I've received several responses giving Beider's definition of the Polish word
'chwat': 'plucky, dashing, and gallant'. These may apply to some instances of the
surname, but in the case of a kohanic, rabbinical family, these seem off track.
I wonder if the rabbinical Chayot (aka Chajes) surname could somehow have been
transformed across various languages, alphabets, pronunciations, and spellings into
Chwat, the Hebrew spelling of former, khes-yud-vov-tof, becoming k
Oh well, only time will tell...