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Answers to Go with Susan Smith

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Q. I am going to an evening event on campus. I don’t really like to pay to park in a campus garage. Most of the streets have signs about 2 hour parking limits. Is that true on evenings? Weekends?

A. I checked with the city’s parking enforcement folks. They assured me that the 2 hour parking is only enforced Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Of course, you will want to be sure to look around to be sure you aren’t parking in a loading zone, etc.


Q. When I started to work on my family’s genealogy, I came across an unfamiliar surname – Landa. Does the library have books on the history of last names? Where did immigrants with that name come from?

A. According to our three-volume “Dictionary of Family Names,” there are several possibilities. It is most likely to have originated in Norway where it is a name based on several specific homesteads in southwestern Norway. Landa is the plural of land from Old Norse.

It could also be from Czechoslovakia where it is a short form of the personal name Mikulanda, a derivative of Mikulas. Mikulas is the Czech form of the Greek Nikolaos (Nicholas.)

In Poland, it is a nickname for a persistent and irritating person, from a derivative of the dialect verb landzic "to ask insistently," "to badger someone."

In Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic), it is a variant of Landau which is a habitational name from either of two places called Landa in the Palatinate and Alsace.

In Spanish and Basque, it is a topographic name from the Basque landa, the word for meadow. It may be a habitational name from a place of this name in Alava province, Basque Country.

This source has an indication of how frequently this name is used based on their sample of 88.7 million listings in the database used to prepare this reference book.

Landa is assigned the number 1049. I think that means 1,049 people out of the 88.7 million in the database were named Landa.

Smith, the most frequent of all American surnames, was listed at 831,783. While I was flipping through names to find Landa, I noticed the entry for Johnson. I was surprised to see that it is the second most frequent surname in America at 610,104.

I thought I’d check a sample Hispanic surname. Garcia came in at 105,882.

The “Dictionary of Family Names” was published in 2003. The introduction offers this information: “The source data used was the 1997 edition of Info USA’s ProCD Select Phone product which lists telephone subscribers.” I believe that means the original list of surnames was made up of people who had landlines telephones in 1997.


Each week hundreds of people call or visit the San Marcos Public Library to find information. “Answers To Go” highlights recently received questions. Please visit the library at 625 E. Hopkins St., call 512-393-8200 for information over the phone or e-mail us through our webpage at

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666