My paternal grandfather is the oldest person I know anything about who had the name. He was born in Rosiska (the obituaries disagree about whether that is in Czechoslovakia or Ukraine). He passed away before I was born so this is about the extent of my knowledge about him that's relevant to genealogy.

It seems that most immigrants romanized it as "Sczmoniak", but my grandfather did it as "Shimoniak" instead.

An ancestry DNA test leaves open the possibility that it may be Jewish.

  • Can you please proofread the name? For a native Ukrainian speaker, it looks like a typo, where correct spelling would be Шимоняк (derived from the Jewish first name Шимон ~= Simon/Symon). It can also be written in a German-ish spelling like Schmoniak (h, not z) or even Schimoniak Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 16:52
  • @bytebuster that's how it's spelled in English, but my grandmother told me that's the Cyrillic spelling. She might have misspoken. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 17:31
  • 2
    I totally understand, I just speculate to show the possible directions of research. Can it be something like Ш (/sh/) converted to a German'ish Sch, then converted back to Cyrillic Щ (/sh+ch/) and then misspelled into Ш Ц (/sh + ts/)? Because the latter is a totally impossible consonant pair in Ukrainian or Russian. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 17:52
  • @bytebuster What about Czech? Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 19:17
  • Czech doesn't use Cyrillic letters. Also, Czech (and Slovak) surnames doesn't use the -iak ending, see surnames.behindthename.com/names/usage/czech . Geography-wise, Slovak and Ruthenian origins would be more likely than Czech.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


In my experience, identifying the town from which your ancestor came might make easier to understand the original spelling (assuming that you can then track down documents for the town). Following this approach, I looked for Rosiska in The Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries. Unfortunately, there is no entry. Since I could not find the name directly, I scanned the dictionary looking for towns that could conceivable be mistranslated into Rosiska. For instance, there is a town Rojskoce in Bessarabia. In this vein, you should be aware that the Polish adjective for Russia is Rosyjska, so Rosiska could be a mistranslation.

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