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Zelem family - Southeast poland

badether Activity: - / 1
Joined: 13 Nov 2007 ♀
13 Nov 2007  #31

My grandad was John Hlywa, married to Mariam (MARY) Baronowski. We have an entire cemetery full of East Coast Hlywa's (Connecticut river valley) There is a lot of dispute amoung the grandkids as to exactly where we're all from... We were always told "We're from Ukraine & Lithuania...they used to call it White Russia" Obviously Belarus but also have Aunts from Poland... I have many photos from that graveyard, might prove to be some use.
16 Nov 2007  #32

Hi Genek .
My name is also Genek Zelem and my Late Father came from Bodaki. his name was Stefan. My mother Jozefa maiden name was Sabat and she came from the Przemysl region.They met while in forced labour in Austria in 1942.I know I have relatives on my fathers side in UK, USA, Canada and Poland. On my mothers side in Poland and Ukraine. Would be interested in hearing from anybody that is related to me ,I live in Leeds UK. Grandfather Zelem is buried in Bodaki and Grandmother Zelem is buried near Wroclaw. Grandfather and Grandmother Sabat are buried in the Ukraine.
wozzy Activity: 8 / 207
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 ♂
16 Nov 2007  #33

genekpolak Hi.

Good to hear of you, but you just missed a hell of a opertunity, I just got back from Poland and Bodaki. I was told that there was another family of Zelems who were from Bodaki or Bartne but not related could have been your dads family.

My surname is not Zelem that was my mothers maiden name. Grandad and Grandma Zelem are both buried in the same grave in a cemetry near Wroclaw, visited the site also two weeks ago. There are other aunts and uncles buried in the wroclaw area.Lots of cusins and extended family around there too.

Strange how the names reacur within a family, Had a cusin Stefan he died in america some five years ago. Had two uncles in Canada Michael and Paulo they are now dead also. There is some family in America also but don't know much about them as yet.

There is lots more to find out, and will return to Poland again in the spring.

Hello again Genekpolak.............just a quick update ifyou'r still around. I had a word with my mother last week and I mentioned your family to her, and behold it is very possible that your family, although not related have been visitors at our home near Manchester.
Apparently after your family had visited Bodaki you came to visit bringing my mother a jar of honey from her brother Piotr's bees.
If you have a sister called Soscia then you'r the one.
5 Dec 2007  #34

Hi Wozzy
Yes it was my Family which visited yours in Manchester.
My late Father told me your family were cousins from the Bodaki area in Poland.
The Zelem farmhouse is still there,I think still in the family, because it was a historic listed building.
Please keep in touch

Hi Wozzy
Just to inform you that Unharmonic Natasha is my elder daughter.
Genek Zelem
Wroclaw Activity: 45 / 5,434
Joined: 1 Apr 2006 ♂
5 Dec 2007  #35


If you sign up/register to the forum, you will be able to send a PM.

Just trying to help.
wozzy Activity: 8 / 207
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 ♂
5 Dec 2007  #36

genekpolak, there is also a zelem family around oldham district in manchester. Do you have any family links with them?
8 Dec 2007  #37

Hi Wozzy
Changed my username to Bodakiman.
Yes Soscia was related,but my Aunty
My late Father's sister who lived in Bodaki ( Married surname Novak )
My Father had 1 brother and 3 sisters saddly all have passed away. My 1st cousins now live in Poland, US and Canada.
My family do not have any links with the Oldham Zelems. I did not know of their exsistance.
Kindest Regards
bobby Activity: 6 / 32
Joined: 4 Dec 2007 ♂
8 Dec 2007  #38

I'm rather envious of you guys that manage to find other 'relations' of the same name simply by mentioing it here.

I've got surnames i'm looking for, that i've posted in every hole, nook, and cranny. But thus far, havent recieved any feedback.

Anyway, good luck to you all.

I'll just keep searching, hoping, and being proactive.
kaliszer Activity: - / 99
Joined: 19 Dec 2007 ♂
19 Dec 2007  #39

About the possible Hebrew origin of "Zelem". The word means "image" in Hebrew, and it's also used to mean a graven image (idol or icon). In Yiddish, which uses many hebrew words, "zelem" means a crucifix. So maybe one of your ancestors was called "zelem" by Jewish neighbors referring to the cross he might have worn. You never know.

One of the other messages on this forum mentions a "Sabat" family. That very likely has a Jewish source. There were sabbath observing Russians (non-jewish) who were known as sobotniki. Maybe they weren't really russian but Rusyn.

About the possible Hebrew origin of "Zelem". The word means "image" in Hebrew, and it's also used to mean a graven image (idol or icon). In Yiddish, which uses many hebrew words, "zelem" means a crucifix. So maybe one of your ancestors was called "zelem" by Jewish neighbors referring to the cross he might have worn. You never know.
wozzy Activity: 8 / 207
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 ♂
19 Dec 2007  #40

About the possible Hebrew origin of "Zelem". The word means "image" in Hebrew

Thats realy interesting, thanks a lot Kaliszer great post.

I had a thread on the subject but it seems to have been wiped out.(those damn americans will shoot at anything when there bored).

Admin...... What did hapen to that thread ?
kaliszer Activity: - / 99
Joined: 19 Dec 2007 ♂
27 Dec 2007  #41

Anyone from Kalisz or Warta? I'd love to see old pictures of these towns where my grandfather came from.
lesser Activity: 4 / 1,305
Joined: 19 Oct 2007 ♂
27 Dec 2007  #42

Here is Jewish synagogue and cemetery in Kalisz. (mostly from WWI period, begin of the XX century)

Other photos from Kalisz
kaliszer Activity: - / 99
Joined: 19 Dec 2007 ♂
27 Dec 2007  #43

Thank you. I saw those pictures too. I visited kalisz and the synagogue wasn't there anymore (Germans destroyed it.). But I did see the school building where my grandfather studied, which is now a municipal tax office. It's a beautiful little city. My great-grandfather was bit of an artist and he used to make pictures out of cork of buildings in Kalisz (from memory). This one was apparently the firehouse on the Nowy Rynek. I'm also attaching a photo from the stary-kalisz site. Ok, he added a few more trees and birds, but i think it's the same building. It's not there anymore either (destroyed in WWI I think).

  • Photo of old kalisz firehouse
15 Mar 2008  #44

My paternal SCHWALBE/PATT ancestors were from Kalisz and Warta.
I am interested in learning if any records survive from the Jewish Cemetery
which still exists near the Jewish Museum, and if and where I can access them.
Any direction will be greatly appreciated.
Ena Jacobs
pm80 Activity: - / 1
Joined: 5 Jul 2008 ♂
5 Jul 2008  #45


Its a coincidence that your father changed his name to Helewa. There is already a large Helewa family that came from the Middle East in the past century. So there are now, at least, two unrelated Helewa families. But I did find some records you might want, you can contact me at or send me a message.
Stefansm Activity: - / 1
Joined: 21 Feb 2009 ♂
21 Feb 2009  #46

Thread attached on merging:
Zelem family - Ruska Ropica-Gorlica

My great grandfather Theodor Zelem came from Russian Ropice in 1900 to Sremska Mitrovica (then it was Austro-Hungarian Empire). I would like to know more about the origins of this family and their cousins from Napoleon's time. It is familiar to me that my grandfather Theodor came to Vojvodina (Sremska Mitrovica - Republic of Serbia), with his brother Constantine who had five daughters, of which three went to the USA. For a long time we were in contact with Ana (Anne) (Constantine) Zelem. Her grandchildren came to Sremska Mitrovica (in 1960), because there was a military term in Germany. We would like to continue correspondence with descendants of Anne Zelem.
2 Aug 2009  #47

Zelem ancestors include Stefan Zelem (1855-1915) married Teckla Zagorsky (1860-1935).

Stefan's parents: Danko Zelem married to Marje? Myzyk (Mizio).

Mecina Velyka. I'm told that there are grave markers there for Zelems.

Operation Vistula: Family members left for Boryslav, Ukraine. Stefania Zelem married Ignacy Szopa in 1927 and I believe the ended up in Boryslav.

Olga Zelem married Szymon Lopata. She died 1944.

Two immigrated to the USA: Siblings Theodore (Fedor) Zelem, and Anna Zelem in 1913 (my grandmother). Zelem Siblings remaining in Macina Velyka: Lev, Ignat, Olga, Maria, Stefania.

Other names: Joseph Zagursky, Maria Kretyk.

Do any of theze names attach to the rest of the Zelems on this site?
LCBohio Activity: - / 3
Joined: 4 Aug 2009 ♀
4 Aug 2009  #48

Addition to message #88 concerning the Zelem name in Mecina Velyka and surrounding villages........

....add other names of those who served as Godparents, marriage witnesses or who married Zelems: Lopata, Kaczmarczyk, Smakula, Szopa.

Also, immigrants to America spent some time in Philadelphia then settled in Somerset County, PA....Listie area.

E-mail for response
wozzy Activity: 8 / 207
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 ♂
4 Aug 2009  #49

Hi All.......Not been around for a while, but I'm still alive......

To all who are interested I'll be going to a Żelem family wedding in September.
I'll be around Bodaki, Ropica, sękowa area's with Męcina Mała and Męcina Wielka just over the hill......So if anyone want's I could ask some questions or kick up some dust while I'm there.. :0)
Rakky Activity: 9 / 218
Joined: 23 May 2007 ♂
4 Aug 2009  #50

the Gorlice district of Bodaki, Malastow and Bartne, where according to Dziaducz Zelem " the world like the road ends."
From what I'm told most of the family were dispersed during 1947, although at least two homesteads still remain, I hope that this is true.
Any help with the district or the family whereabouts would be greatfuly apreaciated.

I highly recommend you contact these people before you travel to the Gorlice district:

Tell them their American Lemko friend Shtefan sent you. If you do not receive a prompt response, give it a few days - they are not on their computer each day.

They live in Gorlice and are thoroughly immersed in the Rusyn culture in southeast Poland. Through them you will learn more than you can imagine right now. Enjoy the adventure. I sure did. And it continues to this day.
LCBohio Activity: - / 3
Joined: 4 Aug 2009 ♀
4 Aug 2009  #51

wozzy....hello! Really neat to hear that you are going to a Zelem wedding in September.

Bodaki and Ropica, along with Mecina Velyka, are villages intertwined with my family.

If you could print the above messages #88 and #89 and takes those names with you perhaps some Zelem there may recall the Stefan and Teckla(Zagorsky) family and their 7 children, two of whom came to America.... I know it's a long-shot, but maybe....

I would really like to know where any of the named people in messages #88 and #89 ended up after Operation Vistula...Boryslav? ...any one have an address or names....

I look forward tohearing from you. Have a great time on your trip! I'm jealous!

Rakky Activity: 9 / 218
Joined: 23 May 2007 ♂
5 Aug 2009  #52

I'm jealous!

Me, too. And I was there last year! Let me know what villages you'll be visiting - we can compare notes.
wozzy Activity: 8 / 207
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 ♂
17 Aug 2009  #53

ok. lcbohio will do what i can .

setting off in the motorhome next wekend will be missing for a month or so. I'm not in any rush but I will be back.
Rakky Activity: 9 / 218
Joined: 23 May 2007 ♂
14 Oct 2009  #54

wozzy - we never heard about your trip. How about telling us about it?
kalila Activity: - / 1
Joined: 16 Nov 2009 ♀
16 Nov 2009  #55

Hi :)
Any luck on your trip to Beskid in 2006 and connecting to Zelem family members?

My grandfather Dionizy Zelem from Bodaki was apparantly well known ... man born more than a century before me. Very few people live in the area, now very old.

I would enjoy to hear your story and build my knowledge to pass on to my children.

Thank you
Polonius3 Activity: 907 / 9,330
Joined: 11 Apr 2008 ♂
16 Nov 2009  #56

Zelem looks to be a Jewish name. Not sure but possibly a form of Zelman (from Salomon?).
Only 24 people in today's Poland with that name, of which 22 live in the regained territories.
Rakky Activity: 9 / 218
Joined: 23 May 2007 ♂
16 Nov 2009  #57

22 live in the regained territories

Not necessarily Jewish. Possibly Rusyn (Lemko or Boyko) - hundreds of these families were relocated to these territories during Akcja Wisla in 1947.
Polonius3 Activity: 907 / 9,330
Joined: 11 Apr 2008 ♂
18 Nov 2009  #58

Just occurred to me...perhaps Zelem was derived from a form of the first name Anzelm, one of whose Lithuanian forms is Zelmas. So many different things have happened to names over the generations, centuries, foreign partitions, etc. amid all the resultant cultural cross-fertilisation....
27 Dec 2009  #59

I understand my grandmother came from Mecina Wielka by the name of Marya/ Maria Smakula, she married my grandfather Gregorz Stabach and briefly settled in Glinik Mariampolskie, (near Gorlice),before immigrating to the US in 1914. Don't have much info, but happy to share what I've got.
Sandra LaRouche  
4 Jun 2010  #60

I am researching my husband's grandfather, Theodor Zylka who emigrated to New Jersey in 1898. I have not found his passage but others by that last name seem to have come from
Ropica. Theodor married Anastasia Natika Macik whose family came from Zyndranowa.

Is Zylka is a Lemko name? Does anybody know the name in conjunction with your own research.

My husband's Mother, Olga Zylka LaRouche spoke several languages among which was Ukrianian, Polish. Bob, my husband. was orphaned (dad died when he was 2/mom died when he was 9) no history available as he went into foster care system.

He remembers that they went to an Orthodox Church but doesn't remember much else.

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Zelem family - Southeast poland
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