Previously published in PGS-CA Bulletin (Issue #41, July & October 1998)
Translated from the Słownik Geograficzny (1880-1902)
by Helen Bienick
Ołpiny, upper and lower, with Rudnik, is located in the county of Jasło. It lies in the valley of a stream called Olszyszka, aka Siepietnicą, where it joins the Ropa river, on the left. The settlement stretches along a narrow valley, enclosed on the north and south by wooded hills. The elevation of the village is 230 meters above sea level. To the north rises Rudnik, 337 meters elevation, at the foot of Mount Owczara, 508 meters high. To the south, Mount Radwańska, covered with a forest called "Piekliska" rises to 421 meters. This mountain chain forms a watershed for the Wisłoka river, and surrounds the village from north to south. On its west, Ołpiny borders Olszyny; on the east is Szerzyny. In the center of town stands the parish church, the manor house with its buildings, and a post office. In the late 1800's the inhabitants totaled 2,729 Catholics and 489 Jews. The prosperous Jewish population, and the market fairs held every second Thursday, gave the village the appearance of a thriving town.
Ołpiny had a public school with two teachers, a district lending bank with a capital of 1,059 złoty, a poor house for 9 oldsters and cripples, under the direction of the parish priest. The house had assets in 27 morgen of land (a morgen is equal to 2.116 acres) and capital of 350 złoty.
The folwark (farmstead) owned by the Rogawski family, covered 625 morgen of farmland, 34 morgen of meadows and gardens, 46 morgen of pastureland, and 124 morgen of forests. The second folwark covered 1,876 morgen of farms, 179 morgen of meadows, 329 morgen of pastures, and 301 morgen of forests.
In privileges granted August 7, 1349 in Biecz, (according to the Kodex at the Krakow Cathedral, page 241, #CLXXXVIII) King Casimir the Great, allowed “John and John II”, to establish the village, Ołpiny, to be governed by the Magdeburg Charter method, and granted both Johns the title and privileges of a sheriff's office. The document reads: "We are giving you 100 łan of land on which to build a village on the Siepietnica river. (A łan is a field equivalent to 40 acres.) Two łans to be donated to the local church in Ołpiny, 2 łans for pastures, 4 łans to the sheriffs, apiece. Rights are granted to establish a fishing industry, a water wheel of unlimited size, a slaughterhouse, shoemaking, and two taverns. The king grants a moratorium to the farms, and no taxes would be paid for 20 years, after which time on St. Martin's Feast Day, they will pay 8 groszy (old monetary unit) as a tithe. In event of war, each sheriff, accompanied by another person, must appear for service. They must be in full military regalia, astride a horse, valued at 6 "szkoty " (ancient monetary unit). The sheriffs would also be responsible for enforcing the laws and running the court system."
Siarczyński, (a writer, in a book housed in the Ossolinski Library #1826) calls attention to a strange "printed " document found in the Szczygielski Tyniec (in 1334). Deemed to be falsified, it states that ownership of the village was given to the Abbey by the King. It is dated Sept. 26, 1326, and a copy reportedly was found in the consistory of Biecz in 1769. It alleges that the parish of Ołpiny was founded by Janusz, a governor in far away Wilno!!
It is not known how or why the schematics of the diocese of Przemyśl showed Ołpiny as being the property of the Abbey in 1288. This could not be correct, since the historian, Długosz, in his book (Liber Beneficiourm) volume 3 p. 220, states that Ołpiny was the property of Spytek from Melsztyn. Furthermore, the farmers paid the Abbey a mere two groszy in tithes. Długosz’s book, listing the towns that were separated from convents' ownership, does not mention Ołpiny. In addition, around that particular time, there was no church in Ołpiny, but in the neighboring village of Święcany.
In 1585, Elizabeth Jordanowa built a home for the poor. She was the daughter of Spytek, a castellan from Zawichost, the sheriff in Biecz, and the heir to Ołpiny and Olszyny. According to the visitation of Bishop Kazmierski in 1595, Ołpiny already had a brick church and a chapel on the cemetery. The rights to Ołpiny at that time belonged to Spytek's heirs, the Jordanow, from Zakliczyn. In the late 1800's the owner of Ołpiny was K. Rogawski.
The farmlands around Ołpiny were rather hilly, not flat, but the soil was very fertile. The inhabitants were very industrious, and well off. Weaving done at home was a major occupation. The health of the people was precarious, and they were susceptible to such throat ailments as swelling and laryngitis.
The church in Ołpiny belonged to the diocese of Przemyśl, and the decanate of Brzostek. The decanate covered an area numbering as residents, 4,315 Catholics, and 489 Jews. Ołpiny is now in the province of Tarnow.