The origins of the surname Wadecki
The Wadecki (pronounced â€œVaddetskeeâ€) surname is rather unusual in Poland and at the same time typicaly polish. Unusual in the sense that only about 600 persons use it in Poland (with a population of nearly 40 millions it almost makes it rare.). Itâ€™s typical polish in the sense that the â€œckiâ€ ending of the surname (pronounced â€œtskiâ€) really is a polish peculiarity. The more common â€œskiâ€-ending on the other hand, could be polish, russian, ukranian, yugoslavian or almost from any other slavic country.
But the â€œckiâ€ ending of a surname most certainly indicates the polish origin of the name. Outside of Poland the â€œckiâ€ or â€œckyâ€-ending surnames are most commonly found in - besides USA - the neighboring Slovakia and Ukraine, which is due to old migration.
There is also the so far unsolved case of aristocracy attached to this surname.
The polish nobility was the most numerous in Europe and made up 10-12 % of the inhabitants in Poland. The case in other european states was about 1-3 % of the inhabitants. It was the polish nobility that in the 16 th century started to use fixed family surnames with the endings â€œskiâ€- and â€œckiâ€ attached to them.
This was en equivalent of the german â€œvonâ€ and means the same: â€œfromâ€ or â€œofâ€.
For instance: â€œBrochowskiâ€ means â€œof Brochowâ€; â€œLasockiâ€ means â€œof Lasocinâ€ and indicates that the bearer of the name owns the village/homestead/etate or was born there.
Before the fixation of surnames the nobilitys surnames changed with every change of estate residence and sounded like â€œBronislaw z Brochowaâ€ (Bronislaw from Brochow) or â€œLech z Lasocinaâ€ (Lech from Lasocin). This grew impractical with time since for instance at times the same nobleman could be known under several surnames : the surname he had while living in his fathers house, the surname he got while establishing his own estate and then the confusion when he inherited, bought or established new etates. This resulted among many other things that it was hard to tell Your descent just by Your surname.
The meaning of â€œWadeckiâ€ is a tricky one. â€œWadaâ€ (â€œVaddahâ€) means â€œviceâ€ (Wadecki = â€œof Viceâ€) which falls within the slavic tradition of sticking teasing surnames to people. For instance the russian expresident Mihail Gorbachovs surname means â€œson of a hunchbackâ€. Then we have the old word â€œwaderaâ€ (â€œvadderahâ€) with the meaning â€œshe-wolfâ€ - which leaves us with a familyname meaning something like â€œhouse of the she-wolfâ€.
Finally we have a now non-existing homestead of â€œWadziszewâ€ in the Kampinos woods - Kampinos is the probable cradle of my branch of the Wadeckis - in the county/province of Mazovia.
This could possibly leave us with the meaning: Wadecki= â€œof Wadziszewâ€.
In any case, the difficulties in tracing the meaning of this rather archaic surname indicate that itâ€™s very old.
If the Wadecki surname dates from the 16 th century it most certainly is noble and probably had a heraldic coat-of-arms. Most probable is that the Wadeckis - asuming the fact that they are of noble origin - shared a coat-of-arms with other local noble families. In Poland the coat-of-arms were used more like a clan symbol to which it members rallied during times of war, rather than a pesonal coat-of-arms like in western Europe. In Poland there were some 40 larger noble clans and a certain amount of lesser clans, all with coat-of-arms. Some coat-of-arms were used by clans with up to 300 different family surnames!
Most of the polish nobility lived a rather simple countrylife and served as warriors for the polish kings in troubled times. In peacetime they lived of small farm estates, which they often cultivated themselves or with the help of a small group of servants. A small percentage of the polish nobility grew extremly rich and powerful with even private armies in their pay. But all the nobility shared the same rights regardless of riches. In exchange for their military efforts they did not have to pay taxes and had a lot of other privileges that the nobility in other countries had not: complete civil, judicial, political and religious rights. Several hundred years before the pioneering Bill of Rights of the American Constitution! Other groups in the polish society on the other hand, had diminished rights or no rights at allâ€¦
In the county of Mazovia (in polish: â€œMazowszeâ€ - pronounced â€œMazoff-schehâ€) - where the now disappeared homestead of Wadziszew (see above) used to be - almost indifferently the whole of the population was made up of rather poor but independent, warlike and proud nobility.
The problem is that during the 19 th century - when Poland did not exist and was partitioned between Russia, Germany and Austria - many peasants and jews on the occupated partitioned polish lands started to put â€œskiâ€ and â€œckiâ€ at he end of their surnames. This gave them social and economic advantages, in for instance business contacts with other poles and the occupatinal authorities.
That was the case because the austrian, russian and german occupational authorities had no possibilities to discriminate between the large masses of polish nobility.
Also, at that time nobody cared to verify the claims on nobility since there was no polish state anymore, with the consequence that the polish nobles were deprived of their old rights and privileges anyway. The nobilty thing then only provided it's bearer with social prestige without any practical functions.
Most of the nobility in the occupated 19 th century Poland at that time was rather poor and actually often worked and lived of their land just like common farmers. Those of them that had become landless also worked in factories, as teachers or served in the armies of the occupants (Russia, Prussia and Austria). Their noble traditions were often forgotten or simply just put away since it no longer filled any purpose in the hard daily pursuit of resources for survival. The growing oblivion in the matter all made it the more hard for poles and the foreign occupational authorities alike to easily decide whether or not a claim of nobility from many an upstart was real or not.
I hope to find out more about this matter when I manage to visit the church in the 11 th century village of Brochow (â€œBrro-hooffâ€) in the Kampinos woods in Mazovia. I have not been able to go to Poland for a couple of years. The church records in Brochow are apparantly quite elaborate on the Wadecki subject, or so Iâ€™ve heard from the Wadeckis that still are residents of the village. There only remain the problem of inducing the villagepriest to let me access the records and manage to make something out of the ancient handwritten Latin!!
Where in Poland do the Wadeckis come from?
Most of the Wadeckis seem to live in the Warsaw area. Some live in the parts of Poland which were incoporated from Germany after the second World War in 1945. This means that they must have moved there during the 40â€™s. From where ?
I havenâ€™t found out yet.
But I suspect that most of them have their roots in Mazovia, the county/province that make up the surroundings of Warsaw.
Why do I think so? Well, judging after the internet searchs Iâ€™ve been doing, most of them are found in the Mazovia region. But alas, the Internet records in Poland are not yet as comprehensive as in the USA.
On the other hand, as it happened, my cousin Mireille in Warsaw met Piotr (Peter), a sweet guy living a couple of blocks away, and got a severe crush on him. She and he, and later on her and his parents all got a shock when they found out that they all shared the same surnameâ€¦Wadecki!
Imagine living in almost the same block for decades and not knowing of the existence of other Wadeckis! To make matters more confusing those other Wadeckis claimed to stem from the Kampinos woods west of Warsaw. Which, as it happens to be, my family also claim to come from!
All the parents naturally demanded boodtests before they let the young couple marry. Luckily, the tests showed that there was no danger of close kinship. They are now happily married and have a healthy sweet little baby boy - Jan (John) - that measured 60 cm at birth!
What conclusions do I make out of this?
Personally I think that we stem from the same ancestor.
The facts that
1. two families of the same unusual and old surname - old since it seems hard to decide itâ€™s archaic meaning - stem from the same rather limited area - the Kampinos woods -,
2. belong to separate blood types and
3. donâ€™t know of each others existence, all make me prone to make the following conclusions:
The Wadecki clan is so old and widespread that it has become impossible to keep up with the evergrowing familytree. The different branches have gone separate ways and mixed with new blood. Since most familys very rarely remember their ancestors more than four or five generations back in time, it is probable that the two Wadecki branches in our case got separated in the late 18 th century or early 19 th century. Since polish surnames with the â€œskiâ€ and â€œckiâ€ endings came into use in the beginning of the 16 th century it is not unreasonable to suspect that several separations between the Wadecki branches have occurred over the centuries.
Thatâ€™s why I donâ€™t deem it absolutely impossible that Your Wadecki ancestor could be related to a mutual Wadecki ancestor.
This is of course only speculations but the possibility remains and that is why I'm trying to find out.
The history of my branch of the Wadeckis so far
This is what I have found out so far about the branch of Wadeckis that I belong to (Iâ€™ve chosen to go in a straght line so I leave sibblings and cousins out):
Letâ€™s start from the top and work downwards.
I am Christoffer (Krzysztof in polish -â€œKrzhi-schtoffâ€), Marian (in polish Marian is the equivalent to Mario), born in Warsaw, Poland in 1962.
Iâ€™m the son of Mieczyslaw, (pronounced â€œMieh-chislavâ€), Marian Wadecki born in Warsaw 1934 and Hanna (maiden name Piotrowska -â€œPiottroffskaâ€) born in Warsaw 1942.
My grandfather Jozef (in polish pronounced â€œIoozeffâ€), Marian Wadecki was born march 19 1892 in the village of Lasocin (â€œWasochinnâ€) in the Kampinos woods west of Warsaw. He died in Warsaw in 1943 during the second World War. Jozef was married to Genowefa (maiden name Szewczyk -â€œScheff-chickâ€) born march 3 1907 in the Kampinos woods village of Famulki (â€œFammoowkeeâ€). My grandfathers father Stanislaw (â€œStaniswaffâ€) Wadecki was born around 1860-70 and died before 1933 in the village of Lasocin. He was married to Zofia (â€œZoff-iahâ€, -maiden name Zawadzka -â€œZavadd-tskahâ€) born around 1869-72 - d. before 1935.
In the United States
My grandfathers father Stanislaw had seven children. The two oldest: Jan (â€œYaanâ€) born december 21 1888 in Lasocin - d. january 1964 in Detroit(?) and my grandfather Jozef (b.1892 in Lasocin- d.1943 in Warsaw) both emigrated to the USA. The older Jan went first, with a couple of Wadecki cousins, around 1905-8. In the USA Jan changed his name to the more english sounding â€œJohnâ€.
My grandfather Jozef (Joe) joined them a couple of years later in 1911, at the age of 19. In the begining my grandfather Jozef lived at the home of his cousin Wladyslaw (â€œVwadislavâ€ or â€œVladislavâ€) Wadeckiâ€™s family.
Wladyslaw had a son born and baptized in America as Czeslaw (â€œCheh-slaffâ€) but he was called Chester (b. october 6 1909 - d. june 1977).
I also know of a Leonard/Leon Wadecki (born august 7 1914 - d. may 13 1991). I donâ€™t know the name of his father but his mother is supposed to have been named Eleonora. Like Chester, Leon was born American but I donâ€™t know whether Leon was the son of my grandfather Joeâ€™s brother John, or their cousin Wladyslaw or some other unknown cousin. Leon in turn had a son called Allan - probably born in the late thirties or early forties. As far as I know they all worked in the Ford or Dodge car factories in Detroit.
In 1929 my grandfather Jozef decides to return to the country of his birth.
He is lead by sentimental and patriotic reasons since his original fatherland - Poland - finally had regained itâ€™s freedom and independence at the end of the first World War in 1918, after 123 years of a joint german, russian and austrian occupation.
The polish dream of independence
During the period between the 14 th and early 18 th century, Poland experienced a time of power, glory and supremacy and stretched over large parts over central and eastern Europe. It was one of the most powerful and rich states in Europe.
In the 17 th century however the polish commonwealth got involved in a long row of multiple simultaneous conflicts with russians, germans, swedes, hungarians, romanians, cossacks, tatars and turks. After nearly a hundred years of incessant, vicious, bloody and devastating fighting - during which time the poles found time for two civil wars(!) - the polish commonwealth collapsed in the beginning of the 18 th century.
The weakened Poland then fell prey to the growing greedy powers of Russia, Germany and Austria who decided to jointly fall upon Poland whereupon they divided the polish territories between them.
But the poles never accepted their fate. From the late 18 th century to the second half of the 19 th century therefore there followed a long row of unsuccessfull resistance and bloody uprisings against the occupying powers (the last attempt against Russia was made in 1905). But the dream of Polandâ€™s freedom and independence was passed on from one defeated generation to the next.
However it was not until the circumstances kicked off by the first World War - a good hundred years after the partition of Poland - that it became possible to recreate an independent Poland.
Did You know by the way that some 70 000 poles from both Americas - though mostly from USA - volonteered in an independent polish corps (â€œHallerâ€™s Armyâ€) and fought the germans alongside the french army? That was because the emigrated poles didnâ€™t care to wait for USA:s declaration of war on Germany, which was a supressor of the occupied polish lands. When USA finally joined the war in 1917 some additional 160 000 american-polish descendants volonteered in the US army that was sent to Europe.
When my grandfather Joe left his forefathers land in 1911 there was no Poland. The part of Poland he came from then laid under russian rule since 1795. After the end of the first World War in 1918 and the recreation of Poland during the 1920â€™s he grew more and more homesick and dreamt of going home, to marry a polish wife and raise polish children in a free and independent Poland.
The return to a Poland reborn
And it all turned out that way. He returned to the Kampinos woods, in Mazovia, Poland, bought a piece of land for a sister of his and went about the Kampinos woods villages in search of a bride.
He married my grandmother (1933), moved in to Warsaw and raised a couple of apartment houses for the money he had saved in the USA. He then made a living as a landlord. In 1934 my father Mieczyslaw was born. In 1938 he got a brother, Edward (â€œEdvardâ€).
Then came the devastating second World War in 1939. Poland became occupated and partitioned again, this time between communist russians and nazi germans who jointly attacked Poland at the same time. Besides Ukraine no other country experienced such horrors that followed.
My family as any other family in Poland, suffered losses in lifes and property. Six millions polish citizens perished. Thatâ€™s every fifth polish citizen.
Then came the sovietic communist â€œliberationâ€ in 1944 and the nazis were driven out of Poland.
The nazis were defeated but the soviets remained in Poland, inflicting a communist dictatorship until 1990.
The apartment houses of my grandfather are confiscated in 1945 by the communists and made state property. My grandfather donâ€™t live to see this since he dies during the war because of the hard conditions which are deliberatly caused by the germans: scarce food rations, high prices, no heating during winters, etc. Sadly, Gramps had a weak health after the years of hard work in the American car factory.
So my fatherless father grew up under communist oppression. To make a long story short, my father Mieczyslaw managed to slip out and emigrate with me and my mom to Sweden in 1968.
Why do I do this?
As an emigrated Pole and father of three swedish/polish children Iâ€™m now trying to rediscover the Wadecki family ties - both in Poland and in the USA - before it all falls into oblivion. I want to leave some sort of legacy about the Wadeckis to my kids and future swedish descendents. They will lose their polish identety over time but they donâ€™t have to be ignorant of their polish roots if I leave them some sort of written record to remember it by. Thatâ€™s my reason for making this account.
USA is easier to deal with in this matter since more people use the Internet and almost all needed data - if recorded - is available. Also there are some difficulties in obtaining records from archives in Poland. Many archives were destroyed during the war. Another problem is that many polish authorities are not serviceminded - at times even hostile - and are hard to communicate with - a legacy from the communist times. This is why I try to get in touch with bearers of the Wadecki surname directly. Maybe someone will recognize some of my data and will fill in the gaps and update me on other branches of the Wadeckis.
I hope You found this information usefull or at least entertaining. If You have any questions concerning this account or any other questions about polish history, traditions, genealogy etc, Iâ€™ll be most happy to try to be of any help. Thank You for taking the time.
Wszytskiego dobrego! â€œFshee-st-keegoh dobb-reggohâ€(All the best!)
1. Do You recognize any of the individuals mentioned in the account above?
2. Do You know the full name of Your Wadecki ancestor?
3. Do You know the year of birth and death of Your Wadecki ancestor?
4. Do You know the names of his/hers sibblings, cousins or parents?
5. Do You know when Your Wadecki ancestor came to USA?
6. Do You know where from Poland Your Wadecki ancestor came?
If You are able to answer these questions or if You recognize som names in the text above that You can relate to, please mail firstname.lastname@example.org