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Słownik Geograficzny Translations

Działdowo

Działdowo, German Soldau, a town in Niborsk powiat [now called "Nidzica, " in German "Kreis Neidenburg"], East Prussia, in a marshy area which took its name from the town, on the highway to Lidzbark, Nibork and Dabrówno. It is a little more than 3½ km. from the [border of the] Congress Kingdom, 15 km. from Nibork. It has a fortified castle that was established in 1306 by the Teutonic Knights. The town was built in 1349, and at the time of its establishment possessed an area of 30 wlókas, in addition to other, smaller properties.

 

Działdowo, along with the entire region, has been populated since time immemorial. One still comes across numerous pagan burial sites. Until quite recently one could see burial mounds in almost every village; called Capornen (?) in German, they reached a height of four meters. In the nearby village of Koszelewki (in German Klein Koschlau) 15 stone circles (Steinrundberge) were found, within which there were numerous burial urns. The Teutonic Knights' wójts (German Vögte) who administered the area had their seats at the the castle. In addition to Działdowo and the castle and folwark, their jurisdiction included: 111 feudal estates, 66 of them established on terms of Chelmno law (Kölmische Dienste) and 34 Old Prussian; 11 German villages with 690 rental wlókas, no Prussian villages; two mills paying a rent of 210 bushels of rye; and 11 rural parsonages.

 

Działdowo suffered a great deal during the wars, first during that of the Teutonic Knights and Lithuanians in 1377. In 1409 it was burned down by the Lithuanians. A year later, after the victory at Grünwald, it was given by Wladyslaw Jagiello to the Mazovian prince Ziemowit; soon after it was won back by the Knights. In 1454 when all of Prussia joined with Poland as its fatherland, the local inhabitants expelled the Knights manning the castle and surrendered to Poland. In 1455 the Teutonic Knights regained the castle. Then Jan Koldaczek of Jagiello's army, having invented for himself the title of Elblag Commander of the Knights, entered Działdowo, took the castle, and burned down the city. The Swedish King Karl Gustav had his headquarters in Działdowo in 1656. In 1737 and 1748 Działdowo again experienced heavy damage due to fires.

 

At present Działdowo has about 3,000 inhabitants, and has a Lutheran church taken from the Catholics during the Reformation, as well as, a post office, and a telegraph station. The Knights' castle is still fairly well preserved. In 1701 King Friedrich gave the castle chapel to the local Protestant congregation for their use. From the very beginning of the Reformation, Catholics were deprived of services. It was not until 1858 that a mission station was founded there, which by 20 January 1860 had already been named as a separate parish. The newly-built church was consecrated by the Chelmno bishop at the time, Jan Nepomucen Marwicz, on 17 August 1862; he gave it the name of St. Wojciech [in German or English "Albert" or "Adalbert"]. The Działdowo parish has 1,730 souls, 450 of them in the town; 40 villages belong to it, and it is in the newly created deanery of Pomezania (in the ancient territory of that name), of Chelmno diocese, under the auspices of the bishop. In addition to the Lutheran schools in the town there is also a private Catholic school, supported by contributions from the Diocesan Society of St. Wojciech and St. Boniface, which also support the pastor.

 

Local industry and trades are fairly healthy; there is a woolen cloth factory, workshops for cloth, hides, and so on. Near the town there are springs of iron mineral water and iron ore mines. There are numerous fairs: four a year for cattle, two for sheep, two for cloth, and four with stalls. Rev. Frydrychowitcz

 

Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1881, vol. 2, pp. 262-263]

 

This translation, by William F. Hoffman, first appeared in the Spring 1998 issue of "Bulletin of the Polish Genealogical Society of America".

  
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