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July 19, 1999


I don't know if everything is kosher with the translation, I am giving myself a medal for the many hours of listening to the kind priest who spoke in broken English and translated the same. (my ears hurt because I used the head phones, they were clearer)

You might want to give this to your friend to re-read and see if the translation is correct. If he believes there are mistakes in the translation he can send the corrected paperwork back to me and I will correct and send a new version. He might want to translate the poems at the end of the chapter, they should be interesting. The priest was very nice but he just generalized and I looked up in the Polish dictionary what I could not understand he was saying on the tape as I followed along in the book when typing.

I think all in all it is very interesting. I wish he translated all the wording instead of generalizing but I am happy with what I was given. I did pay him for the work also. Hope you enjoy even though it is not the village you are researching.



The following information was taken from a Polish book titled BIESZCZADY, it is about the history of the region of Cisna, Poland. Father Miro, a priest from Pittsburgh translated as best he could for me by tape.

Note: the appendix was translated by Stephan K.

1. Names

Smerek 1529, 1580, 1589, 1678, 1785, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The name comes from the Ukrainian word smereka, or in polish swierk. (translated both words mean the evergreeen tree - spruce. The Polish word smrek also means spruce).

2. History

The village was founded under the Walachian law, on a stream called Niedzwiedz (Bear Stream), which flowed from the place called Okraglika to the small river Wetlinki. The village began in 1529 from the Sobiensky estate which belonged to the Kmitow family. In 1519 they split the area between two wealthy families - the Bal family and Kmita family. In a sworn document pertaining to the division of the property, there is a description of a  mountain, Fereczata, which split the basin of the two small streams Bystre and Smerek. It is noteworthy, why the Kmita founded Smerek in the Wetlinki valley. At the time the valley had similar small rivers Hoczewki and Solinki, which belonged to the Bal family of Hoczew, on the other hand the Kmita estate contained the San valley, dividing this this region from Bal ridge of the forest clearing.   Other facts of the Bieszczady area demonstrate however, that the Kmita family wanted to increase their own wealth. Their leader was Piotr (Peter) Kmita, in the year of 1511 he was the sheriff. He brought an end to this uprising in the year of 1915 by setting boundaries. Undoubtedly there was a strong argument for the need to defend the sanok lands from invasion from beyond the southern borders. People were migrating and settling into this region in the south. At this time the estate of the family Balow had more ground formerly owned by Jablonki and superiors Hoczewka and Terka, this estate was closer to the big river Solinka. In the territory owned by Kmita family in 1520 there were already the villages of Tworylne, Krywe, Chmiel, Dwemik, Stuposiany and Zurawin. The settling of Smereka probably started in the southernwestern part of the village. In 1529 Peter Kmita had the position of marshal, a very important person, just one level lower than the king. In the same year the land in the region was again again split the region between two important families, again Bal and Kmita,. This time it was according to law and they split with the people who they fought for 8 years. This time the territory of Smerek was also included with the land on  which the Kmita family later founded Wetlina and Jaworzec.

In 1580 after the death of Peter Kmita's widow, Barbara of  Herbur, the land of Smerek was in the hands of  new owners Stanislaw and Katarzyn Herbur (Stanley and Katherine Herbur). In the beginning of the 16th and 17th century the area belonged to the Boguskich family, and in the second half of the 17th century belonged to the Romerow family.

In 1614 an important man, Petro, organized a band of people who robbed the village of 98 and broke the law.  They attacked a village estate and mansion which they completely destroyed. Several inhabitants were killed and many were wounded. ( Perhaps that was the very reason a union of the farming peasants produced a greater meaning.)

At the end of 18th century the families living in the village had the names:  Andrejko, Berczanski, Buber, Cwerd, Czerczak, Dobysz, Ficor, Fil, Hnatyw, Holen, Holobinka, Hoszowski, Hutnik, Kaczor, Kolinczak, Kopilec, Kopylczak, Kowal, Kowalow, Lazoryszyn, Legdan, Luczak, Luczka, Lytowczak, Medwid, Melnyk, Niemczyszyn, Paranycz, Poluljach, Skydan, Swystak, Szutiak, Tokarczyk, Truchan, Wawszczak, Wowk, Zawidczak, and Ziatyk. In 1839 the village bailiff (wojt) was Andrej Luczka.

In 1868 the area of village had 7,099 morg (in Polish 4085.5 hectare, one hectare is 2,471 acres) and of this 5,037 morg (2898.8 hectors) was   forest. The land which belonged to the farmers was 436.2 ha, the meadows, gardens   and orchards 322.9 hector; and pasture fields consisted of 190 hectors, and the forests 43.7 hectors.

At the turning point of the 18th and 19th centuries the area was under a new noble family named Losiow.  Around 1840 there was a new owner, and during the next 70 years Smerek belong six successive families. After 1908  the area was purchased by a Viennese lumber firm. At that time they lengthened the narrow gauge railway from Cisna to Kalnica to the Beskid mountains and beyond the stream Smerek.   At this time Smerek had 260 hectors of forest, mostly spruce trees. After 1918 the whole area belong to the Dydynski family, and then to the Prek family.

Between World War I and World War II, the names of the families who occupied the area were:  Andryjiszyn, Bahan, Bej, Bihun, Cap, Ciesla, Dziuba, Holubinka, Iwaniczyn, Jacyniak, Kaczur, Kalyncz, Kopylczak, Korol, Kosz, Kowal, Kusznir, Lawrowski, Lazoryszyn, Legdan, Marszalek,Medwid, Moskal,Oszczep,Pliszka, Prusiak, Rewak, Rusyn, Rybinczak, Skyba, Sokyra, Solyba, Swydak, Tokarczyk, Truchan, Tyczar, Tytanycz, Wasylyszyn, Wizniak, Wowk, and Zubal. A family named Kalynycz was the only gypsy family in the village.

In Smerek the people used hardly more than 20 different given names, desiring to give children the names of  grandparents or relatives. They used the same names down the family lines generation after generation.

Men's given names:  Mychajlo (Michal)[Michael], Stanko (Eustachy) [Stanley],  Fedir (Teodor)[Theodore or Frank], Petro (Piotr) [Peter], Wasyl (Bazyli) [Wasco], Nykola (Mikolaj) [Nicholas], Dmytro (Dymitr) [Metro], Josyf (Jozef) [Joseph], Iwan (Jan) [John], and Ilko (Eliasz).

Women's given names:  Hala (Halina, Helena) [Helen], Nacia (Anastazja) [Anastasia, Nancy], Jewka (Eudokja, Ewa) [Eva], Ancia (Anna) [Ann], Marysia (Maria) [Mary], Magdalena (Magdalena) [Magdalena], Paraska (Paraskewia) [Pearl].

Nicknames were commonly used: their official names (baptismal names) were rarely used. The nicknames very often described the person's work, background, or character, and most often they were named after the parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents.

(All of the interpretations of the nicknames stated below are authored by a village teacher, who in 1936 at the recommendation of the School Inspector in Sanok wrote this particular description of the village)

Nicknames derived from given names: Adamiw - son of Adam; Dominicyn - son of Dominiki (Domenick); Halczyn - after the mother Halinie (Helen); Hnatkiw - son of Ignacego (Ignacy); Hryniw - son of Grzegorza (Gregory); Ilczyk - son of Eliasza; Iwanciw - son of Jana (John); Jackiw - son of Jacka; Jaskiw - son of Jana (John); Juzkiw - son of Jozefa (Joseph); Kostiw - son of Konstantego (Constance); Lewko - son of Leona (Leon); Luckiw - son of Luki (Luke); Pankiw - son of Pantelejmona; Paraniak - from the family Paranycz; Paranycziw - after the mother Parasce (Paraska); Pawliw - son of Pawla (Paul); Ruzyn - after the mother Rozalii (Rose); Semanyn - after mother, wife of Semanie; Sotybanycz - son of Sotyby; Stepaniw - son of Szczepana.

Nicknames derived from distinguishing features: Bolszewik - from political persuasion; Bukiela, Galaj, Dzel - from talkativeness; Cybulak - from big protruding eyes, or fondness of onions; Didyk - from stooped posture like an old man; Ferdiak - from nervous movement (ukrainian ferdity- fidget); Hanebskyj - from bashfulness (Ukrainian hanbyty sia- bashful); Harkotiw - from to croak like a frog (Ukrainina harkaty); Kalyta - from greed for money (Ukraininan kalyta -moneybag); Karyj - from resemblence to a horse; Koczkiw - from disposition to a wandering lifestyle; Muszka - from small height and small posture; Swystakiw - from a disposition to whistling (Ukrainian swystaty -to whistle); Zyziw - from squinting eyes. 

Nicknames derived from places: Dowzyckyj - from Dolzycy; Hucula - from Hucul territory; Kalnyckyj - from Kalnica; Mazur - [o kazdym Polaku]; Strubiwczyn - from Strubowiska; Szwab - derived from German.

Nicknames derived from kinds of vocations: Melnykiwskyj -from the family  profession of miller (gristmill or sawmill); Berezynkiw - father or someone in the family was a game keeper (Ukrainian bereznyk, pobereznyk); Bobriw - from hunters of beavers (a very old nickname); Kunyciw - from hunters.

Nicknames derived from location of the farm: Luzanyn - lived "at Luh"; Potickyj - lived at the stream.

Others: Tambor - from drum (nickname derives from the military); Krywianczyn - from a lame or crippled father.


And here are the observations of a village teacher on the subject of village social living over 30 years:

Family...origins here, lasting till now, are strong, created on a firm foundation. The father of the family is almost with that, which was hundreds years ago. Feeling pedigrees is to now indossoluable.. In preserving feeling social pedigree very relevant role recovering/playing nicknames pedgireee.They so treasured the old tradition of names they were proud and honored for people very often connected given family by blood.

Families felt they should be strong in their morals, live close to one another, never separate, and carry on traditions from the generations in the past. That one would be honored and proud to carry the surname of a blood relative.

The women carried the lowest position in the family, often worked hard, and not regarded. The women had no say in traditions or any group activity. The only institution for women which was very strong was "cerkiew" the church. There they formed their morality and their love.

People were strong in morality views and if the views were broke they were punished, they respected God's law which was very strong in tradition among the people. The laws which the people created most of the time were ignored and were not respected.

In 1938 there were only 9 people who were Greek Catholic, 40 Polish people from North Galicia who work in the lumber mills. One teacher wrote about the village in 1936, about the people and how their stature being muscular and short, have big feet, their chest being very wide, the neck was short, thick, and the head being big. Shoulders were very wide, nose being flat, and cheeks very full. This writer suggest the people descended from Tatars who attacked this region of Poland. To confirm this he examples the names like Bohan, Bej, Truchan.

The road to Kalicy, the distance between stream Smerek and Bystrym, before the war was split and later was combined. Between this road was a small place they gave the name Tyn. We might add that Tyn is the beginning of the iranskiego language, describe as a guard area to prevent anyone from attacking the people. Today there is a railway that is very narrow.

The people of the village Smerek had given themselves the name "Rusyn" to describe themselves as a group, they did not use the description very often but was acknowledged if they were being degraded, that they were a people describe as mountains, and referenced to their dialect. The reference of Rusyn as their group of people described where they belong and was used to separate them by people who studied Smerek and the military attitude.

In 1936 the village had 124 houses, about 218 farms, and usually under one roof two families lived together, had their own school, and worked on the farms. Later the farms became smaller and smaller because the farmers who worked in the mountains received very little pay from the government which was very sad. Later people who had strong character gained more of the village with names of the oldest families; Swydak, Tokarczyk, Koral, Dziuba, Sokyra, Bihun, Moskal, Swiadcza. Sixty percent of the ground the farms had planted rye. They used plows made by their own hands, and now buy fabric. They made all of the tools they used. They used natural fertilizers from the cows. Their food was very primitive, some of the poorer families did not have enough to eat. The foods they ate/utilized were potatoes, borsht, cabbage, milk, and a food like jello called kisiel, soup made from potatoes, and using the flour and potatoes they made pierogi, also using cheese and onion. They ate peas, and bread of rye flour.

At Christmas time they made pancakes of rye flour, mushroom, pierogis, cabbage soup. At Easter they ate blessed eggs, cheese, butter, and paska (they called an Easter pastry), and Kielbasa. They didn't have much meat even in a rich family, the people wanted more food but they didn't have any. They hunted in the forest, and fished by hand and other methods. The popular method used was homemade nets nailed to wooden sticks and placed in the water waiting for the fish.

Clothing in 1936 was made of wool and linen, there was only one factory that made the material so there was no difference in daily dress, the Sunday clothing were dressed up with embroidery, but basically the same design, unlike the present day where we have dressier clothing for special occasions. Men had little influence regarding clothing, for the young men the daily wear was a little different. For women, they embroidered blouses, with long sleeves, and a skirt. Everything was linen. They utilized the sheep for wool for their clothing also.

The people had very strong faith and spirit. They believed the devil invaded their spirits, they had fortune tellers, they had home remedies made of herbs for medicines.

On the east side of the village, on the way to the highest point of Smerek before 1914, there was two houses they called "przysiolek Garb" owned by a German family named Koch. In 1939 in the one of the houses lived the farmer with two sons, and the other house was occupied by the oldest son and his family.

According to information of a public man of Cisna, in February 1945, in/around the villages of Jaworzec, Smerek and Wetlina there were around 1200 people who lived in the woods and were called UPA, in Smerek there were considered to be 30 farmers.. This information most of the time was considered untrue. Also there were about 200 people who stayed in the woods who were called partyzantow (guerilla warfare)

On April 3, 1945 in Beskid during an attack they caught three officers, one of these was German, one was Ukrainian which belonged to the UPA. And during this time one family was killed by a Ukrainian forest man (partzantow), a Polish family.

In 1944, 691 people were deported from Smerek to the Ukraine, there were no people nor government in Smerek, . The people did not want to leave, some escaped into the forest.. Again in 1945 the army tried to send people to the Ukraine but of those who were going to be sent some escaped into the woods, the people were afraid. Anyone left in the village of Smerek in 1946 were taken to the Ukraine. After 1946 there were few houses left but it was unknown if they were occupied by the prior residents or new people occupying the remaining houses.

In the 1960's in Smerek they built a few new houses and they created a big farm called PGR with houses for workers who worked the ground. In 1990 they built a sort of a vacation lodge for people who worked on the railway, and the village of Smerek was the main center for three small villages; Jaworzec, Luh and Zawoj.

Before 1529 the people lived in the hills.

Owners of the Village of Smerek

Years Owner
1529-1553 Peter Kmita
1553-1580 Barbara z Herburtow (Widow of Piotrze Kmicie)
1580 Katarzyna and Stanislaw Herburtowie
1589 Stanislaw and Erazm Herburtowie
1630-1651 Andrzej Boguski (?)
1663 Romerowie
1790-1829 Franciszek hr. Los (zm. 1829)
1829-1836 Karol hr. Los
1842 Balbina Brzescianska
1843-1849 desendant of Balbina Brzescianska
1862-1867 Edward hr. Lubienski (zm. 1867)
1867-1873 Konstancja ze Szlubowskich hr. Lubienska
ok 1875 Cezary Alliar
1879-1890 Izydor Odillon Allair
1895 Cezary Alliar
1897-1904 Stanislaw Wysocki
1904-1908 Maksymilian Stretz (zm. 1908)
1914-1918 Towarzystow "Holz Handels Aktiengesellschaft in Wien"
1926-1930 Boleslaw Dydynski
1932-1937 Lucja, Klementyna and Ksawery borck Prek ze Lwowa
1938-1939 Lucjan Borck Prek z Kalnicy

Culture and Education

A pastor wrote a paper in 1790 that in his opinion 44 children were able to go to a school. In the 19th century from 1821-1867 there was only one class. In 1867 under Deacon Daniel Hojsan there were 8 children, and 68 very young children. Also in 1867 there were 558 people occupying 86 homes.

In 1882-1884 the school was closed, and in 1895 there was no school building and no teacher. In 1910-30 there was no existence of a school or schooling.

In 1936 there was a teacher, 852 people of Russian descent, 14 Polish and 11 Jews.

In 1936 they built a school, and retained a teacher from Sanok and prepared the class work and wrote the dialect in book form which the people used in Smerek. He also wrote a dictionary of the language (Examples given in the book on page 329).

3. Sacred Objects

Church in Smerek:

Cerkiew (orthodox church) was under the order of Dymitra, was wood and 19,6 long and 9.2 meters wide, was built in 1875, and was destroyed in the second world war. The bell tower of the church was made of wood, which was made of two levels. The Rectory was built on the right side of the stream about 170 meters from the church. In 1852 the rectory was wooden, also there were three buildings where they kept farm tools, and implements. In 1910 the rectory was made into a home, religion was forbidden, the rectory does not exist today.

1879 (this paragraph describes the worth of the church at that time)

In the 1900 century what also belonged to Smerek was property called Kalnicy and Strubowiskach(they are villages), repeating the religious foundation of Smerek. (paragraph indicates what they used the land for and the business of the church)

Smerek, Cerkiew paperwork was signed by Bazylego and Miroslawa Ustianowskich. The chapel has the name of the Virgin Mary and was made of stone, and it was built in 1903. The chapel was built to remember when the people were free to give a donation to the noble people in 1848. They built this chapel in 1903 in the same place the old one stood, this new one was built to be newer and bigger. They would sometime celebrate a mass there. The chapel was built on the road from Kalnicy to Pensja, this road led to Smerek, the road does not exist today. The road has changed and there is a bus stop for public transportation. It is worth to remember what was said by a teacher in 1936, they had a respect for their religion and the crosses which remind them of freedom and that they were free, not unlike the people in 1848. In 1933 many people were against the crosses and religion. This dispute would involve policemen and the army. People would work together in the chapel and would not allow the liquidation. During the period of dispute people were killed and things were destroyed.

Cmentarz (Cemetery)

They had one cemetery, 100 meter long by 25 meter. This was ruined and only a few stones and cement monuments were there. If somebody died the family of this person goes to the sexton and he will use the bell to announce to the community that somebody died, and from that day of death until the funeral members of the family do not wear hats and they only use one bell to indicate a death. The people would come and put flowers on the dead person, and the next day they would wash and prepare everything.

In this region the people had superstitions, they had strong feelings about the good and the bad spirits. They believed in bad spirits who could harm people and even make the people die. They would go pray by the grave and sprinkle holy water, and also do this at the house where the dead party lived before. Sometimes they even went into a grave and cut a head of that person and put the head of that person between the legs. Another tradition was to put a metal pole into a grave.

Kapliczki i krzyze przydrozne

This chapter is about crosses by roads and by chapels. A cross by the road was a fine salvation. They put these by the roadside from about 1852 to 1914.

4. Wielka w1asnosc

(this paragraph was inaudible for translation)

5. Zabudowania mieszkalne

A teacher wrote in 1946 and described the homes, the roofs of the home being built of straw, very often the house was attached to a room that housed the animals, sometime these rooms for the animals did not have roofs, nor foundations allowing the homes that were attached to smell from the animals, in turn making the occupants very ill. considering the people very often did not have much to eat and with the smell from the animals the people were often very ill.

6. Przemysly, rzemioslo, handel i uslugi

There was a railway from the village Majdanu to Beskid and Smereku. In 1900-1904 there was no station from Majdanu to Kalinca, but eventually by 1908-1909 they were building more. Along the railway there was a place of business where they made plows of wood and they used steam. The owner of this building was Boleslawa Dydnskiego. He leased it to a Jewish man named Talp.

There was a saw mill built of wood by the stream and had only one wheel. In 1926 the owner of the mill was Fr. Myroslaw Ustijanowskyj, of Ukrainian descent.

They had a tavern along the stream Niedzwiedz, in 1852 the building was built of wood.

There was a forest man who lived 150 meters from the village, he was killed by a participant of the U-PA people who live in the forests.

Po 1947

After 1947 the area built a resort called Tarowskie Gory,and during the summer they have 150 rooms, in the winter only 100. Another resort called Smerek, they have only 40 rooms.

7. Nazewnietwo

A teacher at a town meeting documented new family names in this chapter and what they did for a living. (do not recognize any names of researchers)


In an unusual general description of the village (35 manuscript pages) compiled in 1936 by the local Polish school teacher (in Smerek), whose surname we do not know, are found examples of songs which are here presented, along with comments on the song verses by the teacher.

This first verse expresses a conversation of a person with nature:

Oy choho sya ne ozhenysh        Well why don't you get married,
Zelenyj Beskyde?                       Green Mountain?
Bo syyavka polonyla                  Because the blue sky has enchanted me,
Za mene ne pide.                        But will not marry me.

And this verse is an expression of ecstatic love of a young girl:

Oy bilavo bilavyna               Oh my blond, light-colored
Bilavo bileyka                      Blond-haired head,
Ta na tobi kucheryky           You have curly locks of hair
Yak ruta dribnenka.               Like little rue plant flowers. 

The economic life from the times of serfdom (before 1848) found its 
expression in this Kolomeyka folk song verse. 

Kudy yidesh, kudy yidesh,       Where are you going, where to
Molodyj panochku                  Young sir?
Chelad' ty sya podrimala          Your servants have gone to sleep
Na tvoyim lanochku.                  In your fields.

The hardship of being an orphan, lacking the feeling of having been cared 
for by a mother as tears cover her face:

A ya bidna syrotoyka             I am a poor orphan girl
Pushcha vid kamenya              Abandoned like a stone,
Ta boday sya syrotoytsi         Would to God, that the earth
Prostupyla zemlya.                 Not blame an orphan girl.

The desire for eternal youth and feelings are expressed in this way:

Zahadala stara baba         The old woman thought about
Molodoyu buty               wanting to be young again,
Nachipala do kurtaka        So she pinned onto her jacket
Zelenoyi ruty.                   A green magic herb charm.

Ties to the family land are expressed in this song verse:

A ya v chuzhiy storonoyu        I am a stranger here
A ya v chuzhim krayu               In a strange land,
A ya v tiyi storonoytsi              And in this land
Zvychayu ne znayu.                 I do not know the customs.

A soldier's fate, which the local people viewed as hard exile, is mirrored in 
this song verse:

A ya tikav iz kazarny           And I ran away from the military barracks
Z tyazhkoyi nevoli                Away from disagreeable bondage,
Tam polamav karabina        Up there on the high mountain
Na vysokiy hori.                   I broke apart my rifle.

The unpleasant memory of being drafted into the Austrian Army caused the 
mountain people to curse military service although they could bear arms when 
they had to:

A ya pidu na zlitsirku               I shall go to the draft board
Vyzlitsiruyusya                        And I will be counted,
A jak pryydu do kasarni         When I arrive at the military barracks
Slyozamy zalyusya.                 I shall burst into tears.

The sorrow of mothers for their sons/recruits and the despair of girlfriends 
left behind are echoed in the song:

Oy tsisaru, tsisaryku               Oh Kaiser, little Caesar,
Oy tsisaru Franku                   Oh Kaiser Franz
Zabrav yesi mylen'koho          You took away my sweetheart,
Zaberay kokhanku.                 Now take away his lover.

Times of course have changed. The new Polish Army, while maintaining 
discipline but still respecting human dignity, has changed the relations of a 
soldier to the ranks. Willingness for military service and the honor of the 
wearing the uniform have greatly increased. 

Ta vzhe meni znadudily          They've already sounded
Holosni krucheni                     The loud winding horns for me,
To mi dadut' u Sanotsi             And in Sanok they'll give me
Raytuzy zeleni.                         Green riding breeches.

The preference for serving in the cavalry is echoed in the following verse:

Podyvysya fanteristyj               Watch, Infantryman,
Yak ulan hulyaye                      How an Ulan Cavalryman dances
Na konyku voronen'kym           As he sits on his jet black horse
Shabel'kov zvyvaye.                Waving his saber around.