According to Alexander Beider
in his book "A Dictionary of Jewish
Surnames from the Russian Empire", the name Dekelbaum
was found in Pinsk (in Minsk), and
Rovno (Volhynia), whereas the spelling Dekelbojm
occured in Rovno, and was
common in Lutsk (Volhynia).
Dekel or deqel is the Hebrew word for
palm tree, although, the Hebrew word used for palm tree in the Bible is
tamar. The word baum or boim or
bojm has the meaning of tree, although not precisely palm tree. According
to my learned Uncle Bernie (Rabbi Leffell), the dekel or tamar was
regarded as being tall and straight, so it is likely that the person who was
first given that name was a tall man, perhaps with good posture.
You may ask yourself (as I did), how did the Jews in the Ukraine know from palm trees? Again Rabbi Leffell tells me that they knew
about palm trees from their study of the Bible and Rabbinic Literature and from their observance. For example, in preparing for Sukkot,
the Torah instructs (Leviticus 23:40) "........ you shall take...... branches of palm trees.....".
These, together with the etrog (citron), were imported then as now.