The Village of Lipusz

By:  Peter von Pazatka-Lipinsky  (First Published 2008)

The year 2008 marks the 150th  Anniversary of the first Kashubs coming to Canada. Some of these early Kashubian settlers came from the village of Lipusz and the surrounding area in Poland.  This story is dedicated to the descendants of these early Kashubian settlers.  A few of these settlers migrated later from Canada to the U.S.A. 

In 1988 the town of Lipusz celebrated its 600th  Anniversary.  Church records from the year 1388 show that the parish of Lyndenpusch/Lipusz sent a donation to the diocese, which forwarded it on to Rome.  The town of Lipusz is located halfway between the City of Bytow and the City of Kosciercyna.  Lipusz is a small town with a present population of about 1800 inhabitants.  In 1905 the population was around 1150, so in the last 100 years not much has changed.  But today Lipusz offers the visitor all modern services such as good hotels, bed and breakfast accommodations, food stores, restaurants, petrol stations and the large and excellent Kiedrowski bakery and everything else a visitor may need.  In case of an emergency, the city of Bytow with its modern hospital is only a few kilometers away.  Many people travel from far away places, i.e. Canada and the U.S.A. to visit the land of their ancestors.  Truly it is a very nice corner of their ancestors home land. The mayor of Lipusz, Pan Miroslaw Ebertowski, extends a hearty welcome and invitation to everyone to come and visit Lipusz.  For the most part of the last 500 years much of the agriculture land in and around Lipuisz was owned by either Polish or Prussian noblemen, depending on the government at the time in history.  Most of the peasants were working for the “Lord of the Manor”.  Serfdom had been abolished in Prussia  since the early 1800’s. The farm worker was called “Einlieger”, meaning one who would rent his house from the owner of the Manor.  In many cases a garden would also come with the house.  The Einlieger would receive a wage and also some “Naturalien” (farm produce for his work).  In the late 1800s, several areas in western Prussia were sparsely populated and the Prussian government set out to change this.  In 1887 the village of Lipusz, as well as many other small villages in western Prussia, were small with only a few inhabitants.  The Prussian  Land Settlement Commission therefore decided in early 1887 to buy the Manor in Lipusz with its 538.5 hectares ( about 1330 acres ) of land.  The Manor and land was purchased from the then absentee owner Ludwig von Zalewski for 157,313 marks.  The land consisted basically of two large parcels of land. The north western parcel consisted of 226 hectares (about 558 acres). Part of this land was farmed by 6 “Kaschubische” tenants.  The overall yield from the land was very marginal and it did not return enough revenue to even pay for the seeds  and labour.  According to Prussian records, this portion of the estate was not to be sold to any new settlers.  The land was sold back to the Prussian department of forest.  The second parcel of land consisting of 274  ha. (about 677 acres) of land was in the immediate vicinity of the village.  The land, located north and south on the way from Lipusz to the village of Tuskowy was very hilly and needed special consideration regarding seeding and harvesting using a team of horses pulling farm equipment.  To raise the necessary funds to cover the purchase price of the Manor, the Department of Land Settlement was selling the following assets from the Manor.

All Manor buildings                                              9,850   marks

All inventory from the Manor                              5,000   marks

(seeds, feed, live stock, machinery, timber)

(according the Manor Manager Franz Schuch)

The “Krug” property                                            8,600    marks

(an Inn with a large barn and house)                                              

Peat Bog                                                                 7,000   marks

The Karpno Lake                                                     750    marks

All standing timber                                                    750   marks

 

Total :                                                                     31,950  marks

 

The balance of 125,363 marks was left to be divided according to the size of each subdivided parcel of land for sale to the new settler.  Each parcel of land was indicated on a coloured map which could be viewed  by prospective buyers at the Manor house and at the Land Settlement Commission office in Poznan.  The settler could choose from the plan the parcel of land he wanted to buy. A letter of invitation was sent out by the Commission on 5th. November 1888, to all interested parties, inviting them to view the map/plan.  Each settler buying a new homestead was required to submit a business plan showing his present financial status and also the anticipated income from the land to be acquired.  To help the new settler get started, the government allowed each new settler  three tax free years.  For the first year only, each new settler would also receive a monthly food ration of 75 kilograms of rye grain (to be milled into flour for baking bread & buns, etc) and 200 kg. of potatoes.  Further, each new settler would also receive the following seed free for the first planting season only: 25 kg. of rye or wheat seed, 25 kg. of oats or barley seed, 150 kg. of seed potatoes.  In 1888 the school in Lipusz consisted of only a two room building. One room (one class) was for the Catholic children and one room was for Evangelical children. With the increase of children of the new settlers the small school was no longer sufficient for teaching both faiths.  Children came not only from the village of Lipusz but also from nearby places where people had their own farms with small as well as large parcels of land such as  Borowiec, Konitop, Krugliniec. Lipuska Huta, Lubiszewo, Mechewo, Papiernia and Karpno Vorwerk. The Vorwerk belonged to the Manor and was a place with farm buildings and quarters for the workers and even for the “Inspector”, so daily travel from the Manor to the distant farm fields was not necessary.  The government did make provisions for funds and land to build a new school building.

The foregoing story and pictures will give the reader a bit of an overview of what the village of Lipusz and district of their ancestors was all about some 120 years ago. This story is only a condensed version of the 18 page hand written report by the Prussian Land Settlement Commission, signed at Poznan/Posen on the 3. of July 1888. Special thanks for helping me with the translation of some of the old Prussian documents, etc. must go to my research colleague, Mr. Gerhard von Pazatka Lipinski in Germany, as well as the mayor of the town of Lipusz. My special thanks to the Privy Archive in Berlin, Germany.