Siblings with different surnames #hungary #slovakia

Julia Epstein

My grandfather had 3 siblings, 2 with their father's surname and 2 with their mother's. Oddly, it was every other child, not the first two and the last two, and there were two girls and two boys, and the name didn't match genders either. None of us have ever been able to figure this out, and I'd love some guidance.


Hi Julia,

I know that boys were called by different surnames so they won't go to the army in Russia, that can be thereason one of the boys whas the surname of the father and the other of the mother. I know that from cousins of my father that had different surnames and in fact they were brothers.

If you want to know more read about the Cantonist..

Sara Abrashkin-Rotaru

Moishe Miller

For those with roots in Boro Park (Brooklyn, NY), you may have heard of Ahron Miller, known as the "Bobover Mohel". His brother was Herschel Newman. I was told that when Herschel was getting his papers, he was asked if his parents had a civil marriage. He replied that they only had a Jewish marriage. He was then asked if his maternal grandparents had a civil marriage, to which he again replied that it was only under Jewish law. And so, Herschel's surname was the maiden name of his maternal grandmother. His brother Ahron, he was not questioned, retained the Miller surname.

Moishe Miller
Brooklyn, NY
JGFF #3391



Don't know if this is of use to you since you didn't say where your gf lived.

I have the same thing with my gm's family from Krakow.  She had 2 brothers and a sister.  Two of each had their mother's surname and others had their father's.  On their marriage banns records there is a note "surname of the unregistered father."

The Austrian-Hungarian empire only recognized marriages done by the Catholic church.  All other marriages were illegitimate. However, by the time my uncles and aunt were married (1907-1914). This rule had been changed.  My grandmother was already in the US and married there.

I never got a good answer for why this was still happening.  But I haven't asked about it in ages. 

Jessica Schein

A Stone

JewishGen Youtube channel has a great video by SallyAnn Amdur Sack Ph.D. called "What genealogists need to know about Jewish family names."  I think it could answer your question, it really helped me as I had the same mystery.

April Stone