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Słownik Geograficzny Translations


Grodno, a gubernia town on the River Niemen. It has a landing stage and rail station on the Warsaw- Petersburg section of the Białystok- Wilno line, between Kuznica and Porzecz. It is 78 wiorst from Białystok, 147 from Wilno and 242 from Warsaw. Latitude north 53° 41’ and 41° 30’ longitude west. The 10.5-mile long postal trail used to connect it to Augustow and Minsk is 307 wiorst away. In 1817, it had 1109 houses of which 122 were brick-built. The population of 5091 included 3212 Jews. In 1860, there were 20121 people living in 1815 homes of which 284 were brick-built. It has 4 Catholic parishes: 1) St. Francis (4697 souls), the brick-built church previously Jesuit was founded in 1663 by bishop Izajkowski; 2) Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross (previously Bernadine), founded in 1595 by King Zygmunt; 3) Church of the Annunciation next to the convent of the Bridgets erected in brick by the Wesolowski family and 4) Church of Our Angel Lady, by the Franciscan monastery (2,748 souls), erected in brick by Eustace Kurcza in 1635. There are chapels in Grandziczach, Poniemun and Augustowka and earlier in Kochanow. The Grodno deanery of the Wilno diocese has 13 parishes, 4 of which are in Grodno, Indura, Jeziory, Wielkie Ejsymonty, Hoza, Mosty, Kamionka, Krynki, Kwasowka and Lunna, (previously 15 parishes; apart from the already mentioned: Wielka Brzostowica and Mala Brzostowia). There are 37,191 faithful in the deanery. The Greek Orthodox deanery in Grodno had 6,600 faithful in 1857. Grodno County has two more Greek Orthodox deaneries: Skidel and Loszan. During the Great Seym they tried to form a Grodno bishopric in place of the Inflancki one. King Stanislaw August wanted to give this seat in the senate to the erudite ex-Piarist, Kazimierz Narbutt, priest in Lidzki (?) and Radzimin. The partitioning of the country put a stop to that. The Augsburg Protestant parish, including Izabelin, Slonim and Kcollo, had 388 souls in 1857. According to Prussian sources, across the Niemen from Grodno, there was a Crusader castlec erected in 1392 by the Balg Commander. In the middle of the XII century Grodno was the capital of the sovereign princes and had a fortified castle where the Horodniczanka enters the Niemen. It was at this time that it came into the hands of the Tartars after the horrendous battle in which Prince Jerzy Hlebowicz was slain. Two centuries later, Mendoga’s brave sons-in-law, Erdziwill, Wikind and Towciwil took over the ravaged Ruthenian area together with Grodno, Wolkowysk and Nowogrod and incorporated them into Lithuania. As a result of numerous battles waged by the Lithuanian rulers against the Crusaders, Witenes built a massive stronghold in Grodno. In 1414, the Grodno and Trocki Duchies were combined to create Trocki County. Batory visited here often and had a new fortified castle built in brick and moved in unexpectedly himself, in 1586. From thence on the city experienced a boom. The last rays of grandeur are to be seen during the time of the first general Seym held in 1678 under the auspices of Prince Fr. Sapieha and Tyzenhauz’s rule.


From a policing standpoint, Grodno is divided into two parts and five areas, today. It has two squares – Paradny and Stary Rynek. The house in which King Batory died stands on the latter and from it the following streets radiate: Dominikanska, Brzeska, Bernardynska, Brygidzka and Bonifraterska. The most attractive part of town is Horodnica, which was presented to the town by Tyzenhauz. It has many beautiful gardens, palaces and expansive homes. There are 11 synagogues and 4 churches. Other buildings worthy of mention are: the barracks, previously a castle, the male secondary school with the Dominican monastery, theatre (a reminder of Tyzenhauz) and the magnificent buildings belonging to the Lubecki and Lachnicki Princes.


In 1879, Grodno had a population of 34,775 of whom 4,781 were Catholics. It had 11 factories, a male, female and Jewish secondary school. The woods called Sekret, the Podhulance, Urbanowce, Augustow (owned by de Lascy), and Poniemuniu (owned by the Lachnickis) provided wonderful places for walks and relaxation outside the town. One of the richest Jesuit colleges in Lithuania existed in Grodno and was most likely founded by Wladyslaw IV in 1623. During August III’s reign, Grodno had a Basilian abbacy. Tyzenhauz founded a medical school here and between 1779 and 1780 published the Grodno newspaper and in 1792 a weekly medical journal.


Saint Kazimierz, son of Kazimierz Jagielonczyk, died in this castle on 4 March 1484. The painter, January Suchodolski, was born in Grodno.


The Grodno seyms and confederations are mentioned in Orgelbrand’s smaller encyclopaedia (vol.49) and in the well-known work of Ilowajski’s “The Grodno Seym – L`Acte de demarcation des limites entre l`empire de toutes les Russies et le royaume de Prusse, conclu a Grodno le 21 Juin (2 Juillet)” 1796 (Russica, catalogue nr. 150). “Warsaw Library” 1848, III – “Weekly III. “1877, Nr. 82.


There is a description and picture depicting the post Jesuit church in Klosy vol. 18.


In 1588, the Grodno economy consisted of 14 keys and 4 forests and there were 200 and more villages and manors. (pamphlet “Ekonomie” vol. 2 page 324). The main ones are: Horodnica, Nowydwor, Lawno, Krynki, Odelsk, Krasnik, Kwasowka, Kuznica, Kotra, Skidel, Wiercieliszki, Jeziory, Salaty, Milkowszczyzna and Mosty. In 1771, the villages paid 375 zlotys and the wojtostwo 500.


The Grodno starosts were: Hrehory Aleksandrowiczow – 1569, Jan Aleksandrowiczow – 1573, Aleksander Chodkiewiczow - 1576 – 78, Krzysztof Chodkiewiczoe - 1632, Karol Chreptowiczow - 1752, Karol Chreptowiczow - 1787, Aleksander Prince de Holszany - 1499-1501, Andrzej Kottowiczow - 1652-75, Jan Franciszek Kottowiczow - 1698-99, Hrehory Kottowiczow - 1707, Jan Kazimierz Kierdey - 1678, Jerzy Lith. Prince Massalski - 1571, Jan Prince Lith. Massalski -1696, Michal Lith. Prince Massalski -1733-65, Jan Mlocki - 1461, Stanislaw Piotrowicz -1499-1501, Kazimierz Pac - 1690, Jerzy Mikolaj, Prince Radziwill - 1530, Albrycht, Prince Radziwil -l 1639 - 1, Dominik, Prince Radziwill - 1696, Fryderyk Sapieha - 1648, Leon Sapieha - 1649, Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, Bazyl Tyszkiewicz - 1561, Teodor Tyszkiewicz – 1616, Antoni Tyzenhauz – 1765 – 76, Gedeon Tryzna – 1651, Jan Wollowicz – 1566, Andrzej Wollowicz – 1630, Pawel Wollowicz – 1630 and Jerzy Zbaraski – 1609. 

The creation of the Grodno guberniya.

In 1795 the Russian government created the Slonim guberniya by annexing parts of the Polish province to Russia. In 1796, the Wilno guberniya was added and together they became the Lithuanian guberniya and in 1801, part of this guberniya was made into the Grodno one. In 1842, the districts of Lidz and Nowogrod were removed and the Białystok area was added. Today the Grodno guberniya is encompassed by: to the north, Wilno guberniya alongside the river Rotniczanka, the mires of Nadkotrzan, rivers Niemen and Szczary to the estuary of the Jaworka, continuing through fields and swamps to the Niemen, partly the Niemen and then overland to the village of Boczkowiec; to the east, the counties of Nowogrod and Pinsk belonging to the Minsk guberniya up to the river Prypec, where all three guberniyas converge and, generally speaking, through mires, swamps, forests and lakes; to the south, the border follows the Prypec through swamps and quags, which fill the valleys of the river and its tributaries, in other words, it stretches along the Wolyn Polesie to the river Bug from where it becomes the west boundary, the kingdom of Poland – more precisely formulated - the rivers Bug, Nurzec, Liza, Narew and Biebrza. Geographically speaking, the guberniya extends from 40°7’ to 43°32’ longitude east and 51° 31’ to 54° 3’ latitude north. According to Strielbicki the Grodno guberniya covers an area of 34058sq. wiorst and according to the army’s topographical survey 3,512,806 dziesiecin. The guberniya does not have any higher mountains or ranges and nowhere does the elevation exceed between 500 and 600 feet. Only in the east, in Slonim County, does it reach 1000 feet. A plateau runs through the middle of the guberniya and acts as a watershed for the rivers flowing into the Baltic and Black Seas. The southern part is flat, relatively low lying and slopes towards the Polesie. Geologically, the area is predominantly Tertiary. Devonian, Silurian and sedimentary strata, containing the fossils of sea and river creatures, can be found in some of the hills dotted throughout the guberniya. No plutonic or metamorphic rocks have been found. Interesting from a geogonic aspect are the sands of Buzan, Lesnian, Muchawiec, Jasioldzian and the Niemen sands in Pruzan, Wolkowysk and Slonim. The wind disperses them over the fields causing great damage. There are numerous chalk and lime hills near the Bug and Niemen. According to Bobrowski’s 4 volumes on the Grodno guberniya “Materials for the Geography and Statistic of Russia” rivers cover 160,000 dziesiecin of the area, streams and rivulets 6,400, ponds up to 10,000, mires and lakes 228,000. Together they account for 4,600,000 dz. of the area or one eighth. The high-lying swampy area in the north east part of Pruzan county and the southern part of the Wolkowyski is where the three water systems of the Baltic and Black Seas meet. It is here that the rivers Jasiold, Narew and some of the Niemen’s tributaries begin and from here they flow in three different directions. The Niemen system is of great importance to the Grodno guberniya followed by the Wisla and lastly the Dniepr. The Niemen belongs, in part, to the guberniya from the estuary of the Szczary to Rotniczanka with its tributaries: right Kotra with Pyrra – left Promsza with Molczadzia, Szczara with Hrywda, Lohoza and Issa, Zelwa, Ros, Swislocz and Lososna. The Bug in the guberniya receives the Muchawiec, Lsna, Pulwa and Nurzec.The Suprasl and Biebrz fall into the Narew. The Jasiolda and Pina fall into the Black Sea. There are not too many lakes in the guberniya and are concentrated in the north and south east. In the counties of Slonim and Kobrynsk they play an important role supporting a network of canals. The lakes in the north, in the Grodno guberniya, are connected by small streams. On 23 March 1841, the waters of one of these lakes, Salaty, overflowed into the river in a 14 wiorst long fall so that it was possible to sow buckwheat on the lake bed that same year. Lowlands and mires cover around one fifteenth of the area. The remaining area is covered in forests and shrubbery or is swampy and impassable. These swamps can be divided into three groups: north, middle and south. The evaporation process of these shallow waters produces harmful vapours. They contain much turf and iron ore hampering the growth of lush grass. In some places amelioration work has begun with the construction of canals. The climate is temperate, no extremes. It is changeable and damp due to the area’s flatness and lack of trees on the higher lands. The annual average temperature in Grodno is 5° C and in summer 14°C. Work in the fields is carried out during 6 months of the year and the trees retain their foliage for 188 days in the year. The winds are mainly north-westerly and south-westerly. The guberniya grows the same crops as its neighbors. The fauna and flora is very varied. The following crops are grown successfully: rye, wheat, spring and winter corns, barley, buckwheat, peas, millet, flax, hemp, tobacco, hops, potatoes, vegetables. There is an abundance of fruit trees, various berries, fodder producing crops and medicinal herb, which are collected by the many local herbalists. Pine trees prevail, spruce trees are sporadic never forming a forest; oak, beech, ash, maple, aspen and birch grow together. The most important animals are the bison and many wolves. (Gilbert: “Flora Lithuanica, seu enumeration plantarum quas circa Grodnam collegit et determinavit 1781”). In the Grodno region as in the areas beyond the Niemen and Bug the 3-field agricultural system continues to be practiced. There are three crops – wheat, rye and buckwheat. Wheat is grown on humus, humus-mulish and mulish-clay soils, rye on an alloy of sand and clay, and buckwheat on gravel with clayish-sand soils. The areas best suited to the growing of wheat are to be found in: Grodno County by the river Swislocz, Pruzan County near Wyzek and Tewel, the greater part of Kobryn County namely, on the Bug and around the county town, the eastern part of Slonim county, Wolkow region around Krzemieniec and lastly the extensive cornfields near Bielsko and Sokolka. The fertilising of 2 morgs of land requires 150 cartloads of manure, which in turn means 3 to 6 larger cattle or 30 to 60 smaller ones. The guberniya’s arable land, which covers an area of 2 million morgs, would then require 4 to 8 million heads of cattle but has only 600,000. Due to the lack of soil upgrading, rye is sown more than wheat. The average ear consists of seven seeds but can also be, as little as, two. The sun often damages the oat crop but the rye and barley crops are usually good. Oats and buckwheat are grown almost everywhere; tobacco, broad beans and hops by the Narew; in the Brzeski, Kobrynski and Pruzanski counties millet and wheat; flax, hemp and lentils are grown in small amounts; potatoes, cabbage, turnip and other vegetables are grown in the gardens. The orchards were renowned for their produce and even today, when many manors no longer exist, the fruits still excel when it comes to quality, quantity and price. The 90 thousand horses are usually small and weak. In the Pruzan, Kobryn and Brzeski counties a new race of cow has been introduced – a cross between a cow and a bison, an excellent producer of milk, with thick short legs and bay-reddish in color. Many years ago the finest cattle could be found in the byres of such families as the Walicki, Lachnicki, Wirion, Haliburton, Wolowicz, Trembicki, Skirmunt, Giedrojec, Chrzanowski, Mostowski, Biszping, Ejsmont and Ossolinski.


Earlier there were 300,000 sheep producing 15 thousand poods of wool. The best merino flocks belonged to the families Puslowski, Delasow, Trembicki, Ostromecki, Lubecki, and Ossolinski. The handicrafts had their beginnings as far back as the days of Witold and although their growth was slow they came to be known and much respected. When the towns were granted the Magdeburg rights by the Jagiellons many talented foreigners were drawn to them and saw the establishment of an industrial middle class. The XVI century saw the quick growth of trade guilds in Grodno, Bielsko, Slonim and Drohiczyn. At the beginning of the XVII century the local iron products, mead fermenting and the production of various spirits enjoyed renown. However, the trades reached an apex during the commendable Tytenhauzen days. Factories producing linen, camlets, woollen cloth, hats, and coaches could compete with abroad. Even after the downfall of their founder, his spirit lived on and the cloth factories in Chomsk, Izabelina, Rozana, Alba, Grodno and Wolkowysk continued to prosper until 1815.


1830 was the year of the crisis. The trades and crafts in the Kingdom of Poland plummeted and the crisis continued until new venues were discovered in Białystok and other towns. At the beginning of this century, the Grodno trades were taken over by the Jews and remain in their hands to this day. The businesses in Brzesc, Grodno and Kobryn as well as the markets in Zelw, Swislocza, Wysoki-Litewski and Szczuczyn have been the central point of the Jewish business monopoly for more than half a century.


The average price of a piece of land here in 1879 was 27rs. 54 kopiejka for a dziesiecina. In 1880, there were 483,991 dz. under winter crop, 356,630 dz. under corn and 121,096 under potatoes. That same year they harvested 1,787,887 czetw. winter corn, 1,274,678 czetw. corn, 2,178,703 czetw. potatoes and 22,479,648 poods hay. According to administrative records of the Grodno guberniya, before the disposition of 5 March 1864, there were around 30 non- Polish citizens holding 55,266 dz. land, 1,171 Poles holding 904,059 dz. On 1 July 1870, there were 250 non-Poles holding 295,303 dz., 1,060 Poles holding 700,383 dz. Non-Poles bought 188,000 dz. privately, 16,000dz. in auctions and the remainder from the treasury.


On 1 January 1880, the Grodno guberniya had a population of 1,165,401 and in 1878, 1,131,502 of whom 563,767 were male and 567,740 female (166,034 increase since 1868). There were 614,141 Greek Orthodox, 299,615 Catholics, 202,699 Jews, 12,411 Protestants, 2,636 Mohammedans, (in 1857 there were 96,794 Jews). The guberniya has 9 catholic deaneries: Grodno, Wolkowysk, Slonim, Pruzan, Kobryn, Brzesk, Białystok, Bielsko, Sokol and all the Wilno dioceses. There is one Grodno deanery in Grodno County. Wolpa parish belongs to Wolkowysk County. In 1857, there were 317 Greek Orthodox parishes in 29 deaneries and 127 Catholic parishes in 9 deaneries. The Grodno guberniya is divided into the following counties starting with the most populated: Sokol, Białystok, Bielsko, Grodzien, Wolkowysk, Kobryn, Brzos, Pruzan and Slonim. In 1857, it had 9 county towns, 16 lesser, 75 small ones and 6,162 inhabited areas. In 1879, there were 47 post offices. The main transport routes are railways: Petersburg-Warsaw, Brzesk-Kiev and Warsaw-Terespol.


The marshals of the Grodno guberniya’s nobility were: Krzywicki, Puslowski Frano, 1805 Niemcewicz Stan. Ursyn, 1807 Borejsza Pawel, 1812-21 Pancerzynski Ludwik, 1820-23 Count Kazimierz Grabowski, 1817 Andrzejkowicz Feliks, 1827 Prince Konst. Czetwertynski, 1854-59 Kalikst Orzeszko and 1856 Count Starzynski.


Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1881, vol. 2, pp. 831-834]


This translation, by Jola Jurasinska, is used by permission.

Grodno powiat

Grodno powiat (county) covers the north- west part of the gubernia. In the north-east it borders with the Wilno guberniya, to the south with Wolkowyski County, to the west with Sokol County and Suwałki guberniya. It covers 3709 sq. wiorst or 386364 dziesiecin including 79979 government owned and 82923 woodland. It has 156818 inhabitants including those of Grodno or 41.6 people per sq. wiorst, 80332 women, 76486 men, 70860 Greek Catholics, 48427 Catholics, 306 Protestants, 37273 Jews, and 1144 Mohammedans. The main factories in the county are: cloth – 7 (11932 rs. money), tobacco – 2 (95000), distillery – 16 (452000), brewery – 8 (71000), honey – 7 – (7520); steam mill – 1 (14200), candles – 2 (4280), soap – 2 (2240), tannery - 19 (48460), brickworks – 10 (16851).


There are five states or administrative areas: Grodno, Krynki, Lunna, Skidle, Porzecze and 21 communities.


The area is undulating especially around the Niemen, which divides the county, almost perfectly, into two. To the north of the county there is Grodno Forest, which, in 1857 stretched for 70 verst in an east – west direction and was 40 verst wide. The west part of the forest is hilly and the eastern part is muddy with turf. Timber is floated down the Niemen, Kotra and its tributaries Niewisza, Pyrra and Berwianka. The upper part of the Pyrra is the navigable Tyzenhauz Canal, which connects it with numerous, outlying navigable lakes: Zadubien, Biale, Mleczne and Lota. The lakes Hrud, Birsztack and Werowsk are connected by streams and rivulets and fall into the Kotra. According to Bobrowski, it was Mr. Walicki who contributed most to the dehydration of the forests and the creating of navigable waters. It was he who built the Berwianski and Rybnicki Canals, among many others. Due to the bad soil the timber in the forest is not of good quality. There is an abundance of fish in the lakes and, up until 1840, leeches were also plentiful. They disappeared that same year. The most important lakes in the county are Niemen, Kotra and Swislocz. The main communication line is the Petersburg-Warsaw railway. The more important towns are: Grodno, Druskieniki, Mosty, Kamionka, Kruszyniany and the above mentioned county administration towns.


The marshals in the former Trocki province and in more recent times were: Aleksandrowicz Jan, 1632, Aleksandrowicz Stefan 1690, Aleksandrowicz Michal 1704, Buchowiecki Krzysztof 1655–62, Jundzill Dunin 1766-73, Kruk Jan 1476, Kierdey Wladyslaw 1647, Kierdey Jan Kazimierz 1669-70, Prince Teodor Massalski 1613, Prince Jan Massalski 1700, Prince Wasil Polubnicki 1500, Prince Bazyl Polubnicki, Piotrowski Mikolaj 1648, Piotrowski Stanislaw 1657, Tyszkiewicz Jerzy 1564, Tyzenhauz Antoni 1764, Wolmer Kazimierz 1784-93, Wollowicz Jozef 1775-76, Wolkowicki Jan 1780-83, Aleksandrowicz Tadeusz 1798-1800, Prince Konstanty Czetwertynski 1822, Eysymont 1821, Lachnicki Roman 1854-59, Orzeszko Kallikst 1848, Pancerzynski Ludwik 1805-07, Reyten Stefan.


Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1881, vol. 2, pp. 834-835]


This translation, by Jola Jurasinska, is used by permission.


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