Spelling of Original Hungarian or Czechoslovakian surname?

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I am working on tracing my girlfriend's family tree. Her last name is Paul, however her great-great grandfather immigrated from either Hungary or Czechoslovakia depending on who you ask.

They say the name was changed from its original form to "Paul" but only the pronunciation is known and not he original spelling. Her family beleives it was pronounced as "Paul of Check" but knowing little about the language I am lost as to how to spell that in Hungarian or Czech.

Unfortunately, the only record I have for him is word of mouth from my girlfriend's grandmother and father. Her Great Grandfather's name was John Paul so it is hard to even find reliable records for him with such a common name.

I believe John was born in Pennsylvania in about 1905 and his father was born in Czech or Hungary. I found John as an adult in census records but not as a child which would lead me to his father's name and possibly immigration year.

Troy

Posted 2015-08-15T20:53:22.067

Reputation: 161

Are you perhaps able to include the first record you have of the 2nd great grandfather after immigration into your question? That could help to try and find his immigration record. – PolyGeo – 2015-08-15T21:58:22.347

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Opening bid - try : Poláček (Czech, but also Slovakia). See: http://forebears.io/surnames/pol%C3%A1%C4%8Dek. Of course there may be spelling variants.

– user3310902 – 2015-08-15T22:00:00.517

Sorry for the delay in response. @PolyGeo unfortunately the only record I have for him is word of mouth from my girlfriend's grandmother and father. Her Great Grandfather's name was John Paul so it is hard to even find reliable records for him with such a common name. – Troy – 2015-08-23T21:32:43.673

What country, state, etc do you have for where (and when) he may have lived? I'm assuming that he would have been born more than 100 years ago so that there are no privacy issues surrounding his details (see help/on-topic). – PolyGeo – 2015-08-23T21:40:46.760

I believe John was born in Pennsylvania in about 1905 and his father was born in Czech or Hungary. I found John as an adult in census records but not as a child which would lead me to his father's name and possibly immigration year. – Troy – 2015-08-23T23:40:39.430

Please be aware that there is an [edit] button beneath your question that you can use to revise it with additional information each time we request clarifications via comments. – PolyGeo – 2015-08-24T00:06:08.363

I know of this I just didn't think to add this information as other stack exchanges I am a member of are very picky about what goes in the question vs comments. Sorry. – Troy – 2015-08-24T00:08:47.700

In general any question on any Stack Exchange should always be improved via edits rather than via comments because the latter can be considered temporary and are not always read by potential answerers. – PolyGeo – 2015-08-24T01:59:58.883

Understood. However the question was primarily about the spelling of the name and therefore I was hesitant to add information about specific individuals in the family. On StackOverflow moderators would easily flag the edits as unrelated to the original question. I apologize. – Troy – 2015-08-24T02:04:23.957

@Troy Stopera Perhaps it'd be good to figure first if he was Czech, Slovak or Hungarian. If he lived in Hungary then he should have been Slovak and not Czech, as Czech lands (Bohemia&Moravia) were part of Austria. Of course people were free to move within the Autro-Hungarian empire, but only more fortuned people could afford to, so there was not many Hungarians in Czech lands and not many Czechs in Hungary. So my wild guess is that he was Slovak, and came from Hungary (today's Slovakia), I might be wrong though. – Bregalad – 2015-08-24T12:55:52.267

For what (little) it's worth, Paul occurs as a surname in Hungary. (Here's a John Paul born in 1893 in a town that's now in Slovakia: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-Y39D-1N9?i=39&cc=1554443 . He died the same day he was born, so not your ancestor, but still.)

– JPmiaou – 2017-08-31T17:46:26.480

Answers

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The sounds [polɑvt͡ʃɛk] would be written Polavcsek in modern Hungarian; [pɑlovt͡ʃɛk] would be Palovcsek. However, surnames often preserve archaic spellings, and in any case nobody paid much attention to exact spellings of names before the 20th century. (In a world where illiteracy was normal, it was only the sound of a surname that mattered.)

Focusing on the unknown surname like this is unlikely to lead to useful results. Instead, start with U.S. records. Documents that sometimes include parents and exact birthplaces include draft registrations, naturalization records, Social Security card applications, and of course birth, marriage, and death records (church or civil).

JPmiaou

Posted 2015-08-15T20:53:22.067

Reputation: 920