Surname Saturday – Zalisko

Of course, I would pick the hardest surname in my database to start with.

Family tradition says that the Ukrainian surname Zalisko means “from the trees”. I’m assuming this means that the family lived in or near a forest originally. Google searches turned up minimal results, although I did find a family with the same surname in New Jersey before my family’s immigration.


This branch of my family immigrated to the United States from the general area of Rivno, Ukraine. They arrived in 1949, although they left their home quite some time before that. According to the stories, my grandmother’s family first left their home when she was about 4 years old, but her mother’s family had been “on the run” much longer than that. My great-great grandfather was a Ukrainian Orthodox priest and, at the time, the religion was illegal, so they went to Poland.

As politics got worse in the area, they moved several times, always together (my great-great grandparents, and their daughters’ families). They eventually ended up in a Displaced Persons Camp (also called a DP Camp) somewhere in Germany after the war. When the Allied Forces came through and liberated the camp, half of the barracks were invited to Canada, and the other half were invited to the United States. It was just before my grandmother’s 14th birthday.

As it stands, this branch of the family is at the end of the line. There are no male children. I would love to find out more about the family, and I know that we still have cousins in Ukraine. Hopefully I’ll find out some more details in the coming months.

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