Translated from the Słownik Geograficzny (1880-1902)
by Helen Bienick
Siemiechów, also known as Siemichów, in the county of Tarnów, lies on and near the banks of a stream called Brzozowa, which flows into the Dunajec river on its left bank. It is situated on the road that leads from Zakliczyn to Gromnik, which traverses a length of five kilometers. It is 245 meters above sea level. It consists of five hamlets, mainly: Góry Wielkie, Góry Małe, Łęk, Moszczenice and Wiesiołka.
Reportedly, the two estates were divided into three parts, i.e. Siemiechów, Leśniczówka, and Dybówka. The entire area had 247 houses (11 of them on the larger estate). The population numbered 1595 inhabitants in the late 1800s; there were 769 men, and 826 women. There were 1547 Roman Catholics and 48 Israelites. There was a wooden parish church and a public school in the village. The parish church belonged to the diocese of Tarnów, and the deanery of Tuchów. The land area on one estate consisted of 579 morgen of farms, 6 morgen of meadows, 14 morgen of pastures, and 511 morgen of forests. The second estate covered 1687 morgen of farms, 132 morgen of meadows, 310 morgen of pastures, and 307 morgen of forests. (One morgen is ~2.116 acres).
According to the writer Długosz, in his book Liber Beneficiorum, volume III page 216, the village called “Szemychów” had a parish and in earlier days was the property of the Abbey in Tyniec near Kraków, staffed by the Benedictine Order. It was given to the Abbey through the generosity of King Kazimierz (Casimir, the Great) in 1354. However, a certain Spytek from Melsztyn, seized control of the property from the monks. In 1398, Spytek perished before the battle on the Worskła. The populace called it poetic justice saying “he lost his life and rightfully so, for that of taking the lives of others”.
In Długosz’s second mention of Siemiechów, volume II page 276, he makes no mention of Siemiechów being owned by the Abbey in Tyniec.
In 1581, the writer Pawinski, in his book Małopolska (Little Poland) mentions a “Sziemichow” on page 118, as being the property of a Siemichowski and also the village administrator (sołtys). At that time there were 25 fields belonging to peasant farmers, three tenant farmers with cattle, and eight with none. There were four craftsmen, and 1½ “łan of land” belonging to the (sołtys) the village administrator. (One “łan” equals 23-28 hectares or 2.47 acres.)
The village borders Fasciszów on the west, Gromnik lies to the east, and Brzozowa to the south. On the north it borders Łubinka, from which it is separated by an immense forest of beech trees. As per records in 1770 in the province of Kraków, county of Biecz, there are notes of a provincial governor, and three folwarks (large farmsteads). These were the property of Ignacy Krasinski, who paid a tax amounting to 1266 złoty and 17 groszy, (grosz was a copper coin), along with a hyberna tax of 458 złoty and 12 coins. The hyberna tax was used to maintain the military during the winter season.
After the Austrian government seized these properties in 1772, it sold them in 1789 to that same Krasinski at the price established by the most recent inventory (lustracyjna).
(List of various spelling for this village: Siemiechów, Siemichów, Szemychów, Sziemichow)
[In the final paragraph of the above village description, there was a word that Helen could not find in any Polish dictionary “lustracyjna”. We asked the expert, Fred Hoffman, and following is his reply. Ed.]
The word “lustracyjny” is the adjectival form of the noun “lustracja” which is hard to translate well. It comes from Latin “lustratio”, and in ancient Latin, it referred to cleansing rites performed before offering a sacrifice. It also came to apply to inspections of military camps and organizations. In older Polish, “lustracja” was influenced by that second meaning; it was a term used for inspection tours of estates belonging to the Crown, during which the inspector would draw up an inventory of all properties and possessions. In fact, these inventories or inspection reports can be awfully valuable in older genealogical and historical research because of all the information they contain.
That was the main meaning during the days of the Polish Kingdom, before the partitions. By 1789, I think “lustracja” would refer to government inspections and inventories of estates. I’m not positive, but I imagine the Austrian government conducted these inventories so that it would have a notion of the value of estates and thus could tax them properly. Fred Hoffman Ω