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Kolonja Izaaka
Colonist Families and Farms: Detail

The most thorough information on the names of colonist families and the farms belonging to them comes from Chapter 4 of Salomon Salit's book, Kolonja Izaaka: A Village of the Sokolka DistrictIn it, Salit identifies the householders to whom land was deeded in 1849 and, for each farm parcel, follows the lines of inheritance and sale, and identifies the current ownership, as of the book's publication in 1934. One gets a sense of the tight familial relationships between many of the farming families. And this chapter is a priceless genealogical record for those who trace their families to Kolonja Izaaka.*

In the excerpt below, the term lustracja seems to refer to a process that occurred at the time of the original land grants - some sort of application process that informed the grants. For instance, the number of male children in a household at the time of the lustracja in 1849 determined the parcel size the family would receive. Apparently Salit had access to records from the lustracja. Also note that the parcels were granted by ucząst - a Russian word meaning "land unit". Each ucząst was approximately 16.4 hectares, according to Pinkas Hakehillot.

Chapter IV: Agrarian Structure (Excerpt)

Translated from Polish by Irwin E. Keller
Note: Salit's Polish spelling of names is retained here.

Parcel Size: 0.5 ucz
Parcel Size: 1.0 ucz
Parcel Size: 1.5 ucz
Parcel Size: 2.0 ucz
Christian Farmers
Jewish Colonists

Table No. 27: Division of Parcels Among Farms


Farm No. 9, having a surface area of 1.5 units, was obtained by Abram Eksztejn. He had 4 sons: (1) Welwel-Lejzer, (2) Jankiel, (3) Izrael-Lejb, and (4) Chaim.

1.     Welwel-Lejzer received a share of 0.5 unit during his father’s lifetime. He had two sons: (a) Owsiej, and (b) Chaim. Chaim, upon his father’s death, sold his share in part to his brother, Owsiej, and in part to his cousin Ice-Ajzik, son of Jankiel (2).
2.     Jankiel died, his share – 0.5 unit – going to his son (a) Ice-Ajzik, who received this share when he attained adulthood.
3.     Izrael-Lejb died childless.
4.    Chaim received 0.5 unit from his father. After him, his son inherited. This son sold his land to his Uncle Welwel-Lejzer (1) and to his cousin Ice-Ajzik (2a). Therefore the resulting distribution of Farm No. 9:

(1a) Owsiej possessing 0.75 unit (0.5 inherited and 0.25 acquired); and
(2a) Ice-Ajzik possessing 0.75 unit. Ice-Ajzik distributed 0.25 unit to his son Israel when he married. The remaining 0.5 unit was given (something here with a 3 that I don’t understand - IEK) as a dowry to his daughter, who married a local colonist.


In this farm, consisting of 2.0 units, was found Izrael Eksztejn, who had 6 sons. At the time of the Lustracja, the farm was recorded in the name of his eldest son, Zochor Eksztejn. Of the six sons, 3 remained on the Kolonja, and 3 were paid off [for their shares]. The eldest, Zochor (1), received 1.0 unit in his father’s lifetime. The remaining brothers, Hirsz (2) and Josel (3), each received 0.5 unit upon their father’s death.

1.     Zochor had two sons: (a) Izrael-Jankiel and (b) Lejb, who each received a half share.
a.    Izrael-Jankiel died leaving 3 sons. Two sons remained in the Kolonja, Rubin and Zochor, each possession 0.25 unit.
      The third son was killed in the World War.
b.    Lejb sold his land in the autumn of 1930 to Christian neighbors.

2.     Hirsz left a wife and daughter, whose inherited plot they sold to Christian neighbors.

3.     Josel had 3 sons, of whom two graduated rabbinical yeshivot in Grodno. One is (since 1897) a rabbi in Bialystok. The other (since 1895) is a rabbi in Belgium. The third son, Abram, remained in the Kolonja, taking possession of a farm 0.5 unit in size.

We therefore obtain the following result: 2 farms of 0.25 unit and 1 farm of 0.5 unit.


Farm No. 11, in contrast to the previous one, was not divided. According to the Lustracja, this farm (1 unit) was given to Zelig Knyszewicki, who had one son, Mowsze. He, in turn, left 6 sons, of whom 5 emigrated to America. Remaining in the Kolonja was Icko, after whose death the full parcel was inherited by his son, Mowsze (the current sółtys, or village head).


Farm No. 12 was recorded under the name of Lejzor Eksztejn. It comprised 1 unit. Lejzor Ekzstejn had one son, whose name was Abram-Icchok. He left 4 sons, of whom one (Nochemje) died in childhood. Remaining were (1) Szmuel-Jankiel, (2) Mordche-Mojsze, and (3) Chaim, each receiving 0.33 unit. Mordche-Mojsze sold his share to his brothers, making their shares 0.5 unit each.


Farm No. 13, an allotment of 1unit, was received and occupied by Josef Bialy who, according to the Lustracja, relinquished his rights to a Christian from Myszkinek, Jan Stasiewicz for the sum of 300 rubles to discharge a debt. (?)


The fate of this parcel of 2.0 units is not clear, because of complicated family relationships. The resulting distribution (in the family Asz) is currently two farms of 0.5 units each and one having 0.25 units. The remainder of the parcel was sold to the neighboring Christians.


Farm No. 15 was a parcel of 1 unit, owned by Owsiej Goldszmidt. He had six sons, of whom four (Szłoma, Nochemje, Josel and Chackiel) emigrated to America. Remaining in the Kolonja were Abel and Motel, possessing 0.5 unit each. Motel sold his own share, with the exception of a small planting bed (approximately 1 hectare), to Wincenty Bakunowicz; however, he leased his brother’s land. The resulting distribution of Farm No. 15 is one farm of 0.5 unit, and 0.5 units sold off.


Farm No. 16 (1.5 units) was settled by Abram Grudzki, who had 5 sons, of whom 3 were born before the Lustracja: (1) Motel-Szmuel, (2) Lejb, and (3) one whose name is unknown. Born after the Lustracja were (4) Aron and (5) Rachmijel.

1.     Motel-Szmuel received 0.5 unit during his father’s lifetime, which he sold to Wincenty Bakunowicz. Motel’s sons went to America.
2.     Lejb received a legacy from his father, along with his remaining brothers, of 0.33 each. He had four sons in America. He sold his land to his brother Rachmijel.
3.     –
4.     Aron farmed his 0.33 unit. He had 4 sons, of whom: (a) Jankiel farmed in the Kolonja; (b) Lejb farmed in the Kolonja; (c) the third son is a baker in Bialystok; and (d) the fourth son is a weaver in Bialystok.
5.     Rachmijel inherited 0.33 unit and he bought from Leyb (2) his 0.33 unit. He farmed the entire 0.66 unit.

The resulting distribution of Farm No. 16 is: one farm of 0.66 unit, one farm of 0.33 unit, and the remaining 0.5 sold off.


Less broken up was Farm No. 17, which was received and occupied by Wulf Krinski (0.5 unit – sic, should be 1.5 units). He had three sons, named as follows: (a) Szolem, (2) Szymon and (3) Abram – inheriting 0.5 unit each.

1.     Szolem farmed his 0.5 unit. After him, his three sons inherited it: (a) Lejb, (b) Mojsze and (c) Ber. Mojsze and Ber sold their portion to Lejb. Finally, during the Great World War, he sold the entire farm to Jan Kostecki.
2.     –[omitted or misnumbered in original]
3.     Abram had 0.5 unit. His only son died during his father’s life. His sister inherited the parcel, which she sold to her uncle Szymon and emigrated to America.
4.     Szymon pieced together a parcel of 1 unit (0.5 inherited and 0.5 bought). After their father’s death, the land was further legated to his three sons: (a) Izrael, (b) Szolem and (c) Wulf.
4b. Szolem paid off his remaining brothers and farmed the full parcel.

So we obtain the following from Farm No. 17: a single farm of 1 unit, and the remaining 0.5 unit sold off.


The next farm, No. 18, was held by Abel Tarlowski (1 unit). He had three sons: (1) Szłoma (2) Kalmen and (3) Simche (born after the Lustracja).

1.    Szłoma received 0.5 unit during his father’s life. He bought another 0.25 unit from Simche, who emigrated to America. His farm thus comprised 0.75 unit.
2.    Kalmen possessed 0.25 unit. He left it to his sons: (a) Alter and (b) Icze. The first bought out his brother and cultivated the 0.25 unit parcel.

Farm No. 18 was thus divided in two: one plot of 0.75 unit and one plot of 0.25 unit.


Farm No. 19 is recorded under the name of Szmuel Treszczanski, who possessed 2.0 units. He was formerly one of five brothers, about four of whom we possess no information. He sold one unit to his neighbor, Icko Epsztejn, retaining one unit. After his death, the land was inherited by his three children: (1) Mojsze, (2) Hirsz, and (3) Chaim-Lejb. The eldest brother bought out the others (one emigrated to America, the other to Russia), and thus farms the full parcel. And so, of the farm of 2.0 units, one unit was sold, and the other is essentially one farm.


Completely transformed ownership is the fate of Farm No. 20, first received by Hilel Epsztejn. In view of the fact that at the time of the Lustracja he had five sons, he received the maximum allotment of 2.0 units. Two sons went to Russia, leaving three remaining remaining locally: (1) Icchok, (2) Jankiel, and (3) Nachman. Their father, during his life, gave his sons Icchok and Jankiel parcels of 0.5 unit each, and the remaining farm of 1.0 unit to his son Nachman.

1.    Icchok (0.5 unit) died before the War, leaving the farm to his son Mojsze (a), who acquired the 0.5 unit of his uncle Jankiel, as well as 1.0 unit from Szmuel Treszczanski (Farm No. 19), thus creating a 2.0 unit farm.
2.    Jankiel sold his land to Mojsze, the son of Icchok (1a), thirty years before emigrating to America. (?)
3.    Nachman received 1.0 unit as a legacy from his father. Nachman had three sons, of whom one emigrated to America with his family. Another, upon his father’s death, sold his land in small bits to neighboring Christians and peasants. The third son, Mojsze, farmed his 0.5 unit in the Kolonje.


Here is the fate of Farm No. 21, formerly connected to Icko Suchenicki, who received 1.5 units. He had two sons (Hilel-Lejb and Mojsze) and a stepson (Berel), who inherited equal parcels.

1.    Hilel-Lejb farmed his piece, buying another 0.5 unit from Mojsze.
2.    Mojsze sold his parcel (0.5 unit) to Hilel-Lejb, then emigrated to America.
3.    Berel received 0.5 unit from his father. He had three sons, the youngest of whom (Jojne) emigrated to America. Of the remaining two, the elder (Chaim-Lejb) sold his portion to his brother Jankiel, and devoted himself to his side business (a general store?). Jankiel possessed the territory he’d inherited from his father (0.5 unit). Later he bought 1.0 unit from Hilel-Lejb’s daughter, which she’d inherited upon her father’s death. Jankiel farmed this 1.5 unit area. He in turn had four sons. One died several years ago. He was a bold young man; he studied agricultural engineering in Warsaw under Szpielfogl, and he spread his knowledge throughout the Kolonja. Of the remaining sons, one is a weaver in Bialystok. The second emigrated to Palestine, where he’s occupied in the field of agriculture. The third, Nochemje, remained on the Kolonja. Recently married, he bought some of his father’s land. Furthermore, he rents land from Jan Kosecki, a local Christian.

Thus, in principle, one can say that Farm 21 did not undergo subdivision.


A different matter altogether was Farm No. 22. Here Lejzor Lew farmed 1.5 units. He had six sons, of whom four:

1.    Icchok, Mejer, Mojsze and Lejbe were born before the Lustracja. Two more – Welwel and Gdale  – were born afterward.
2.    Mejer received 0.5 unit from his father during his father’s life. His sons sold this land to their uncle Mojsze (3) and emigrated to America. The remaining heirs also sold their inheritance to Mojsze, who thus concentrated the full land into his hands. Mojsze’s only child did not stay on the Kolonja, but sold the land to locan Christian Witkowski, and set out for Palestine where he occupies himself in agriculture.


The last farm examined, No. 23, consisted of 1.0 unit held by Icchok Treszczanski. He had two sons: (1) Judel and (2) Efraim, who split the inheritance in 0.5 unit parcels.

1.    Judel had a son, Alter, who inherited the 0.50 from his father. Upon his father’s death, Alter sold sold his patrimony to David Kapusta, son of Sora Kapusta.
2.    Efraim sold his land to his sister, Sora Kapusta.

Thus the single unit Farm No. 23 was divided into two new farms of 0.5 unit each.


Besides discussing the 23 farms, during the Great World War there came to be two new farms. In one of them settled the blacksmith Zusman Jasienowski, who brought to the colony also his son-in-law, dressmaker Entel Sztejerman.

After accurately getting to know the fates of the particular farm grants, we may recognize the inheritance custom, on the basis of which land legacies are arranged. Consistent with custom, inheritance usually passes by male descendants (or to daughters only where there are no sons). By division to male heirs, we derive a fairly straightforward principle.

* Adding a personal note, it is only through this chapter of this book that I learned the name of my great-great-great grandfather, Zelig Knishevitsky (see Farm 11). In discussions with Sarah Chinsky, in reading this chapter, and in studying the names mentioned in the Yad Vashem database, it is clear that Kolonja youth often married into other Kolonja families. My great-great aunt, Nechamah (Chomme) Knishevitsky, for instance, was married to the Nechemya Goldshmit mentioned above (Farm 15). Although they emigrated to the US, they purchased a farm in Michigan and continued their Kolonja way of life till the end of their days.  - Irwin Keller

Copyright © 2008 Irwin Keller