Thoughts on having a common name

It happened again this week.

If I had a dollar for everybody who asked me if I was related to the Glinieckis in Stratford…well, I wouldn’t be rich, but I would definitely be better off than I am today.  (And, incidentally, if I hear the question on occasion, my wife – who works in Marshfield, just down the road from Stratford – hears it all the time.)

For the record: No…to the best of my knowledge, I am not related to the Stratford Glinieckis at all – at least, not as far back as I can trace my ancestry. My great-great-grandfather came over from what is now Poland in 1880, eventually settling near Rosholt – approximately forty miles from Stratford as the crow flies, just east of Stevens Point; there are indications that his brother may have also arrived in Portage County some time before. So, yeah…Stevens Point or Rosholt, probably related; Marshfield or Stratford, probably not.

To be honest, it surprised me a bit when I found how disconnected the two groups really were. I mean, “Gliniecki” is not the most common name out there, right? I had expected to find some distant connection somewhere back up the line…but if there is one at all, one would likely have to go back to at least the mid-1800s in Europe (my great-great-grandfather was born in 1837). But that was not the biggest surprise I have ever found in this matter.

A couple of years ago, I was doing some research on my Mom’s side of the family. Mom’s paternal grandparents – Emil Klee and Mabel Santhany – were born and raised near Bad Axe, Michigan (near the base of the “thumb” in the Lower Peninsula). Among the pages I found in the course of my research was this one from the 1910 U.S. Census, from Paris in Huron County, for Xavier Klee and his family (click the image to enlarge):


Now, I am not sure how Xavier may have been related to me – or if he was related at all, all things considered. But as I was looking over the page in question, something caught my eye at the top:


Keep in mind that back then, census takers routinely worked door-to-door. So, a hundred years ago, Klees and Glinieckis most likely lived in the same neighborhood, hundreds of miles from where another Klee and another Gliniecki would eventually meet. Once again, I highly doubt that the Glinieckis listed on the census form were any relation to me whatsoever (although the Klees most likely were). Still…cool, nevertheless.

So…there are a lot more of us out there than you realize. Be very afraid.


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