HISTORY OF AUGUSTOV DISTRICT
The history of the colonization is not only a chronological record of the colonization of land by man its development, being, too, a narrative of the hard, toil of peasant, who has transformed the primary landscape, virgin forests and marshes into tillable fields and useful meadows during the multi-generation lasting period. As far as the history of the district of Augustów is concerned, the narrative of its colonization is essential. 6 periods can be distinguished with regard to the colonization of that district: 1-the Fall of Sudovia, the desuetude of Sudovian settlement and the years of abandonment (the 13th-the beginning of the 15th centuries), 2-The beginnings of the new process of the development of the 16th centuries, 3-The development of the colonization on the lands among Rajgrod, The Netta River and on the Pruska River, the establishment of the town of Augustów; the colonization coming from the east reaches the Wolkusz River (the beginning of the 16th cent.-up till about 1560), 4-The start of the settlement on marshy lands and on the Biebrza River (by 1560-1655), 5-the reconstruction of the settlements by war and the development of the industrial settlement in forest (1655-1710), 6-the reconstruction of the settlement and the development of the colonization an agrarian type of forest (1710-1795). The colonization of the lands belonging to the district of Augustów took place in two periods. The territories situated west words from the Netta River were submitted to the colonization in the first stage, mainly in 1509-1557. The settlers coming from the east during the 15th and the first half of the 16th century reached the marshes of the Wolkusz River as well as the environs of the town of Lipsk, not penetrating, however, into the territories which today belong to the district of Augustów. That settlement movement farther along the Biebrza River to the territory of the Krasny Bor forests not earlier than at the close of the 16th century. The second stage, which covers the 18th century, constitutes the period in which there took place the reconstruction of the population, destructed for the first time in the middle of the 17th century. (The Swedish invasion) and the second time at the beginnings of the 18th century (The Northern War and the plaque). Next comes the period of the colonization of the part of lands on the Szczebra River in its lower course and southwards from the Lake Sajno (by 1764-1783). The time beetwen the two above-mentioned stages witnessed the development of the scattered colonization on the marshy lands on the Biebrza and the Netta Rivers, and as fag, as the close of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th cent. are concerned, in the Jaminy Forests. The whole period under consideration was marked with the establishment of small industrial settlements in the whole sylvan territory, mainly on the small rivers and among the lakes. They the whole sylvan territory, mainly on the small rivers and among the lakes. They were the small ironworks and pitch-works; during the 18th century and especially in its second half there appeared the small settlements of forest-personnel (of guardians and riflemen).
The beginnings of colonization coming both from the east and west were characterized by small, scattered settlements. The biggest villages abundant with arable land and inhabited by numerous peasant-families were established in the region of Augustow during the first, main stage of the development of colonization. The preponderance of the peasant-type of husbandry in agriculture was accompanied by a preponderance of peasant-villages in the development of the colonization. Two towns characterized by a large surface of the allotments, namely Augustow and Lipsk were established in the anlysed period. The development of the farm-type of husbandry in the second half of the 16th century as well as in the begin-nings of the 17th century connected with the ever increasing exploitation of peasant population resulted in the abandonment of peasant villages and establishment of farm-settlements, the latters expanding on the peasant-lands. The preponderance of the farm-type of husbandry as well as a great number, of farms were typical of the whole 17th and considerable part of the 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century we notice an intensification of the peasant-settlement. New peasant villages appear in royal estates formed at the outskirts of forests. The further existing and newly formed farms constitute a hampering factor with regard to the continuation of the development of peasant-type of the colonization and the increase of population. A new, small gentry town Sztabin as well as the royal Szczebra were both not self-sufficient and could not develop.
The lands of the district of Augustow were colonized mainly by the Polish population deriving from Masovia with a certain admixture of the Russian population from the environments of Grodno and of the mixed Polish-Russian, which derived from the vicinities of Goniadz. The admixture of the Lithuanian population, occurring near Rajgrod was of no importance. The lands on the Biebrza River constituted the farthest western line reached by the Russian population after its penetration to the lands of Krasny Bor and the Jaminy Forests. The above-mentioned population reached, too, the environments of Rajgrod and Augustow, being polonized there as early as in the 16th century. Polish population penetrated in the territory of the Jaminy Forest and Karsny Bor from the side, polonizing those lands in the course of the next centuries. It was mainly the populations deriving from the environments of Goniadz as well as from the lands on the Brzozowka River that colonized the Jaminy Forests. The population of the sylvan, industrial villages was mainly Polish, and had come there from Masovia and Podlasie, and in the 18th century, also from Mazury Land.
Seven Smaller sub-reions can be distinguished as far as the settlement in the district of Augustow is concerned. The time of the colonization, the density of the settlements the geographical conditions the origin of the population as well as the differences with regard to both ownership and social relations constitute the differentiation-criteria in this respect. From the Rajgrod region only one part of land, namely those between the Drestwo Lake and the former frontier belongs to the district of Augustow. It was colonized in the earliest period, in 15th and the beginnings of the 16th century, mainly by Polish population woth an admixture of Russians and Lithuanians. The villages in the region under consideration were colonized by peasant population, with a small number of small gentry. Among the small-gentry-owned villages the above-mentioned were the most northwards situated ones.
The environments on the Netta River, embracing the lands from the Drestwo Lake and the former frontier up till the Netta River, the Necko Lake and the Pruska River constitute a geographical continuation of the considered region. It is characterized by big, densely populated villages of peasants who formerly belonged to the King. The town of Augustow established in that region is, too, characterized by a large-scale plan. The region was settled during the first half of the 16th century, mainly in 1536-1557, with villages typical of the Great Agrarian Reform. Their inhabitants were mainly Poles with a certain admixture of Russian population. At the beginning the whole territory belonged to the King. In the later period the alloments granted in the 16th century resulted in a formation of concentrations of the estates belonging to gentry or Church. The town of Augustow, together with its suburbs (Biernatki, Turowka, Zarnowo and later singled out Uscianki) occupied a considerable part of the territories in that region, constituting the main core of the district of Augustow.
The south region (the third) comprises great uninhabited areas of marshes and damp forests among the Jegrznia, the Biebrza and the Netta River and as little as three villages situated in the marshy lands (Polkowo, Jasionowo, Kopytkowo, established at the close of the 16th century). The eastern part of the region belongs to the district of Grajewo. Formerly it belonged to the royal estates. The inhabitants of the marshy lands were oblided to take care of meadows and forests, being, however, free from socage for the whole time, though there took place certain attemps from the part of bailiffs to impose certain obligations.
The above-mentioned three western regions formally belonged to Masovia after the fall of Sudovia, constituting in turn, in the period covering 1409-1569 a part of the Great Lithuanian Principality. Beginning with 1520 they constituted a part of Bielsko lands in the Podlasie voivodship.
The Great Lithuanian Principality had occupied the following regions which belonged to it within the district of Grodno in the Troki voivodship until the partitions. The forth region, membracing the narrow stripe of lands lying between the former frontier of the state and the Pruska and the Dowspuda (Rospuda) Rivers became inhabited after the year 1513. The region belonged to the Dowspuda estates (Wollowiczó and next Pacow) to which the estate Janowka was also added from the moment of the allotment to it of a part of forests. Only the southern pa of that region belongs to the distict of Augustow. The district was colonized by Polish population with an admixture of Russians. The colonization of the stripe constituted an important stage in the consolidation of the frontiers the state.
The small, fifth region comprises the lands of the former Krasnybor forest allotted in 1505 to the Chreptowicz`s family and colonized by them in the period by 1580-1598. It constitutes an island of the settlements occupying the poor lands on the Biebrza and the Lebiedzina Rivers which were (during the year-lasting period) encircled by royal forests. The region was colonized by the population of period) encircled by royal forests. The region was colonized by the population of the Russian origin with the considerable admixture of Polish population, which turn polonised it completely. The second period of the colonization of that region falls on the second half on the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The small private town of Osinki-Sztabin which had been established in 1667, extended in the second half of the 19th century but it never developed.
The sixth region constitutes the largest part of the district of Augustow any embraces the former lands of the Perstuny forest, called today the Augustow Forests. The region is marked with numerous lakes as well as both minor and maj settlement-groups. The region extends from the environments of the town of Lipsk and both the Wolkusz and the Czarna Hancza Rivers to the Netta River the Lake Necko and the Dowspuda River. The first, contemporary settlements of apiarist fishermen, mowers and peasants guarding royal forests were created in that region in the 15th and the 16th centuries. The first ironworks and pitch-works dating back to the 16th century were also created in that region, the majority of the being established in the second half of the 17th century. The first agricultural villages built among forests as well as small settlement-graupments emerged among them during mainly the 18th century and particularly in its second half. Numerous small settlements of the personnel of forest as well as of the Augustow. Care appeared in the whole territory at the close of the 18th and during the 19th century. Those localities were colonized in majority by Polish population with the admixture of Russians. The region exluding the great number of private lakes an meadows belonged to the royal estates with the interval in the second half of the 17th century (the Camedulian rule)
A rather small, seventh region situated among the Netta and the Biebrza Rivers comprisers marshes and forests together with a group of villages dating from the close of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. Those villages were settled by people from the vicinities of Goniadz and the Brzozowka River, of Polish, Russian and (a small percentage) Lithuanian origin. The region was called the Jaminy Forests and belonged to the royal Nowy Dwor Forests.
The first, second and fourth regions constitute a territory of a compact agrarian settlement from the 16th century. The third and seventh regions on both sic of the Netta River constitute mainly marshes and a small number of villages marshy lands dating from the close of the 16th century as well number of villages marshy lands dating from the close of the 16th century as well as the beginning of the 17th century. The regions: fifth and sixth remain to be covered with forest with numerous settlements of forest-personnel and small groups of agrarian settlements, the latter being in its considerable part the transformed from the on industrial settlements dating from the 17th and the 18th centuries. The agrarian settlements has not penetrated into the territory of the district of Augustow, taking only better soil for arable purposes (mainly in the 16th cent.). The sandy large remained to be covered with the forests. The transformation of the abandoned post-Sudovian territories into arable lands had began the end of the 15th century, being accomplished mainly in the 18th century. The colonization and development of the land continued during the 17th, the 18th and 19th centuries. Thanks to the many generation lasting labour of Polish peasant the former forests became the arable lands marked with numerous settlements.