Augustów, the main town of the county of the same name, at 53° 49" latitude and 40° 38" longitude [by the archaic system measuring longitude from Ferro; the modern value, measured from Greenwich, is 23° 00'], on the Warsaw-Kowno highway, 240 versts [256 km.] from Warsaw, 28 [30 km.] from Suwałki, 73 [78 km.] from Grodno. Augustów has a county office; a court of the peace for district V belonging to the conference of judges in Suwałki; the administrative office of the Augustów canal; a post office; and an international telegraph office. There are four churches in Augustów: one Catholic, one Evangelical, and two Orthodox. The population of Augustów is 7,846 in the town itself, 3,939 males and 3,907 females, with 501 houses; the suburbs-Bialobrzegi, Biernatki, Klonownica, Turówka, Wójtowskie-uwołoki and Zarnowo-have a total of 2,105 inhabitants, 1,086 males and 1,019 females; there are 327 houses. At present 446 włókas belong to the town, of which there are 139 of woods, 15 of lakes, and 5 deserted. The present-day suburbs of Zarnowo, Biernatki, and Turów are former forestlands added to the town by Zygmunt August in 1564.
Augustów was founded by Zygmunt August in 1561 on the lands of the royal estate of Knyszyn and was named for its founder. Fishing, brewing, and liquor retail trade are its inhabitants' main occupations. Built as it is of wood, it has burned down several times, but was quickly rebuilt, as there is an abundance of lumber in the neighboring forests of the Grodno government-owned estate. In place of the previous wood churches, a stone church was erected in 1848 from the contributions of its parishioners. In a chapel outside of town there is an image of Christ that is considered to be miraculous, the object of pious pilgrimages during church-fairs.
Augustów's Catholic parish belongs to the Augustów deanery; a Greek Catholic parish and deanery also existed there. The Catholic deanery, of Sejny diocese, consists of 12 parishes located in Augustów county: Adamowicze, Augustów Barglów, Hoza or Sylwanowce, Jaminy, Janówka, Krasnybór, Raczki, Studzieniczna, Szczebra, Sztabin, and Teolin. Augustów deanery of the former Greek Catholic diocese of Chelm was divided in 1863 into 10 parishes: Augustów, Balla koscielna, Hodyszów, Holynka, Lipsk, Lubno, Perstun, Rygalówka, Sopockinie, Wysokie-Mazowieckie (see "Miasto Augustów by Jan Jarnutowski, Biblioteka Warszawska 1863, II-149, and also 1857, III-IV and 1858 II).
Augustów county, of Suwałki province, is bordered on the north by Suwałki and Sejny counties, on the east and south by Grodno province, on the southwest by Łomża province, and on the west by Prussia. Its total area is 36.3 square milas. The land's surface is a plain with small elevations which cross into the neighboring counties under the name of the Augustów hills. The extensive forests (covering about 77,000 hectares) supply the water for a dense network of small rivers, lakes, and bogs. The more important rivers include: the Niemen, which comprises the eastern border of the county; the Czarna Hancza, which separates it to the north from Sejno county; and the Biebrza, on the southern border. Among those draining the local waters within the county are the Netta, Stawiska, and Jastrzebianka, with numerous tributaries. The lakes are grouped primarily in the northwestern part of the county; the more significant ones are: Sajno, Necko, Biale, Nizsza Rospuda, Studzieniczne, Gorczyca, Orle, Paniewo, Krzywe, Mikoszewo, etc.
The primarily sandy ground creates 2nd-class rye soil, some of the poorest in the Kingdom; of the 7 counties in Suwałki gubernia [Russian term for "province"], Augustów ranks 5th in terms of fertility. The amount of wheat sowed (in the years 1870-1872) averaged 1,300 chetverts [chetvert = "quarter, "a Russian unit of measurement, about 8 bushels], and 16,000 chetverts of rye. The average yield comes to 8,300 chetverts of wheat and 67,000 of rye. There is no raising of livestock to speak of. Horse stables are maintained in Swiack and Wasilewicze, on the estates of the Counts Wolowicz. Factory industry exists on a low level. Other than distilleries and breweries, the only factory is one for castings and farm tools in Sztabin. Handicraft is limited to satisfying local needs, and only the most simple ones at that. The peasants work at weaving and at distilling tar; trade is concentrated in Augustów and does not produce anything noteworthy.
The routes of communication consist primarily of navigable rivers, the Niemen and Biebrza, and the Augustów canal, which cuts through the county for 98 versts [about 105 kilometers]. In addition the county is crossed by the Kowno [now Kaunas] highway on the western side and the Królewiec [now Kaliningrad] highway on the eastern side; they are joined by a postal route going to Lipsk and Sopockinie.
The total population is 65,690 (1,781 souls per mila), 33,402 males and 32,253 females [sic]. Augustów county was created after the formation of the Congress Kingdom in 1816 and lasted till 1837, at which time it was changed to a gubernia of the same name. Augustów gubernia, one of five during the former division of the Kingdom, was created from Augustów województwo [province] in 1837, but was abolished in 1866 during the administrative revisions, and in its place two gubernias were created, Suwałki and Łomża. The Augustów forest district is divided into three watches: Szczebra, Sajenek, and Swiderek. [Br(onislaw) Ch lebowski]
Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1881, vol. 1, pp. 53-54]
This translation, by William F. Hoffman, first appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of "Rodziny, The Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America".