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This article considers the origin and evolution of the surname Onda in eastern Slovakia, and its relationship to surnames that resemble it – Anda, Ando, Andoch, Ondach, Ondash, Ondo, Ondok, Ondush, Onduv, Onder, Onderik, Onderchik, Ondercho, Ondrak, Ondrushko, etc. – and also explores the connection to similar geographical names.


                        History and Geography of Ond- Surnames and Place-names

                                                         by Miles Lambert

Genealogical researchers occasionally will come across a surname of thoroughly exceptional interest.  This happened to me when I discovered an ancestor with the surname Onda.  My enthusiasm was lit because the name loudly rang two bells at once.  First, I thought of the Ondava River that flows through upper Zemplin.  Second, I thought of the 9th–10th century Magyar tribal leader Ond, whose name is associated with lower Zemplin, and particularly with the village of Ond.  Let me hasten to add that I did not entertain the notion that I was going to uncover an actual ancestor of mine whose name had been bestowed on a local waterway; nor did heraldic imagination entice me to expect that I would uncover a descent from Ond.  But I did wonder what tie there might be between the name of my Onda forebears and these other, ostensibly related names.


To satisfy my curiosity I was going to have to go beyond genealogical research per se and probe regional history and onomatology (the study of names).  Nothing else could light my way into the centuries of family history where I would not be able to trace actual lineage.  I therefore began a search through various Slovak, Hungarian and other central European books in the Library of Congress (LC), which eventually led me into a host of obscure topics ranging from Transylvanian Szeklers in upper Zemplin in the 15th century to nasal sounds in Slavic languages in the 10th century.

 Among my first steps, however, was the non-challenging task of thumbing through Slovakian and Hungarian telephone books in the LC to locate and contact persons named Onda.  Although this did not bear much fruit in terms of information from these persons, it did yield the distinct impression that there is a relative concentration of the surname Onda at the eastern ends of Hungary and Slovakia going toward Ukraine.  This was reinforced by an Onda respondent who stated that according to his knowledge the name is found mostly in the Hungarian/Slovak border region in the far east.  In western Hungary I found the surnames Anda and Ando, but not Onda.  I would have checked on Transylvania as well, but no Romanian telephone books were available.

Proceeding to more esoteric books held at the LC, I found Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian works that compiled the contents of Hungarian urbaria (official inventories of communal economic resources) for particular domains or districts in the 16th and 17th centuries.  These were the earliest urbaria, and their value to me was in their listings of names of persons (usually those having land entitlements) in specific villages.  These listings yielded several relevant surnames:  (in chronological order) Onda at Hrabovce nad Laborcom (formerly Izbugya-Rabóc) in upper Zemplin in 1560 /1; Ando at Vámos in Gemer (Gömör) County (in today’s Hungary) in 1570 /2; and Anda at the village of Berveni (Börvely) in Sătu Mare (Szatmár) County (now in Romania) in 1614 /3.  More ambiguously, there was also an Unte at Porumbac (Porumba) in Făgăraş (Fogaras) County in Transylvania (also now in Romania) in 1632 /4.


After poring over the urbaria, I turned to Slovak and Hungarian books about

the history of regions in the Kingdom of Hungary and found the following surnames:  Und at Kamenica (Tarkő) in Šariš (Sáros) County, Zemplin’s neighbor to the northwest, in 1283 /5; Ando at Prešov (Eperjes) in Šariš in 1428 /6; Ondai in Zemplin in 1438 /7; Unda at Stropkov in 1548 /8; Unda at Šaca in Abov (Abaúj) County, Zemplin’s neighbor to the southwest, in 1560, but recorded as Ando in 1563 /9; Ondok at Rankovce (Ránk) in Abov in 1565, but recorded as Onda in 1601 /10; Ondok at Vojčice (Vécse) in Zemplin in 1601 /11; Ondas at Nižná Mysl’a (Alsó Mizslye) in Abov in 1715/1720 /12; and Ondo at Šalanky (Salánk) in Ugoča (Ugocsa) County, in present-day Ukraine, in 1603 /13.  Further, a book of old Hungarian surnames listed an Onda in the Gyergyószék area of Csík County, in Transylvania, in 1616 /14.

 All these instances strongly reinforced the impression that the Onda-like surnames historically were associated mostly with the northeastern quadrant of Old Hungary.

 Not having forgotten the Ondava river and the village of Ond, I also perused maps and gazetteers relating to the Kingdom of Hungary in order to find other Ond-/And-/Und- geographical names and check on their territorial distribution.  Several such names turned up in the western (Transdanubian) part of the Kingdom:  in present-day Hungary, an Ondód each in Vas County and Fejér County; an And in Fejér County; an Andócs in Somogy County; and an Und in Sopron County; and in present-day Slovakia, an Andód (now Andovce) in the former Komárno (Komáarom) County, just southwest of Nové Zámky (Érsekújvár). /15  I also found mention of an “Ondzeuloshege” (Ondszőlőshegye in modern Hungarian spelling), or ‘Ond’s Vineyard Hill,’ from the year 1349, although the source did not state the locale or region /16.

Nevertheless, in the case of geography too, there was a concentration of Ond- place-names in the northeastern quadrant of the Kingdom, more specifically in the northern east-central area stretching from the Beskid mountains of northeastern Slovakia  south to the Tokaji hills of northeastern Hungary.  Besides the Ondava river and the village of Ond, the following topographical names are encountered:  a stream called Ondalik that joins the Ondava near Mála Domaša; a low mountain also called Ondalik, just west of where the stream runs through the village of D’apalovce /17; the northerly Šariš village called Ondnok in Hungarian in the 16th century (but its Rusyn appellation was Ondavka, after the name by which the Rusyns also called the headwaters of the Ondava) /18; and also in 16th century Šariš, a tract called Ondo, apparently an appurtenance of the village of Stul’any (Varjúfalva) /19.  All of these are located in the small space of northwestern Zemplin and northeastern Šariš.

To impose some order on this chaos of data and perhaps learn something of the ‘dark ages’ of Onda clan history, I began setting out all of my pre-18th century sightings of Onda-like names in chronological order, and according to whether they were personal names, family names, or place-names.  Eventually, as my research continued, the following list resulted.


_______________________________________________________________________Year                   Personal            Family                          Place-name

                        Name               Name                           (current name, county)

                                                (village, county)


c. 900              Ound

1138                Oundi

1208                                                                            Andocs (Andócs, Somogy)

1214                                                                            Undoch (Andácspuszta, Bihar)

1225                                                                            Und (Und, Sopron)

1231                                                                            Andronuk (Andornaktálya, Heves)

1236                Anda

1247                                                                            Ound (Ond, Zemplin)

1274                                                                            Andoch (Andócs, Somogy)

1281                                        Und (Kamenica, Šariš)

1288                                                                            Undod (Ondód, Fejer)

1321                                                                            Onduch (Andócs, Somogy)

1326                                                                            Undo (Ondód, Fejér)

1327                                                                            Ondornok (Andornaktálya, Heves)

1329                Oundi

1337                                                                            And (And, Fejér)

1349                                                                            Ondzeuloshege (vineyard)

1359                                                                            Ound (Ond, Zemplin)

1418                                                                            Andaháza (Andaházapuszta, Bihar)

1421                                                                            Ondod (Andovce, Komárno)

1428                                        Ando (Prešov, Šariš)

1433                                                                            Andód (Andovce, Komárno)

1437                                                                            Andronuk (Andornaktálya, Heves)

1438                                        Ondai (Zemplin)

1548                                       Unda (Stropkov, Zemplin)

1550                                                                            Undoch (Andácspuszta, Bihar)

1558-1561                                                                   Ondo (by Stul’any, Šariš)        

1560                                        Onda (Hrabovce n/Laborcom, Zemplin)                                   

1560                                        Unda (Šaca, Abov)                             

1563                                        Ando (Šaca, Abov)

1565                                        Ondok (Rankovce, Abov)

1570                                        Ando (Vámos, Gemer)

1601                                        Onda (Rankovce, Abov)

1601                                        Ondok (Vojčice, Zemplin)

1603                                        Ondo (Šalanky, Ugoča)

1614                                        Anda (Berveni, Sătu Mare)

1616                                        Onda (Gyergyószék area, Csík)

1618                                                                            Ondavka (Ondavka, Šariš)

1618                                                                            Ondnok (Ondavka, Šariš)

1632                                        Unte (Porumb, Făgăraş, Transylvania)                          


             Three things stood out in viewing this chronology panoramically.  First, the name indisputably had roots in the pagan era, but nevertheless retained a certain popularity all the way down through Christian times; it seemed simply to branch out stylistically, apparently – judging from the varied spellings it took – through a chameleon quality to its voicing.  Second, the name seemed to be associated only with the Magyars early on, and did not have any apparent connection with Slavs at least through the Middle Ages.  Third, and in connection with the Magyar occupation of the Carpathian basin, the Ond-/And-/Und- names, whether for persons or places, fell outside the territory circumscribed by Chaloupecky as ‘Ancient Slovakia’ /20, with the single exception of Andód/Andovce in Komárno, which in any case was a Magyar settlement.


Since everything indicated that the Ond-/And-/Und- names date to the era of the late-9th century figure Ond, I began by investigating his name.  Hungarian onomatologists attribute it to the ancient Magyar word ó, or ‘old,’ while the –nd suffix indicates a diminutive (pet-name) form, thus suggesting a connotation similar to

‘oldster’ /21.  The word ó is pronounced with a long ‘o’ sound, about midway between ‘zone’ and ‘moon’; but the nasal –nd suffix in the name Ond has the effect of shortening the ‘o’ slightly [reminder: nasalization is of significance to this account].  Indeed, when the legend of Ond was first set down in writing, around 1200, his name was transcribed in Latin as ‘Ound’ /22.  Consequently, while Hungarian historians now usually spell it ‘Ónd,’ some in the past have spelled it ‘Und’ /23.  Further evidence of the early pronunciation and spelling of the name is in the place-names Und, Ound, Undo, Undoch, and Undod recorded during the 13th–16th centuries.  The village name Und in Sopron County today still preserves the earlier spelling.

The pagan name continued to be used as a personal name for several centuries after the occupation of Hungary by the Magyars.  There is record of it as ‘Oundi’ in 1138 and 1329 /24.  This survival may have been due in part to outbreaks of renewed

paganism that occurred occasionally during that era /25.  An instance of the personal name ‘Anda’ in 1236 suggests, though, that there may also have been an early impetus towards ‘de-paganizing’ the name and fitting it into the Christian catalogue of given names.  Because of the nasal –nd sound, the name Und/Ond overlapped the Christian (i.e., Greek/Latin) name Andreas and was readily assimilated by it (here is the chameleon quality of the sound).  This is implied even earlier by the place-name ‘Andocs’ in 1208, since Andócs is a Hungarian diminutive form of András (Andreas) /26.


            But key to the history of Onda as a family name is that the pagan personal name Und/Ond was retained long enough to carry over into the era of surnames.  The earliest evidence I found comes from the aforementioned instance from Šariš County in 1283, when it was recorded that a certain ‘Count’ (comes) John Und transferred ownership of the village of Tarkő (now Kamenica) to his daughter.  This was exactly the period when surnames started to be used in the Kingdom of Hungary, and it occurred first amongst the nobility, who occasionally coupled a Christian first name with a pagan clan name /27, as with Count John Und.  It may also be that the upper classes, including minor nobility and burghers, were also the first to christianize the surname and move it toward Andreas.  This could be an explanation of the ‘Ando’ listed among taxpayers in Prešov in 1428. 

The same general evolution is mirrored among the rural and lower classes, but with a lag of a century or more, depending on locality.  It was not until around the 16th century that non-Christian first names had gone out of use among the lower classes in Hungary /28; and this may have been especially true of eastern Slovakia, where Christianity had been relatively late in gaining ground /29. 


The christianization of names among the lower classes may also explain the evolution from Und to Unda/Onda/Anda surnames.  Serfs, servants and soldiers acquired surnames somewhat later than the nobility, mostly beginning in the 14th and 15th centuries /30.  Because of this timing, their surnames would have reflected updated habits in the forms of names.  The evolution in the name Und appears to have gone from Und to Undi to Unda, which is proved by the parallel case of the Magyar pagan personal name Kund/Kend, which became Cundi/Kendi, and finally the surname Kende /31, respectively in accord with the typical vowel-harmony system of the Magyar language [whereby an a or o should have to follow in the syllable after Und- or Ond-, but an e in the syllable after Kend-] /31.  Hence the name ‘Unda’ at Stropkov in Zemplin in 1548 and at Šaca in Abov in 1560. 

But the mid-16th century also seems to have been when the Und(a) spelling gave way to modern forms and disappeared.  For it was also in 1560 that the name was recorded as ‘Onda’ at Hrabovce nad Laborcom in upper Zemplin; and it turns up again as ‘Ondo’ at Šalanky in Ugoča in 1603 and as ‘Onda’ in the Gyergyószék area of Transylvania in 1616.  The cause of this switch from u to o (and also to a) probably had to do both with changes in orthography and spelling habits /32, and with the universal christianization of name-giving that took place around this time in the Kingdom of Hungary /33.  The vowel sound u in Und(a) could be altered to an o (or a) sound because the nasal –nd sound permitted it to merge easily with either; and the firming of Christian sensibilities probably favored doing so in order that the name be less suggestive of a pagan origin.  The change from ‘Unda’ in 1560 to ‘Ando’ in 1563 at Šaca in Abov is a case in point.

In addition to the cultic history of the Ond- names, my chronological list had also drawn me into their ethnic aspects.  I was all the more interested because reading in regional history books and rummaging in Latter-Day Saints’ microfilms of old Hungarian marriage records had made it obvious that inter-ethnic mixing – in every sense – had been fairly commonplace in Zemplin, Šariš and Abov counties during the Middle Ages, and later too, as people changed locales and religions and acquired new languages (i.e., either changed languages or became bi- or tri-lingual) in the wake of various historical events.  Unfortunately, though, it had also become obvious that historians of the region generally do not deal frankly with this subject, if they confront it at all [the presumption of ‘ethnic purity’ in the late Middle Ages typically is central to their presentations on regional history, and consequently recognition of mixed ethnic ancestry is anathema].

It turns out that not only is Und(a) a name of pagan Magyar origin, but the history of the presence of ethnic groups locally in eastern Slovakia also suggests a Magyar origin of Und-/Ond-/And- names there prior to around 1700.  Virtually all pre-18th century instances of these names, whether used for persons or places, occurs in an environment that in the late Middle Ages was at least partly Hungarian in ethnic makeup.  This is true of villages bearing such names, but also of the villages in which persons bearing Und-/Ond-/And- surnames were residing:  most are places that were exclusively or preponderantly Magyar.  This includes not only the places in today’s Hungary, but also Šalanky in Ukraine, Berveni in Romania, and Šaca and Rankovce in eastern Slovakia, all of which were predominantly Magyar in the 16th and 17th centuries /34.  Even in the case of upper Zemplin, which was already predominantly Slavic, persons of Hungarian origin or ancestry appear to have made up a part of the population in some localities, including Hrabovce nad Laborcom and Stropkov during the 16th century when the Onda and Unda names, respectively, were recorded there.  Most of the surnames recorded along with Onda in the 1560 urbarium for Hrabovce indicate Magyar origin /35.  Likewise, the 16th century lists of names from Stropkov show Magyar surnames to have been commonplace there at that time /36.

I found no reason to surmise, as some historians of eastern Slovakia are wont to do, that Magyar surnames in that era were administratively imposed on persons who had no Magyar background.  On the contrary, various authors dealing with the history of ethnic demography in the Kingdom of Hungary have alluded to the historical fact that Magyars went north into what is now Slovakia during the 16th–18th centuries and assimilated to Slavic speech while retaining Magyar surnames, and sometimes even a Magyar consciousness /37.  Moreover, there were plausible historical reasons, mostly in connection with military events, to explain the presence of Hungarians.  Of special relevance to Onda family history may be the fact that Hungarian-speaking Szeklers from Transylvania served as soldiers in upper Zemplin beginning in the late-15th century /38.  The Szeklers often used diminutive first names as surnames, and the specific diminutive names Onda, Anda and Ando are among those /39.

            The historical background of Slovak names beginning with Ond- is entirely different.  Ond- personal names of Slavic origin cannot be traced to the pagan era as in the case of Und/Oundi/Ond.  Also, although Slavs had been in eastern Slovakia before the arrival of the Magyars around 900, no Ond-/And-/Und- geographical names are known to have existed either there or elsewhere in Slovakia – or indeed anywhere in the Carpathian basin – before then.  Nor is it likely that a pagan Ond- name would have developed in a Slovak context after 1000 since philologists are agreed that the proto-Slovaks ‘de-nasalized’ their speech around the 10th or 11th century /40, and thus would not have incorporated the nasal –nd sound in a name of indigenous origin after that time.  Furthermore, even in words where the early Slavs used the nasal –nd sound, they did not precede it with an o vowel sound /41.  It is to be noted additionally that historians involved with eastern Slovakia have put forward no theories as to the etymology, or derivation, that a pre-Christian Ond-/And-/Und- name might have had.

Ond- personal and family names came along late in the development of Slovak names, and resulted exclusively from the christianization of name-giving.  The acceptance of Christianity among the Slovaks enabled the –nd in Andreas to be treated exceptionally and to be accommodated in the Slovak name ‘Ondrej.’  This is in fact the name that accounts for all the early instances of Ond- names in an indisputably Slovak context, as in the 16th urbaria for Slovak areas.  But these names, of course, are actually Ondr- names, such as Ondrak, Ondrishko, Ondrushko, etc.:  i.e., they are not true Ond- names.  There were no actual Und-/Ond-/And- surnames in the 16th century for western Slovakia; and yet this is the expanse of Slovakia with the most solid ethnic ties to the Great Moravian Empire of the 9th century that gave rise to the Slovak nation – in other words, exactly where one would expect to find Ond- personal names if they had a pagan, proto-Slovak origin.     

It is only later, probably not much before 1650, that real Ond- surnames came into use in a Slovak context.  This would have occurred following the coming into fashion of the somewhat stylized name ‘Onder’ in place of Andreas as a given name, which apparently took place in the latter half of the 17th century.  The given name Onder does not appear at all in the 16th and 17th century urbaria for the Slovakian lands, and the earliest instance of it that I have encountered was in a Stropkov document from 1698 /42.  Although I have not been able to substantiate it to my satisfaction, it looks as though the rather sudden popularity of the name Onder may have been a result of the Reformation and the German name ‘Ander.’  This would explain why the personal name Onder was used by Hungarians too, as when it was recorded in 1715 joined to several Magyar surnames in the then mostly Hungarian village of Podproč (Poprocs) in Abov /43.

The new formal name Onder naturally led to new diminutive names, most of which, however, did not actually shorten the name, but instead incorporated Onder in its entirety:  Onderik, Onderchik, Ondercho, Onderko, etc.  But two other diminutive names that Onder brought about in predominantly Slovak places were the shortened versions Onda and Ondo.  Thus, it is the personal name Onder, rather than the earlier Ondrej, that led to true Ond- personal names in a Slovak context.  These in turn led to tertiary Slovak offshoots such as Ondak, Ondush, and Onduv, and even to double diminutives, such as Ondushko, Ondushchin, etc.  It was also natural for all of these names – Onder and its offshoots – to become surnames among Slavic speakers (Slovaks and Rusyns) of eastern Slovakia.  The adoption of these as fixed surnames probably occurred largely during the 18th century, when Hungarian law first required that everyone must have a permanent surname /44.  The timing of this law just happened to coincide with the peak popularity of the personal name Onder.

Concerning the offshoot names Ondo and Ondok, some historians who have surveyed old lists of names in specific villages, in order to determine dominant ethnicity, have presumed that persons with these surnames must have been Slavs /45.  But this viewpoint overlooks the earlier Hungarian Und/Ond personal and clan name, and is further based on the erroneous notion that –do and –ok suffixes for diminutive names are exclusively Slavic.  In fact these suffixes are just as typical of Hungarian diminutive names; and the –ok suffix in particular is one of the oldest Magyar suffixes for creating a diminutive /46.  Also, because of the nasal –nd factor, Ondo and Ondok clearly would be older in the Magyar linguistic tradition than in the Slovak.  Further, the specific instances of Ondo and Ondok surnames cited by the historians occurred in villages of mixed or mostly Magyar ethnicity.

This background to the Ond- names leaves the family history researcher in a bit of a quandary when it comes to determining the ethnic origin of the specific surnames Onda, Ondo and Ondok in the case of individual families.  Certainly a conclusion cannot be drawn without having an idea of when the name first occurs in a family tree, and then thoroughly looking into the local history of ethnic groups.

It is also to be noted that during the period of transition from Und(a) to Ond(a) among Hungarian-speakers, the various offshoot names may have had a degree of interchangeability, the more so since all were diminutive names.  In those times, when surnames were still a novel convention, a lower-class person by the name of Onda might have stated his name alternatively as Ondash or Ondo or Ondok on any given occasion, much as an early Robbins in England might have stated his surname alternatively as Robb or Bobb.  Also, as always, the recorders of the names might have exerted an influence over this choice, though not for ethnic reasons since in those early centuries ethnic consciousness did not yet manifest itself in such ways.  The same may be true later on in the case of the offshoot names Ondush, Ondov and Onduv in the Slovak context, since church registries suggest that even the 18th century legal requirement for permanent surnames did not preclude, in common practice, the recording of minor variations in form on the occasion of births, marriages and deaths.

Other possibilities with respect to the ethnic origin of Ond-/And- names in eastern Slovakia may have to be considered in a few cases, though rarely.  In connection with a possible Slavic origin, I found two relevant names that occur in a Polish context.  The one was an Undaska in Poland in the 17th century /47; and the other was a 17th century Ondakowski /48.  Roman Catholic Poles, as well as Greek Catholic Rusyns from the Polish lands, in fact had filtered down into eastern Slovakia for centuries, and consequently there is a possibility that Ond- names may have arrived with them.  But that should have resulted in an earlier and broader geographical distribution of these names outside the areas of eastern Slovakia where Magyars historically were present.  Additionally, I have found no instance in eastern Slovakia where a theoretical Polish-Slavic origin would appear a more likely explanation for the occurrence of an Ond- surname than the known onetime presence of Magyars and Szeklers.  [It would be nearly as relevant to note that Unda is also a Spanish name and that Spaniards had settled in the Topl’a river valley of Šariš some time after the mid-13th century Tatar invasion of the Kingdom of Hungary /49.]  On the other hand, moreover, the Ond-/Und- names found in Poland could have been left over from Magyars and Szeklers who went north into Galicia in earlier centuries when the Hungarian kings were actively interested in the Polish lands.

A German origin is also a possibility in some cases.  For instance, the German given name Ander occurs as a surname in the Lutheran registries of Prešov in the 17th century.  Nor is a German origin out of the question in the case of the Ando recorded at Prešov in 1428.  For Prešov was preponderantly German in those times, and it happens that Ando was also a diminutive form of the medieval German personal name Andulf /50.  Thus, research into old religious affiliations might be a key indicator of the ethnic origin of And-/Ond- surnames in some instances.

On the other, geographical front of my research, my curiosity about the name of the Ondava river had grown during my investigation of surnames. 

The Ondava is one of the major arteries of the upper Tisa (Tisza) river area, and stretches from lower Zemplin at Trebišov north to Stropkov and then northwest into Šariš, where it becomes the Ondavka toward its headwaters.  South of Trebišov the Ondava becomes the Bodrog.  However, all indications are that the name Bodrog originally encompassed the Ondava.  Documents from the mid-13th century clearly refer to the Ondava near Stropkov as the Bodrog /51.  When and how the Ondava gained a separate identity has not been carefully studied, and least of all has anyone looked into the connection with surnames.

  Hungarian historians once assumed that the name of the Ondava, like that of the Tokaji wine village of Ond, was a geographical legacy from the ancient figure Ónd since this was his bailiwick and the name does signify ‘Ónd River’ /52.  But there are no documents to indicate or suggest that the Ondava received its name earlier than the late Middle Ages, in other words several centuries after the Kingdom of Hungary was established.  This gives cause to doubt whether people would still have retained a memory of Ónd by which to tag the river with his name.

The more recent Slovak historian Branislav Varsik preferred the notion that the Ondava received its name before the Magyars entered the picture, i.e., before the year 900.  He supposed that the appellation was given either by pre-10th century Slavs who were still comfortable with the nasal –nd sound, or else by a non-Slavic group (presumably Celts or Avars) who had inhabited the upper Zemplin area before either the Slavs or Magyars arrived.  But Varsik failed to present, much less examine, the evolution of the name Ound>Und>Unda>Onda, and even neglected to make reference to the historical persons Ónd and Count Und, both of whom were mentioned in sources he used and was thoroughly familiar with. /53

I came to an entirely different conclusion from any of the historians about the chronology and origin of the name Ondava.  Based on the chronology of Ond-/And-/Und- names, the fact that all the other nearby geographical names of related type – Ondalik stream, Ondalik hill, Ondnok village, Ondo locality – were first recorded with the Ond- spelling indicates that the Ondava would not have acquired its name with the Ond- spelling prior to 1300.  Moreover, climatic changes and extensive flooding in the upper Tisa river region, including the Ondava, during the 1300s /54 suggests that settlement and the acquisition of topographical names was still in progress around 1400.  What is more, in a document from the second half of the 15th century the Ondava at Stropkov was still being referred to as the Bodrog, and as late as an urbarium of 1601 it was still recorded as the Bodrog at Trebišov /55.     

From this chronology, which would date the emergence of the Ondava and other Ond- geographical names of northeastern Slovakia to about 1400-1600, it would appear that all stem from clans or families designated by Ond-/And-/Und- type names, who were in the region long after the ancient chieftain Ónd had lived.  Certainly the place-names Ondo and Ondnok correspond to the other Hungarian geographical names of that type from the late Middle Ages (as listed in the chronology) /56.  It is notable, for instance, that there was an Ando family in Prešov in 1428 and that the place called Ondo recorded in the mid-1500s was only about 15 miles north northeast of Prešov /57.  Similarly, the presence of the Magyar surnames Onda in Hrabovce nad Laborce and Unda in Stropkov in the mid-1500s suggests descendants of Hungarian Szeklers who were in the region in the late 1400s.  Ondalik hill might have acquired its name from a Szekler named Onda. 

But in contrast to these names, whose origins could stem from very localized history, the name of the Ondava itself may be more difficult to ferret out.  It would seem that an exceptional personage or a clan of broader regional significance has to be involved in the story.  The Count John Und of the 13th century died without male heirs to carry on the name, but were there other surviving lines of the Und clan?  Or, perhaps more needs to be known of the landowning Ondai family that was in lower Zemplin in 1438.  Could the river have been named for them?  It fits chronologically.  But how extensive were their holdings in Zemplin, and did those holdings anywhere encompass or touch the Ondava?  In any case, and not withstanding the Magyar origin of the Ond- stem, the typically Slavic –ava  suffix suggests that it must have been a population that was largely Slavic or bi-lingual that actually conferred the name Ondava /58.

In conclusion, genealogists and family historians who come upon Ond- surnames in a family tree have a trove of regional historical material to comb through.  Who knows?  A few who bother to go the distance might uncover substantial reason to dismiss my demurral and regard the Ondava as an ancestral patrimony.       


                                                *     *     *     *     *



1/  Richard Marsina and Michal Kusík, Urbáre Feudálnych Panstiev na Slovensku

[Urbaria of Feudal Domains in Slovakia], (Bratislava: Vydavatel’stvo Slovenskej Akademie Vied, 1959), Vol. I, p. 217.


2/  Ferenc Maksay, Urbáriumok: XVI-XVII Század [Urbaria: 16th-17th Centuries] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1959), p. 462.


3/  Ibid., p. 804.


4/  D. Prodan, ed., Urbariile Ţării Făgăraşului [The Urbaria of the Făgăraş Lands],

Vol. II, 1651-1680 (Bucharest: Editura Academiei, 1970), p. 249.


5/  Sándor Tóth, Sáros Vármegye Monografiája [Monograph of Šariš County] (Budapest: 1910), Vol. II, p. 486.


6/  Béla Iványi, Eperjes Szabad Királyi Város Levéltára, 1245-1526 [Archives of the Royal Free City of Prešov, 1245-1526] (Szeged: 193l), p. 89.


7/  Samu Borovszky, ed., Zemplén Vármegye [Zemplin County] (Budapest: Apollo, 1903), p. 343.


8/  Ján Beňko, et al, Stropkov (Martin: Gradus, 1994), p. 49.


9/  Branislav Varsik, Osidlenie Košickej Kotliny [Settlement of the Košice Basin] (Bratislava: Vydavatel’stvo Slovenskej Akademie Vied, 1973), Vol. II, p. 57.


10/  Ibid. , Vol. III, p. 86.


11/  Marsina, op.cit.


12/  A. Petrov, Příspěvky k Historické Demografii Slovenska v XVIII-XIX Stoleti [Research from Historical Demography of Slovakia in the 18th–19th Centuries] (Prague: Česka Akademia Věd a Uměni, 1928), p. 139.


13/  István Szabó, Ugocsa Megye [Ugoča County] (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, 1937), p. 464.


14/  Miklós Kázmér, Régi Magyar Családnevek Szótára, XIV-XVII. Század [Dictionary of Old Hungarian Family Names, 14th-17th Centuries] (Budapest: Magyar Nyelvtudományi Társaság, 1993), p. 787 (entry for ‘Onda’).


15/  Lajos Kiss, Földrajzi Nevek Etimológiai Szótára [Etymological Dictionary of Geographical Names] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1988), 2 vols.  See: Vol. I, p. 99 (entries for ‘Andácspuszta,’ ‘Andaházapuszta,’ ‘Andócs’); p. 100 (entries for ‘Andód’ and ‘Andornaktálya’); p. 384 (entry for ‘Pusztavám’); and Vol. II, p. 483 (entries for ‘Ond’ and ‘Ondód’), and p. 670 (entry for ‘Und’).  For village of And, in Fejér County, see György Győrffy, Az Árpádkori Magyarország Történeti Földrajza [Historical Geography of Hungary in the time of the Arpads] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1963), Vol. II, p. 398.  [Fans of James Michener may recall his book The Bridge at Andau and wonder about the name Andau in Austria’s Burgenland province, once part of the Kingdom of Hungary.  The name is a Germanic corruption of its early Hungarian name “Zanto” (Szántó) to Antau/Andau, and has no connection to the Ond- names.  See Kiss, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 162 (entry for ‘Mosontarcsa’).]


16/  Kniezsa, p. 52.


17/  Stropkov Orientačná Mapa, Slovenská Kartografia, Bratislava [map, post-1993]


18/  Marsina, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 124.


19/  Tóth, op.cit., Vol. II, pp. 449, 495.


20/  The eastward extent of the Great Moravian Empire has been a subject of debate.  Václav Chaloupecky, Staré Slovensko [Ancient Slovakia] (Bratislava, 1923), considered that “Ancient Slovakia” (i.e., pre-Hungarian Slovakia) extended eastward only as far as central Šariš.  Present-day Slovak historians dispute Chaloupecky and contend that the Great Moravian Empire must have extended virtually as far east as does today’s Slovakia, if indeed not into the territory formerly known as Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia.  But this view clearly is undercut by the geography and chronology of the Ond- names.


21/  Kiss, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 483 (entry for ‘Ond’).


22/  Győrffy, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 882.


23/  Borovszky, op.cit., p. 343.


24/  Kiss, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 483 (entry for ‘Ondava’).


25/  “Hungary, History of,” The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1984), Vol. 9, p. 31.


26/  Béla Kálmán, The World of Names (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1978), p. 56.  [in English].  Also, see Kiss, op.cit.,  Vol. I, p. 99 (entry for ‘Andócs’).


27/  Kálmán, op.cit., pp. 41, 46, 58.


28/  Ibid., pp. 42, 46.


29/  Varsik, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 121.


30/  Kálmán, op.cit., p. 46.


31/  Kiss, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 713 (entry for ‘Kende’).  The chronology of these Magyar –nd names (Ond and Kend) may hold a key to certain aspects of east Slovakian ethnic history.  The Ond- geographical names are discussed in the body of this article. The name Kend/Kendi/Kende has significance in connection with Magyar settlement at the village of Kendice (Kende) in Šariš, south of Prešov.  See Varsik, op.cit.  However, Varsik was unaware of the evolution of the names Ond and Kend as demonstrated here, and thus was mistaken in averring that Kendice’s earliest name could only have been ‘Kendi’ or ‘Kendy,’ not ‘Kend’ or ‘Kende,’ because there was no Magyar clan with the latter names.  In the Middle Ages, the clan name would have been Kund/Cund or Kundi/Cundi, and thus does not undermine a clan derivation of the village name Kende at a later date. 


32/  Kniezsa, op.cit., p. 56.


33/  Kálmán, op.cit., p. 46.


34/  The surnames Ondok and Onda were recorded respectively in 1565 and 1601 at Rankovce.  The village was just becoming predominantly Slavic (Slovak and Rusyn) in that period.  Whereas most of the surnames recorded in 1601 were Slavic, two-thirds had been Hungarian in 1565; see Varsik, op.cit., Vol. III, p. 86.  (Inexplicably, Varsik misidentified more than a dozen Hungarian surnames at Rankovce as “Slovak,” “Slavic,” or “unclear,” including surnames identified as “Hungarian” elsewhere in his 3-volume work.  Most of these misidentifications could have been avoided through cursory onomatological research.  Volume III generally is plagued by this problem, to the point that it detracts substantially from the plausibility of some of the conclusions drawn.)          


35/  Marsina, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 217.  Surnames indicating Hungarian background are Fabian, Fylep [Fülöp], Geres, Lazlo [László], Varga and Verpec(z), which together with Onda account for 7 out of the 14 persons recorded.  (See the respective entries for ‘Geres’ and ‘Verpeces’ in Kázmér, op.cit.  Hrabovce stood out among its neighbors with respect to Magyar surnames, which may have owed to the village’s origin in a frontier setting, and possibly to settlement by Magyar or Szekler military men.


36/  Beňko, op.cit. pp. 49, 50, 53.


37/  The frankest of these authors is Petrov, op.cit., particularly p. 56, where he points out that many Hungarians moved into eastern Slovakia and Slovakized or Rusynized in speech but retained their original Magyar surnames.


38/  Lajos Szadeczky Kardoss, A Székely Nemzet Története és Alkotmánya [History and Constitution of the Szekler Nation] (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1927), p. 92.


39/  Kázmér, op.cit. (entries for ‘Anda’ and ‘Ando’); also, Miklós Endes, Csík-,

Gyergyó-, Kászon- Székek (Csík Megye) Földjének és Népének Története 1918-ig [History of the Land and People of Csík-, Gyergyó-, Kászon Districts (Csík County) until 1918] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994; originally published 1938), Appendix II,

pp. 522-537.


40/  Varsik, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 119. 


41/  János Melich, A Honfoglaláskori Magyarország [Hungary at the Time of its Original Occupation] (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, 1929), pp. 128-129.  It should be noted, however, that surnames ending in –nda do occur among Slovaks.  These names need to be investigated on an individual basis.  A likely explanation in some cases is a Vlach (Carpathian Romanian) origin.  For background on Vlachs in Slovakia, see Dumitru Crânjală, Rumunské Vlivy v Karpatech [Romanian Influences in the Carpathians] (Prague: Orbis, 1938).


42/  Beňko, op.cit., p. 285.


43/  Petrov, op.cit., p. 145.   


44/  Kálmán, op.cit., p. 79.


45/  See Petrov, op.cit., regarding the surname Ondo at Kaňa (p. 162) and Vyšná Žolca (p. 177) in the early 18th century; and Varsik, op.cit., Vol. III, p. 86, regarding the names Ondok and Onda at Rankovce in 1565 and 1601.  Similarly lacking in background history about the Ond- surnames, the Hungarian author Szabó, op.cit., indicated uncertainty about the ethnic origin of the name Ondo at preponderantly Magyar Šalanky in 1603.


46/  Kálmán, op.cit., pp. 56, 57.  Kázmér, op.cit. (entry for ‘Ondok’) attributes the surname Ondok to a Magyar word for ‘ugly.’  But the change from ‘Ondok’ in 1565 to ‘Onda’ in 1601 at Rankovce contradicts this explanation.


47/  Ewa Wolnicz-Pawłowska, Antroponimia Łemkowska Na Tle Polskim I Słowackim (XVI-XIX wiek) [Lemkovian Anthroponymy Against a Polish and Slovak Background (16th-19th Centuries] (Warsaw: Polska Akademia Nauk, 1993), p. 232.


48/  Jerzy Borkowski, Spis Nazwisk Szlachty Polskiej [Surname Roster of the Polish Nobility] (Lwow: Gubrynowica & Schmidt, 1887), p. 291.


49/  Tóth, op.cit., Vol. I, p. 104.


50/  Max Gottschald, Deutsche Namenkunde [German Name Types] (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1982), p. 88.


51/  Ferdinand Uličný, Dejiny Osidlenie Šariša [History of Settlement in Šariš] (Košice: Vychodoslovenské Vydavatel’stvo, 1990), p. 441 (footnotes 2253, 2258).



52/  Borovszky, op.cit., p. 343.


53/  Branislav Varsik, Slovanské (Slovenské) Názvy Riek na Slovensku [Slavic (Slovak) Names of Rivers in Slovakia] (Bratislava: Vydavatel’stvo Slovenskej Akademie Vied, 1990), pp. 142-143.  Varsik’s neglectfulness seems uncharacteristic and deliberate, and casts the shadow of nationalism over his presentation about the Ondava’s name.


54/  Andrea Kiss, “Some Weather Events in the Fourteenth Century (Angevin Period: 1301-87),” at , pp. 3, 4.


55/  Beňko, op.cit., p. 39; and Marsina, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 9.


56/  Győrffy, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 398.  Ondód in Fejér County had been recorded both as Ondo and Undo previously.  As regards the –nok suffix in Ondnok, this Hungarian place-name suffix typically was attached to clan names, in the manner of –ville, -berg, or –ton in English. 


57/  In scanning the early lists of Prešov citizens, a number of possible connections between Prešov families and the founding of settlements in northeastern Šariš and northwestern Zemplin during the 14th-16th centuries surface.  For instance, a member of the Colb family listed in Prešov in 1428 might have founded the village of ‘Kolbenhau’ (‘Kolb Clearing’), now Kolbovce southeast of Stropkov; the German (personal?) name Nikel appears in Prešov in 1428, and this may account for the name ‘Nykelwagas’ (‘Nikel Clearing’), now Mikulašova; the Karatczon family recorded in Prešov during 1449-1454 might have founded ‘Karachonmezew’ (‘Karácsony Meadow’), now Kračunovce; the Thorbay/Tharbay family recorded in Prešov in 1510 and 1511 might have founded the hamlet of Tarbaj, etc.  The cited works of Tóth and Iványi need to be perused in this connection.  Also, see Uličný, op.cit.  However, Uličný’s book is a nationalistically skewed presentation that deliberately downplays the role of non-Slavic groups, most of all the Magyars, at every possible turn.  For instance, although well acquainted with the Tóth and Iványi works, Uličný makes no mention of John Und in discussing Kamenica; concerning Mikulašova, he ignores the historically demonstrable German name Nikel and instead attributes the name ‘Nykelwagas’ to a supposed Rusyn priest presumably named Nikolaj; he makes no mention of the Karácsony family of Prešov in discussing the place-name ‘Karachonmezew’; etc.     

 58/  Melich, op.cit., p. 128.  In an older Hungarian view linking the Ondava to the historical figure Ónd, the –ava ending could have been attached by Magyar-speakers since the Magyars had been in contact with Slavs for several centuries and apparently sometimes imitated this means of naming rivers; see Borovszky, op.cit., p. 343.


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