Saturday, December 25, 2010

The simple, happy rituals of reorganizing and reassessing 15 years of research

Generations of ancestors surround me while I work on my family history this winter.  Some are on the floor, or inside two new storage ottomans, or next to me on the couch in the living room.  Others are on the dining room table.  Many more are upstairs in my office.  They are on index cards, in pages of notes, in file folders, and in three-ring binders.  A select few have made safe passage to a new database on my laptop.

I am devoting as much time as possible these days to genealogy—specifically, my own Polish ancestors.  The French Canadians, Swedes, Scots, and Revolutionary War era Americans who occupy the paternal side of my children's family tree are on hold for the foreseeable future.

In 2010, I expanded my family research to include DNA testing, a variety of heretofore-untapped databases, and some much-needed background reading on Polish history.  This new input has led me to re-examine what I knew, or thought I knew, from my past 15 years of research.  A couple of DNA tests, a handful of new records, and suddenly the earlier generations of my family are shifting into new configurations, introducing new surnames, and living in parishes outside the pale of my past explorations.

All this reorganization and reassessment takes a lot of time, and a lot of thought.  I fall asleep at night wondering about my ancestors.  Where did Anna Mosiejko's family live?  (Not in Szczuczyn parish where her own children were later baptized, and not in any of the surrounding parishes I usually search, so maybe Kamionka or Ostryna?)  Is that szlachta Prokopowicz clan in Lack parish related to my maternal peasant Prokopowicz family nearby in Iszczolna?  Why were my paternal Prokopowiczes baptized, married, and buried from at least five different parishes when they lived in the same village, Poleckiszki, for a couple hundred years?  The marriages are understandable (couples were usually married in the brides' parishes, not the grooms'), but the other events puzzle me.

Celebrating individuals through index cards

Each one of my ancestors is an individual unique in their particular combination of physical appearance, personality traits, talents, and life experiences.  All I know of them, however, is when they were born, baptized, married, had children, and died (from "fever," more often than not).  The most direct observation I have of any one of them is when I view and print out the documents of such life passages. 

Curiously, these long-ago family members come to life for me on the index cards I use for extracting the important details from their vital records.  There is something compelling about creating a card for each event and paper-clipping all those cards together.  Is it the act of writing that ancestor's name, or of physically handling the index cards?  Holding the pen, touching the paper—this is a tactile process, my own little celebration of an ancestor's individuality.  Typing the same information into a computer simply does not give me this same feeling of closeness and connection.  The electronic database is handy and useful, of course.  Just not emotionally satisfying.

Even more gratifying is my ceremony of laying out all the index cards potentially connected to a particular ancestral line.  As I study them, patterns emerge.  I shift the cards around to form family groups.  Even the minor cast members here play a part in the drama; persons repeatedly serving as godparents or marriage witnesses tantalize with clues to other relationships waiting to be revealed. 

Baptismal records from the 1700s and early 1800s typically omit the mother's maiden name.  The parents may be identified, for example, as "Michal Rusc and Rozalia."  But over the years, one Hayduk or another serves as a godparent for this couple's children.  Perhaps Rozalia is a Hayduk?  More research will tell, either through the eventual discovery of the couple's marriage record, or through baptisms of children born a decade or so later, when mothers' maiden names became part of the church record.

Genealogy software might generate the same kinds of clues about possible relationships.  But would seeing these connections in Arial 10 point on a computer screen make me as happy as moving index cards around, identifying a new family group, and setting them together on their own corner of the dining room table as if I were building them their own little house?  For me, the answer is obviously no.  This is one aspect of genealogical research in which I am unabashedly old-school and loving it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In 2010, my genealogical research trumped my genealogical blogging

After a very long absence from Basia's Polish Family, I'm back, with no apologies for my absence, but with an explanation: instead of blogging, I've been researching.  Genealogy has reclaimed its rightful position as the major passion in my life.  As a result, I have a lot of new information about my ancestry, which I am excited about sharing here in 2011.

It seems that most bloggers post entries every day.  My approach is very different.  Professionally, I am a journalist.  I have always believed that good journalism is based in providing new information—new facts and new insights that are hopefully helpful in understanding and navigating through life.  My career as a newspaper reporter and editor disciplined me to make every word count.  As a blogger, I don't write if I don't have something new to say.  Last January I realized that I needed to do a lot more research before I could continue to share my family story in a way that was satisfyingly meaningful to me.

Here are some highlights of my adventures in genealogy in 2010, with a promise of blog posts to come.  It's been a great year!

Y-DNA testing

In one of my early blog posts, I noted that I am descended from two Prokopowicz families.  All my life, I had wondered whether my father's Prokopowicz family was related to my mother's Prokopowicz family some generations back.  Now I have a definitive answer, thanks to Y-DNA testing made possible by graciously contributed saliva samples from some direct-lineage male Prokopowicz descendants.  Related or not?  The answer, the process, the details, the implications for future research, I will reveal all in coming weeks.  All except the men's identities, of course, for privacy's sake.

mtDNA testing

After much research into different companies for the Y-DNA tests, I also did a new test of my own maternal mitochondrial DNA.  Do I know more as a result than what I had learned through my original test by Oxford Ancestors nearly a decade ago?  Yes and no.

Subscription databases

Did I ever mention I was weaned on shopping at Filene's Basement and Spag's, or that my parents never bought anything they hadn't researched first in Consumer Reports, or that I feel like the Great Polish Huntress brandishing coupons and bargain-hunting at stores like Marden's and Ocean State Job Lot?  (If you're not a New Englander, you may have to Google these retail references.)  Bottom line, I'm thrifty. 

I have always made heavy use of free resources for genealogy, whether online, at libraries and archives, or at workshops and conferences.  Those resources are vast, but as we know, not everything is online, and not all records are available for free.  In 2010, I subscribed to a few paid database sites.  Were they worth the money?  Will I renew them in 2011?  I'll let you know before they run out this spring.

I ♥ Listservs

I've been active on various genealogy Listservs since 1996 and the era of excruciatingly slow e-mail over 9.6 kb modems.  The lists have been invaluable to my research.  Though I'm still subscribed to over a dozen, a couple in particular have emerged as my clear favorites.  Every year the relationships and the quality of help shared have grown deeper and richer.  If you're doing Polish/Lithuanian research in today's Belarus and/or Lithuania, you may benefit from them too.

Accessible archives

Prospects for obtaining some family records from the Grodno archives—officially, the National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno—seem good.  If all goes well, I will have some previously unattainable documents in hand this spring.  Woo-hoo!!!

Meanwhile, back at the microfilm ...

After a lapse of several years, I am again immersed in scrolling through church records microfilmed by LDS (aka the Mormons).  There are new films for the Roman Catholic parishes of the Lida area—pretty exciting!  But I also have reason to re-examine films I used years ago. 

I have a very organized system for working with the baptismal, marriage, and death records I find in the 18th-19th-century European church registers.  However, my research got interrupted a few years ago due to home and family matters and various writing projects.  My notes, index cards, and file folders lay abandoned.  My software got outdated.  Several computers and operating systems later, I'm using a new brand of software to create a new GEDCOM from scratch.  (Thankfully, out in the garage, I still have an old PC with an A drive that reads 3.25-inch disks. I just may need that sometime.)

Finally, Facebook

This has been my major foray into the social media.  I don't expect to be Tweeting my great-great-great-grandmother's baptismal date anytime soon ... but who knows?  What prompted me to join Facebook, what I initially expected, what I've actually gotten from it, and how I hope to use it for genealogy in coming months—as it turns out, these are all very distinct categories in my experience.

Goals for 2011

The final week of 2010 is the obviously perfect time to look ahead.  There is much I hope to accomplish in 2011.  The more I discover about my family's past, the more fascinated I am by the generations that came before me.  More research, more travel, more contact with kindred spirits worldwide lie ahead.  I hope you'll join me in my journey through the past.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Michal Prokopowicz marriage record 1886

Michal Prokopowicz of Poleckiszki (Ejszyszki parish) and Maryanna Kurowska of Pohorodno were married
16 February 1886 in the Ossow parish church, north of Lida. 
Iwan Szwed is listed among the witnesses.  His name appears in column three, line 15.

The family surname of Michal's mother, Rozalia, puzzles me. Any interpretations? 
In other records for this family, it is listed as Janonis (with varied endings).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Soleczniki Wielkie (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

In the chronicles of the Teutonic Knights, Salseniken or Saletzniken, town and estates on the Solcza River (tributary of the Mereczanka), Wilno district, in the 5th police precinct and the 7th district court, Soleczniki gmina, along the highway from Wilno to Lida, at 42½ wiorsts from Wilno and 46¼ wiorsts from Lida, has 520 inhabitants.

In the year 1866, there were 31 houses here, 459 inhabitants (9 Orthodox, 316 Catholic, and 134 Jews). The folwark in that year had 35 inhabitants (30 Catholics and 5 Evangelical Protestants); a glass-works, a mill on the Solcza, and a distillery.  It possesses a wooden Catholic parish church, a Jewish house of prayer, a Protestant chapel in the churchyard burial ground, and a postal station.

The population of the town, except for the rural peasants of Soleczniki Wielkie, [are] the pastor of the church service, the caretaker and keepers of the mail, the police guard, several classes of Jewish families, [those] working at the tavern-keepers’ trade, poor handcrafters and small shopkeepers, and residents of inns and of ten cottages built on landlords' property.

Catholic church dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, established in the 14th century, endowed by Jan Hlebowicz in the 16th century (according to the rubrics established in the year 1523 by Jan Chodkiewicz), enlarged by Alfons Lack, chamberlain of Wilno, in 1622; today well maintained, the endeavor of the local pastor by contributions from parishioners.  Catholic parish, Raduń deanery, has 4,104 faithful.  Branch in Soleczniki Mały, chapel in Montwiłowszczyzna.

The estates have 291 desiatyns of cultivated land and 2,730 desiatyns forest.  Formerly the property of Hlebowicz, in the 16th century [they] passed to Chodkiewicz, in whose possession they remained to the year 1824; today they are the property of Wagner.

(Słownik, v. XI, p. 49)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beniakony / Bieniakonie & Butrymańce (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Bieniakony, a gmina in Lida district, numbers 237 houses, 3,305 peasants of both sexes.  Gmina administration in the town of Bieniakonie.  The gmina encompasses 4 rural precincts: Gajcieniszki, Wronowo, Bolcieniki, and Sokoleńszczyzna, and numbers 49 villages.

(Słownik, v. I, p. 133)

See Beniakony.  Town, Lida district, in the 2nd administrative precinct, property of Pań Rymsza, at a distance of 47 wiorsts from Wilno, 43 from Lida.  Inhabitants, of both sexes, total 63.  The wooden Catholic parish church of St. John the Baptist was founded in 1634 by Jan Czapliński.  Catholic parish, Raduń deanery, has 4,370 faithful.  Branch in Butrymańce.

The Bieniakonie rural precinct, Lida district, has a population of 2,840, that is, 1,436 male and 1,404 female. The land in the district is flat, with woods and marshes, a great deal of fallow [land]; rivers Solcza and Żyżma.

(Słownik, v. I, p. 218)

(See v. I, p. 133, Beniakony, and v. I, p. 218, Bieniakonie).  A small town on the River Solcza, Lida district, 2nd police precinct, Bieniakonie gmina, 43 wiorsts from Lida, 47 wiorsts from Wilno, 63 inhabitants (in the year 1865).  Belongs to the Gajcieniszki estate of Rymsza.  Catholic parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, built of wood in the year 1634 by Jan Czapliński, rebuilt in 1810.  Parish, Raduń deanery, 4,808 faithful; branch church in Butrymańce; gmina administration, water mill.  Lies near the border of Oszmiana district.

(Słownik, v. XV, p. 144)


2.)  Village, Lida district, has a Catholic church, St. Michael’s, built of wood by Baron Schrotter, branch of Bieniakonie [parish].

(Słownik, v. I, p. 484)

Hermaniszki (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

3.)  Town [in the] Oszmiana district, on the Żyżma River, in the 3rd administrative precinct, at 49 wiorsts in a northwest direction from Oszmiana and 4 wiorsts from Woronów; possesses a wooden Catholic parish church named Holy Trinity, endowed in 1686 by Brzostowski, the bishop of Wilno; numbers 155 inhabitants. The class-5 parish of Hermaniszki, Lida deanery, has 2,540 faithful.

Hermaniszki belongs to Baron Lefort.  In the year 1866, Hermaniszki had 182 inhabitants.

The Hermaniszki rural precinct in Siedliszcze gmina counts within its limits the villages Porubiszki, Markowszczyzna, Romaszkańce, Nowosiady, Dziejnowo, Tusumańce, Darkszany, Łoszaki, and Miluńce, and the zaścianki Wołodkiszki, Markowszczyzna, Nowosiady, and Petrymany.

(Słownik, v. III, p. 61)

Woronów / Werenów (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Also spelled Werenów, town and folwark on the Błoczanka (Bołotianka) River, a tributary of the Żyżma, Lida district, in the 2nd police precinct, Bieniakonie gmina (11 wiorsts distance), Woronów rural precinct, at 32 wiorsts north of Lida, on the highway to Wilno (59 wiorsts distant) and 20 wiorsts from Ejszyszki. 

The town has 42 houses, 18 Orthodox inhabitants, 117 Catholics, 333 Jews, a Catholic parish church, a synagogue, a Jewish house of prayer, 2 tanneries, 12 shops, a postal station, a water mill, markets every Sunday, and fairs four times a year.  The obwarzanki [i.e., seeded bread twists, like bagels] baked here are renowned. The folwark has 100 Catholic inhabitants, 18 Evangelical Protestants, 8 Jews, and a brewery. The wooden Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Redeemer [Saviour], has stood here since it was built by Aleksandrowicz in the year 1705.  Catholic parish, Raduń deanery, 1,738 faithful.

Within the composition of the rural district come the villages Bojary, Bolcienikiele, Byryły, Kletkienniki, Kodzie, Łazarzyszki, Muchladziszki, Ramuty, Ściłguny, Sztaniszki, Towzginiany, and the szlachta neighborhood Towzginiany; all in all, in the year 1865, 240 revision souls [who were] enfranchised peasants and 9 jednodworce.

Formerly the property of the Gasztołd family, who died out, subsequently of the Scypios, among whom, Jan, castellan of Smolensk, starosta of Lida, endowed a Piarist college and school here before the year 1738.  By order of the board of education, these schools were subsequently moved to Lida.  At present Woronów belongs to Zarzecki.

(Słownik, v. XIII, p. 955)

Osowo (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

2.)  Otherwise Ossowo, church village, called a small town, on a river of the same name, Lida district, in the 2nd police precinct, Aleksandrowa gmina, Horodna [Horodnia] rural district, at 14 wiorsts from the gmina, 19 wiorsts from Lida, and 71 wiorsts from Wilno, has 4 houses, 60 inhabitants, namely, 27 male and 33 female (in the year 1864, 22 revision souls); belongs to the state treasury rectory of Osowo.

There is here a Catholic parish church dedicated to St. Jerzy (George), wooden, endowed in 1666 by Kazimierz Frąckiewicz and Ogiński, rebuilt in 1732.  Catholic parish, Raduń deanery, has 2,902 faithful; chapel in Horodna.  The surrounding area is somewhat hilly, few forests, many meadows; flowing are the Rivers Dzitwa, Żyżma, Osówka, and Pohorodenka.

3.) Village, Lida district, in the 1st police precinct, Bielica gmina, Tobola rural precinct, at 5 wiorsts from the gmina and 31 wiorsts from Lida, has 21 houses, 231 inhabitants, (in the year 1864, 98 revision souls); belongs to the estate of Stoki, Prince Wittgenstein.

(Słownik, v. VII, p. 653)

Trokiele (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

1.)  Treasury folwark, Lida district, in the 1st police precinct, Żyrmuny gmina, Dworzyszcze rural precinct, at 17 wiorsts from Lida, near the road from Lida to Dziewieniszki, has 77 inhabitants, a Catholic parish church, distillery, brick-kiln, and tavern.  The property was formerly Jesuit.  Catholic parish, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, built of wood in the year 1500 by Marcin Gasztołd.  Catholic parish, Lida deanery, 3,093 souls.  Branch in Dworzyszcze.  Formerly there was a chapel in Gimbuty.

2.)  Peasant zaścianek, Lida district, in the 2nd police precinct, at 39 wiorsts from Lida and 22 wiorsts from Ejszyszki, 1 house, 6 Catholic inhabitants.

(Słownik, v. XII, p. 493)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Żyrmuny (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

1.)  In documents, Żermony, town on an unnamed tributary of the Dzitwa (River), Lida district, in the 1st police precinct, Żyrmuny gmina and rural precinct, at 54 degrees 1 minute north latitude and 42 degrees 53 minutes east longitude, at a distance of 14 wiorsts on the north-north-west from Lida, 75 wiorsts from Wilno by the post road from Lida to Wilno. 

In the year 1860, had 29 houses, 271 inhabitants (according to later data, 14 houses, 196 residents), gmina and police precinct administration, Catholic parish church, Jewish house of prayer, public school, asylum for the poor, postal station.  Catholic parish church, by the name Holy Cross, was built of wood in 1788 through Princess Karolina Radziwiłł.  Catholic parish, Lida deanery, 2,491 faithful.

In the parish, the area is elevated; sandy soil, stony and gravelly, small forests, many bushes and marshes. Irrigating are the Rivers Żyżma, Dzitwa, and Nieszkrup.  Within the composition of the rural precinct come the town of Żyrmuny; the villages Bojary, Gierwieniki, Kawieryki, Maguny, Mnichy, Orzeliszki, Piatkowszczyzna, Pliki, Podworzance, Pożyżma, Skowrody, Stuki, Szalcinie, Szawerdaki, Tatary, Tołkinie, and Wielkie Sioło; zaścianek Jaświły; and szlachta neighborhood Soroki.  All in all, in the year 1865, 423 “revision souls” [who were] enfranchised peasants, 1,616 treasury peasants, and 3 jednodworce.

The gmina belongs to the 4th rural precinct (starostwo) (Żyrmuny, Apolin, Dworzyszcze, and Grodzienka), taking in 69 localities, having 445 houses, 5,910 peasant inhabitants enfranchised on 8,619 desyatins (6,311 fields).  Furthermore, within the limits of the gmina there are 19,615 desyatins (6,651 fields) in larger estates/properties and 63 (39 fields) church/ecclesiastical lands. In the year 1865, there were in the gmina 1,412 “revision souls” who were enfranchised peasants, 356 who were treasury peasants, and 104 jednodworce.

Formerly the property of Zawisza, among whom Jan, the wojewód of Witebsk, built a wooden parish church here, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the year 1624 endowed it generously.  In place of this church, which apparently burned during a war with Czar Aleksy Michajłowicz [Romanow], a new one was built in 1673, the endeavor of the local curate Reverend Maciej Szarkiewicz.

In the first years of the 18th century, Żyrmuny went to the possession of ks. Radziwiłł through the marriage of Mikołaj Faustyn Radziwiłł with Barbara Zawiszanka (born 1690), the daughter of Krzysztof Zawisza, governor of Minsk.  The son of this Faustyn, Stanisław Radziwiłł, carver of the king’s meat for the Grand Duke of Lithuania (Wielkie Księztwo Litewskie), together with his wife, Karolina nee Pocieja, built, in place of the deteriorating one, a magnificent new wooden church.

In the Acts of the Diocese of Wilno (Book IV, 1643) is preserved a curious act, in which “Aleksa Tyszkiewiczówna, wife of the Witebsk castellan Zawisza,” together with close friends, confirmed that for the church in Żyrmuny she was offering drops of Christ’s blood, obtained in Rome from Urban VIII through ks. Tyszkiewicz, formerly the bishop of Wilno, brother of the donor.  The act was written 20 March 1667 “in Żermony.”  According to a visit in the year 1700, this relic is placed in the pacyfikał [a reliquary], preserved in the church ciborium.

August II in the year 1724 gave Żyrmuny municipal rights.  In more recent times, Żyrmuny belonged to Count Tyszkiewicz, later to Anna Szwanbach.

2.)  Private folwark on the Nieszkrup stream, Lida district, in the 1st police precinct, Żyrmuny gmina (at 4 wiorsts from Żyrmuny), at 14 wiorsts from Lida, 54 inhabitants, water mill, distillery, and soap factory. — J. Krz.

(Słownik, v. XIV, p. 895-6)

Nacza (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

1.)  A parish church village, called a town, on the Naczka River, Lida district, in the 2nd police precinct, Koniawa gmina, at a distance of 8 wiorsts from the gmina, 74 wiorsts from Wilno and 38 wiorsts from Lida, has 176 inhabitants (86 male and 90 female).  It formerly belonged to Kościewicz (Kostewicz), among whom Jan, wojewód of Polesie, around the year 1529 endowed a church here and moved a parish from Dubicze.  Later it was property of Kiszka and next Radziwiłł.  A wooden church exists today, constructed on site of the former church by the Reverend Józef Kuczewski, local pastor, in 1756.  In the church, a statue of Jesus of Nazareth is renowned for miracles.

An extensive folwark, to nowopolską [new Polish] measure, all in all is 1,000 morgs [1,200 acres], of these 540 [morgs] forest, 360 tillable land, 80 meadow, and 10 morgs garden.  Near them on the River Nacza are a mill and a fulling [i.e., cloth-making] mill.

To the Nacza parish, Raduń deanery, belong 60 villages and peasant settlements, 21 neighborhoods inhabited by petty nobility, and 26 folwarks, all in all, 8,086 faithful.  Formerly, a branch [of the parish] was present in Dubicze.  In days of yore, as is evident from the rewizja [review] of Tatar estates accomplished in the year 1631 through Jan Kierdej, writer/clerk of Oszmiany territory, Nacza was settled by Tatars, remains of whom are preserved in the Tatar cemetery (see Muchliński, Zdanie sprawy o Tatarach Litowskich, and Tygod. Ilustr. of 1885, number 113).

Within the composition of the rural precinct come the villages Nacza, Ginele, Kudojańce, Królewszczyzna, Bieżaniszki, Puzele, Kowalki, Mieżance, Jurańce, [and] Mickańce, the zascianek [farm settlement of poor country szlachta] Buda, and the Talmonty neighborhood, altogether 131 souls who are enfranchised peasants, and 135 treasury peasants, and 49 jednodworce. The area is sunken, [with] pine forests, marshes and small meadows, a large lake, gravelly and loamey/clayey soil, irrigated by the Rivers Raduńka, Przedel, Kotra, Czepiełunka, Koniawka, and Naczka.

2.)  Nacza, peasant village in that same place, 34 “revision souls,” property of the treasury, formerly constituted an endowment of the Nacza pastor.

(Słownik, v. VI, p. 853-4)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jelna (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

1.)  Private folwark, Lida district, 1st administrative precinct, at 25 wiorsts [approx 25 km] from Lida, and 3 wiorsts from Bielica, 9 inhabitants (1866). Jelna formerly belonged to Sapieha, Szemiota, Odachowski. There was a Dominican monastery here; it was founded in 1667 by Zofia Marya née Olszewska Odachowska and Anna née Mańkowska Przesławska. Today it is the Catholic parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built of wood in 1667. Catholic parish, Lida deanery, 1,692 souls. Branch in Waszkiewicze, chapel in Bielica.

The area is an elevated plain, small forests, meadows, marshes, many fields; light cultivated soil, sandy. In the vicinity are the Rivers Niemen, Mołczadka, Niemenek, Dzitwa, Izwa, Hołdówka, Lebioda, Smołocz, Nieciecza, Rosoka, Olechówka, and Jeleńka, and Lake Weliczay.

2.)  Jelna, three folwarks and a tavern on the River Jeleńka; Lida district, 2nd administrative precinct, at 26-26 wiorsts from Lida, 5 houses, 46 inhabitants (1866).

(Słownik, vol. III, p. 559)

Nieciecz (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Note:  Entry # 3 refers to the Nieciecz that is the seat of a Catholic parish. The first two entries refer to other Lida district locations with this name.

1.)  Government-owned village on the Nieciecz stream, Lida district, in the 1st police precinct, Lida gmina, Dabrowa rural precinct, at 8 wiorsts [approx. 8 km] from Lida, along the road to Lipniszki, 17 houses, 181 inhabitants (87 "revision souls," or male serfs).

2.)  Nieciecz, szlachta neighborhood on the Nieciecz stream, in that very place, 2 houses, 33 inhabitants.

3.)  Also called "Zadworczany," folwark and village, in that very place, Bielica gmina, Tobola rural precinct, at 9 wiorsts from the gmina and 27 from Lida, along the road to Slonim, 21 houses, 275 inhabitants. In Nieciecz there is a Catholic parish church, dedicated to Jesus Christ, built from wood in 1715 by the hunter Kołuszewski, and renovated in 1837. Catholic parish, Lida deanery, has 1,701 faithful. Formerly there was a chapel in the churchyard burial ground. The estate of Nieciecz belongs to Świeżyński.

(Słownik, vol. VII, p. 50)

Białohrud / Białogród (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Note:  Occasionally, Słownik includes two entries for a location; typically one augments the original information.  In this case, the intention seems to be to acknowledge the two spellings of the town's name.


Town, Lida district, at 3 meters [??] from Lida, in hilly environs, intersected by the Dzitwa and Nieciecz rivers. Has a Catholic parish church, Matka Boska [Mother of God], built of wood in 1609 by wojewód Jan Zawisza. Catholic parish, Lida deanery, numbers 1,922 souls.

(Słownik, vol. I, p. 190)


(see vol. I, 190 s.v. Białohrud)

Village, Lida district, Tarnowszczyzna gmina, has a Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, built of wood in the year 1609 by wojewód Jan Zawisza. Catholic parish, Lida deanery, 1,990 faithful; chapel in town.

(Słownik, vol. XV, p. 126)

Wawiorka (Slownik Geograficzny translation)

Note: Slownik uses the spelling “Wawerka” and calls “Wawiorka” erroneous, but “Wawiorka” seems to be the generally preferred spelling elsewhere.

Erroneously “Wawiorka.”

1.)  Church-owned village, called a small town, Lida district, in the 4th police precinct, Myto gmina (formerly Wawerka), Wawerka rural district, at 21 wiorsts [approx. 21 km] from Lida and 14 wiorsts from Wasiliszki, has 4 houses, 67 Catholic inhabitants. According to information from 1881, it has 73 inhabitants; belonged to Pietuchowa (formerly, to the treasury).

It possesses a Catholic parish church, dedicated to St. Francis, built with brick walls in 1840 by Samuel Kostrowieki, in place of a former wooden one originating in the year 1413. The Catholic parish, Raduń deanery, has 5,692 faithful. Chapel in Dylewie; formerly, there were also chapels in Misiewicze [Mosiewicze], Lebiodce, Radziwoniszki, Stankiewicze, and Papiernia.

Within the composition of the rural precinct come the villages Abramiszki, Brzozówka (Berezówka), Dragucie, Gordziejowce, Lesanka, Markucie, Michnowce, Mikuty, Mosiewicze, Olchówka, Piaskowce, Radziwiłowce, Radziwinowce, Sielachy, Siewruka, Smoloki, Szorkina, Wawerka, and Zaniewicze, as well as the szlachta neighborhoods of Czaple and Kołomyckie; all in all, in the year 1865, 332 “revision souls” [were] enfranchised peasants and 85 were treasury peasants.

2.)  Wawerka, folwark, in that very place, at one wiorst from the small town of Wawerka, has 10 Orthodox inhabitants, 76 Catholics, and 13 Jews; property of Butkiewicz.

3.)  Wawerka, folwark, in that very place, at 28 wiorsts from Lida and 12 wiorsts from Wasiliszki, has 13 Orthodox inhabitants, 28 Catholic; property of Znamierowski (according to the list of 1865, Sumorokow).

(Słownik, vol. XIII, p. 148)

Zabłoć (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Note:  Within the old Lida powiat (district), there were also two small peasant villages named Zabłoć, one near Beniakonie and the other near Żołudek.  In my translations, I am focusing on Lida district towns that were the seats of Roman Catholic parishes. The term folwark is often mentioned in connection with these towns; Wikipedia offers some background history and explanation of this type of farm settlement.

Town and folwark on the Dworczanka River, Lida district, in the 4th police precinct, Zabłoć gmina and rural precinct, at 49 wiorsts [approx. 49 km] from Lida.  The town has 7 houses, 111 inhabitants (1 Orthodox, 106 Catholics, 4 Jews; in the year 1865, 26 “revision souls), gmina administration, a Catholic parish church, a school, a house of shelter for the poor.  The folwark, alongside the town, has 11 Orthodox residents, 67 Catholics, and 4 Jews.  The Catholic parish church, called Holy Trinity, the original one built of wood in 1622, remained but was rebuilt in 1778 due to its ruin; the present church, of brick, remained endowed in the year 1812 through Count Ludwik Tyszkiewicz.  The Catholic parish, in the Radun deanery, has 4,368 faithful. Chapels in Zabłoć and in Woronicze.

In the parish, the area has hills, forests, pastures; gravelly soil. The Kotra and Przewoza flow [here]. In the composition of the rural district come the town Zabłoć, the villages Dziatki, Dzyboły, Gudziniszki, Jodzielewce, Koziany, Kupieje, Lelańce, Maluki, Mosiewce, Opanowce, Osipowce, Pirowszczyzna, Podziejki, Przewoza, Remzy, Sołtaniszki, Szławience, Tołoczki, and Wolejsze, as well as the szlachta neighborhoods Jodzielewce, Przełęskie and Zapaśniki.  All in all, in the year 1865, 69 “revision souls” were treasury peasants, 18 were jednodworce, and 625 enfranchised peasants.

The gmina belongs to the 1st peace precinct of peasant affairs, falls within the 2nd rural precinct (Zabłoć and Lebioda), and includes 40 towns having 309 houses, 4,107 peasant inhabitants (in the year 1865, 1,359 “revision souls,” of them 103 were treasury peasants, 64 jednodworce, and 11 Jewish farmers), enfranchised for 6,691 desyatins [19,404 acres] (5,019 fields). Moreover, within the limits of the gmina are present 8,827 desyatins of land that belong to other classes (3,074 fields), 33 desyatins of church land (21 fields).  The total of the gmina area consequently encompasses 15,551 desyatins (8,114 fields) and has 4,812 inhabitants.

(Słownik, v. XIV, p. 184)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nowy Dwór (Słownik Geograficzny translation)

Governmental town, Lida district, in the 3rd police precinct, Dubicze gmina, Nowy Dwór rural precinct, on the road from Grodno to Zabłoc, at 140 wiorsts from Wilno, 52 from Lida and 28 from Szczuczyn, has 63 houses and 708 inhabitants (371 male and 337 female).  Municipal status was received from August II in the year 1720.  A Catholic parish church by the name of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built of wood in the year 1480 by the landowner Cząszny, [and] was rebuilt in 1749.  There is a chapel in the churchyard burial ground. The Catholic parish, Lida deanery, has 4,082 faithful.

The area is flat, irrigated by numerous rivers and streams, such as Kotra, Ostrynka, Nowodworka, Kichaczewka, Odakowka, Moraczka, Niepraszka, Dunajczyk, Downarowka, [and it] has gravelly soil and pine forests. In the time of the Republic, Nowy Dwór constituted an estate of the Crown, without jurisdiction, situated in Wilno province, Lida district. By the resolution/vote of the sejm in 1678, there was then the office of land-steward of the king’s/royal table, for which Andrzej Gembicki, the starosta of Nowy Dwór, had himself  in recompense the sum of 100,000 Polish złoty in Prussian coins.

Later this royal estate was split for the following leases: Bakszty, Filipowicze, Pielowce, Puchacze, Malatycze, Drabowszczyczna, Berszty, and ploughable? forest districts, which each had a separate owner. However, in the year 1766 Ignacy Gąsecki held the starostwo alone, and paid 711 Polish złoty quarterly and a winter tax of 1,400 Polish złoty.  Later it belonged to Antoni Roemer, son of Stefan Jerzy.

At present the town belongs to the treasury estate of Ostryna.  Within the composition of the rural precinct come the town of Nowy Dwór, the villages Skiełdycze, Piaski, Wampierszczyzna, Czerniawka, Kobrowce, Nowosady, Plociele, Bakszty, Maciuki, Kuce, Brzozowiec, Gaudziszki, Rodziewicze, Pozniakowszczyzna, Kuryłowce, Borowe, Zaniewisza, Malikowce, Rynkowce, Puhacze, Kulowce, Humenniki, Prudziany, Gromki, Kozaki, Przybytkowszczyzna, and the neighborhoods/environs of Sobakowszczyzna, Rodziewicze, Kobrowce, and Szyszjowszczyzna, all in all 2,014 dusz reviz. [“revision souls,” or male serfs].

(Słownik, v. VII, p. 294)

Orla & Łopaty (Slownik Geograficzny translations)

Note:  The family of Maria Baniukiewicz, the wife of Jozef Prokopowicz, brother of my maternal grandfather Aleksandr Prokopowicz, was from the Orla-Łopaty area.  Łopaty is due south of the Prokopowicz village of Kozarezy.  Dirt roads connect them; the distance between the villages is about 6 km, a little over 3 miles.  All of these locations may be seen on the colored map that accompanies my Żołudek translation.


A private town on the Niemen River, Lida district, in the 3rd police precinct, Orla gmina and rural precinct, at 50 wiorsts [approx. 50 km] from Lida, on the road to Zelwa, and at 138 wiorsts from Wilno, has 83 houses, 598 inhabitants (280 male and 318 female); wooden Pokrowska [Eastern] Orthodox church, erected in 1783; a Jewish house of prayer; harbor and ferry across the Niemen.  Property of Countess Hermance Uruska. Orthodox parish, Szczuczyn deanery (błahoczynia), has 2,497 faithful (1,244 male and 1,253 female).

The gmina consists of, from the 4th rural precinct: Orla, Lipczanka, Stukaly and Korutnica, 43 villages, 518 huts/cabins, and has 5,474 inhabitants (2,604 male and 2,870 female). According to the roll of 1864, it counted 2,187 male dusz reviz. ["revision souls"], namely 1,744 enfranchised peasants, 394 treasury peasants, and 49 jednodwórce [minor szlachta; jedno = one, dwór = manor, thus, nobility whose property was only one manor]. It belongs to the 2nd peace district of peasant affairs in Szczuczyn, as well as to the 2nd circuit of summons to military service from Lida district in the town of Żołudek.

Within the composition of the rural precinct come the town of Orla, the villages Przecim (Pretym), Hołynka, Długa, Kupieli, Łopaty, Korsaki, Papiszcze, Romanowicze, Turzejsk, Rymki, Soroki, Białogórce, Borć-Turzejsk, Pietraszki and Dworczany; the zascianek Dworczany and the szlachta settlements Paszyce and Romanowicze, all in all 889 dusz reviz., within this number, 575 enfranchised peasants, 277 treasury peasants, and 37 jednodworce.

(Słownik, vol. VII, p. 582)


Peasant village, Lida district, 2nd administrative precinct, Żołudek parish, along the road to Różanka, at 50 wiorsts from Lida, 13 houses, 121 inhabitants.

(Słownik, vol. V, p. 720)

Różanka (Slownik Geograficzny translation)

1.)  A government-owned town on the Turejka River, Lida district, in the 3rd police precinct, Różanka gmina and rural precinct, at 56 wiorsts [approx. 56 km] from Lida and 144 w. from Wilno, has 883 inhabitants (445 male and 438 female). Catholic parish church called by the name of Ss. Peter and Paul, with high brick walls, founded in 1764 through wojewód [Polish senator] Pac. Catholic parish, Lida deanery, has 2,097 faithful; chapel in the burial ground.

The environs have an elevated section and a level section, gravelly cultivated land, small forests. Once upon a time the inheritance of Pac, today [Różanka is] a governmental estate whose lands were turned over to the peasants to buy back. Różanka gmina belongs to the 2nd peace district of peasant affairs, 2nd circuit of summons to military service from Lida district, and 2nd court district. Encompassing 64 villages, having 351 settlements, 4,264 peasants (both sexes) reside there. It takes in two rural districts: Różanka and Rakowicze. A gmina school is found in Różanka (75 students). According to the rolls of 1864, there were in the gmina 619 dusz reviz. [“revision souls,” or male serfs] who were enfranchised peasants and 1,011 who were treasury peasants.

In the composition of the rural district come the town of Różanka and the villages of Podzameze, Dowklewszczyzna, Wierzbiłki, Bobra, Podbobra, Zaborze, Potoka, Nowo-Różanka, Kryszyłki, Dziakowce, Malewicze Dolne and Górne, Podróżanka, Ciejkowszczyzna, Makiowce, Dolina Zarzeczna, Dolina, Turówka, and the zaścianki [nobility neighborhoods] Kryłyszki and Klimowszczyzna, as well as the Jewish agricultural colony Malewicze; in sum, in the year 1864, 838 male serfs who were treasury peasants.

2.)  Różanka-Nowa, a peasant village, Lida district, in the 3rd police precinct, Różanka rural precinct, 2 male serfs. — J. Krz.

(Slownik, vol. IX, p. 854)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dziembrów (Slownik Geograficzny translation)

Dziembrów, Dziembrowo, in Russian Diembrow, a town in the western part of Lida district, on the Spusza River, near the border of Grodno gubernia (province), in the 3rd police office, in the vicinity of Ostryna gmina, at 66 wiorsts [approx. 66 km] from Lida, at 18 from Szczuczyn, possessing an Orthodox parish church.  The Dziembrow Orthodox parish, in the Szczuczyn deanery, counts 1,556 male parishioners, 1,797 female.  From the year 1864, there was here a class-5 Catholic parish of the Lida deanery. Dziembrów folwark [farmstead] had in 1866 one house, 62 inhabitants, and the town had 19 houses, 151 residents.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lack (Slownik Geograficzny translation)

Note: Much more detail on the Catholic parish of St. Stanislaw Bishop and Martyr is available at  The founders are identified as Stanisław and Andrzej Prostywiłłowicz-Skinder.

1.) Lack, governmental village on the Spusza River, Lida district, 3rd administrative precinct, 8 wiorsts [approx. 8 km] from Szczuczyn, 5 houses, 46 residents (1866).  Catholic parish church, St. Stanislaw, wooden, founded in 1424 by landowner Skinder.  Chapel in the cemetery.  Catholic parish, Lida deanery, 4,092 souls.  In the environs, limey, flat lands on the Kotra and Spusza rivers.  Lack gmina [commune of villages], Lida district, has a population of 3,081, comprising 1,447 men and 1,634 women.  Gmina administration is in the town of Dabrowa.

2.) Lack, chartered folwark [farmstead] on the Spusza, Lida district, 3rd administrative precinct, 10 wiorsts from Szczuczyn, 49 residents.

3.) Lack, chartered folwark on the river Spusza, Lida district, 3rd administrative precinct, 9 wiorsts from Szczuczyn, 37 residents (1866).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Żołudek (Slownik Geograficzny translation)

Note: As always, I welcome any corrections to my humble translation.  The Zawisza-Kaczanowski incident in particular challenged my limited familiarity with 19th-century Polish vocabulary and history. Several weeks have passed since my last post here because I wanted to do some background reading about the Swedish-Polish alliance against Russia and some Lithuanian noble families in the Great Northern War of the early 1700s.  How was the peasant class in the Żołudek area impacted by the social turmoil and military activity of these years?  That was the question that intrigued me the most, but I have not yet found any source that offers answers.

Formerly Zeludok, town on the river Zoludczanka, near the bank of the Niemen, Lida district, in the 3rd police precinct, gmina and rural district of Żołudek, at 53 degrees 36 minutes north latitude and 42 degrees 38 minutes Ferro east longitude [per Greenwich, approx. 24 degrees 58 minutes east longitude], near the greater road from Grodno to Nowogrodek, 10 wiorsts (approx. 10 km) from the Iszczolna post office, 13 w. from the village Pieskowce (Niemen), 42 w. southwest of Lida, and 130 w. from Wilno.

It has 130 houses, 674 inhabitants, gmina administration, a Catholic parish church, a synagogue, a Jewish prayer house, 2 water mills, distilleries, a brewer of beer, 23 shops, a market every Sunday, a fair on the feast day of the Holy Ghost (Pentecost Sunday, 7 weeks after Easter). The rural district comprises the town of Żołudek and the villages of Bojary, Farny Koniec, Kupry, Skiersie, and Zatoki, and the zascianek Wołczki; among the people in the year 1865 were 515 dusz rewiv. ["revision souls," or male serfs].

The gmina belongs to the 2nd peace district of peasant affairs, encompassing from the 3rd district (Żołudek, Krasula, and Dabrowo) comprising 26 localities, having 328 houses, 3,762 peasant residents (1,427 male serfs) enfranchised/granted land of 7,755 dziesiatun [1 = 1.09 hectares = 2.9 acres] (4,737 fields?) [approx. 22,589 acres]. Also within the gmina boundaries are 4,090 dz. [11,861 acres] of greater quality. The whole gmina area has 11,878 dzies. [34,446 acres] (6,329 fields) and 4,698 inhabitants.

The Catholic parish church, called by the name Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is built of brick walls and stands on a high hill. Construction was begun in 1828. Tyzenhausowa completed it in the year 1835 when her daughter married Count Uruski. There is a chapel in the cemetery. The Catholic parish, Lida deanery, has 6,282 faithful. Formerly it had a chapel in Krasuli. The Niemen [river] divides the parish in two parts, the larger of which lies to the right of the river.

In this parish on the Niemen, there are enormous forests replete with big game like roe-deer, wild boar, and elk. Occasionally beavers (by the Niemen) and bear are encountered. According to data from the year 1817, the terrain of the parish is a little hilly, with vast forests near the Niemen, much pasture land, and soil of sand, gravel, and clay/loam. Rivers: Niemen, Szczara, Lebiodka, and Zoludczanka.

At one time there were here a royal estate and unenclosed county offices. The Lithuanian Metryka offer these starostas [sheriffs] of Żołudek: Marcin Chreptowicz (1501-08), Michal Pacewicz (1510), and Prince Wasil Polubinski (1516-33).

[Grand Duke of Lithuania] Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk founded this place, and between the years 1480 and 1490 endowed a parish church. In one of the Tartar invasions, very likely in the year 1506, this church burned down and the right to endowment disappeared. In the year 1529 on the Saturday before St. George's Day, Zygmunt I, wanting to restore the former church bequest in the royal town of Żołudek,  revealed through a commissioned messenger, that he confirmed and generated new ones.  [Acts of the Diocese of Wilno, book 2, page 157]

In the year 1535, at the clemency of the king, [two] deserters from Moscow, Prince Siemion Bielski and senior counselor Iwan Lacki, came to Lithuania. On the first of them, Zygmunt the Elder conferred Zyzmory, Stokliszki, and Kormialy; on the second, Wysoki Dwor and Żołudek.

In a later time, Żołudek went into the possession of the Sapiehas, very likely in compensation for numerous sacrifices of property given up for the Republic. From the Sapiehas, Żołudek was passed as dowry for Anna Sapiehowa to the home of Radziminski-Frackiewicz h. Brodzic, from whom more or less in the year 1680 Kazimierz, [Lithuanian] court treasurer, with the authorization of the Republic, acquired the collatorship of the local church. [Acts of the Diocese of Wilno, book 4, page 1652]

This Kazimierz Frackiewicz together with his wife Aleksandra née Komar (according to another source, Anna Naruszewicz) in the year 1682 founded in Żołudek " from new roots" a church and an old-rule Carmelite class cloister, which remains here still in the current century. A resolution of the Warsaw sejm in 1685 approved its endowment.

In 1702, Krzystof Kiezgajllo Zawisza, governor of Minsk, was exasperated with Jan Kazimierz Kaczanowski h. Ostoja, [who was] indeed of good nobility and at that time starosta/sheriff of Dowgielliszki, but from the secondary/subordinate class, for this [reason], that he married Maryanna Tekla Naruszewicz, widow of Peter Michal Pac, a half-sister of Teresa Tyszkiewicz (wife of Governor Zawisze); on Three Kings Day [January 6] attacked Kaczanowski at his small estate of Mozejkowi, putting him to flight and chasing him as far as Żołudek.

"There Pan Kaczanowski in the company of two other persons took refuge/or was sheltered in the church vault, from which not by force but rather stooped over in fear, he was led out from that very place, on the following day at last better prepared for death, and was executed. Such an ending was married from high rank." (Pamietniki Zawisze, p. 104)

Because of this outrage, the burial of Kaczanowski in the Orthodox church in Wiazowce was closed to the Żołudek church. (Zlota Ksiega III, 156-7)

Skirmishing in Litwa in 1706 with Russian forces and Polish detachments, siding with August II, Charles XII had here over a long time (from 10 February) chiefly winter quarters, and stood in the Carmelite monastery. From there he went to inspect the bridge built on the Niemen below the village of Orla, and one time (8 March) almost perished in consequence of the ice breaking up. The next morning he advised the deputy of the city of Wilno of these experiences.

In the 18th century, Żołudek became the property of Tyzenhaus, who decorated his manor with beautiful gardens. In the church here in 1785 rested the corpse of Antoni Tyzenhaus, Lithuanian court treasurer, one of the most remarkable ministers of the country. Here later in 1786 the famous ornithologist Count Konstanty Tyzenhaus was born. From Tyzenhaus, Żołudek went by dowry to Uruski. — J. Krz. – M. Witan

(Słownik, v. XIV, pp. 827-828)

(Map source:  Bain, R. Nisbet.  Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire, 1682-1719.  New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1895.)