Surnames are the spine of the book that genealogists write, yet they only tell half the story -- women's surnames get swallowed when they get married. Our studies of our families' procreative history tend to overlook the fact that it takes two to tango. I salute all of the women whose names have been swallowed by our patronymic fervor. (If you could put on Tammy Wynette's version of Stand By Your Man low in background right now it'd be just great.) You worked and sacrificed just like your men, you sometimes even died in childbirth and yet your children got someone else's name.
I salute, for one, my great grandmother Elisabeth Zintel who was arranged to marry one Filip Kremer. But it was Elisabeth's sister (whose name we don't know) who was really in love with Filip. On the day of the wedding, the sister tied up Elisabeth and hid her in a closet with Elisabeth's tacit consent -- Elisabeth was more interested in a train conductor. The sister then disguised herself as Elisabeth and went to the wedding in her place. She was discovered, Elisabeth was "freed" and what happened to the train conductor we'll never know. At age forty-four this same Elisabeth sheperded five children (including four year-old Filip Jr. and his whooping cough) over 7000km from Königsau, Austria-Hungary, through that empire, through Germany and across the Atlantic to Ellis Island, New York. Wow. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman...
The spelling of surnames is more fluid than one might expect. In our information-age society we're "on file" in a lot of places so, in short, spelling counts. But to people with a more orally-oriented information culture, spelling is not as important as long as the sounds remain consistent. Thus it isn't surprising that spellings changed when names were asked to straddle different cultures, languages and alphabets.
My surnames are in four main sections, one for each of my grandparents.
The Drozd family is ethnically Polish. I suspect there is some Lemko blood mixed in as well. They still live in and around Nagórzany, Poland which is where my father's mother Viktoria Drozd was born. She emigrated to the USA and is buried in Philadelphia.
Also Hackemer, Hakimer, Hakemer, Hackamer, Hackmer, Hackheimer?
The Hackimers were Galizien Deutsche. My mother's mother Mary Hackimer came through Ellis Island from Neudorf (6) (maybe Neudorf-by-Drohobych?) in Austria-Hungary. Her father Valentine was born in 1875 in nearby Dolina (16). I have scattered records of Hackemers (spelled various ways) in this area of Europe reaching back to Valentin Hakemer who was born in Partenheim in 1771 and moved to Brigidau in 1791. I cannot, however, make a definitive link from my family to his. I also have records of Hackimers in Bolechów (Austria-Hungary, now Ukraine), Philadelphia, Chicago and Florida.
You can read everything I know about the Hackimers.
Also Krämer, Kremer.
The Kramers were Galizien Deutsche. The whole family emigrated to the USA from Königsau in Austria-Hungary around 1912. They bought a farm in Haycock, PA (outside of Quakertown). Current maps put the farm in Applebachsville. Rudolph Kramer was my mother's father. Rudolph's grandfather Jakob Kremer is buried in Königsau (7) and was perhaps born there but where the Kramers were before that we don't know.
Also Семенчук, Semańczyk, Semancik, Semanchek (on the tombstone of Peter who is buried next to my grandfather Michael), Semanchick?. The Cyrillic version is the original.
Just about everything I know about the name Semańczyk is here on this Web site. The short story is that Semańczyks were Lemkos who lived (and still live) in Wolica, Poland. My father's father Michael and most of his siblings emigrated to the USA via Minersville, PA (6) and changed their name to Semanchuk or some similiar variation. Of the Semańczyks who remained behind in Wolica (then in Austria-Hungary), some were driven out by the events of and leading up to Operation Vistula (3). Some converted to Roman Catholicism and were allowed to stay (8).