The establishment of Judzianka is inextricably linked with the history of the Białowieża Forest. After the conclusion of the first Polish-Lithuanian union in Krewa in 1385, the Białowieża Forest became part of the hereditary property of the Crown and became royal property.
From then on, the forest was primarily a place for royal hunting. The first historical reference to it comes from the chronicles of Jan Długosz, who records that, in December 1409, King Władysław Jagiełło came to the Forest for an eight-day hunt to gather food supplies for his army preparing for war with the Teutonic Order. Jagiełło hunted in Białowieża Forest for the second time in January 1426. Hunting in the Białowieża Forest was also continued by the following monarchs: Zygmunt Stary, Zygmunt August, Stefan Batory, August III Sas and Stanisław August Poniatowski. The kings used the forest, but also conducted its inventory, the so-called revisions, and introduced new laws and reformed its protection system.
King Władysław Jagiełło visited the forest more than 40 times
Jagiełło’s last visit to Białowieża took place in 1434, four months before his death.
Forest guards – the first forms of protection of the Białowieża Forest
The primeval forest was protected as royal property, and special care was given to its most valuable parts – the backwoods (hard-to-reach places with lairs of wild animals). The backwoods were cared for by ploughmen (i.e., roundup guards who entrapped animals while hunting), who lived in the frontier wildernesses and villages around the forest. Their duties included guarding the wilderness, repairing roads leading to the backwoods, participating in royal hunts and supplying the royal court in Białowieża. By the Spear Law of 1557, the duties and equipment of the newly-established group of services for the protection of the forest – the shooters, who acted as guards, were defined. The duties of the guards included preventing the theft of timber, protecting animals from poachers and organizing royal hunts. An exemplary system of protection and hunting management was established for the time. Another important act for the protection of the Forest was the Royal Ordinance of 1639, which defined and described the boundaries of the Forest, starting from the western side most threatened by incoming settlement. It starts from the village of Orzeszkowa with the main wall from the Bielski forestry, through the river Leśnica, the country of the Biały forest, to Yudiny Blota, from there to the river Skarboslavka… Gradually, the settlement reached closer and closer to the Białowieża Forest, around which more villages appeared: Witowo, Istok, Jagodniki, Dubicze Osoczne, Borek, Chytra, Nowe Berezowo, Czyżyki, Puciska and Trywieża, Górna and Dolna. Before 1765, the village of Progale was founded, followed by Wygoda, Pasieka Dolna and Pasieka Górna – today’s Dolna and Górna streets. On both sides of the village of Jagodniki, settlements were established on the western side in the bart woods: Kraśki, Korniły and Suret, and on the east side of Holonki – Konstantynik and Pauluk, which today together form villages named Pasieczniki Duże, Pasieczniki-Siemiwołoki. Settlement reached closer and closer to the Bialowieza Forest. Its borders grew overgrown with more villages.With the arrival of newcomers, the risk of destroying the forest wilderness also increased.
Division of the Białowieża Forest
In order to regulate the administration and permitted use of the Białowieza Forest, the royal commissioners drew up the Ordinance of the Royal Forests in 1636-1641. From this document, we know that in 1639, the Białowieża Forest was divided into three quarters: Dmitrovska (from the village of Dmitrowicze), Fałowska (from the village of Fałowo) and Orzeszkowska (from the village of Orzeszkowo). At that time, its boundaries were also precisely defined. The Judine Mud, Leśna and Skarbosławka (later Hajnowszczyzna) wildernesses were established on the areas bordering the forest. The headquarters of the forest guards were located in these wildernesses: in the Leśna wilderness – the Forest Guard, and in the Skarbosławka wilderness – the Hajnowszczyzna Guard. Leśna and Hajnowszczyzna appeared on maps as villages-settlements, while Judine Mud remained a wilderness.
The name Judine Mud is derived from the Lithuanian language, in which the word juodas means “black”.
The name of the town of Hajnówka is derived from the name of the first royal guard Krzysztopha Haynaw, who was on forest service as early as 1670, according to Dr Tomasz Samojlik of Mammal Research Institute.
The Hajnówka’s guards were understood in two ways; as the seat of the guard’s office and a designated area of the forest under his supervision. Near the guards, there were homesteads for the headquarters of the shooters and forest guards. An inn was established by the royal road (today’s S. Batorego Street). The name Hajnowszczyzna appeared.
The Forest Guard included: Leśna with the guard’s headquarters, as well as the estates of Kozi Przeskok, Judzianka and Peryewo. At that time, the forest service was performed by two platoon guards. In the course of time, their functions were taken over by riflemen – guards who supervised the forest complexes to which they were entitled. Six riflemen were on duty in the Forest Guard (two each at Kozi Przeskok, Judzianka and Peryjewo).
Description of the Forest Guard
It lists the boundaries of the primeval forest, rivers with fish, 6 backwoods with game and trees, 11 forests with coniferous trees suitable for building with birch trees and tar ovens. It lists 14 bee-keeping areas, 8 hay-cropping areas and 4 border areas for guards (5 hay-cropping areas were also bee-keeping areas).
In 1775, the primeval forest was divided into two quarters – jamneńska and białowieska – and thirteen guards. In the Białowieża quarters, the headquarters of the Hajnówka Guards was placed. The boundaries of the guards, the headquarters of the sworn guards and shooters were precisely delineated. A little later, a shooter was also settled on Judzianka, and lands for two other shooters were designated in Peryewie (‘Porejewo’).
In return for their work in the Białowieża Forest, royal servants were given the use of the forest lands.
They guarded the Forest and its borders, looked after the forest riches, watched over the tarsmiths, shepherds and other people working in the forest. They protected the forest against timber theft and poaching. They were involved in livestock and cattle breeding, beekeeping and farming. All were also obliged to participate in hunting.
After the Third Partition of Poland, the Białowieża Forest came under Russian occupation, but the guards, having learnt over the years to protect the forest, continued to do their duty conscientiously. By a written order from the then Białowieża forester Eugeniusz de Ronko, a troop of over 100 forest guards was formed from the forest personnel, who joined the November Uprising. On 23 May 1831, the unit, commanded by General Dezyder Chłapowski, fought a victorious battle in Hajnowszczyzna against the Tsarist army of General Linden. The final stage of the battle took place in the roadside forests.
The son of a guardian of the Hajnówka Guards, Jakub Szretter, born in Hajnówka in 1771, was a guardian of the Hajnówka Guards.
He took part in the Kościuszko Uprising. During the War of 1812, he fought for the Polish cause with his subordinate shooters on the side of Napoleon’s troops. In 1831, he stood at the head of the rebels with Eugene de Ronko. By his father’s side fought his five sons. Almost the entire forest service joined the uprising. The insurgents carried out a number of successful actions. After their unit was broken up, some of the fighters dispersed into the forest, and some of Gen. de Ronko joined Gen. Chłapowski’s unit moving to Lithuania. The insurgents remaining in the wilderness, under the command of Jakub Szretter and his sons, continued their diversionary activities. They were crushed by tsarist troops near the Szretter manor in Swietliczyska. The manor was burnt down. Józef Szretter was killed and his brother Paweł was captured by the Russians and deported to Siberia. Jakub Szretter and his other sons Jan, Antoni and Piotr managed to escape from the Tsarist army and took refuge in France. He died in exile in 1842.
Cross dedicated to the events of the January Uprising. Memorial shrine to Jan Suchodoła. Old Judzianka. 1976
Also during the January Uprising, the Białowieża Forest was a refuge for the troops of Rogiński, Duchiński, Wróblewski and Strawiński. During the uprisings, many forest residences were burned to the ground.
In 1869, by decree of Tsar Alexander II, the lands of the former Judzianka Wilderness (33.3 ha) were granted to three residents. Ten hectares each under the right of purchase were given to: Giermanowicz, Kędyś and Suchodoła, the rest of the land was allocated to the community. In 1888, the Białowieża Forest became part of the tsar’s possessions (the so-called appanage) and was subordinated to the hunting affairs of the Russian tsars.
The residential homesteads consisted of wooden houses and farm buildings: pigsties, ox-carts, granaries and barns.
The residential houses were situated with their gables towards the ground road, later a street. The buildings were founded on large stones. The roofs were covered with straw thatch, which over the years was replaced by wooden tiles. A characteristic feature of the wooden houses was the rich ornamentation – intricate ornaments decorating the window frames, corners and tops of the buildings.
Railway in Hajnówka
In 1894, a railway was brought to Hajnówka from Bielsk Podlaski. In 1909, another important event took place. A railway line from Siedlce to Wołkowysk passed through Hajnówka. Hajnówka became a railway junction and a steam locomotive appeared in the town, the sight of which both amazed and terrified the inhabitants of the small Hajnówka settlement. Local men were also employed in the construction of the railway. Horse-drawn carts and wheelbarrows were used to carry the soil for the construction of the railway track and to lay the track along which the steam engine with its field kitchen slowly moved. The hard work of the local people was rewarded with warm Russian borshch, white bread and red roubles.
Exploitation of the Białowieża Forest
In July 1915, the Białowieża Forest was occupied by the Germans and they proceeded to exploit it intensively. They built two sawmills in Hajnówka, a turpentine factory, a dry wood distillation factory, established a network of narrow-gauge forest railways and a steam locomotive depot with repair shops. Several German administration buildings were built along the road to Białowieża, as well as a bakery, laundry, bathhouse, casino and cinema. Barracks were also built for civilian workers and French and Russian prisoners of war employed in the construction of industrial plants and later in the logging of the forest.
After Poland regained its independence in 1918, the village of Judzianka was incorporated into the municipality of Orla in the Bielsk district. Then, in 1934, Judzianka became part of the newly established municipality of Hajnówka (in the same district). The inhabitants were mostly engaged in agriculture, some were employed in Hajnówka factories.
World War II – the story of the Kokoszka family
The Second World War went tragically down in the lives of the inhabitants of Judzianka. During the German occupation, all the inhabitants of the village were taken away from their farms to Górne in order to prevent them from cooperating with the partisans hiding in the Białowieża Forest. They did not return to their homes until 1944, after the removal of the German army.
Next to Judzianka, on the road to Kleszczele, there was a forest estate where the gamekeeper, Antoni Kokoszko, used to live. He lived there with his wife Anastasia and their three children: Tadeusz (16), Krystyna (12) and Irena (10). On the night of 10 February 1940, the NKVD arrested the Kokoszka family. They were deported to Siberia. (The first deportation involved 220,000 people). They stayed there in the village (i.e. settlement, colony) of Gramatucha in the Novosibirsk region. Antoni worked in logging, and the underage Tadeusz in a gold mine. After the announcement of amnesty in September 1941, the family managed to leave Gramatucha, but they did not return to Poland. Antoni died in Dekhkanabad, Uzbekistan, and was buried there. Tadeusz joined the Anders Army. He fought at Monte Cassino and died at Ancona. He is buried in the Polish military cemetery in Loretto. Anastasia Kokoszko and her daughters reached England. She died in London in 1991. Irena Wądołowska and Krystyna Gray visited Judzianka in 1977. All that remains of their burnt-out cottage are fragments of foundations overgrown with moss.
Residential house on Judzianka Stara street. 2023. photo by Alla Gryc
Residential house on Judzianka Stara street. 2023. photo by Alla Gryc
The Białowieża Forest hides many unknown and dramatic stories. Judzianka, located on the picturesque outskirts of an ancient forest, hidden behind a belt of primeval trees in the close vicinity of the Górniańskie Łąki Reserve, is currently inhabited by 21 families.
There is a centuries-old wooden cross with a digital inscription engraved in the wood – 1863. It used to stand next to the forest lodge, by the road to Kleszczele, but thanks to the efforts of the Suchodoła family, it was moved to the site of Judzianka. Next to it was a brick Orthodox chapel erected by the Suchodoła family – commemorating the tragic death of Jan Suchodoła, who died in 1947.
In 1954 Judzianka was integrated into the city of Hajnówka as a street. It was given the name Stara Judzianka; in time, two new streets appeared next to it: Poranek and Konwaliowa.
The bride and groom Eugenia Klimowicz and Alexander Suchodoła surrounded by wedding guests. Judzianka. 1961
Marta Suchodoła in front of the chapel erected after the tragic death of her son Jan. Judzianka. 1948
Forestguard on a roundabout
A sculpture of a forestguard has been displayed on the Guardians of the Białowieża Forest roundabout at the junction of Warszawska, Marszałek Józef Piłsudski and Wincenty Kołodziej streets. The sculpture carved by Hajnówka resident Michał Koc was made in 2014 based on a drawing by R. Frenc. G. Karcow, Białowieża Forest. An outline of the history, contemporary hunting farm and hunting of the Rulers of the Forest, St. Petersburg 1903.
- 14.08.1385 – the Polish-Lithuanian Union in Krewa; the Białowieża Forest becomes the royal property4.03.1386 – Władysław Jagiełło is crowned king of Poland
- 12.1409 – Władysław Jagiełło comes to hunt in Białowieża Forest (the first recorded reference to Białowieża Forest by Jan Długosz)
- 0.1.1426 – Władysław Jagiełło hunts again in the Białowieża Primeval Forest
- 1506 – Zygmunt Stary hunts in the Białowieża Primeval Forest
- 1546 – Zygmunt August hunts in the Bialowieza Forest
- 1557 – Zygmunt August’s Spear Law; establishment of forest guards
- 1639 – the Skarbosławka Wilderness was established, giving rise to today’s Hajnówka
- 1670 – the forest guard Krzysztof Hajnow was placed in the Skarbosławka Wilderness
- 1581 –Stefan Batory hunts in the Białowieża Forest
- 1584 – Stefan Batory again hunts in the Bialowieza Forest
- przed 1611 – establishment of villages: Witowo, Istok, Jagodniki, Dubicze Osoczne, Borek, Chytra, Nowe Berezowo
- przed 1616 – establishment of the villages of Czyżyki, Puciska and Trywieża
- 1636–1641 – drafting of the “Ordynacja puszcza królewska” (Royal Forest Ordinance) by the Royal Commissioners
- 1639 – division of the primeval forest into Dmitrovska, Fałowska and Orzeszkowska quarters
- 1752 – August III Sas hunts in the Białowieża Primeval Forest
- przed 1765 – establishment of the following villages: Progale, Wygoda, Pasieka Dolna and Pasieka Górna – today’s Dolna and Górna streets
- przed 1765 –establishment of the following settlements: Kraśki, Korniły and Suret and Holonki, Konstantynik and Pauluk, which together form the villages of Pasieczniki Duże and Pasieczniki-Siemiwołoki today
- 1775 – the division of the primeval forest into Jamna and Białowieża quarters and 13 guards
- 1784 – Stanisław August Poniatowski hunts in the Białowieża Primeval Forest
- 1792 – settlement of a shooter at Judzianka, land measurement for two shooters in Peryewo
- 1795 – Third Partition of Poland, Białowieża Forest becomes part of the Russian partition; the Forest Guard includes: Leśna with the seat of the guard, and the following lands: Kozi Przeskok, Judzianka and Peryewo
- 29/30.11.1830 – outbreak of the November Uprising
- 1.05.1831 – the Białowieża forester Eugeniusz de Ronko forms an uprising unit from the forest personnel
- 23.05.1831 – the victorious battle of the unit of general Dezydery Chłapowski with the tsarist army of general Aleksander Linden near Hajnówka
- 21.10.1831 – the November Uprising ends
- 01.1863 – 10.1864 – January Uprising
- 1869 – by a decree of Tsar Alexander II, the lands of the former Judzianka Wilderness were granted to three residents: Giermanowicz, Kędyś and Suchodoła
- 1888 – the Białowieża Forest became part of the tsar’s appanage and was subordinated to the hunting interests of the Russian tsars
- 1894 – the railway from Bielsko Podlaskie was brought to Hajnówka
- 28.07.1914 – running of the railway from Siedlce to Wolkowysk through Hajnówka
- 07.1915 – the outbreak of World War I
- 11.1918 – the village of Judzianka is included in the municipality of Orla in the Bielsk district
- 1934 – Judzianka was included in the newly established municipality of Hajnówka in the Bielsk district
- 1939–1945 – World War II
- 1954 – Judzianka becomes a street of the town of Hajnówka; from 1954 to 1957 and again from 1999 – Hajnówka is a district town