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Stanisław Adamczyk

German agricultural colonization in the Sandomierski province in the first half of the 19th century*

According to the calculations of Adolf Różański, as modified by Gryzelda Missalowa, ca. 55 thousand immigrants from German countries came to the Kingdom of Poland between 1810 and 1827; of these, 35 thousand came between 1819 and 1827[1][2].Over a quarter of these immigrants were agricultural colonizers. The beginning of the foreign colonization of Polish lands, called the olender colonization, dates from the 16th century. Initially, the settlements began to develop in Żuławy, and then in Powiśle, between Toruń and Warsaw. The name "Holendry" was used to distinguish these settlements from those of a different status, and the name originated from the first colonizers, the Dutch. Subsequent agricultural colonizations by farmers of other nationalities (Germans and also Poles) were also called olęderski. Władysław Rusiński documented that olenderski farms were developed under better conditions than the farms of serfs.[3]

It has been noted in historical studies that German colonizers in the Kingdom of Poland settled on worse terms than those granted to olenders. According to Wiesław Śladkowski this fact was related to the landowners' capitalistic approach to colonization. Through rent and other fees, the landowners were trying to increase their own revenues while simultaneously keeping their services to colonists at a minimum[4]. Despite the less favorable conditions, the number of German colonizers was increasing at a greater rate than the numbers of tenant farms of local peasants.[5].

Olender colonization was unique, and characteristic for this group of foreigners. Among the characteristic traits were: a distinct national language, the animal husbandry and crop character of the farms, maintenance of distinct customs, non-Polish setting of buildings along the river, valuable skills in the prevention and management of floods, farming on flooded areas, the tradition of surrounding their homes with wattle fences weaved in a basket style, a traditional way of life, and the reluctance to modernize their households[6].

W. Rusiński distinguishes two categories of olender settlements[7] : lowland settlements located in river valleys and on lake-shores and settlements located in dry areas cleared of trees. Vestiges of olender colonization can also be found in the Sandomierski province in the names of four villages located between Kozienice and Magnuszewo (Holendry Kłodzkie, Holendry Łatków, Holendry Stawki, and Holendry near Ostrowem).

On the right bank of the Pilica river, the olender villages stretch from Sulejów towards Opoczno as well as to the north and south from that line up to Żarnów[8]. They can also be found between Iłża and Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski as well as on banks of the Wisła river between Puławy and Mnieszewo. The olender colonizers who settled here came from Pomorze[9].

Preferential treatment of colonizers settling on Polish land was initiated in the Duchy of Warsaw by Frederick Augustus' decree from July of 1808[10], which granted concessions to foreign farmers settling on Polish lands. The government of the Kingdom of Poland adopted a similar policy. The privilege of the Duke-Governor from March 2nd, 1816 confirmed the established concessions for tradesmen and foreign farmers settling the Kingdom of Poland. In the Kingdom of Poland, the colonizers were divided into six classes based on their affluence[11].

Class I included settlers who were bringing in 30-300 Rhine goldens in cash. Normally, they received four morga of land, the state erected buildings for them, and they were also granted a 6-year period free of rent. They were exempt from forage and carriage duties and received 2 cows, a pig and some poultry.

Class II included those who had 300 to 1000 Rhine goldens. They received abandoned farms, provided that there were any nearby, and 15-40 Magdeburg morgas. They had the same rights as the colonizers from class I; however, they were required to provide forage and carriage.

Class III included colonists that were bringing in 1000-2000 Rhine goldens. They received three włókas of land, timber, a 6-year rent-free period, and other benefits.

Class IV included settlers with 2000-3000 Rhine goldens: they received four włókas of land and all benefits received by class III settlers.

Class V included colonists with 3000-4000 Rhine goldens. They received five włókas of land, timber, and a 1400-thaler loan, which was to be paid back during the rent-free period. They were required to provide forage and carriage.

Class VI included those who had 4000-5000 Rhine golden. They received 6 Magdeburg włókas and received the same privileges as the settlers from class V. After the rent-free period had expired, colonists paid rent, occupational tax, and roof tax listed in the agreement.

Among the colonists' duties were also maintenance of canals, ditches, weirs, and bridges. They were obliged to provide forage and carriage as were other peasants. However, colonists who did not have at least 100 Rhine goldens were not entitled to any land[12]. And those who had less than 400 Rhine goldens could not become farmers, but rather became smallholders. The smallest agricultural settlement was to have one Magdeburg włóka or 1/2 of a Polish włóka. The smallest smallholding settlement was to comprise 5 Magdeburg morgas or two Polish morgas of an orchard. Colonists settling in a government estate received cleared or overgrown land with no crops, which they were to develop at their own cost.

Between 1816 and 1832, settlers of the Radom district came from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds: Germans, Jews, smallholders, burghers, former soldiers and others.[13] Due to the scarcity of sources, it is difficult to describe the entire process of colonization in the Radom district. Therefore, I have selected from the available data. As early as under Austrian rule in the Kozienicki Forest, the potash makers, who lived in sheds on the burnt forest site, established a colony called Słupica in 1802. In 1813, an agreement was drawn up and the colonists settled on the allotted land. The total area of the Słupica settlement equaled 679 Chełmiński morgas and 245 pręts, that is, 1593 Magdeburg morgas and 103 pręts. In the subsequent years, Słupica acquired more settlers.

In 1814, the settlement had 25 colonists, each of which had 24 morgas of land. The blacksmith's garden had 150 square pręts. Every 24-morga farm paid 33 Polish złoty and 5 groszy to a financial office. The settlement provided 2 korzec of rye, and 2 korzec and 16 gallons of oats, according to the Warsaw measures. In June of 1814, the colonists undertook to erect cottages, barns, cowsheds, a blacksmith's shop, 12 cased wells, and a school within 2 years and at their own cost. Within 4 years, they were to clear meadows, remove rotten trunks and bushes, build roads, and plant fruit trees around the houses. They were provided with firewood free of charge, but only for 8 years.

In 1816, the peasants from Grabowy Las requested a land allotment within Stromiec in the villages of Dąbrówka and Ksawerów. The forest had been cleared on that site as far back as during Austrian rule. Twelve residents of Grabowy Las submitted an application to the Governor of the Kingdom of Poland requesting a permit to found a new colony. The proposed area of the settlement equaled at least 20 Chełmiński włóka. The peasants committed themselves to pay rent once the buildings had been erected. Their request was adjourned for an indefinite period. In the Brzoza estate, two tenant villages, Adamów and Severynów were established on a area that had been cleared of forest at the beginning of the 19th century.

In 1820, three pre-existing villages, Swierże Dolne, Mironice and Bielany, located on the Vistula's right bank, were combined into one village called Nowa Wieś. These villages were subject to frequent flooding. In order to found the state village of Nowa Wieś, 168 Nowopolski morgas and 296 pręts were sectioned off from the church forest Swierże Górne, and the land was allocated for buildings. A large quantity of timber was delivered from the forest district Kozienice for erection of 52 cottages and 82 barns[14].

In 1824 and 1825, Tomasz Zieliński submitted a request on behalf of the Cecylówka community to the Government Commission of Revenue and Treasury for a perpetual lease of a forest site (called "Jaźwie"), which had been burned for potash making near Jedlnia. In September of 1824, these same residents asked for an allotment of empty forest called "Żale" for settlement. They justified their request by saying that lord Leżniec distributed part of the land of the Cecylówka colony to arriving German colonists, and suggested that the residents should look for new sites.

In 1825, 13 colonists from Jasień (Leżenice estate), led by Samuel Ortib, turned to the Government Commission of Revenue and Treasury for an allotment of a section of forest that covered 780 Magdeburg morgas and was located in the forest district Radom, precinct Jaronki, section Zdziary. Their request was turned down because the Commission decided that the section of forest under consideration was too small to establish a colony.

In November 1828, the Old Believer Gabriel Potażnik, applied to the Government Commission of Revenue and Treasury for a grant for an unused section of forest in the Jaroszki precinct near the villages of Zagoźdżoń and Pionki. This piece of forest had an area of 700 Magdeburg morga. Gabriel Potażnik intended to establish a Jewish settlement there.

The right of occupancy of land colonized by olender settlers was based on hereditary tenancy, in other words, emphyteusis. The Olenders were charged an initial fee, and then were entitled to a 1-7 year rent-free period, following which they paid pecuniary rent[15]. They were obliged to use manor propination and milling monopolies. The olender settlers had their own local government; they elected a village leader and jurors. The peasants were free and owned farms of several dozen morga[16].

In comparing the level of colonization of Pilica forests at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, one can conclude that the majority of Olender villages on both banks of the Pilica river were founded in the first half of the 19th century. Some of these villages were still in the process of being established[17].

The majority of Olender villages analyzed by Bogumiła Szurowa had a linear arrangement with buildings situated on one side of the road (in latitudinal villages - on the north side). The roads in the Olender villages usually ran parallel to a river or a canal and across strips of ploughland, which were perpendicular to the watercourse. The field access roads ran along the fields on an artificial embankment, and the ploughland was cut by canals and drainage ditches. The property was planted with trees. The second type of Olender settlement was villages with a modular arrangement of farmland, with homesteads typically located in the middle[18].

Contact between German settlers and the local population largely revolved around farming issues. In mixed settlements, in which Polish and German peasants cohabited, the relations were better, and more frequently and quickly led to the Polonization of Germans. Knowledge of Polish language by settlers played an essential role in the process of rapprochement. Polonization proceeded faster among Catholic settlers than among Protestants, and also in colonies located near towns.


Stanisław Adamczyk - graduate of Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University (1978). Defended his doctoral dissertation in history (1998): "Dwór, wieś i miasto w dobrach Ordynacji Myszkowskiej w II połowie XVIII w. i początkach XIX w." in the Liberal Arts Department of the Świętokrzyska Academy, Kielce. His research interests in economic history and market relations are focused on the Świętokrzyski region during the declining years of the Noble Republic, as well as on the period of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Congress Poland (1809-1831). He has authored ca. dozen manuscripts and scientific articles, as well as the book 'Szkoła Akademiczno-Górnicza w Kielcach (1816-1827)' (pub. Kielce 2003), and is co-author of the first volume of the Świętokrzyski Bigraphical Dictionary (pub. Kielce 2002).

* This article is a fragment of the doctoral thesis of Stanisław Adamczyk: "Dwór, wieś i miasto w dobrach Ordynacji Myszkowskiej w II połowie XVIII w. i początkach XIX w.", Kielce 1998.
[1] K. Woźniak, Niemieckie osadnictwo rolne, in: Niemieccy osadnicy w Królestwie Polskim 1815-1915, edited by. W. Cabana, Kielce 1999, p. 39.
[2] A. Różański, Próba określenia liczby imigrantów niemieckich na teren Królestwa Polskiego, "Roczniki Dziejów Społecznych i Gospodarczych" 1948, vol. 10, p. 185-201; Cf. correction of the estimation carried out by G. Missalową, Studia nad powstaniem łódzkiego okręgu przemysłowego 1815-1870, vol. 1, Przemysł, Łódź 1964, p. 51-52.
[3] W. Rusiński, Osady tzw. "olędrów" w dawnym województwie poznańskim, Poznań 1939, Kraków 1947, p. 55.
[4] W. Śladkowski, Koloniści niemieccy a środowisko, wzajemne wpływy i oddziaływanie, "Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska" , sec. F, 1963, vol. 18, p. 117-148.
[5] K. Woźniak, Niemieckie osadnictwo, p. 44.
[6] I. T. Baranowski, Wsie holenderskie na ziemiach polskich, "Przegląd Historyczny", 1915, vol. XIX, p. 79, 82 and J. Kazimierczak, Kępa Zawadowska, wieś olenderska w granicach Warszawy (1819-1944), "Rocznik Warszawski", vol. 5, 1964, p. 24-242.
[7] W. Rusiński, Osady tzw. "olendrów" w dawnym województwie poznańskim, Poznań 1939, p. 55.
[8] B. Szurowa, Zmiany układu przestrzennego wsi kieleckiej od XIII do połowy XX wieku, Kielce 1998, p. 47.
[9] Cf. A. Breyer, Das Deutschtum in Polen, Leipzig 1940. Kart. der Deutschen Siedhungen in Mittelpolen.
[10] AGAD, Rada Stanu i Rada Ministrów Księstwa Warszawskiego, cat. no. 215, p. 67.
[11] I. T. Baranowski, Wsie holenderskie, p. 26.
[12] ZPAKP, vol. 2, Warszawa 1866, p. 35.
[13] D. Szulecki, Rolnictwo radomskie w latach 1795-1863, Rocznik Muzeum Radomskiego, vol. 4, Radom 1979, p. 24-25
[14] AP Radom, ZDP, cat. no. 400, p. 116, Szczegółowe wyliczenie ilości i rodzaju drzewa pod zabudowę wsi; D. Szulecki, Rolnictwo radomskie, p. 24-25.
[15] The rent-free period on cleared land usually lasted from 3 to 7 years, on overgrown land, 8-10 years, on forested land, 20 years or more. J. Rutkowski, Historia gospodarcza, p. 77.
[16] I. Baranowski, Wsie holenderskie, p. 64-82; D. Szulecki, Rolnictwo radomskie, p. 21.
[17] B. Szurowa, Zmiany układu przestrzennego, p. 49.
[18] Ibidem, p. 265.

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