Re: Apanowicz #lithuania

water wind & stars <shiralunacy@...>

Derek Apanovitch writes: << I am interested in any background on this
name. There are some stray references on the web to the name being of
Polish-Jewish origin but it has been difficult to piece together a
true family history. The family lore is that it is a Lithuania surname.
Our great grandfather changed the spelling >from Apanowicz to Apanovitch
sometime after arriving in America in the late 19th century. >>

Regarding whether the name is Polish or Lithuanian: the areas designated
on current maps as Poland, Lithuania and Belarus have had shifting borders
for centuries, right up through the 20th. The stormy history behind every
shift is a story in itself, but to get a sense just of the border changes,
take a look at this great exhibit of maps on YIVO's new digital history of
Jewish Life in Poland:

Regarding the name, the forms Apanowicz (etc.) with initial "A" are
referred in Alexander Beider's "Dictionary of Jewish Surnames in the
Russian Empire" to the following main entry: Opanovskij, a "surname
derived >from a toponym, i.e. place name", in this case the village
of Opanovtsky in Lida district. Lida district, now mostly in Belarus,
is part of the general area where "Litvaks" (Jews >from anywhere within
this area) have resided for centuries.

One final consideration is that most Jewish and non-Jewish residents
did not take surnames until sometime in the 18th century, when
governments enforced the use of surnames for census and tax purposes.
Moreover, the various ways in which people chose surnames is another
story in itself.

None of the above will lead you directly to your specific family
history, but it's important background for your search.

Sonia Kovitz

MODERATOR'S NOTE: There are three listings for the surname
APONOVICH in the 1875 Alphabetical List of Males in the Lida
District. A search of the LitvakSIG All Lithuania Database
at will yield those and possibly others.

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