Here is a rough translation of the entry for Rechitsa District, or the Rechitsa Uezda, from the Slownik Geograficzny, a well-known Slavic geographical encyclopedia published in the late 1800s. The Slownik seems to have been based largely on public documents, and aimed at readers who were looking for new commercial markets or looking for a nice city to buy.
I don't really know any Polish and had to look up almost every single word. You should take every sentence in here with many grains of salt. The words that confused me the most are in brackets.
You can arrange to view microfilm copies of the Slownik Geograficzny at your nearest Church of Latter-Day Saints Family History Center. Keep in mind that Rechitsa is "Rzeczyca" in Polish, and that there are some little marks (diacritical marks) on the Polish letters that affect how the Rechitsa entry is alphabetized.
I left out the bibliographic citations in the entry and an occasional sentence that left me completely bewildered. There may also be some inconsistencies in style. I used the typical modern versions of names for some places, such as Bragin, that I'm interested in, but left others ("Cholmecz," often spelled Kholmech) untransliterated, because I just did.
a.l. bell * * * Entry for the district of Rechitsa ("Rzeczyca") from the Slownik Geograficzny, edited by Filip Sulimierkski, Warsaw, 1889. Volume X, pages 134-137.
Rechitsa District -- a voivodship of Minsk; formed in great part by the Lubelski Seim (council) in 1569; took over a portion of the present-day gubernyas of Minsk and Mogilev; reaches north to the Minsk District and the Mstsislav; east to the old voivodship of Smolensk and the principality of Chernigov; south to the Grand Duchy of Kiev; and west to the Mozyr District and the Duchy of Slutsk in the Novgorod Voivodship. It included the following cities and towns: Rechitsa, Gomel, Chalcz, Bobruisk, Rogachev, Gorval, Loev (Lojowy-Grod), Bielice.
The local seim first met in the city of Rechitsa, then moved between Gomel, Cholmecz and, finally, returned to Rechitsa. The district elects two representatives to the main seim. The law requires it to pay 120 kopeckz grosz (387 rubles) of [strawny??].
In 1717, a registry for the district listed 850 farmers, landowners, heirs, noblemen, clergy, and elders, who paid by 6,516 zlotys and 20 groszen. But figures seem to have been incomplete, as a review in 1775 found 5,676 residents in the city and the district.
In 1717 these were the crown possessions in the district and communities run by elders: Gomel (hybernia 3,832 zlotys), Rechitsa (1,400 zlotys); Rogachev (1,120 zlotys). The crown possession Rekta (120 zlotys) and the other three put up by decree 23,235 zlotys; Bobruisk, a city in Borisov run by elders (6,776 zlotys); Lubonick and the crown possessions of Stolpst, Krolewska-Sloboda, Kostrojsk and Luki (hybernia 526; by decree 3,674; and a suspended payment of 3,750 zlotys.) Communities held by the church and the crown: Naumkowicze, Byce-Kobylicze, Bucze, Danilowicze, Sapryki, Myszkiewicze, Hruba, Koszelew, Mirohoszcze, Holowacze, Jeziori and Strzalki (hybernia 5,795; by decree 9,084 zlotys); held by Propoisk and the crown: Hordun; Rosoczyszcze, Glusow, Kolesnikov, Balicze, Uhlovo, Narvilovka, Novosiolki, Koval, Sianozstki, Mikulicze and Terebov (hybernia 3,350 zlotys and by decree 11,530 zlotys). The seim decided that the district also owed 206 horses and horsemen.
In 1773, Russia annexed an area in the district that included the following communities; Gomel, Rogachev, Chalcz, Chechersk and Propoisk. In 1793, Russia annexed the rest of the Minsk voivod. Russia then created the Rechitsa District in the newly established Minsk governorship. At that time, the district included what is now the Mozyr District. In 1795, an act of the Minsk Gubernya re-established the Rechitsa District, this time within its current, smaller boundaries.
The current Rechitsa District extends on the southeast to the southeastern border of the Minsk Gubernya; on the north to Bobruisk; on the east to Mogilev and Chernigov, which lay across the Dnieper River; and on the south to the Kiev and Volhynia gubernyas. The total area amounts to 10,745 square morg, with: 272,000 tithing units of arable land, 110,000 tithing units of meadows, 550,000 morg of woods, 158,000 tithing units of muck, 25,000 tithing units of useless land. The proportions break down as follows: 24.3 percent cultivated land, 9.4 percent meadow, 49.6 percent woods, 14.2 percent muck, 2.2 percent useless.
The property owners can be broken down as follows: the Treasury owns 185,112 tithing units, of which 184,097 tithing units consist of meadows containing: [nachowski, zamoszski, kozlowicki, kuratycki, polonski, wodowicki, suchowicki, szyicki, sielecki, rowno-sloodzki, kolkowski, zaszczoboski, muchojedzki, nastalski, zachalski and others] [have no idea whether those words refer to people, families, types of grass, etc.]; farms occupy 400,794 tithing units (85,590 tithing units of it Treasury farmland); Orthodox clergy hold 5,075 tithing units; Catholic clergy hold 49 tithing units; free people (former serfs) have 835 tithing units; and merchants and other classes have 2,683 tithes. Ordinary landowners have about 548,939 tithing units. On that land, farming predominates. Orthodox farms (about 80) have 208,000 tithing units; The Catholic (130) about 300,000 tithing units. The rest of the forms hold less than 50 tithing units.
The enfranchisement of serfs in 1864 distributed blocks of land with an average size of 20 tithing units. In recent times, however, the excess community farming has led a decrease in the number of those blocks of land. Where a rare block remains, the land is usually hopelessly primitive and suffering from a noticeable decrease in prosperity.
In the summer, farmers in the district have more than 31,000 head of cattle, 4,500 horses, 92,000 small animals, and about 13,000 beehives. The district has a population of 141,000. Of those, about 116,500 are Belarusan Orthodox, about 4,000 Polish Catholic, up to 50 Protestant, more than 20,000 Jewish, and about 300 [rozkolnikov??? atheists?].
In 1885 there were 1,450 marriages; 8,041 births (83 out of wedlock), with 2,299 being male births and 2,056 female births. The population in the summer was 3,787 people higher than it had been in the summer of 1884.
Twenty-three townships lie under the jurisdiction of the district police. There are 317 communities governed by elders, and 387 hamlets with 15,290 settlements. There are also seven courts of review in the district, but there are problems with communications because the first four are in and around Mozyr: two are in Mozyr itself, the third is in Petrikov, and the fourth is in Davidgorodok. Three of the offices are in the Rechitsa District: in Rechitsa and in Loev.
There are district conscription offices: in Rechitsa, Bragin, Yurevich and Domanowicz. There are also four district police stations. The first, with an office in Bragin, supervises seven communities: Loev, Ruczajowke, Sawicze, Bragin, Jolcza, Mikulicze and Derazyce; the second, with a bureau in Yurevich, supervises four communities: Yurevich, Narovlya, Dernowicze and Khoyniki; the third, with an office in Wasilewicz, supervises six communities: Jekimowska-Sloboda, Gorval, Zapa, Cholmecz, Rowienska-Sloboda, and Maladusz.
The district has 57 Orthodox church parishes, which were split in 1873 into four dioceses run by deans: Rechitsa, Bragin, Domanowicze and Barbarow.
The district does not now have a monastery, but, in the past, there five different monasteries at various times, namely, one in Sielcu under the Bragin basilican Lord Przemieniena; one in the Sielcu basilica under Zwiastowana, which was endowed by Lord Wisnioicki; one in a basilica in Suchowicz; and one in Ciereszkow, during the 17th century. It is unknown when the last one disappeared. It is documented in the Orthodox consistory archives in Minsk. There was a fifth in Bailosoroce in the 17th century, under St. Mikolaj. It's not clear when that one was established, although the location is documented.
The district has 65 churches and 15 chapels. There are 57 parish churches: Antucewicze, Aleksicze, Bialosoroka, Barszczowka, Babczyn, Bragin (two), Brahino-Sielec, Cholmecz, Charkowicze, Czykalowicze, Khoyniki, Domanowicze, Dudzicze, Derazyce, Demechy, Eutuszkiewicze, Jolcze, Yurevich (a Pojezuicki [???] church, Jakimowska-Sloboda, Kalenkowicze, Kolki, Kazimierowka, Kukujewicze, Lipowo, in Loev (two), Muchojedy, Makanowicze, Mikulicze, Malaaaadusz, Narovlya, Nowosiolki, Nosowicze, Ostrohlady, Orewicze, Rechitsa (two), Ruczajowka, Rowienaka-Sloboda, Streliszczewo, Suchowicze, Sawin, Swiack, Swirydowicze, Tulgowicze, Wierbowicze, Wasilewicze, Wieki Bor, Zaspa, Zahat and Zary.
Catholic parishes in the district belong to the dioces of Mozyr-Rechitsa. Until 1866, there were three church parishes: in Rechitsa, with affiliates in Zaspa, Berezowce and Loev, and chapels in Hliniszczn; in Yurevich; and in Ostrohlady, with affiliates in Bragin, Khoyniki and Wieki-Bor. At present, there are only two: Rechitsa, with an affiliate in Loev and chapels in Rechitsa, and another that inludes Loev and Ostrohlady.
There are 34 schools, most of them run by the local communities. One exception is a church school founded in 1884 under the direction of the Orthodox parish, which enrolls Catholic students as well as Orthodox students. In 1887 there were 52 church schools which exclude the Orthodox that are attended by 58 Catholic pupils.
Manufacturing is poor. In 1885, there were 21 distilleries, and four small tanneries in Bragin, Narovlya, Yurevich and Komarin. There are two steam-powered mills in Jolcz and Soltanowie; plants for cloth in Horodun; about 20 pitch and tar plants, the so-called "majdanami." Moreover, the citizen landowners possess 40 water mills, for which tenants pay rent of 50 to 750 rubles in annual rent; eight windmills yielding from 50 to 400 rubles a year; about 46 promenade [horse-powered?] mills yielding revenue of 30 to 100 rubles. The turnover on the factories amounts to more than half a million rubles.
Although there are many different types of land in the district, for the most part the soil is slimy. It is an excellent kind of soil for growing wheat, especially in the central beekeeping district, which includes land around Yurevich, Khoyniki, Gluchowicze, Ostrohlady as well as Bragin. The country is densely populated but picturesque, particularly around Barbarow and Yurevich, and the residents grow for themselves much wheat, millet and barley. The people's quality of life is quite good.
In 1996, the production was: winter wheat, 1,227 barrels; rye, 23,163 zebrano; summer wheat, 419 zebrano; oats, 11,438 zebrano; barley, 5,295 zebrano; annual summer corn, 2,605 zebrano; buckwheat, 10,788 zebrano; potatoes, 32,017 zebrano; hay, about 7,500,000 zebranos.
In 1886, the average fertility of the land amounted to 3 grains in winter per grain planted; 3-to-1 for summer grain; and 5-to-1 for potatoes. In 1886, after satisfying the need for seed corn, grain for local residents and grain for the distilleries, farmers were able to sell 7,670 barrels of winter wheat; 3,677 barrels of summer corn; and 12,577 barrels of potatoes.
Today, the agricultural population is involved with fishing, beekeeping, production of forest goods, and rafting on the Dnieper River to Kremenchug. Fisherman go to the bays of the Dnieper, the Pripet and the Berezina, and the rivers Slawecznie, Tremli and Brahin, and also the Swied, Sparysz and others. Among the delicacies found in the local rivers: sturgeon, [sterle?], [wierozub?] and [sandacza?].
Recently, small game has become fat and very abundant. Wolves fatten themselves and cause great devastation among the domestic livestock. In 1876, they devoured 956 horses and cattle and 1,851 small animals, causing a total of 36,354 rubles in damage.
There are [gonybobrowo] in the Tremi River, especially around Kolki, and wild boar live in the woods.
The Treasury lands have the fattest animals. They are home to bears, elk and deer.
From river mines come clay, lime and red iron, which the farmers smelt in small, primitive smelters to produce implements such as ploughsares. Because of this activity, many localities bear the name "Rudni."
There are many rivers and lakes in the district. There are 68 rivers with names, and many good-size streams without names. The river property-settlement names are: Bielka, Brod, Berezyna, Brahinka, Buk, Bieremieczka, Borucha, Czerezdzierew, Chobenka, Chwaszczowka, Draniowka, Dnieper, Dniepryk (also called the Wiedrycy), Deretanka, Damarka, Debrelina, Holyszowka, Hluszyniec, Hlyboczek, Ilja, Jelanica, Ippa, Juchnowka, Kobylowka, Kruciejka, Kostrewka, Lubien, Lisawa, Mytwa, Mytwica, Nieswiecz, Niedzwiedzica, Niedzwiedziowka, Nienacz, Niedzwiedzia-Loza, Narowlanka, Ochowka, Obiedowka, Piaaaseczanka, Prypec (Pripet), Podhaliszewka, Rudzienka, Rechitsa, Rzawa, Slaweczna, Staniwes, Szalbienka, Solokucza, Swieryz, Sudzilowka, Swierchinia, Szubinka, Stoupienka, Swied, Tremla, Turja, Tobol, Tes, Teresica, Uniej, Wisza, Wiedrecal al. Wiedryca, Wic, Wiersaz, Zapadnia, Zakowanka, Zerdzianka, Zelezniak.
There are 53 lakes with names in the district. Most of them are in the Pripet hollowsor close to other rivers. They are: Arechowa, Blina, Bierczowice, Biale al. Bieloje, Borowinakie, Cimoszyszcze, Chrapje, Czorna-Dalina, Cerkowiszcze, Ciomnoje, Czerniacia, Delihoszcze, Dworyszcze, Dzikoje, Horlica,ailoje, Ihryszcze, Jakimowskie, Koloduc, Krucienka, Kupnik, Kowalowo, Kruhwoje, Lubitawo, Lebied, Lomoz, Lukojedly, Miedawik, Maaczuliszcze, Nieswicz, Plesa, Puchowoje, Pieeerewal, Piesszczanka, Ploss, Repiszcze, Reczyszcze, Studzino, Staryk, Szniersew, Smolwod, Sparysz (mostly in the course of the Brahinka), Stajaczaje, Starosielje, Tataryn, Wierput, Wiazzowicz, Zartaj (two lakes by the same name).*
Descriptions of the rivers and lakes are found under the names of the owners.
As for the elevation, although there are considerable elevations in the district, especially in Barbarow and Yurevich, no one seems to know how high they are.
When it comes to communications, the district is very poor. There are hardly any roads at all. One postal highway leads from Minsk past Bobruisk, Parichi, Jakimovska-Sloboda, along the banks of the Berezina, and along the Dnieper, to Rechitsa and Chernigov. Another postal highway runs from Jakimovska-Sloboda to Mozyr and Rovno.
There are four military highways: from Loev to the town of Chernobyl, in Kiev Gubernya; from the town of Lubiaz in Chernigov to the towns of Khoyniki, Yurevich and Rechitsa in the Rechitsa District; from Mozyr to Barbarow; and from Narovlya on the Bobruisk border, running past the towns of Domanowicz and Yurevich to the Radom District in the Kiev Gubernya.
In 1885, the railroad woke up the district, linking Brest and Moscow with tracks that ran past Pinsk, Rechitsa and Gomel. This line has three stations in the district: at Mozyr, Wasilewicz and Rechitsa. The rest of this construction runs thanks to great expense and effort along the river dales along the rivers Wydrycy and the Szubinki Dniepryk on the Dnieper side; along the river Swied and Zerdzien on the Berezina side; along the rivers Hlyboczek, Zakowanki, Chobenki, Wici, Slaweczny, Tremli, Bielki, Turyi and others along the Pripet.
There are 12 towns in the district: Rechitsa, Loev, Cholmecz, Bragin, Yurevich, Narovlya, Barbarow, Khoyniki, Gorval, Kalenkowicze, Komarin and Wasilewicze.... There are, further, 156 manors, 35 [zasciankow??] and gentry, two big [slobody] and 387 hamlets.
There are 200 craftsmen, most of whom make agricultural implements and products. Many wealthy lords once had luxurious holdings in the Rechitsa District, in Horoduszcze, Bragin and Cholmecz, (Graf) Rokicki; in Khoyniki and Ostrohlady, Prozorow; in Loev, Judycki.
Today, with the decline in the fortunes of Prozorow and Rokicki, the greatest holdings belong to: Lipow, Holowczyce, Narovlya and Barbarow, to the Horvath family; Rudakow and Makanowicz to the Oskierkow family; etc.
The noble marshals of the Rechitsa District in 1817 were: Pawel Oskierko, Michel Rokicki, Adamowicz, Mikolaj Wolk-Laniewski, Mieczyslaw Prozor, Stan. Horvath, Arnoldi Jeryn.
By A. Jelski
* Got really tired at this point and left out the names of some of the rivers associated with these lakes.
* * *
Translation of the Slownik entry for the city of Rechitsa
The Virtual Guide to Belarus
Guy Picarda's History of Minsk
A.L. Bell's Genealogy Resource List -- includes links for southeastern Belarus
Minsk Vedomosti Translation Center
Al Bell's Jewish Genealogy 2000
Slownik Geograficzny translations for other communities, on a site hosted by the Polish Genealogical Society of Americam, Chicago