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1.       Chris_K
4 posts
 07 Apr 2011 Thu 04:39 am

In conducting genealogy research on my family history, I´ve discovered references to possible Turkish ancestry back in the mid-late 1680´s. Yes, the date is not a typo -- 1680s.

In researching potential family connections in Turkey (very difficult finding information from 300 years ago), I´ve discovered that while my family name is confined to a small area of Slovakia and here in the US, it´s apparently a much more common name in Turkey.

I´m a pretty outgoing person and don´t have reservations about politely contacting total strangers for help in genealogy research. Up to now, it´s largely been in the context of Europe (Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia). I speak enough of the language(s) to communicate and the culture is largely similar to my own.

Which leads me to Turkey. My knowledge of the language is rudimetary, at best. My knowledge of the country is equally limited although I did visit once (via the USAF) and enjoyed my short stay.

My specific questions/concerns. I´ve made a number of contacts with people sharing my family name. Most weren´t able to help; some didn´t reply, etc. Normal stuff.

I did receive a somewhat detailed reply (in Turkish) from a 24 year old young lady (with an uncanny family resemblance). As a father of a 27 year old daughter (who I adore), I´m suddenly concerned over how I would feel if a 47 year old guy from another country was suddenly in touch with my daughter. Throw in my unfamiliarity with the culture, potential for errors in trying to translate what I want to ask into Turkish, etc, and you get the idea.

Any advice here?

2.       MarioninTurkey
6124 posts
 07 Apr 2011 Thu 12:44 pm

 

Quoting Chris_K

In conducting genealogy research on my family history, I´ve discovered references to possible Turkish ancestry back in the mid-late 1680´s. Yes, the date is not a typo -- 1680s.

In researching potential family connections in Turkey (very difficult finding information from 300 years ago), I´ve discovered that while my family name is confined to a small area of Slovakia and here in the US, it´s apparently a much more common name in Turkey.

I´m a pretty outgoing person and don´t have reservations about politely contacting total strangers for help in genealogy research. Up to now, it´s largely been in the context of Europe (Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia). I speak enough of the language(s) to communicate and the culture is largely similar to my own.

Which leads me to Turkey. My knowledge of the language is rudimetary, at best. My knowledge of the country is equally limited although I did visit once (via the USAF) and enjoyed my short stay.

My specific questions/concerns. I´ve made a number of contacts with people sharing my family name. Most weren´t able to help; some didn´t reply, etc. Normal stuff.

I did receive a somewhat detailed reply (in Turkish) from a 24 year old young lady (with an uncanny family resemblance). As a father of a 27 year old daughter (who I adore), I´m suddenly concerned over how I would feel if a 47 year old guy from another country was suddenly in touch with my daughter. Throw in my unfamiliarity with the culture, potential for errors in trying to translate what I want to ask into Turkish, etc, and you get the idea.

Any advice here?

 

 Well, the first bit of advice is not to assume that people with your surname are related to you!

There were no surnames in Turkey until Ataturk brought them in in the first half of the 20th century.

Before that you were known as X son/daughter of Y and Z.

e.g. I am Marion daughter of Edward and Elsie (still used in a lot of official registries, along with my surname, here in Turkey)

If there were lots of a name, you might have a nickname such as "Mehmet the Conqueror", "Ahmet the baker", "Ayşe from the Caucasus" etc.

Or you might be distinguished by a title such as Mehmet Paşa (General), Ahmet Efendi (Gentleman) etc.

Surnames were chosen by families when the law came out. For some it was obvious, as they just took the nickname of a famous ancestor. Others took a name that was relevant to them such as the İnönü family whose member who was a friend of Atatürk, İsmet Paşa, had won a greta victory at İnönü. Others just chose a name they liked, as it was in the early years of the Republic many were very nationalistic showing pride in the new country such as Albayrak (red flag) or Demirkan (blood of iron) etc.

 

I would recommend that to find people in Turkey who are genuinely related you work your way back down the line from your Turkish ancestor. It is not surprising the date of 1680 cropped up - the Ottoman Empire was at its greatest then, and stretched nearly to the gates of Vienna. Your ancestor could have been an administrator, a military man or a trader. He also could have been a janissary boy who took a Turkish name when he joined the janissaries and converted to Islam.

 

Having said that, try writing in English (a lot of Turks can understand). Also ask if the person´s father or older brother can reply. That would demonstrate your intentions are honourable and you are a researcher not an internet stalker.

 

 

 

3.       Chris_K
4 posts
 07 Apr 2011 Thu 02:08 pm

Thanks for your reply.

For family history, I had made the same assumption with respect to the timing (1600´s) and looking at historical maps for the Ottoman Empire.

I´m very careful with any corresposndence and certainly would never imply being related to someone unless I was very sure of it. In my case, a Turkish relative would be some 13+ generations ago. A very, very distant relative, at best. The possible Turkish connection has certainly been an interesting twist. I had expected my search to continue north into Scandanavia.

I think my biggest concern is purely due to lack of knowledge of the Turkish culture and a sincere desire to not offend.

Thanks again for your comments. I do appreciate them.

Chris

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