: č, Croatian and Lusatian (Sorbian): č and ć, Romani (Gypsy): ć, Romanian and Italian: c (before i or e), Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Serbian ч, Yiddish טש , but never tch (as in French or sometimes in English).

NB. In fact, Polish and Croatian cz/č and ć are two different sounds, yet somehow similar both to the English "ch" (the English ch is pronounced between the two). The German "tsch" / Yiddish "

added April 3:
The sentence above remained not finished: it should go:
The German "tsch" / Yiddish  טש , is pronounced like the Polish "hard" (i.e. postalveolar) "cz", not like the Polish "soft" (i.e. palatal) "ć".

We have to exclude "Feldpiczer" and "Feldpitscher"  (to have the sound of "ch") - as no such surname is encountered either in Poland, or in Germany/Austria nowadays.

NB. In the line above and below the first spelling is Polish - the second one is German, as the name is certainly of German of Jewish (Yiddhish) origin (Yiddish being a Germanic language of the Jews).

Out of  "Feldpicer" / "Feldpizer" / "Feldpitzer" / "Feldpitser" (to have the sound of "ts")
only the first one is still encountered in Poland.

This means that the original German spelling would be "Feldpützer" and the surname was Yiddish. Even the original meaning "field-cleaner" shows that it had to be a Jewish surname, as the German, Austrian and Russian authorities in the XIXth century (also in the partitioned Poland of that time) were giving mocking surnames to the Jews, following the list established by one Prussian official, whose name should remain forgotten forever.

German "ü" being pronounced in Yiddish and Polish like "i", and in the Russia-dominated part of Poland in the end of XIXth century all Jewish surnames were given the Cyrillic spelling according to their Yiddish pronunciation from the Hebrew script, and subsequently their Latin spelling was made after the Cyrillic one, according to the the Polish rules of orthography. The German names (originallly written with Latin letters), that is the surnames of the German minority, kept their original spelling even in the Russia-dominated part of Poland. The Jewish surnames in the Germany/Austria dominated regions kept their German spelling.

None of the surnames mentioned above is encountered in Germany and Austria, but there were still 2 persons of that surname in Łódź during the 2001 census.

Łódź was a big centre of mixed Jewish-German-Polish-Russian population since ca. 1850 till 1943. Maybe there are more relatives in Israel, if they survived the Holocaust.

It does not mean that your great-grandmother was still Jewish, she might have converted to Christianity (Calvinism or Lutheranism) before marrying your great-grandfather, which was quite a frequent situation in XIXth century of beginning of the XXth century (you have written me nothing about their or your religion). Even the whole family might have assimilated this way.

3) Now the first one mentioned by you. Your grandfather, if I guess well. "Stencil" is not a Polish (nor German, or Jewish) surname. My first idea was to think that his surname was simply translated from Polish to English (Polish "szablon, wzór, matryca" = English "stencil"), but such surnames don't exist.

While pronouncing the surname aloud (a good way to hear the possible phonetical associations) it came to me that it might be a misspelling of the German surname "Stenzel", and having checked the 2001 census data I can see that you can easily meet it (in the German spelling) in Poland, along with the surnames "Stencel" and "Sztencel" (in Polish spelling),
- the first (original) one "Stenzel" pronounced either [STENtsel] (the Polish way) or [SHTENtsel] (the German way)
- the second one "Stencel" - pronounced only [STENtsel]
- the third one "Sztencel" - pronounced only [SHTENtsel] (the Polish spelling adapted to keep the original German pronunciation)

added April 3:
in the paragraph above I have added a few words to make it more clear)


On the bottom of these three pages you may find the links to te present day repartition of these surnames in Germany (Jak bardzo rozpowszechnione jest Twoje nazwisko w Niemczech?), Austria and Switzerland.

> Name origin?


> What would be a job of Professor be Pre World War II?

I don't understand your question. "Professor" since ever has meant "teacher", maybe not in the primary education, but certainly in the secondary and tertiary education. Since there were no tertiary schools in Kielce before 1939, he was probably teaching at some secondary school.




added April 3:
PS. I know that my style of writing such things is really a bit chaotic, sometimes the sentences ar ungrammatical, there are often some typos (but I hope, not in th crucial words) - but you need to remember that I am writing as I am thinking/researching/finding the information for you. This is not a paper to be published, only some clues and hints. I hope you can manage with it. If however soemthing is completrely unclear, you can always write a follow up question asking me to explain certain point(s).

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Maciej St. Zięba


I am native Polish and from time to time I teach Polish to foreigners. I know (passively of actively) more than 15 other languages - so I can answer many questions concerning Polish grammar, pronounciation, spelling, etymology and usage - as compared to English, French, German, Russian, Dutch, Esperanto or Norwegian. Also questions concerning other Slavic languages, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, or general linguistics, especially scripts (writing systems and transcriptions) - are welcome.


Teaching English, French, and Esperanto to Poles, Polish to foreigners, teaching Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese, Classical Chinese and Tibetan. Tour Guide in English, French, Russian and German. Former President of the Regional Examination Committee for Tourist Guides (English and French)(1999-2005).

Polish Oriental Society (since 1979); International Association of Buddhist Studies (since 1986); Klingon Language Institute (since 1986); Learned Society of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (since 1989); Polish Philosophical Association (since 1997); Universala Esperanto-Asocio (since 1978).

Books: "Origin of the World According to Rigveda" (Montreal 1996); "Our River Bug. Creating Conditions for Development of the Border Areas of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus through Enhancement and Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage" (Lublin 2008); "Migration - a Challenge to the 21st century" (Lublin 2008); "Migracja zarobkowa do Woch" (Job migration to Italy) (Lublin 2008); more than 100 articles in "Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii" (Universal Encyclopedia od Philosophy) vol. 1-10 (Lublin 2000-2009); many more in Polish, some of them available online, see: here and here (a list up to 2012.

Studying philosophy at Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) 1976-81; PhD in Philosophy (1989). Having learned languages in Gdansk and Gdynia (Russian, Esperanto, Latin, English - International Bacalaureate), Lublin (KUL - French, German, Dutch, Sanskrit, Latin, Ancient Greek; UMCS - Chinese, Japanese; elsewhere - Esperanto, Spanish, Italian), Paris (IIAP - French; INALCO - Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese; Sorbonne - Sanskrit), Asker (Norwegian, while working in a kindergarten!), Montreal (McGill - Chinese); Rome and Venice (Italian); Taichung, Taiwan (Chinese), Shimla, India (sanskrit). Self-taught: Slavic languages (other than Polish and Russian), Hungarian, Korean, Vietnamese, Klingon and several other.

Awards and Honors
2012 Golden Medal of Civil Service of Poland; 2012-13 Taiwan Fellowship - Tunghai University (Taichung)

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