West of Augustow there is the small town of Rajgrod (on the picturesque Rajgrodzkie Lake). Nearby are extensive areas of marsh, which has been partly drained, but where rare wildlife can still be found; for example, one can see here elk, and black cock, wood grouse, black storks and many other species of water fowl
Rajgrod, an urban settlement on Lake Rajgrodzkie, before 1867 it had miasteczko ["small town"] status; it is in Szczuczyn powiat, Przestrzele gmina, Rajgrod parish. It lies along the highway from Warsaw to Kowno [now Kaunas, Lithuania], between Grajewo and Augustow, 239 km. from Warsaw, 33 km. from Szczuczyn, 18.7 km. from Grajewo, 3.2 km. from the Prussian border. The settlement occupies a peninsula jutting into the lake, and on the edge of the peninsula an embankment rises (an ancient citadel ruin), called Gora zamkowa [Castle Hill], quadrangular at the top, measuring 390 paces in circumference. Rajgrod has a wooden parish church, a Reformed Protestant church, a synagogue, an elementary school, gmina office, post office, and drugstore; it has 217 houses, 3,916 inhabitants (1,932 men, 1,984 women). The settlement has 2,696 morgs of land. There are six fairs held here yearly. The populace, mainly Jewish, supports itself with retail trade, of which the main article is smoked fish (whitefish and eels).
Around 1280 Prince Narymunt of Lithuania invaded Podlasie and, having seized the entire region, gave it to his brother Trojden for his participation. He, in order to secure the borders from the Prussians and Mazurians, erected a fortified citadel on the lake. In a document dividing Podlasie (Wizna district and Goniadz district) with Lithuania in 1358 (Kodeks Maz., p. 73), it is mentioned as a border point, along with the river Netta. Whether castle Rongart, erected according to Wigand in 1360 by Kazimierz the Great and destroyed soon after by the Teutonic Knights, can be identified with Rajgrod is doubtful. It seems that Rajgrod belonged to Lithuania and was a property of the Duchy, later given to the princes Glinski. When prince Michal, renowned in history, was punished for treason by confiscation of his property, the Rajgrod estates were given by Zygmunt I, in 1509, to Mikolaj Radziwill, Wilno palatine. During the 16th century the Rajgrod starostostwo appears in the tax rolls, sometimes separately, sometimes as a tenuta ["tenure"] connected with the Augustow starostwo. In 1580 income from both was evaluated at 2,967 zlotys, 25 groszy, and the kwarta was designated as 593 florins, 17 gr. In 1593 the Rajgrod starostwo was designated as security for the oprawa of Anna, wife of Zygmunt III (see Podlasie, vol. VIII, p. 417). In 1616 the starostwo was held by Piotr Dulski, and in 1632 Krzysztof Dulski, starosta of Rajgrod and Augustow, voted in the election of King Wladyslaw IV (Volumina legum, III, pp. 145 and 365). The 1664 inspection tour of the estate mentions that the dowry of Queen Maria Ludwika [aka Ludwika Maria] was secured on the Rajgrod starostwo, which at that time included the town of Rajgrod, its manorial farmstead, and the villages of Drestwo, Krocowka, Indziki, Czarnylas, Kosowka, Miecze, Kosily, Cmiele, Barszcze, and two forests, called Rybczyna and Belz. In 1674 the Rajgrod starosta was Jan Kazimierz Tedwin, chamberlain of Dorpat in Livonia [now Tartu, Estonia] (Volumina legum, V, p. 131). In a charter dated 1679 King Jan III confirmed the granting of Magdeburg law granted by Anna nee Radziwill Kizczyna and various other freedoms granted that town. In 1771 Dominik Medeksza, Kowno chamberlain, owned it along with his wife, Anna nee Wilczewska, and on it they paid a kwarta of 1,298 z1p, 18 gr., and a hyberny [tax for the winter upkeep of the army] of 1,096 zlp., 29 gr. But by the Warsaw Sejm of 1775 the States of the Commonwealth bestowed this estate in emphyteutic ownership to Rydzewski, the Wizna Lord High Steward, along with the wojt's office (Volumina legum, VIII, p. 141).
On 22 May 1831 the Russian general Sacken, who regarded Rajgrod's position as the key to Augustow province and Lithuania, occupied the city with a corps of 7,000 soldiers, and fortified the castle heights' battery with 14 guns and a stockade. On the 18th Dembinski drew near in the vanguard of Gielgud's corps, and took the position after an intense struggle. Sacken retreated to Augustow (Puzyrewski, Wojna 1831 r., p. 264; Dembinski's Pam. [Memoirs], I, p. 270). As a border point Rajgrod was a trade market for Lithuania products, mainly furs, which were conveyed to Rajgrod and from there transported all over Mazovia.
The wooden Catholic church, under the patronage of the Birth of Our Lady, was supposedly established along with the parish in 1519 by Mikolaj Radziwill. The current church was built in 1764 by pastor Jan Olszewski, but was not consecrated until 1820 by August Marciejewski, the Augustow suffragan bishop. Rajgrod parish, of Szczuczyn (formerly Wasosz) deanery, has 6,073 souls (as of 1885).
A description and drawing of the Rajgrod citadel ruins was given by M. Osipowicz in Tygodnik Ilustrowany [The Illustrated Weekly] in 1867 (issue 384). As of 1859 the government-owned estates of Rajgrod covered a total area of 20,330 morgs. Of these in 1841 privy councilor Czetyrkin had been given in entail the estate of Netta, consisting of the manorial farmstead of Netta (1,083 morgs), Borsuki (223), Barglowka (830), and 1,426 morgs of forest; the pastorate of Netta (177 morgs); the settlements of Choszczowskie (39), Choszczowo trzciane (58), Stare Nowiny (35); and the villages of Netta (2,593), Borsuki (351), Czarnybrod (55), Naddawki (45), Borki (54), Sosnowo (42), Karpa (102), Lipowo (158), Pienki (124), Piekutowo (292), Stare Nowiny (150), Pruchnowo (117), Barglowka (648). In all 8,621 morgs were set apart as the entailed estate of Netta. In 1844 the entailed estates of Pruska and Tajno of Major General Zabolocki were supplemented with two lakes, Tajno (306 morgs), Drectwo [sic] (424), for a total of 730.
The rest of the estates covered 10,797 mrgs. It consisted of. the town of Augustow; the manorial farmsteads of Barglow (239 morgs) and Augustow (279); the settlements of Barglow Koscielny (275), Zalaskowy Kat (71), Kanala Sosnowo (8), the pastorate (105), and the leftover Karpa (741). The highway, river, and canal were 62 morgs. The villages were: Barglow Koscielny (1,179 morgs), Barglow Dworny (1,626), Brzozowka (1,421), Rudka Nowa (1,495), Rudka Stara (1,114), Jeziorki (1,652), Uscianki (461), Cerkasowizny (142), Chojnow (area not listed), and the area set aside for recruits, Rudka (108). The government-owned forest region of Rajgrod currently covers 27,214 morgs. M. R. Wit. [Michal Witanowski]
Source: Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1888, vol. 9, p. 495-496]
Translated by William F. Hoffman, PGSA Winter 1998 Bulletin.
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