Previously published in PGS-CA Bulletin (Issue #45, April 1999)
Translated from the Słownik Geograficzny (1890-1902)
by Helen Bienick
Okno, a village in the county of Skałat, is roughly 4 1/2 kilometers east of Grzymałów, (Hrymalov), now in Ukraine. It lies in the midst of the Miodobor Mountains, at an elevation of 1200 feet above sea level, in a deep vale, surrounded by mountains on the east and north, and hills to the west and south. The lower elevations are dotted with many springs, which were called “okna”, plural for windows, vents or air holes. Thus the town received the name Okno. The water in the springs never froze, despite cold weather and the surrounding area was always green.
The area, in prehistoric times, was once covered by a large lake as evidenced by the discovery of the remains of a settlement and a cemetery. Excavations were begun in the 1890’s by the village owner, Władysław Federowicz, with the aid of Kikor, a member of the Krakow Academy. The digs uncovered human bones, pottery, coal, and scorched earth. Kikor estimated that the area dated back at least 2000 years.
In 1720, Okno was the property of Adam Mikołaj Sieniawski, a castellan from Krakow. Through his daughter’s marriage, it passed on to the noble Czartoryski family. Isabella Czartoryski the daughter of Count August Alexander Czartoryski married into the noble Lubomirski family. In an agreement with her brother, Okno and Grzymałów were deeded to her. She in turn passed ownership to her daughter, Konstancya Rzewuska, whose second marriage was to Count Waldstein. The Czartoryski and Lubomirski families settled in the area with so many of their illustrious relatives, that one area was called “Szlachta” (Nobility).
In 1822, the Rzewuski family fell on hard times, bankruptcy, and their assets were liquidated. In 1825, Okno was sold to the family’s attorney, Leopold Poltenberg from Vienna. In 1848 he sold it to Anthony Pajgert. In 1850, it was purchased by Jan Federowicz, and in 1870 ownership passed on to Władysław Federowicz. He relocated the Jewish population from the village. He was successful in improving farming and other industries to the benefit of the inhabitants.
The noble family holdings covered 912 morgen (morgen (mr.) = 2.116 acres) of farmland, 41 mr. of meadows and orchards, 32 mr. of pastures, and 461 mr. of forests. The remaining community covered 2181 mr. of farms, 205 mr. of meadows and orchards, and 160 mr. of pastureland. The entire area combined accounted for over 4000 mr. of land.
In the 1890’s the town had 1084 Greek Catholics and 592 Roman Catholics. The Greek Catholic Church, built of bricks, was constructed in 1840 in Okno. Its choir consisted of 40 voices, which sang in 4-part harmony. The Roman Catholic church was in Hrymalov (Grzymałów). Two teachers staffed the public school in town; the lending bank had a capital of 12,000 złotys. There was one inn in the village and it featured a reading room.
Besides farming and raising cattle, the populace tended orchards, and engaged in bird hunting. Weaving was a major industry with a production of tablecloths and bed coverings made from a hemp yarn that featured red and blue thread. During the winter months the ladies of the village made “wstawki”, a kind of coronet, made in a typical Russian pattern. These were used as borders and trimmings for pillowcases and towels. The ladies also made head coverings from yarn they spun and dyed in various colors. Among the many industries on the manor grounds was the cultivation of grapes and winemaking, and a system for irrigating the farms.
Jan Federowicz, an officer in the Polish Army, lies buried in the cemetery. He was of high rank and also a delegate to the Polish Council in 1848. A prolific writer, he wrote several books on philosophy. He was a noted benefactor who had the interest of the people at heart. He was also dedicated to expanding education and improving the living conditions of the inhabitants.