Trostyanets village website

by Roman Zakhariy, devoting it to my ancestors of father's family, who come from this village

Small, ancient Ukrainian village located in the picturesque valley of Easterm Galicia

In Berezhany district, Ternopil region of Western Ukraine. Belonged to Poland (1387-1772, 1919-1939), Austria and Austrohungarian empire (1772-1918) and the Soviet Union: USSR (1939-1991)

View of Trostyanets village from Sus mountain

Picture: General view of the village Trostyanets from Sus mountain

Other possible Ukrainian transliteration: Trostianets Trostyanec Trost'anec

Polish name (used officially before 1938 during Austrian and Polish times): Troscianiec

Russian name (used during Soviet rule 1939-1991): Trostyanyets or Trostianiets

Trostyanets population:

in 1995: 424 inhabitants;

in 1939: 1370 inhabitants (5 Jews)

In 1900: 1179 inhabitants (19 Jews);

in I892: 1013 inhabitants (973 Ukrainians, 19 Poles and 21 Jews)

Small, ancient Ukrainian village located in the picturesque river valley of Opillia, the highest western part of Podillia uplands. Presently it is in Berezhany district, Ternopil region of Western Ukraine. Belonged to Poland (1387-1772, 1919-1939), Austria and Austrohungarian empire (1772-1918) and the Soviet Union: USSR (1939-1991). Distance to the district center Berezhany is 20 km, to the railway station Potutory 11 km. It borders with the villages: Bozhykiv (former Bozykow, from 1964 until 1989 - Pryvitne), Kvitkove (until 1964 - Siltse Bozhykivske or Siolko), Slovyatyn (former Sloviatin or Slowiacin), Dibrova, Molokhiv (fomer Molokhov or Molochow) and Kotiv (former Kotov or Kotow). The territory with fields, pastures and forests is 21,6 sq. km. As for the January 1 st, 1995, there were 272 houses, where 424 people lived.

In the geological structure, the upper layers of the village area are composed of flit types, mostly of chalk period of mezoian era. They emerged as a result of accumulation of precipitation in the sea waters, brought by the rivers from close laying mainland. Later during the mountain formation in the Carpathians, powerful precipitational thicknesses in Opillia, were raised and compressed into the folds. The flish is composed of rough-grainy gray kinds of soils, limestone, white and yellow clay, sand. Small pieces of strip flint occur also. Fossilized remains of sea fauna and flora often occur in the village area. Near the castle, on the hill in "Zalissia" and in other places there are remains of fossilized shells of different sizes.

Mountains stretch from the west eastwards, having very steep sides sometimes (Susova mountain, Bili Krynici and Holyci mountains). From the south the village is surrounded by a mountain stripe: Sus mountain, Verkhovyna, Zamchyshche (=big castle), Klepky, Lypa with the absolute height of 436 meters, a bit west of Try Kipci (the point where the borders of village territories of Trostyanets', Kvitkove and Sloviatyn merge). From the northern side there is mountain Maziarska (Mazurska) with the highest point 392 meters above the sea level. Beyond it northwards and to the northeast there is Kotiv mountain which continues into the Holyci mountain with highest point 410 meters.

From the south, west and north the village is surrounded by forest areas, mostly of leaf kinds (beech, hornbeam, pines etc). Before the First World War there were big oak, beech and hornbeam woods. Some of the oaks were more than 1,5 meters in diameter. During the war they were cut out. In 20 s pine woods were cultivated and during Soviet times pines, oak, red oak, beech, maple, cranberry tree were planted.

From the analysis of location of certain parts of the village, the conclusion can be made that first inhabitants settled near the right brook of the present part of the village, which is called Kuty (=ends) with the rynok (=market) street. This was the most protected territory: from the south and west with mountains and forests, from the east with marches. According to the narratives these first settlers were the guardsmen of the castle, which was located in the forest on the mountain Verkhovyna (Werchowina) at the distance of 1,5 km south west from the village.

History did not record the time when castle was built, neither the name of its founder. Studies of the castle were not conducted neither by historians, nor archeologists. Scientific research on the castle was not conducted. According to the narratives it was one of guarding and defense points at the approach to Halych (Galicz/Halicz/Galic) the capital of Galician Volhynian Principality. Considering this it might be presumed that the settlement emerged not later than XII or XIII century.

According to other narrative Trostyanets castle belonged to Mechyschiv (Mieczyszczow) Castle and was connected to it with a deep ditch, through which the cart could be freely ridden.

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The above map is of Western Ukraine and the red star indicates the exact location of Trostyanets village, 20 km south of Berezhany. As you see it is aside of the main roads.

Map of Central Europe indicating Trostyanets with a red star Map of Europe showing Trostyanets location

Mind also that there are about 20 places (towns and villages) in Ukraine, which have the name Trostyanets. And about the same quantity of Troscianiec in Poland. Toponimists claim that these places got the name from the river names, near which they were established. At the administrative map of "Distrikt Galizien" (editor: professor of Cracow University Volodymyr Kubiyovych, 1942), the river which flows through Trostyanets is named "Zhuravytsia" (from `zhurav - crane`). So the theory that the name derives from the river is wrong. Most likely that the name come from "troshchi" (=thickets), which used to cover the river valley, which was quite swampy.

Through the centuries with faith and hope

by my uncle Ivan Zakhariy and my father Yevhen Zakhariy

Article translated by myself (from the collection "Trostyanets', the scetch of the history of the village" published in Ukrainian in Berezhany in 1999 by Vasyl' Rabyk who was born 1929 in Trostyanets' and died 1998 in Ivano-Frankivsk)

Trostyanets'. This village is known to many by its picturesqueness, sincere and hard working people, glorious traditions, beautiful surroundings, mushroom forests and hunting areas.

First written mention about our village dates from 1491. In the State Historical Archives of Ukraine in the court affairs, vol. 14 no. 177 of January 30 th, 1491, we read that "Jan Skarbyk (Skarbek) from village Saranchuky (Saranczuki) borrowed 100 hryvni from a man Soviakh (Sowiach) from village Khodarkevychi (Chodarkewicze) and in case if he would not return him the money, he would be obliged to give to Soviakh into a possession villages Trostyanets' and Vilkhovets' (Olchowiec), which belonged to gmina (district) Potutory of Halych (Galicz/Galician) povit (region)" However, there are quite real proves that in the surrounding village areas, there were much more earlier settlements. In 1939, in the field area which is called Rivne Pole (Flat Field) by local inhabitants, a clay mug with bronze jewellery was found. The jewellery dates back to the 1 st century AD. These findings were handed over to Berezhany, and, unfortunately, they were lost during the Second World War. In after-war years, tractor drivers frequently plowed out skillfully cut big stone plates of not known purposes at the same area. In western part of the village, which is very rich in red clay, there were five line fortification of the times of Halych (Galician) principality.

The name Trostyanets' itself clearly derives from the word "troshcha" (thicket), since thickest covered the valley along which the village raised.

According to the narratives, the first settlers of the village were Lyktey (Lyktej), Kyryk and Porokhniak (Porochniak), who settled in the area Kuty (Ends) in Trostyanets. The locality, where the village was situated, is rich in forests and water. Because of this, village population's main activities had become beekeeping, fishing, hunting.

On the mountain Maziarka (from words "maz'- smear" and "mazatysia - to smear"), which is covered with birch forest, tar was produced, which was used not only for household purposes. Barrels were filled with it at the guard towers during the Tartar (Tatar) invasions. Black smoke informed all the surrounding areas about the danger, since not far from Trostyanets', from Pidhaytsi (Podhajce) through Lytvyniv (Litwinow) and Bozhykiv (Bozykow), Volos'ky/Wloski Way (Volokhiya is old Ukrainian name for Romania) passed through, by which the Orda men invaded Halychyna (Galicia).

Second written record about the village, dates back to 1683. In the documents of this time, the data about the village lands and serfdom obligations are recorded. These duties the villagers were obliged to do for their lord from nearby village Kotiv/Kotow, who possessed Trostyanets' at that time. The villagers were forced to work for the lord four days in summer and three days in winter every week. Besides that, they paid taxes/duties in the form of honey, fish which they cultivated in Trostyanets' pools. Trostynets' pools belonged to the German economist Burbacher. Till nowadays the eastern part of Kotiv/Kotow mountain is called "Shvabova potylycia" ("Schwab's back". Schwab is old Ruthenian/Ukrainian name for German).

According to the first Galician (Austria's) census in 1788 there were 86 house courts in the villages, what is witnessed with signatures of Shevtsiv (Szewciw), Didukh (Diduch), Dovhan, Sus, Hnida, Lyktey (Lyktej), Khalupa (Chalupa), Semeniv (Semeniw). And in 1820, there were already 120 house courts, what was quite a big number for those times.

Trsotyanets village church built in 1859

Trostyanets Church of Archangel Michael built in 1859. Besides it there is cemetery where most of my ancestors are burried. Click on the picture for full size

The first wooden church in the village was built in 1835 and its first priest was o. Kraykovs'kyy (father Krajkowski). The church was located in Kuty area where the medical office is located now. In 1850 the church was completely burnt. Only the bell chapel was preserved, which was moved to the newly built stone church in 1856. This bell chapel stands till today and is the oldest building of the village.

Among the priests, who served here, it is worth to mention the dynasty of the Lototsky (Lotots'ky/Lototskyy/Lotocki), who contributed much into the history and education of the village. One of them, Lev (Leo) was famous writer in Galicia, like Antin Lototsky and is buried in Trostyanets'.

In 1848 the serfdom was abolished in Galicia. However the villagers became free only in 5 years later. Then, the soldier Iliariy Skazkiv returned to the village after having served 12 years in the army. He chased the lord's economist out of the village. In half a year, Iliariy was cut to death with sabers by lord's people. The valley, where this happened, was named "Posich" ('cut' in English) by local people and the cross was installed at the place of death of brave soldier. This cross stands even today. To honor serfdom abolishment, people set the Freedom monument in the village. The monument is also preserved.

Interesting material about the village Trostyanets, we find in Polish Geographical Dictionary (Polski Slownik Geograficzny), volume 12 of the year 1892. There, besides the geographical data about the village, it is also mentioned that there were 320 buildings and stone-built church in the village, as well as 32 morgs (morg is a measurement unit) of plough land, 18 morgs of pastures, 1780 morgs of forest belonged to the village. According to this dictionary there were 973 Ukrainians, 19 Poles and 21 Jews living in Trostyanets'.

The first state school in the village was opened in 1904. By that time, literacy was taught privately at the church dean and priest. After two years, in 1906, society "Prosvita" (=education) was organized in the village. The request about the organization of "Prosvita" was signed by Antin Hyzhka. The members of "Prosvita" gathered at the house of S. Polak (Poliak/Polyak). Interesting that out of 60 members of "Prosvita", 51 were literate.

Even earlier, during the bad harvest years 1893 - 1894, the villagers of Trostyanets' organized the Kassa (cache) of mutual help "Nadiya" (=hope), what helped to avoid hunger.

my great grandfather Roman Gawdyda in Austrain Army in First World War

My great grandfather Roman Gawdyda from Trostyanets, during his service in Austrian Army in First World War in 1914-1918. He fought on the Italian front in famous for its bravery Tarnopol Regiment. I was named Roman after him. His grandson also Roman Gawdyda, lives in Trostyanets now, running further his estate. His brother Theodor Gawdyda immigrated to the US in 1905. Click on the picture for full size

During the First World War years, the village happened to be on the very front line. Two years there were cruel fightings in the village area. In the village, Russian troops were based. In 1915 they did Jewish pogrom in the village.

Many inhabitants of the village were taken to the Austrian army. They fought in the Tarnopol (Ternopil) Regiment at the Italian front. This regiment was known for its bravery.

The village inhabitants were also among the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (Ukrayinski Sichovi Striltsi or USS). They bravely fought against the Russians at Lysonia (the famous Lysonia battle near Berezhany), at Kuropatnyky and some of them were storming the Arsenal in Kyiv/Kiev.

After the First World War finished, the village like the rest of Galicia went under the Polish occupation. The years of polonization and pacification began, however the village lived. In 1925 "Prosvita" society was restored. It was headed by Ivan Mykhayliuk (Mychajluk/Mykhaylyuk). The members of "Prosvita" managed to persuade to open Ukrainian taught school instead of Polish language school. The members of "Prosvita" created an amateur circle, did performances, organized festivals. In the reading house people gathered for reading the historical literature. The leading readers were o. Kubay (father Kubaj) and Mykhaylo Kizyma.

In 1936 , the water supplies pipes' rout was restored. By the way, the first water supply pipes rout in the village was installed in 1912.

After 1939, the new period of the history started, full of hard and heroic years. The village became one of the centers of UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) detachments' basis. The years of forced Soviet collectivization and contingents, hard work and years of peaceful today.

Be happy, healthy and merry, our village!

Thanks to you that you were and are!

View of Trostyanets from Sus mountain

Other view of the village from the same Sus mountain. The house of my great grandfather and ancestors is just on the hills of Sus mountain. It is desolate and nobody lives there though. The name of this mountain "Sus" is Turkish / Tartar and means swine in Turkish / Tartar language (since swines were pastured here if I am not mistaken)



When the First World War started, all complete mobilization was initiated through all Austro-Hungarian monarchy, including Trostyanets All men older 21 - ?5 were mobilized in Trostyanets, and were sent to Russian, Serbian, later Italian fronts. Both of my great grandparents fought in Italy. Among them my great grandfather Roman Gawdyda (see picture above or click on the link)

In 1892 there were 21 Jews living in the village. One of few Jewish families in Trostyanets were Felgersteins (or Felgersztein/Felgersztajn). Felgerstein ran a village bar in Trostyanets. In 1914 his bar bankrupted. The First World War started on 28 th of June and on 28 th of August Russian troops of the 7th corps of 8 th Russian army entered the village. Trostyanets happened to be in the Russian zone of occupation and Russian troops did a Jewish pogrom in the village.

Less than in a year in May 1915 Russian troops withdrew and Austrian armies entered the village. Austrian army included two Turkish regiments, which did lots of unpleasantnesses to Trostyanets people. After cruel battles on Strypa river Austrian troops withdrew and this time Trostyanets came out to be in pre front zone of tension between Austrian and Russian troops. Front line was in 5 kilometers westwards beyond the hamlet Dibrova. In Trostyanets and surrounding forests great number of Russian troops concentrates. Russian Don Cossacks, Siberians, Cherkesses fought here. Fields, mountains and forests became covered with numerous trenches. New roads are being built and old ones widened. At certain points roads are being covered with wood. Even today road from Berko's ditch (Berko is Jewish name) to the three ends point, is called as Moscow road. For food and provisions deliveries for Russian troops, narrow rail road was built fromVoloshchyna to Trostyanets. In a village parish house, Russian army headquarters for this front section were located. Village school and Village Council house were transformed into the Russian armies field hospital. Forests, oak woods were cut pout for military needs. Military demanded the cattle out of local population. For 11 months, there were cruel blood shedding battles at this Trostyanets section of the front. In Spring 1917 Temporary Government of Russia conducted the decisive training in the Armies for the decisive military operations. During three months Russian tzars' prime minister Kerensky had been checking the preparation of the front. He was also at Trostyanets section. Cruel battles took place in Trostyanets section in March, June and July 1917. The aviation participated in the battles from both sides.The attack of Austrian army ended up with the collapse of demoralized Russian army and destruction of villages and towns of the front line, which were turned into a big war ruin and ash. Frequent protests among the Russian soldiers started. Capital punishment was introduced in the Russian troops. One of the Russian regiments refused to go to the front positions. According to the narratives of old Trostyanets people, every tenth in the regiment was shot by the Russian military in the field of "beyond the big forest". In summer of 1917 Russian troops withdrew having left big cemeteries after themselves in Trostyanets forests namely in the Lypa urochyshche, and in Kintsi (the ends). Some of desolate wooden Orthodox crosses are standing there even nowadays through forests. In the village at the Herasym garden, officers and those who died in village hospital were being buried. This cemetery was nicely arranged with metal crosses. The nicest of these metal crosses is being preserved at the village church. After the second world war this cemetery was destroyed.

First World War brought lost of sufferings for Trostyanets people. The quarter of all Trostyanets houses was destroyed with bombs or burnt in Trostyanets after the war. The land was plew with cows then, frequently with the noise of bullets and bombs around. Many fields were not taken care of. Because of this in 1919, great hunger emerged in the village. Different epidemic illnesses started. In 1915 there was great cholera epidemy, because of which at least 8 persons died in the village.Russian troops imprisoned and deported many Greek Catholic priests into the deep Russia. In 1915 village parish was priest father Antin Lotocki was arrested and many other peasants, who were accused by Russians as Austro-Hungarian spies. During Russian occupation in 1915, 1916-1917, village parish was administered by Russian military Orthodox priest. He served the mess, baptized children and buried people. When withdrawing Russian troops took big church bell.

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In 1900 there were 19 Jews living in Trostyanets and in 1939 only 5 Jews remained. I do not know the fortune of this last Jewish family in Trostyanets. In Jerusalem and major Israeli telephone directories there is no surname Felgerstein today. Most likely they were killed during that pogrom by Russian troops or later by Nazis in the Holocaust. Trostyanets Jews kept Shabat very strictly, my grandmother was telling that they were asking Ukrainian neighbor to set on to set on fire oven for them since it was not allowed for them on Saturday.

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Copyright @ 2000 -2001 by Roman Zakhariy (Zakharii) from Berezhany, Ukraine. Page created on 22- 26.10. 2000 with Dreamweaver 3
at the University of Oslo (where I had been studying the Medieval history and later working for the last years) Oslo, Norway.
Updated in January, 2008 in Reykjavik, Iceland ( where I am currently living and working).
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