Re: Questions about Surnames - Galicia/Poland

Sally Bruckheimer

Our ancestors in Eastern Europe were often unable to marry civilly, because Jewish marriages were banned or highly taxed. So the government considered the children illegitimate. Since the parents were married religiously, it didn't matter much to the Jews.

In records, the government wanted the 'illegitimate' children to use the mother's maiden name, not their fathers. So you get records with 'vel', 'falshe', and 'recte': Smith vel (or) Jones, Smith falshe (falsely) Jones, Smith recte (correctly) Jones. 

The kids can end up using either the father's family name or the mother's - or both. Vel is or, falshe is false, recte is true or correctly. When you see 6 kids with a different family name than their father, it may be that their biological father died and mother remarried, or they may all be using their mother's maiden name.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

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