Poppke and Volhynia

One of my Poppke grandfather’s possible birthplace is in Volhynia. A recent DNA connection showed a distant relationship with a similar surname from the area.  So it’s time to dig into the Volhynia connection.


What is Volhynia?

Volhynia is the name of a province that has been owned by several larger neighbors.  It currently belongs to Ukraine, but it’s historically been part of Russia (as Volhynia and as part of Russian Ukrainia) and part of Poland.

The Poland connection is important here because it was probably Polish when my German ancestors came here.  Unlike the German-Russians, the German settlers were not invited to settle barren steppes, they just moved here and created villages.  Because of this, the usual German-Russian sources don’t have much to say on Volhynia.

What’s up with the Poppke surname?

In the 1800’s, the main period I want to research, the major source of records were the church parish records.  So, you have German settlers traveling to an area with German churches, Polish administrators, and a history of writing with Cyrillic due to a history with Ukraine and Russia.

The only real constant with the Poppke surname is:

  • The beginning single consonant of P, but maybe a B
  • The next vowel – it’s been seen as a,e,i,o,u,oe, etc.
  • A P-K combination, either pk or ppk
  • The final vowel – a,e,o,ey, etc.

Here are current variations;

Poppke, Poeppke, Pueppke,, Pöppke, Pueppke, Puepke, Popke, Popkey, Popkie, Papke, Papkey, Pipke, Popka, Popko

Volhynia Links;



Jewishgen.org – Volhynia SIG

Uncle Herb Poppke’s trip