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'Maps & Places' Knowledge

This is a steadily increasing database of facts to make it easier for you to find places, to recognize information when you see it (particularly if you happen across a webpage in Polish, for example), and to give you some basic data on the organisation of the State, religion, society etc through the ages. More information about these things can be found elsewhere on this site, while this page is a kind of key.

This part of the site divides the places into the current political divisions, although there are references to previous divisions, but not by religious 'parish'. The reason for choosing to divide the province this way instead of the 'parishes' more common on other sites, is that this site tries to cater for everyone, whatever their religious background. Also, there is and always has been a lot of religious diversity in Poland and the boundaries they use have often been very loosely defined.

On this page there is some general information about terminology used in these pages, including church and political districts, agriculture and other general help. If you are unfamiliar with Poland, then it is worth reading these notes along with the relevant Powiat (County) Page. As it will take some time to complete the gazetteer, there is a map below showing the state of completion of each powiat.

The Powiat pages list information about each place in each powiat, including a general description about the landscape, any special features (buildings, history etc.), church and local authority addresses, and sometimes a link to another page or site for further information. The Powiat Pages are divided into Gmina (District) Pages for extra convenience.

Currently, each powiat pages is at one of 2 levels of research (see map below): Place Names complete and Gazetteer & PlaceNames complete. Those with the Place Names complete have about 99% of places listed plus detailed maps plus at least the locations of all known churches, and those with the Gazetteer completed have information about every place listed. Work is always underway and updates occur every few months.



Map Showing Current Completion of Powiat Gazetteer
All places listed are shown on maps, either on the powiat pages for those powiats with only a basic coverage, or on the gmina pages for those powiats with the PlaceNames complete.

Terms used in these pages
Some definitions here are of my own devising, others are Polish words commonly used to describe things.

Address - The standard layout of an address in Poland may well be different to that which you are used to.
 - For the street the format is <road type> + <name of the street> + <no. of the house> eg. ul. Dluga 7 = 7 Dluga Street. If the number has a 'slash', then the first part is the building number, and second is the flat number eg. ul. Dluga 27/6 = flat 6, building 27, Dluga Street.
 - Next comes the Zip/Postal Code ( in the form number/number), then the village/town/city name, then the Wojewodztwo, and finally 'Poland'. The wojewodztwo is essential if you don't know the zip code, and even adding the gmina and powiat names can help avoid your letter going to another village of the same name.
 - Many small villages do not have street names, and therefore the address will be either : <zip> + <village name> + <house number> eg Bochatnica 17, or just <zip> + <village name> eg. 20-124 Swidnik Duzy.
 - Play safe and add as much information as you know, as you DO want the letter to arrive, don't you?
 For writing to:
 - Men. Begin the name with 'Pan'. Masculine surname endings are often ski, cki, or just a consonant (n, k, p etc.)
 - Women. Begin the Name 'Pani'. Feminine surname endings are often ska, cka, or just a consonant.
 - More than one person. The safest choice is probably 'Sz.P'. If you know the first names of the people, then remember to put the woman's name first and the man's name second, with a small letter 'i' between them. Remember that if you are addressing the letter to more than one person in a family you should really use the plural form of the surname. (ska & ski become scy etc.) If you don't know the proper plural form, then just use the singular form and then make a note of what is written on the reply you receive.
Abbreviations used in addresses:
ul. = ulica = street.     al. = aleja = avenue.     pl. = plac = square.   n. = nad = over/beside

Possible Address formats (italics=only if zip is unknown)
City/Town/Large Village
Pan Kowalski
al. Paderewskiego 47/15
20-249 Naleczow
gmina Siemen
pow. Lubartow
woj. Lubelskie
Poland
Medium Village
Pani Kowalska
20-245 Stara Wies 56
woj. Lubelskie
Poland
Small Village
Sz.P. Kowalscy
20-235 Milanow
woj. Lubelskie
Poland
Arable - Agricultural land used generally for crops, although here includes that for cattle, horses etc. so long as it is maintained.
Baroque - An architectural style from around the 18th century, notable for the use of curves and the mixing of plain colours with gold ornamentation. Also notable is the completely over-the-top church altars with huge round coloumns and over lifesize statues, usually in white and gold, although sometimes another colour and gold. Cherubs are a common feature of Baroque church architecture.
Chapel - This could be a very small church, perhaps for the use of one family, or just a roadside shrine of brick, stone, or wooden construction.
Chata - A cottage, usually made of wood.
Chałupa (Chalupa) - Colloquial term for a farmhouse.
Church - A Christian building for use by at least several families and generally for public use. Be careful about assuming that because this site describes a particular church as belonging to one particular faith that it has always belonged to that faith. Many churches have changed faith, as it were, usually from Orthodox to Uniate, and from Uniate to Roman Catholic. This has been going on for centuries and still happens today. I have also come across a church which is used for both Roman Catholic and Uniate masses (even as late as the 1990's the parisioners were battling over which faith the church belonged to).
City - This is a concept that does not really exist in Polish. You either have a town (miasto) or a capital of the country/locality (stolica). The English language definition of a city used here is a large urban area containing a cathedral.
Classical - An architectural style from the late 18th and early 19th century. Uses a lot of motifs from Ancient Greece and Rome, particularly the former. The most obvious Classical decoration is the wide based triangle, as found on the top front of the Acropolis in Athens, another is the use of fluted columns (again like the Acropolis).
Clump - A small group of trees covering an area of no more than 100meters/100yards to a side.
Communal Farm - Farms created generally during the communist period where the workers actually worked for the state. Quality and quantity of work was generally low. Many of these farms housed the workers in small blocks of flats.
Coniferous - These are trees that retain their greenery throughout the year. The leaves of these trees are generally, but not always, in the form of needles.
Deciduous - These are trees which loose their leaves for the winter.
Distance - 8 kilometers (8km) equals about 5 miles. It is important to get a feel for kilometers as almost all European countries use them, and have done for, on average, a century.
1000 metres (1000m) = 1km.
1000 millimeters (1000mm) = 1 metre.
10 millemeters (10mm) = 1 centimeter (1cm)
1 metre is about 3 inches longer than 1 yard.
To convert kilometers to miles, divide by 8 and then multiply by5.
Dwór/Dworek (Dwor/Dworek) - Polish word for a manor house (see: Manor House)
Fair - In times past to have a fair in your village or town was essential for the growth of the place. Kings were cunning and you couldn't just hold one when and where you liked, you could only hold them if your village/town was given the Royal Privilege to do so. This helped to ensure that the people remained faithful to the king (or loose the privilege!) and regulated trade.
Farmstead - This usually consists of a cottage, barn, and some other small buildings, often built around a small yard with fences and a gate to make an enclosure of it.
Forest - Any group of trees over 12 square kilometres (5 square miles)
Gmina - The next size down in administrative divisions from a powiat. Usually contains about 20 major villages or a city. Warsaw is unusual in consisting of 2 gminas, one on either side of the river. This is the smallest division to actually have an office and a record system you can apply to. Holds the civil birth, marriage and death records.
Gothic - As the name implies, a very Germanic style of architectire (the Goths were a Germanic tribe). Gothic style has plain vertical surfaces, steep roofs and sharp angles. Gothic was popular around the 15th and 16th centuries, a development of the Romanesque style. Neo-Gothic describes a popular style of the mid 19th century, notable for very tall walls and square, tall spires.
Hamlet - A group of less than about 8 houses. A hamlet has a population of no more than about 50 people.
Huta - Iron or steelworks.
Kolonia ( Kol.) - A satellite settlement of an original village or town. There can be anywhere between about 1 and 10 of these around an original settlement, all numbered. Some of these were set up in the early 1920's on old estates where the encumbant family had died either during World War 1 or the Polish-Soviet war. Parcels of land were either given to war veterans or sold to people to farm. Kolonia indeed is the same word as the English word 'Colony'. Sometimes the kolonia outgrows the original settlement, but generally the are just agricultural outgroths of the original settlement.
Land Measurement - This is one of the most difficult areas to be firm about, as there were many centuries before any centralised standards were set up. Given that Poland was home to many people of different ethnic background, many of whom used their own systems, it all becomes very murky. Most land measurement at present is in Hectares (Ha), but previous systems could vary almost from field to field as many of them were based on things like how much you could plough in a day, or how many livestock could be maintained.
Lublin Renaissance - See 'Renaissance'.
Manor House - A larger house than that for a normal villager, often with columns supporting a portico at the main entrance. This is the home of the minor gentry. Often the owner controlled land with several villages and other settlements on it, the whole area usually known by the same name as the village in which the manor house lies.
Magdeburg Rights - A charter giving a place the right to be a town. Based on those created for the German city of Magdeburg. This form of town rights were very common in Europe. Interestingly, the use of this Germanic format of charter gave Germans in World War 2 the dubious notion of claiming cities such as Lublin as historically German cities.
Meadow/Meadowlands - Rough pasture land.
Meanders - When a river flows across flat land, it does not tend to flow in a straight line, but in a series of curves. These curves are often of a horseshoe shape. The actual course of the river changes over time as the outside bank, on a bend, of the river is worn. The river plain often has many long, thin and curved 'lakes' which are, in fact, earlier courses of the river.
Mixed Woods - Woodland that is a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
Okolice - This means 'the surrounding area', often used in map titles (eg. Swidnik i Okolice, Swidnik and the surrounding countryside).
Old Woj. - See 'Wojewodztwo'.
Osiedle - A suburb or village created to serve a particular industry or form of agriculture.
Osada - See 'Osiedle'.
Powiat - A wojewodztwo is divided into powiats, a bit like counties.
PGR - You will only find these initials attached to places from the 1950's onwards as these are State, or Communal, farms. They are almost like a village, having a population and shops as well as extensive farm facilities. A large number are in decay, and many have collapsed completely, leaving an oasis of people in the countryside with no work and little future. Some may have been set up around earlier settlements, but I have yet to see evidence of this.
Renaissance - An architectural style from about the 17th century, an import form Italy but often modified in Polish terms and called 'Lublin Renaissance'.
Ribbon Development - Houses and farmsteads on either side of one road, often with a gap (5m-100m) between the buildings. Often caused by strip field farming. In the 20th century western world the same type of development can be seen where farmers sell off roadside plots of land to people able to work in town, but live in the country through the use of cars.
Roads - I have classified these into the following types:
Track: An unsealed road of either bare earth, grass or cinder, and generally under 2 metre (6 feet) wide, away from habitation.
Lane: The same as a track, but generally with a sealed surface.
Country Road: Wider than 2m (6 feet) and generally with a sealed surface.
Minor Highway: Always with a sealed surface and traffic in different directions is split by some kind of white line.
Highway: A route recognised as being of national importance.
You will note the use of the word 'generally' - it is quite common for a road to go through several states while still being marked on a map as being the same throughout its length. For example, take the road from the village of Rudnik (Lublin) to the main highway. In the village itself it is surfaced and sealed ('sealed' means it has a waterproof layer, usually tar, and not just some loose material, like cinders), and for the 500m (500yards) leaving the village and also the 500m approaching the highway it is also sealed. However, a 500m section between these is only cinder, and a very short stretch is only earth. The width of the road remains constant, it is the main road out of the village, on the map nothing untoward is noted, but you might feel you have made a navigational error the first time you drive along it.
Rolling hills - A series of hills, each with a smooth, rounded outline
Scale - Metric units are used as that is what Poland uses. 1 kilometre = 0.6 miles. 1 square kilometre = 0.4 square miles
Settlement - A village with no distinct grouping of buildings. Usually associated with strip farming.
Settlement Area - For hamlets, settlements and villages, this is the area of land belonging to it. Unlike certain other countries, the land associated with a village is not usually defined by a parish. Religious diversity and political upheaval throughout the centuries have helped disrupt boundaries.
Sołtys (Soltys) - The smallest administrative division. Equivalent to a 'parish', and consists of just one representative chosen from the people. Soltys is also the title of the representative, and they have a red plate with 'Soltys' written on it to hang on their house.
Strip Field - A long, thin field, often made very narrow by repeatedly dividing land among children. A long field is beneficial for ploughing as it reduces the amount of times you have to turn the plough and team. As a plough and team needs a certain amount of space to turn round in, long fields minimises this wasted space, effort and time.
Synagogue - A temple of the Jewish faith.
Town - The difference between a town and a village is that a town has a charter, sometimes under the Magdeburg rights. Traditionally, towns obtained their charter from the king, and it usually included the important right to hold a fair on a certain number days of the week or year. A town often had a certain amount of arable land included, in order to support the towns people. Charters could also be taken away, many places lost theirs in the years following the 1863 uprising. Because of the establishment of a specific area to hold fairs, council buildings, warehousing etc., most towns took on some kind of definite street pattern.
Undulating - Most of the hills Lubelskie region are of a rounded shape and most of the rest of the land rises and falls like a swell in an ocean far from shore.
Uniate - This particular faith was originally Orthodox, but by the Union of Brest in 1595 a large part of the Orthodox church in Polish lands accepted the Pope of the Roman Catholic church as their chief. The rites of the church remained essentially Orthodox and it functioned as a separate entity from the Roman Catholic establishment in Poland.
Village - This is where there is some clumping together of buildings, but can come in several forms. Sometimes there it is based on a cross-road, sometimes there is a small grid of streets, and sometimes they are just just either side of the road in a kind of a ribbon development. The shape a village takes depends on the original or present function of the village. If there was a market, then there is usually a grid of streets and a square. If farming was the sole occupation, then it might tend to the ribbon development with each farmstead at the end of its own strip field.
Populations of villages:
Small village: 50-500 people
Village: 500-1000 people
Large Village: 1000-2000 people.
Wetlands: Poorly drained land, often bog or marsh, with standing water in wet seasons.
Wojewodztwo - Poland is divided into a number of administrative regions or provinces, the English word for which is Voivode. The actual number has varied since 1920, with the number increasing every 10 to 20 years up until 1998, when they were reduced back to 20. The term 'old woj.' refers to the 1975-98 divisions, and is still used by several genealogy organisations such as the Latter Day Saints Family Centres.
Wola - Wola, other than its comon meaning of 'free', also means 'Will' (as in 'Thy will be done', a desire or wish). Often set up to exploit a natural resource (iron, wood et) or to breed certain animals or grow certain crops, the latter often to supply a certain establishment, often a castle.
Wólka (Wolka) - Means the same as Wola, but is/was a smaller place.
Wood: Any group of trees larger than a clump and smaller than a forest.

What If There Are Too Many Places Listed?

If the place you are searching for is mentioned several times (i.e. 'Stara Wies') then there are several ways you can cut down on the numbers. First thing to do is to make sure that you have researched all the possible places in your own country that might reference other place names. Possible sources may include the first census they were registered in under 'previous address at last census', ship's manifest, naturalisation application, birth, marriage and death certificates of the person, children etc. If this turns up, say, 'Bychawa', then you can set about eliminating Stara Wies'es that are not close enough to any Bychawas. If this fails, then you can resort to the Polish White Pages ( http://tel.portal.pl/asp/szukaj_a.asp ) and looking to see if the same surnames exist in your place of interest. This is not guaranteeed as they may no longer be anyone of your name living there, your surname may be too common in Poland generally, or the remaining family may simply not possess a phone.
 
Here is what the Polish White Pages page will ask you to fill in
Imie: first name (optional)
Nazwisko: last name
"ul." : street name (optional)
Miejscowosc: city/town/village
Wojewodztwo:
"szukaj" means "search".

If it comes up "Znalezionych pozycji: 0", then click where it says "zobacz pomoc" and this will bring up a map (actually showing the 1975-1998 wojewodtwo) which will show you whether your region is up on the internet yet.

If my pages list some information about the place, see if it ties up with any family information you may have. Be careful that places may have grown or shrunk since your ancestors lived there, the place may have been destroyed during war, it may no longer be within the current borders of Lubelskie (possibly now in Ukraine or Belarus), etc.

How to Find the Same Places on Other Maps

Once you have found a location on this site you might want to make a comparison with an atlas or some kind of internet map service or other place listing. At the moment I do not list latitude/longitude or distances/directions to other places as this is a long process for 6100 places. If the place you are seeking is above about 500 people then it is likely that you can find the same place on a 'good' internet map site, such as www.pilot.pl. If the place is very small then you need to look for other nearby places and look for those - the main village or town in a gmina is a good place to start. Once you have brought the map on one of these sites then you can compare it with the map on this site.

Note About Political & Religious Districts
The way the land in Poland is divided up Politically and Religiously is widely different. On this site, the Lubelskie province is divided up using the current political divisions. Below is an explanation of the divisions and the Polish terms used. Remember that Polish words change their endings according to the meaning of a sentence, the verbs used, and the gender. Here only the base terms are used, with the basic singular (s) and plural (p) endings.

Poland has had many reorganisations in its history, the most recent of which happened in 1975 and 1998. This site uses the 1998 divisions, but if you use Latter Day Saints (LDS) records, then they will use the 1975 ones as most of the work done by them were done in the 1980's and 1990's. Where possible, I will try and indicate where places were under the 1975 system, but it will take some time.

Note: The Latter Day Saints church have family centres in many countries where you can rent microfilmed records from churches around the world. Anyone can visit their family centres and rent the records.

The State
The state divides Poland into wojewodzstwo's (provinces), a wojewodzstwo into powiats (counties), a powiat into gmina's (districts), and a gmina into sołectwo's. A sołectwo has no real government, the gmina is the smallest unit at which official records will be kept.
The Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic church: The Lubelskie wojewodzstwo includes areas from diecezji (English diocese), including Lublin, Sladice (not sure of spelling), Sandomierz and Zamosc-Lubaczow. Diecezji are divided into dekanat, and dekanat into parafi. Parafia is the equivalent of Parish in English. A diocese is 'ruled' by a bishop, while an Archdiocese (Archidiecezja) is 'ruled by an archbishop and is therefore more important.

Note About Location and Town Rights (& Peasants!)

If you find any literature about particular towns and villages in this region of Poland, you will often find references to the obtaining of these rights in the 14th to 17th century, and the subsequent loosing of them in the period 1865-1880. If the literature is Polish in origin, invariably the reason given will be repressions following the January Uprising of 1864. While this is a significant factor, what is not mentioned but is also equally true is the general state of decay in rural areas of this part of Poland. It is true that the decay was well assisted by the poor management of the region by the Tsarist authorities, it is also true that the decay had set in at least a 100 years before Poland was partitioned, and the Polish State had failed to remedy it. By the time of the January Insurrection, many of the towns of this part of Poland were towns in name only and now little more than small villages. While life had generally being going forward in other parts of Europe, here life had been going backward for more than 200 years. The removal of rights, painful as it may be to Polish patriots, was only the final recognition of the true state of decay of Rural Poland. Over 100 years on, with various governments and the decay is still evident - much of rural Poland has still not emerged from peasanthood. One day, I hope, the Polish State will wake up to the fact that it can no longer afford to leave a great part of its population as peasants.

Village (Wies) Descriptions

When describing a village and the immediate surrounding area I have tried to keep to a set of descriptive terms. However, first it must be pointed out that the Polish definition of village and that of English speaking countries is different. In English we tend to think of a village as a group of buildings with maybe some outlying buildings. The farmland attached to the village is thought of as being part of the parish. Wies, on the other hand, can only loosely be used to describe the group of buildings, it is actually the area of land belonging to the village. In fact, Wies could equally easily be translated as 'the countryside'. If you use a road atlas or some kind of online map then Polish villages are represented as dots on the map, but it would be dangerous as thinking that this marks the location of a centralised village. On the contrary, if you use a map of, say, 1:100 000 then you will see that many of these villages are quite decentralised and spread over a large area of land. In fact, if you buy 2 or maps of such a scale of the same area from different map makers, they often disagree over the location of a village and make it appear there are 2 'villages' of the same name a mile or so apart. Both maps are (probably) right, as they both locate the name in the area of land that is the village. In fact, when travelling through the Polish countryside it is very often difficult to know when you are in one village or another.

As is discussed elsewhere, parishes, even Roman Catholic ones rarely align with administrative districts, and a wies is an administrative unit, although of no administrative interest beyond the name as the smallest administrative unit is the soltys, which consists of several wies.

Another problem is the names themselves, especially Kolonia's. One of the differences between the English and Polish Languages is that in English word order is important, while in Polish it is generally not so important. In English, with adjectives (a describing word, such as 'blue', 'tall' etc.) and nouns (names of things, such as 'book', 'John' etc.) together in a group (such as 'big white computer screen'), the last word is the most important in that it tells you what it is you are talking about (a 'screen' for a computer, that is big and white). In Polish this is not alway so ('duzy bialy komputera ekran' or 'duzy bialy ekran komputera' etc.). So, Ostrowek Kolonia is the same place as Kolonia Ostrowek.

Agriculture & the Countryside

Agriculture in the part of Poland to the east of the Vistula is much less advanced than most of the rest of Poland. Here the fields are often small with many farmsteads scattered over the land. Change in agricultural practices have been slow over the years and there is still much as it was 100 years ago. When the description of a village on these pages is 'a scattering of farmsteads over an area of arable land, then the farmland is much like that shown below.
Roads in the countryside, once you get away from the primary roots, are often in poor condition. A large percentage of the roads in the countryside are not surfaced, and are often difficult to use in wet weather. fortunately, the land is often sandy and rarely with clay, so the roads drain reasonably well by themselves. Many of the smaller villages, often the kolonia's, have no surfaced roads. Only in more important villages do the streets have names, and most houses and other buildings are known by a number and the village area in which they are located.

You may come across the term 'dzialka/dzialki'. These are plots of land for growing vegetetables and usually owned by people living in towns and cities. These plots of land are often outside the town borders, in near local villages.
I use the term 'village' to describe places that have a reasonable denseness of building, whilst 'settlement' to describe a place that has some distance between the buildings. Many of the places which use the word 'Kol.' (kolonia) in their name often have this loose structure, consisting of a series of strip fields, most of them having a farmstead built on it (see the above picture). Historically, the term kolonia was used to describe a new settlement some distance away from the original one. sometimes they were created to give land to refugees and sometimes to exploit some raw material

For more information about life in the countryside, try the Rural Lubelskie Homepage


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