Pruzhany is a district
town in the Grodno province, situated on either side of the Muchawca river,
formed by two small rivulets: Mucha and Wica, joined on the western outskirts of
town. The river divides the town into two unequal segments, of which the bigger
is located on the right bank of the Muchawca river. The left bank is slightly
elevated and appears more picturesque, with wide tree lined streets, although
unpaved and muddy in the spring and fall. On the left bank the streets are
generally quite narrow and full of debris and rot, and only the more prominent
of these have been paved.
Pruzhany is found at a
latitude of 52deg. 33sec, and longitude of 42deg. 07 sec. It is located 189
verst (*) from Grodno, and 13 verst (*) from the Linevo (known as
Linovka) Moscow-Brest railway. The town counts 983 houses, of which 64 are
brick, has a population of 7,291 inhabitants, of those 1,611 are Russian
Orthodox, 422 Catholic, 6 Protestant, and 5,252 Jews. In the year 1817, it
counted some 245 houses, all timber, and 824 inhabitants, of these 374 Jews. In
the year 1860, it had 577 houses and 5,665 inhabitants, of whom 2,908 were Jews.
Pruzhany is spread over an area of 1,551 (dzies.) In the year 1878, it had some
7,044 inhabitants, of whom 1,746 were Protestant, 543 Catholic, 4,750 Jews, and
The town features two
Russian Orthodox parish churches (St. Alexander Nevsky and the Church of
Nativity). There is also an affiliate church and a chapel on the cemetery
grounds, both of timber construction. Further down, a masonry church named after
St. Zygmont and Waclaw, built in 1881, on the site of an older church dating
back to 1522, was consecrated in 1884 by the Reverent Karol Hrynewicky, the
bishop of Wilno.
In addition there is a
catholic chapel of brick construction found on cemetery grounds, 9 Jewish houses
of prayer, a post office, district offices, a judicial assembly, a two-classroom
district school, a one-classroom elementary school, a small private school, a
municipal hospital, and a Jewish hospital belonging to the Congregation. There
are no public or charitable institutions in Pruzhany.
An amateur theatre
group stages charitable performances several times a year, to raise money for
the poor. Some dozen years ago the Jewish community began construction of a
synagogue, however due to lack of funds, construction was halted.
In the year 1877, the
town inhabitants owned 250 horses, 785 cattle, 480 sheep, 643 pigs and 74 goats.
Manufacturing consisted of a tobacco factory, which employed 7 workers with a
production of 12,600 rs., two breweries producing 19,340 rs., two match
factories producing 1,997 rs., two tallow candle plants, generating1175 rs., and
a large steam flour mill built in 1887, which to date stands empty.
The town has 476
craftsmen, the majority potters, who live on the outskirts of town in an area
known as Gorka, renowned throughout the entire district. There are 99 permanent
market stalls in town, of these 54 built of masonry. The town has a weekly
market, with larger fairs held four times a year: second day after White Sunday
(seventh Sunday after Easter), on the Friday ten weeks after Easter, on August 6th
, and on October 14th
. The primary trade is cattle and farming equipment.
Pruzhany is linked by a
telegraph line with Brest, via Kobryn, and directly with Wolkowysk.
Pruzhany first appears
on record in the second half of the15th century, when Ivan Semenowich Kobrynsky
attempted to establish a town in this district. The original plan called for a
Dobuchyn manor to be built in the Kobrynsky principality. According to one
account the town came to be known as Pruzhany, or Prosiana from proso (millet),
which grew here in great abundance. This theory is considered by some to be
unfounded, considering that some 5 verst (*) from present day Pruzhany,
there is still today a large village named Dobuchyn. Based on a second account,
the settlement was established by Prussians escaping persecution by the
crusaders, who sought to hide in the Kobrinsky principality, and settled in the
forested areas of the village Dobuchyn, giving their new settlement the name
Prussany, or Prussiany.
In the year 1473, Ivan
Semenowich Kobrynsky, with his wife Fedora, the daughter of Ivan Rohatynsky,
donated funds to build a Russian Orthodox church, in honour of the birth of the
Holy Son. To commemorate this event, a ceremony, officiated by Balinsky, was
held on October 9, 1473, (Ancient Poland, volume III, 765), found in the
Lithuanian registry, as well as in the contemporary description in the book of
gospels belonging to the church. Balinsky believed this document to have been
falsified, however the original essence has not been altered. It is presumed
that the document was altered when a prototype was presented to Queen Anne for
authentification. This is
further supported by the fact that the document names Ivan Kobrynsky as the
leaseholder of the entire territory of Zmudz, when in fact from 1450 to 1485 the
chief foreman for this territory, was Jan Kiezgajlowicz.
When the filial line of
Kobrynsky came to an end, the lands reverted to the king, who bequeathing them
to princess Fedora, married her to Yury Pacewicz in 1492. Following that, the
Kobrynsky lands were passed on to Waclaw Kostewicz, Anneís husband and the
sister of the last of the Kobrynsky princes, who after the death of his wife in
1513, received Kobryn in leasehold, becoming its first chief, receiving the sum
of 1000 kop. After his death, queen Bona was given the rights, and in the year
1533 actual ownership of the lands. In 1522 Kostewicz funded the Pruzhany
catholic church named St. Zygmont and Waclaw, and in 1534, queen Bona provided
additional funding, which allowed for increased contruction, transforming the
Pruzhany settlement into a small town.
Following this, the
lands were bequeathed, as part of her dowry, to the widowed queen Anne
Jagiellonka, who in 1588 freed the town from existing land laws, and introduced
the more progressive Magdenburg law. At the same time the town received from the
queen a coat of arms in the form of a sky blue snake, on a silver background,
holding in its jaw a half visible form of a child.
This coat of arms, the
symbol of the Sforza family, has remained to this day. On May 6, 1589, Zygmont
III, ratified the rights bestowed on the town by the queen, his aunt, allowing
the town to operate its own market stalls, a beeswax press, and a scale, which
transferred to the town control over the sale of grain and honey. He offered the
town an income, and for the free trade of honey and beer, imposed yearly tithes
on each stall, in the amount of 60 gr. The lease tax for wine and
liquor, collected yearly from the town was in the amount of 100 zl. and payable
on St. Martinís day to the chief accountant of the Kobryn district.
In addition to the
Friday market, a fair was declared, one day after the day of the Holy Trinity,
and on the day of Christís Ressurection. In 1570 a Russian Orthodox church was
established on the outskirts of town, in the area known as Gorka. It was
renovated in 1689 by Bulharyn. 66 villages form part of the Pruzhany economic
district, which is headed by a district governor. After the last partitioning of
Poland, the Empress Kathryn, donated the lands to general Rumiancow, who soon
thereafter sold them off to: Trembicky, Shwykowsky, Bulharyn, Wtodkow and
others, whose descendants to this day own a large portion of the lands. In 1812
the French general Reynier was here with his 7th
The parish of the
catholic deanery counts 2,119 people. The chapel, and formerly a branch in
Dolhem, of the Holy Alexander Newsky Orthodox parish counts 3,318 parishoners.
Church of Nativity numbers 2,841 parishoners. The following was submitted by
Klosy, volume XI, No. 276: the district of Pruzhany, located in the centre of
the Grodno province, is surrounded by the district of Kobryn, Slonim, Wolkow and
Brest. The site is somewhat elevated but level. The northern part of the
district is situated on a muddy plateau. It is here that the river Muchawiec has
its source, joining with the Bug river, which has its estuary in the Baltic Sea.
The river Jasiodla also
has its beginnings here, flooding the Pinsk mud fields, with its estuary
emptying into the Black sea. This network of waterways is considered the
North-West boundary of Polesie.
The western part of the
district is covered by the primeval Bialowiez forest, which to this day is home
to the only bison found in Europe. Their numbers are rapidly dwindling, due to
the increase in the regionís population, and the subsequent conversion of the
grass fields into cultivated farmland. Depriving the bison of their food source
will inadvertently lead to their complete disappearance. Their extinction now
remains only a matter of time.
The soil in the
district is in part black soil and in part clay, but overall fertile. The total
area is 3,465 sq.verst (*) , or 360,938 (dzies), of this 106, 653 is government
owned. The forests take up 123,223 (dz), (32,492 dz. private land and 90,731
government owned), i.e. 34.2% of total area. According to previous measurements,
the district area measured 350,163 (dz), of this 4,335 settled land, 115,970
cultivated land, 48,074 fields, 28,623 pastures, 150,452 forests and 2696 barren
land. In the year 1860, there were in the district 6550 horses, 24,986 cattle,
23,090 sheep, 20,305 pure bred, 21,650 pigs and 249 goats, in total 96,860
domestic animals. In the year 1877, the number rose to a total of 161,344,
broken down as follows: 16,002 horses, 46,022 cattle, 49,541 sheep, 13,732 pure
bred sheep, 35,645 pigs, 401 goats and 2 donkeys.
In 1878 there were in
the district 96,865 inhabitants, i.e. 28 for each sq.verst (*) . According to
records, outside the town of Pruzhany, the inhabitants included 755 born
nobility, 40 titled nobility, 222 clergy, 9,920 townspeople, 24,635 peasant
(land owners), 315 settlers, 50,428 enfranchised peasants, 102 foreigners, the
rest comprise military personnel and furloughed soldiers. Along religious lines,
the district was divided into 67,735 Russian Orthodox, 12,320 Catholics, 397
Evangelists and 9,369 Jews. In 1860 the population was divided into the
following: 30,000 Russian Orthodox, 307 Orthodox Greatrussians, 22,103 Orthodox
Lithuanians, 6,447 Polish Catholics, 5,507 Latvian
Catholics, and 6,013 Jews.
occupation in the district is agriculture, although manufacturing is also
present. Records indicate that in 1877, there were 10 distilleries producing the
equivalent of 131,415 rs. and employing 65 people, 4 breweries producing 26,500
rs, employing 17 people, and a steam mill producing 1,400 rs. employing 5
people. There were in addition 4 turpentine plants, producing 4,810 rs.
employing 17 people, 4 glue producing plants with an output of 855 rs. with 4
employees, 6 brick yards, producing 4000 rs. with 24 employees, one cheese
factory producing14,000 rs. with 3 employees, 1 shoe parts factory, producing
12,000rs.and employing 4 people.
administration is divided into 5 police precincts: Sielec, Kartuz-Bereza,
Pruzhany, Shershew and Narewka. 22 rural administrative districts: sielec,
noskowsk, rudnicky, kotran, bereza, malech, rewiatyk, cherniakow, maciejew,
nikityn, dobuchyn, michalow, linowski, bajkowsk, wielkosielsk, shershew,
horodechansk, staronowsk, murawiew, suchopolsk, masiewsk and bialowiesk. Other
towns found in the district are: Bereza, Malech, Narewka, Sielec and Shershew.
The district is divided
into three Russian Orthodox deaneries: poznan, sielec and shereshew, with 27
parishes, in addition to the two in Pruzhany. There are 14 churches of masonry
construction, 23 of timber construction, one masonry chapel and 14 of made of
timber. The Pruzhany deanery has 10 parishes and 19,325 parishoners. The
Catholic parishes in the district form one deanery, and comprise 4 parishes:
Pruzhany, Shershow, Sienewich and Kiwatych. In the past Sielec and Bereza were
also included. There are two churches constructed of masonry and two of timber
as well as a masonry chapel. There are in addition two protestant prayer houses
of timber construction, two Jewish synagogues and one prayer school built of
masonry, and 19 built of timber.
The postal stations are
located in Pruzhany, Shereshew, Linowa, Bereza and Tewel, the last three serve
also as train stops along the Moscow-Brest rail way. In the year 1794, the
Bereza district was created out of the Pruzhany district, whose only marshal was
the prince Francishek Lubecki. The marshal of nobility for the district of
Pruzhany was Felicyan Grabowski (1798-1800), coat of arms Dolega, Filip
Chrzanowski (1805, 1807, coat of arms Korab, Wiktor Wislouch (1807), coat of
arms Odyniec, Jozef Bulharyn (1812), coat of arms Dwa Miecze, Kazimierz
Moraczewski ( 1817, 1825), coat of arms Cholewa, Valenty Szwynkowski (1854),
coat of arms Ogonczyk.