Brzezany in Galicia County, on the Zlota Lipa (golden lime-tree) river, 49° 30’ latitude, 22° 21’ longitude and 89 km. from Lwow. According to documentation released in 1530, Mikolaj from Sienawy, a royal courtier, received the Magdeburg rights for the town. At one time, it used to be home to numerous Armenians who had their many warehouses located here. The eastern wares journeyed along the road to Swierz and onto Lwow and western ones in an easterly direction onto Jazlowiec. At a later stage, the warehouse was converted into a Greek Orthodox Church, which stands in the market place to this day. As the Armenians’ businesses were unable to compete with the Jewish ones, of which there was an ever-increasing number in Brzezany, they found themselves dispersed throughout the region. The wealthier Armenians bought lands and property, some turned to cattle breeding and others moved to areas more suitable to their trade and only a few remained. The parish, the Armenian church and a town district called the Armenian Road are the only reminders of a once prospering Armenian community. The castle, built by the Sieniawski family, was occupied by the same family until the death of the last of that house, Adam Sieniawski, Count on Szkle i Myszy (glass and mice) and hetman. His daughter, Zofia, was baptised in 1711 and her godparents were August II Silny (strong), King of Saxony, Piotr Wielki (Peter the Great), Great Emperor of Russia and Rakocz, Prince of Siedmiogrod who fought at Jaroslaw with 30.000 soldiers. Her first marriage was to a Denhof, her second to Prince Czartoryski. Being an only child, she brought with her the Sieniawski fortune, which was the foundation for the incredible Czartoryski wealth. Other members of the Czartoryski family also lived here and there are people still alive who remember the golden rooms and large hall, 2-storeys tall and exquisitely furnished, just as they were when the Czartoryski family left them. Czartoryski’s daughter married Prince Lubomirski but did not live in the castle. Instead, she had the Sieniawski hunting lodge in Raj, a ¼ of a mile away from Brzezany, refurbished. It was turned into a small, Italian-styled palace and is used to this day by the present owner of Brzezany during his short, annual visit. Princess Lubomirska’s daughter married Count Potocki and so the property ended up in the Potocki family, more precisely, with Count Stanislaw Potocki, Master of the Horse for H.R.H. Emperor of Russia. Part of the castle was transformed into barracks for the army and part into a brewery. A stonework chapel still stands in the castle courtyard with the graves and tombstones of the entire Sieniawski family. Until recently it was very much neglected, the marble tombstones wrecked, the lettering torn out for its metal content. It is with gratefulness that we remember the present day owner who did not spare any costs in refurbishing both the exterior and interior of the chapel, thus returning its former resplendence. Above the town, to the west, stands the Bernadine monastery founded in 1683 by Mikolaj Hieronim from Grany Sieniawski. The church is not large but well kept and well known in the region for its two fairs to which many worshippers come on foot and by other means. A beautiful panorama extends from the monastery and church taking in the town, Lake Brzezany (1 mile long) and Zlota Lipa valley. The parish church of the Nativity of Our Lady, built in 1600 by Adam Hieronim Sieniawski, Cupbearer, has a Gothic exterior and a combination interior but no notable tombstones, monuments or paintings. The Roman Catholic parish in Brzezany is made up of the following communities: Brzezany 3254 parishioners, Baranowka 176, Dubrzezie 187, Hinowice 72, Komarowka 64, Kolow 124, Kozowka 174, Kuropatniki 813, Lesniki 69, Zaprzyn 96, Mieczyszczow 219, Nadorozniow 129, Olchowiec 62, Posuchow 26, Potutory 39, Raj 130, Rybniki 102, Saranczuki 82, Szybalin 438, Troscianiec 131 and Zolnowka 24.
The brick-built Greek Catholic Holy Trinity Church, which stands on the market square, was the former Armenian warehouse. The main altar holds a painting of Our Lady, which used to hang in the castle chapel and which is one of the oldest in Galicia.
There are two additional wooden Greek Catholic churches: one on the outskirts “Adamowka” once inhabited by captive Tartars and erected some time back by the Kaniowski family and the second called “Manasterek” situated picturesquely in a wood not far from Brzezany. The Greek-Catholic parish comprises Brzezany and surrounds and accounts for 1909 parishioners and the villages Posuchow 433 and Raj 356. There are numerous synagogues in Brzezany and their number is on the increase due to the ever-growing Jewish population. Brzezany has a population of 9290 including 2060 families, 4569 males and 4721 females. The denominations are divided into 3254 Roman Catholics, 1909 Greek Catholics, 46 non-Catholics and 4071 Jews. The town and surrounds lying within the town’s cadastre area cover 3869 Austrian morgs and include 1976 plough land, 475 hay, 255 horticulture, 444 pasture, 438 woodland, 74 buildings, 88 roads, streets, paths, 31 water (excluding ponds) and 128 others. The town is home to the county starost with all the relevant offices including tax, law and order, construction, advisory office and the police.
As previously mentioned, it also has a Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic parish and various Jewish communities. There is an 8 class upper high school, 4 primary schools, a regular school, a 5-class boys’ school, the same girls’ school, 2 subsidiaries with 3 classes on the outskirts in Adamowka and Miasteczk and two private girls’ boarding schools. There is a post office with an adjoining telegraph office. The main businesses involve grain, vodka, skins, flour, herbal shops, haberdashery and blue silk textiles. There is also a library and 2 chemists’. The export trade is mainly in the hands of the Jews but the importing one is gradually being taken over by the Christians. The handcrafts, too, are governed by the latter. The shoemakers and carpenters here belong to the best in the country. Brzezany has 4 large and 16 small privileged fairs at which the main items sold are fruits of the earth and home made articles. Once, the town was surrounded by a rampart and moat, the remnants of which can still be seen here and there. A number of roads (beaten tracks) radiate from Brzezany namely: the government road Brzezany-Lwow, the same Brzezany-Tarnopol, the national road Brzezany-Zloczow and the same Brzezany-Rohatyn. The town lies 5 miles from the Karol Ludwik rail station.
The philosopher Adam Burski and poet Tomasz Chodowski were both born in Brzezany.
A picture of Brzezany Castle was published in the Weekly Illustration 1876 nr. 32.
In 1867, Galicia was divided into 74 administrative counties, one of which is Brzezany County. It is situated in the east of the country. It adjoins the other counties as follows: to the east with the Tarnopol and Przemysl ones and to the north with Zloczow one. It stretches over 1940 Austrian sq. miles or 111640 sq. miriameters including 121775 Austrian morgs of plough land, 5996 horticulture, 16302 hay, 9590 pasture, 37409 woods, 2679 lakes, 3520 roads, tracks and waters and 1524 others, so making up 198795. There are 69284 people living in 80 settlements and 71 cadastre communities, i.e. 357134 people to 1 sq. mil. The population is divided into 18331 Roman Catholics, 41818 Greek Catholics, 9051 Jews, 46 Armenians, 21 Protestants and 17 Unitarians. There are 34506 males and 34778 females. The last population census in 1870 noted 20143 bachelors, 13548 married, 808 widowers and 117 divorced, 18475 spinsters, 13622 married, 2665 widows and 16 divorcees. The county has one fair-sized town, Brzezany and 3 small towns, Kozowa, Kozlow and Narajow. The latter differ from a village in that they have a market place, brick-built guesthouses and a large number of Jews who not only occupy the entire market place but have spilled over into the outskirts since the onset of equal rights. There are 7 Roman Catholic parishes in the county: in Brzezany, Kozow, Kozlow, Narajow, Buszcz, Budylow and Podwysokie. The Armenian Catholic parish in Brzezany covers an extensive area encompassing three former regions: Brzezany, Tarnopol and Zaleszczycki but the number of parishioners is scanty since the Jews seized the trade from them. There are 37 Greek Catholic parishes and all belong to the relevant archbishoprics in Lwow and 4 pockets of Jews in Brzezany, Kozlow, Kozow and Narajow. Apart from these, the Jews have houses of prayer everywhere there are more Jewish families living together. There are 2 monasteries, the Bernadine founded in 1683 by Mikolaj Hieronim from Grany Sieniawski, the Ruthenian voivode and the Greek Catholic Bazilian in Krasnopuszcza founded by Jan III in 1665. The following schools can be found in Brzezany: 8-class upper high school, 5-class girls’ school, 5-class boys’ school and 25 local public schools of which 2 are on the outskirts of Brzezany, the remainder scattered throughout the villages. Additionally, there are two ladies boarding schools in Brzezany. The county does not have much industry. There is the glass works in Rohaczynic, which produces the simplest of glass, a match making factory and an American mill belonging to Count Stanislaw Potocki in Brzezany, 2 breweries, one in Brzezany and one in Platyczy both of which only produce for local use, a number of distilleries many of which many no longer burn spirit there being little demand for it, around 30 water mills of varying sizes providing flour for local use. Adjacent to the mills there are fulleries where the peasants can have their heavy garb prepared. The existing tanneries, furrieries, weaving plants, blacksmiths, shoemakers and tailors are of low standard and produce the simplest of necessary wares for the local peasants. Apart from the usual tradesmen, Brzezany itself has excellent master tradesmen including: shoemakers, carpenters, metal workers, furriers, glovers and blacksmiths who can satisfy the most demanding requests. Trade is solely in the hands of the Jews; export consists of raw materials, namely, grain, untanned leather and vodka, the one exception being flour from the steam mill. Colonial goods, wine, cloth, tanned leather, metals, jewellery and haberdashery are imported. The Christians are beginning to compete with the Jews in the latter especially with such goods as haberdashery, porcelain and faience, articles made from felt and leather and also jewellery.
There are 3 chemists in the county: 2 in Brzezany and 1 in Kozow. The trade in paraffin is considerable since the citizens, even the lowliest, were given it for lighting purposes.
Due to the topographical features, the county is divided into two: the Podole area begins in the north east, is cold being set out to the northern and easterly winds and lies high above sea level; it is also the highest point of the Podole highlands and the watershed between the Baltic and Black Sea waters. From these highest points up to the river Strypa the ground, although covered in deep humus, is cold and damp due to the underlying layer of clay. The grains produced on this land are therefore more suited for straw as opposed to seed. On the other hand, this type of soil produces excellent horse fodder in the shape of wild white clover, which flourishes here. The real Podole begins beyond the Strypa stretching to the east and south and becoming warmer and more fertile the further east one goes. There are no forests here, not even at the very beginning of the Podole, apart from the odd oak coppice. The other, south-west part of the county is hilly and covered in thick woodland, lies lower than the beginnings of the Podole, is divided by the Zlota Lipa and other smaller rivers, all of which are tributaries of the Dniester and is warmer due to the more frequent southerly winds. Maize is grown here and to the south of the Zlota Lipa tobacco is produced for the government tobacco and cigar plant in Monasterzysk. The difference in temperature between the beginning of the Podole and the south western part is so great that when the latter no longer has snow the former still has deep snows allowing sledging. The people, in particular in the Poodle area are lazy, reckless and neglectful of their property and surrounds and more so of others, with no idea of the meaning of respect. And although they live on extensive lands, they suffer poverty. The poverty arising from their recklessness means that in difficult years, they require help from public or voluntary funds in order to avoid death by starvation. The population in the higher lying wooded lands in the south and especially around Brzezany is harder working, more astute, thriftier and more reflective. The result is they are better off although they possess less land, which is, in addition, less fertile. Even the introduction of the Brotherhood of Sobriety has not helped the Podole peasant. Abstinency means avoiding vodka but apparently has nothing to do with the ingestion of other alcoholic beverages. Alcoholism and an irresponsible attitude have driven many a peasant into the rapacious hands of money lenders who have acquired a part of their inheritances and left them the rest in order that they can exert their powers over them and so have them work for them. Due to a lack of funds and investments, the land is left to deteriorate, the harvest becoming increasingly poorer. The larger areas do better. Here, the owners have realised that without investment the harvests are meagre. Cattle breeding, in particular, has increased noticeably in the past few years.
Source: Slownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1880, vol. 1, pp. 417-420]
This translation, by Jolanta Jurasinska, is used by permission.