We received email from a Roger Zinski in the USA
who revealed that Zinski is a fairly unusual name,
with an interesting history, as follows...
The Zinski family name is of course Slavic in origin.
My father's father was the one who left Europe at the beginning of the 1900s,
(I think 1902 to be precise), and he came from a very, very small town, in what
was called Austria-Hungary, but their part was called Austria-Galicia. I had
been so interested in my family heritage at the age of 16 that I started
writing letters all over the place, and visiting my American relatives,
who are spread all over the country, and I put together a "map" of people
dating to the early 1800s. As I was able to gather more information,
which took probably 20 years, I found the actual town my grandfather was
born. This small town is in present day Poland, down in the lower South
Eastern corner, but it was not Poland when they were born there.
Their language is strongly similar to Ukrainian, including the cyrillic
letters, but is somehow different. It also resembles Polish and Russian,
with some words being different, or pronounced differently, but most of
the Slavic people can understand each other at a basic level
(Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian,
Slovenian, Croatian, etc). These people called themsleves Lemko (singular)
or Lemki (plural) and that area where they lived was part of old Ukraine,
but the Franz-Joseph control divided up everything and became part of
the Austro-Hungarian empire. I think the area was called Lemkovina,
which I am phonetically spelling for you in English. The Polish
called them Rushini, which points to Russians, and the Russians didn't
like them, and called them something else.
My dad's oldest sister, who was born there and came to America as
a child, said her parents said when she was a child, that they never
heard of the word Ukraine or Ukrainian until they came to America,
so a lot is a mystery, and lost with time. I asked her what her
father called himself and his relatives, and she said Carpato-Rus,
from Carpathian Mountain range and Rus, which is another long
story, that the Russians are decended from. I heard a good story
on public television saying the Vikings from Scandinavia actually
went to part of Russia, and they are the ones who named them "Rus",
but all these stories are difficult to follow, a thousand years
after the fact!
I never knew my fathers parents, they were already
deceased when I was born. But, I have had a lot of fire
in me, to get to the "roots" so when i found the location off World
War II Army maps, I started to write letters to the town, but
didnt get any replies. In the early 1980s I came to meet some
cousins of my father, who was born in 1922, to give you a time
reference, and the one was going to visit relatives, also named
Zinski, who lived in Western Poland. When he came back, I got
many details, and told him, if he goes again, let me know, which
he did, and three of us went in 1984, just after all the marshall
law in Poland stopped, and the Soviet control there lessened its
grip, so much to let more "visitors" come in.
I don't know how
much you know about previously Communist (Soviet) controlled
eastern Europe, but I tried for 5 years prior to 1984 to get
"permission" in the form of a "visa" to go there, but was refused.
We went in 1984 and to western Poland, and I found out these
people were my father's second and third cousins, and they
were all from the Southeastern part, and they brought me
there, and it was out in the "country" maybe like the "outback"
Just a single dirt road through the place, and only one commercial
building, which was a food store, open Tuesday and Thursday, and
a few dozen houses, made from field stones. They showed me the
place where my grandfather's father and grandfather were born,
the buildings, next to each other, were still standing, and one
was used as a barn for animals, and the other a house. They
said that the roof used to be straw back then, but they had
put a corrugated metal roof on, since straw was high maintenance.
I spoke with a woman in 1984, who only spoke the old Lemko
language, which i did not know, at that time, and had it
translated to English by a cousin, who somehow had lived in
Canada for a while, and learned English! She said she
remembered my father's parents when they left. She was born
in 1888 I think, she was very old, almost 100, and was in
April, turning over the ground with a shovel in preparation
to plant her vegetables to grow, as he had done all her life
and her parents, etc. had for generations. She was very
excited that I came to see her, and told me about 100 years
worth of all the people that she could remember, and her
memory was like the birth registration central! She helped
me a lot, to understand who came from who and how all of us
American Zinski's were related. They also took me to a
government building in a nearby larger, little town, and
they let me look through three books, that covered births
from 1830 through 1946. The woman who worked in that office
was old, and said she worked there for 30 years or so,
and I was the first person to ever look at the books! They
had just been sitting there all that time, with no inquiry!
It is probably the trip of my life, and I may not ever be
able to go back, but it sure was something.
People in that small town came to me, and said: you look familiar,
but I can't tell who you are. Who are you? Apparently
my face resembles the ancestors, and the old folks in the
town all wanted to look at me, when they found out I was
visiting. They said they never saw an "American" before!
World War II turned the area around their village into a
mess, the Germans pushing eastward conquering, and the
Russians fighting and pushing them back, westward, really
tore up the area. It is right near the tops of small
mountain ranges and the highest parts, still show the
trenches where both sides dug in! And as I understand,
my relatives had some partisans who would hide in the
woods, and shoot at whichever side presented themselves,
as they were both unwanted "invaders"!! I found the
facts to several unknown deaths or disappearances of
the older relatives from the WWII time, as those who
lived in America lost contact with the European
family due to WWII.
They told me that I was the "only" Zinski to ever come
back to the native Carpathian (mountain range) soil
of the place of birth of Zinski! Isn't that something!
In 1946, the Polish government, relocated the people
of the town, with rifles pointed, and gave them a
choice: Go to Western Poland, which had been Germany,
and the Germans were pushed out, and that part was
made Poland, or go to eastern Ukraine. Take what
you can carry, but come now or we will shoot you!
So, the people literally walked away from the place
were about 400 years of recorded history shows they
lived there, and went to government trains, and went
either west or east. The ones who went east, were
stuck there, and were rarely let out to come back
to visit. The ones who went west, had some freedom,
and slowly came back to their place, and got their
houses back from the Polish who moved into the
supposed great new place to live, but they found
the mountainous terrain very unforgiving and they
went back to their flat land they came from.
When I visited, in 1984 the town was mostly
reclaimed by original inhabitants or their families,
and the Polish had mostly moved out. The Polish
government now offers some kind of "compensation"
for having been forcibly thrown out, but I don't
know much about it. My father's mother owned land
there, which was before World War I, and she left her
brother live there, but the land was taken by the
Polish government in 1946, after WWII.
If I had more time and energy, I might go there and
make a case, but it will probably never happen.
I hope I have given you some insight into my family's
past, and I actually met a young couple in Paris,
France about 14 years ago, while I was vacationing,
who were from about 5 miles away from that small
town, which by the was was called Bodnarka, in
their old language, and is now called Bednarka in Polish.
The next town of size is Jaslo, pronounced YAHS-woe,
in Polish, which is where they were from. They had
somehow emmigrated from Poland, and moved to
Australia to get work, and lived in Wollongong, NSW.
I have adopted several cats over the past decade,
all were strays and had of course done their natural
thing and made more, so some got adopted to families
wanting a cat, and the rest I have kept and have had
neutered to keep the population from increasing,
and still have gotten some new additions anyway,
from new strays. They obviously can communicate and
share with their kind, my address, so their relatives
can come to eat! One has just become missing, this
morning, and I have walked all over the area looking,
and I am upset that it might have been run-over by
a car, or possibly killed by a wild dog, as there
are some in the area. I havent found any body, so
I am hopeful. It is 14 weeks old, and very friendly.
By the way, our name Zinski, is not a shortened name, as
so many Polish names are, since coming to America.
I have found birth records dating back to 1776, of
Bodnarka, which were stored in Warsaw, and the family
name was the same, except spelled in cyrillic alphabet.
By the way, Moouchka also has a very strong Slavic
sound to it.