Dominik Domański, my great-great-grandfather, was a very dear friend of Mr Paprocki. Based on the documents of my predecessors all this was happening in a very turbulent time when chaos reigned throughout Poland during its partitions and uprisings. Poland back then was drowning in blood of the thousands of its human victims. The most honorable sons of this nation either died on the battlefields or were deported into exile in ‘kibitkas’ into the endless steppes of Siberia. Sentenced by the bestial tsarists government to die in the forced labour camps far away from their homeland. A very small percentage of the deportees ever returned back home.
Dominik Domański was one of these victims. He was taken to Siberia and disappeared without a trace. Soon after his deportation and for his high insurgent offenses, confiscation of his property took place which he had around Rawa Ruska on the border of the former Polish Kingdom and Małopolska, or former Galicia. Left behind was his bereaved wife and four children without a roof over their head. The oldest of the children was my great-grandfather, Błażej (Blaise) Domański. Younger siblings were two daughters,Teofilia and Anna and the youngest son, Ksawery (Xavier). These names were mentioned in the will of my great-great-grandmother, Leokadia. Her maiden name, however was not mentioned in the testament.
My great-great-grandmother made a will, or the division of property which she had before it was confiscated, apparently hoping that with time things will change and the confiscated property will be returned to the original owners. Her hopes however were illusory, because it never happened.
Mr Paprocki, as a very good friend of the deported Dominik, took pity on Leokadia and the orphans and took them to his estate around Gródek Jagielloński. This is where my great-grandfather lived and grew. Mr. Paprocki had a son, similar in age to Błażej Domański. The two young boys growing and living together became very good friends, almost like brothers. When they both came of age, they met young women and got married. Paprocki’s son married a young bride, who was given a manor in Bogdanówka as a dowry.
Domański family no longer had any property. Here it could be easily seen that it was hard for these two friends to part with each other, so young Paprocki took Błażej with his wife to Bogdanówka and made him an administrator of the estate. It’s difficult to know exactly what was the year? However, it was certain that both were very young then. Some events suggest that he came to Bogdanówka between the years 1840 and 1850, that was ten years or so after the uprising in 1831. This was the beginning of the Domański family existence in Bogdanówka.
What happened to Błażej’s two sisters, brother and his mother? It was difficult to find a grain of truth, although a descendant, probably Ksawery’s son lived in Kryholec because my grandfather Bartłomiej (Bartholomew) traveled there several times to visit his family. My father Mikołaj (Nicholas) told me that he was also there twice; once at the age of eight, and the second time when he was 24 years old on the great imperial maneuvers, when he served in the Austrian army. This gave him an opportunity to visit the old Domański family for the last time. Soon after Błażej arrived in Bogdanówka, my grandfather Bartłomiej was born. A few years later his sister Tekla was born. After Tekla they had no more children. From the arrival date of Błażej to Bogdanówka passed over a hundred years. During that time four generations were born or 25 years between each generation. When Błażej came to Bogdanówka, Galicia was still under a feudal system. The Constitution enacted on the third of May in 1791 came into affect 57 years later in Galicia on April 17, 1848. Mr. Paprocki, therefore was not only the master of his estate but also of the entire village. He appointed his friend Błażej Domanski as mayor of the municipality which position he held even after the abolition of serfdom until his death.
Paprocki’s in Bogdanówka had only one son, Michał (Michael).
Initial few years of the Paprocki life were reportedly very good, until one frigid winter day Mr. Paprocki caught a very bad cold while hunting and contracted tuberculosis. This disease was rarely curable back then. After a year, despite strenuous efforts of a young wife, doctors and quacks, Mr. Paprocki passed away, leaving his wife and a young son Michael, as the rightful heirs of the extensive property.
Mr. Paprocki, before his death, endowed his friend Domanski with 24 acres of land, quite a large parcel to build a house on and some money. His reasoning for doing this must have been that his wife being a young woman, may remarry and the second husband could completely severe Błażej from the estate. His wish was for Błażej to remain and manage his estate as long as there was requirement for his services.
Years went by, but Mrs. Paprocki did not even think of getting married again. Instead she was putting all her efforts towards her son’s education and training. Błażej Domanski therefore continued living in the manor, managing its affairs and acting as advisor to Mrs. Paprocki. Young Michael was studying and learning how to manage the estate of which he was to become its master.
Many years have passed after the loss of her husband and Mrs. Paprocki lived happily with her son in a very prosperous estate. A new and most painful tragedy, however takes place in the life of Mrs. Paprocki, which resulted in complete disorganization of her assets and her life.
Young Michael, outside of school, was a horse riding fanatic and loved hunting. One day while on holiday, Michael went hunting with his young friends. Galloping through the fields his horse suddenly jumped sideways and the young rider fell off the horse. Misfortune was such that when he was falling, his foot did not release from the stirrups and the galloping horse dragged him on the ground for quite a distance until the startled horse was caught by his friends and freed the young master. They carried the young, half dead son to his mother. Desperate mother brought three best doctors to his bed side to save her only child’s life, for whom she devoted her entire life and for whom she was ready to give up everything. After some time, external wounds healed, but the boy from day to day was vanishing in his mother’s eyes. It turned out that, along with lacerations, his kidneys were affected and began to deteriorate. Stressed out mother spent many sleepless nights at her son’s bedside with the doctors, but it was all to no avail. The doctors were inexorable, and there was nothing to be done. For a loving mother, who saw future in her only son, it suddenly all vanished. He was not only her most cherished treasure but her eye into the future. Nothing was left for her now only her sorrow, tears and bitter mourning. This last tragedy struck motherly heart like a poisoned dagger from which she never recovered.
After her son’s death Mrs. Paprocki did not care much about the estate because it was no longer for whom. She started wearing black mourning clothes and going every day to the nearby cemetery to seek solace in a prayer, to cry and complain at the grave of her husband and son. The monument, which she placed on their graves, stood next to the historic Polish chapel which was converted into a Greek-Orthodox Saint Anne church.
This chapel was about 280 years old before the war in 1939. It was built by some previous noble, owner of the Bogdanówka manor, for his personal use. Later, when the village began to grow, the chapel became far too small. Mrs. Paprocki founded extension of the chapel by constructing the so-called ‘church gallery.’ Apparently from then on, her only concern was this wooden chapel and the two graves near by. She took care of them and planted fresh roses every spring and watered them with her own tears.
The monument over the graves of her husband and son was built from stone and steel. The pedestal was made from stone and the high cross, with a round shield framed by a wreath of thorns in the middle of it, was made from steel. The date of death was engraved on this shield but it was difficult to read because the rust after so many years destroyed the numbers. The graves were enclosed with a palisade which made an impression of a small garden. A frail rose was still growing in this garden before the First World War, although it was no longer cared by anyone. It was probably remembered by every person in Bogdanówka who was born before the war of 1914.
After the death of her son, Mrs. Paprocki led a solemn religious life for 20 more years. She no longer wanted to manage the estate and decided to sell it. She shared some of the proceeds from the sale with her extended family and the rest she gave to charity. The grange was bought by Mr. Malczewski, father of the future Austrian general who later was also the commander of the Polish D.O.K. (army division) 6 in Lwow from 1918 to 1924. He retired from the army in 1924 being already in his advanced years. As a young boy he was in Bogdanówka and our fathers remembered him very well.
Mrs. Paprocki, although she sold majority of the estate, did not think of mowing away from Bogdanówka. She wanted to end her life here and to be forever put to rest next to her husband and son. Selling the estate, she reserved one wing of the mansion for her lifelong use, the salons where she spent many nights at the bedside of her son and husband. She retained four horses, a coachman, one cook, a maid, some percentage of the total grain harvest from the fields and a sufficient amount of milk and meat products to sustain her life.
From that time on, my great-grandfather Błażej was separated from the manor and began farming on his own. However, he visited the mansion every day for a chat with Mrs. Paprocki who had everything she needed to sustain her life but needed spiritual advice. The taxes and goods she collected, which she did not consumed, she gave to her servants but generally Błażej Domanski took the most. Finally stressed out throughout her life, she died and was buried next to her husband and son. Thus ended the reign of Paprocki family and career of my great-grandfather, Błażej.
By that time Błażej’s daughter, Tekla, was already married and his younger son Bartłomiej was looking for a bride. Błażej’s farm was prolific and there was no shortage of bread or money. He was apparently exemplary farmer and a very intelligent man. Due to the enormous amount of responsibilities at the mansion and municipality, he made one mistake, he neglected upbringing of his son. Bartłomiej having relatively rich parents, flowing with abundance, underestimated the fact that the flow of goods from the estate will end and that he will need to think about running his own profitable farm. He was apparently always surrounded by many friends because, as the saying goes, ‘he who is well off will never be without a company.’ Błażej did see it all later on but he thought that after Bartłomiej gets married, he will change.
As a son of a well to do farmer, Bartłomiej started courting Smaruń Anna, a girl from the then richest family in Bogdanówka. This family was reportedly so rich that people in the area who believed in supernatural powers, would say that this family had a devil. There were various versions that someone out there had seen a little black boy swinging on a pear tree at night, others that the same boy was guarding apiary and other similar versions. In a word, these versions were ridiculous and out of place but it was usual back then with many people. Yet another story was that the predecessor of the family somehow found a broken military strong box full of money which he buried and then secretly transported to his home. How much of this was true, it was hard to know but one fact remained that they were rich. After a short courtship Bartłomiej marries his rich chosen lady. Shortly after his son’s marriage, Błażej dies of a cholera epidemic, from which many people apparently died in Bogdanówka back then.
My grandfather, Bartłomiej, suddenly inherits one half of a rather formidable farm. Since Błażej did not anticipate his imminent death, he did not make a will and the court legally divided the farm into two parts between Bartłomiej and Tekla as heirs. From that time the farm turns about face, that is for the worse. Bartłomiej inheriting farmland and money saved by his father, and in addition marrying into a rich family, started managing his wealth as he understood it. Entire circle of good friends and quarts of vodka was flowing in honor of the young host. Accumulated fortune quickly flowed away with the streams of vodka while income, as a result of inefficient farming, was poor, or none at all.
The best example was that Bartłomiej did not pay any attention to his son, or my father Mikołaj (Nicholas), whom he did not even teach how to read or write. Mikołaj living in a Russian environment, his customs and everyday language became Russian. Error of one of the ancestors distorted purely Polish, and even noble family, whose fathers defended and died for Poland.
The first child born to my grandparents was a daughter, Maria, who was born in 1867. She later married a local Rusyn (Ruthenian), Vasili Andruńko. Three years later my father, Mikołaj was born in 1870. As a young man he was enlisted in the Austrian army to the 35 Field Artillery Regiment stationed in Stanisławów (Stanislavov) and in Czerniowcy (Chernivtsi) in Bukowina (Bukovina). He married Anna from the Jaremko family whose mother was Tekla Zwarych. I remember this grandmother very well already. The third child from my grandparents died at birth as did my grandmother giving birth prematurely.
My grandfather’s sister Tekla married a local Rusyn from Serwer with a name Ksenczyn, who had a nickname, ‘Bożek’ (Idol). They had one daughter, Rosalia. Tekla died at a very young age a few years after her marriage. Bożek remarried and soon after a son was born, Stefan (Stephen). Rosalia therefore was Stefan’s sister but only after her father.
Why do I write about this? Well, no one in Bogdanówka ever called Rosalia Ksenczyn, only Domański. Her mother’s name was indeed Domański, but her real name should have been after her father as Ksenczyn. Tekla dying, left her fortune to Rosalia, the only daughter she had, not realizing that the inheritance legally belonged to her husband.
Bożek’s second marriage soon becomes a huge misfortune for the orphaned Rosalia.
Rosalia was often beaten by her stepmother and Bożek did not only intercede, but followed his wife suit and beat and abused her as well. Rosalia from these continuous blows to the head became simpleminded. Every one started calling her ‘stupid Ruśka Domański.’ My grandfather reportedly went several times and argued with Bożek about the maltreatment of the poor Rosalia, but what was gained, when she lost most of her senses. The old Ksenczyn (Bożek) eventually dies and his farm passes over to his son Stefan, whom I called uncle. Although he was not any uncle to me because he had nothing to do with the Domański family, but it’s somehow perpetuated. Stefan realized that the entire building site and few acres of good land where he was farming belonged to the stupid Rosalia, so he tried to live in good harmony with my father. The court in Zborow approved my father as the legal guardian of stupid Rosalia, being the closest living family member, so that he would not allow any further maltreatment of the poor girl. Stefan was aware that if there was any abuse of Rosalia, my father could file a lawsuit as a legal guardian to take her away and remove Stefan from the building and the land he was farming. That’s why Stefan tried to have a good relationship with my father, however it was mostly my aunt, a woman from a good Andruńko family, who soothed over relationships and did not pay too much attention as stupid Rosalia often screamed and caused havoc.
Rosalia was not harmful. She worked like a horse since she was exceptionally strong and did not require anything which would incur substantial cost. She died in 1917 during the war when she was 67 years old.
After the end of war in 1922, my father and my aunt Maria were called to Zborow to address the inheritance after Rosalia’s death as the closest heirs who had the right to her property. My father living in harmony with Stefan, did not want to disturb this good neighbourly relationship, waived his part in favour of Stefan. Aunt Maria followed my father and did the same. In this way, part of the Domański property passes completely into unrelated hands.
My father inherited a farm from his father already in deplorable condition and stripped of its resources left by my great-grandfather Błażej. Unreasonable and foolish behaviour of my grandfather reflected badly on my father and my aunt Maria. My grandfather Bartłomiej lived the least of his predecessors and died when he was only 52 years old as a result of an accident. During the harvest season, grain sheaves were transported from the field and piled in a stack, for some unknown reason he fell from the high stack and badly hurt himself. He was ill throughout the autumn and eventually died on Christmas Day. According to my father, my grandfather settled down few years before his death but it was probably because the money run out from constant drinking binges and his friends dropped out as well.
As to my father’s generation, he broke the record of his predecessors since he raised three sons and two daughters. Although my father did not increase the size of his estate, he did not lose anything of what he inherited. He was a hard worker but due to several unfavourable events, increasing his land possessions was out of the question. In 1903 when I was one year old, my parents survived intense fire which destroyed all the outbuildings. Reconstruction required significant effort and money. Birth of one child after another was an obstacle in work as well as it increased the cost of living. I as a child, however, did not know what it meant to be hungry.
I remembered only one grandmother, Tekla from my mother side, who died just before the First World War. My grandfather Stefan Jaremko died much earlier, while my grandfather Bartłomiej and grandmother Anna Domanski died before I was born. My mother was very similar to my grandmother not only in her looks but also in nature. She was really a caring angel. She held us together as a hen chickens, and our eyes smiled with expression of happiness as we looked into the eyes of our good mother. Our father on the other hand was harsh and overbearing in nature by imposing his will. My sister Katarzyna (Catherine) inherited our father’s character and in her childhood years was stubborn and had to put her “I” above all else. Being a student in the fourth grade she was still playing with dolls, and when I sometimes scattered these dolls, she would fight with me several times a day.
Translated by: John Janiga