A History of Debica County
From an article in Obserwator (Debica), 24 January 2007


The oldest evidence shows that ancestors of the Debica Region lived there before the year 8200 BC. This was in the time of the late Paleolithic Period. This was a time of "shaved stone" when they used primitive stone and wood tools. Signs of work with flint were found in Borowa and on the border of Czarna and Jawornik. In the Neolithic Period 8200-5000 BC people stayed on their land and this was proven by similar evidence as in Paeolithic findings from the same places like Golemki near Czarna.

First evidence on the other side of Wisloka River is from Neolithic Period (5000-1700 BC). People were changing their way of living and were starting new small settlements in the whole area. This is proven by excavations in twenty places in northern and southern parts of the area, but especially in Pilzno and Debica. New people were moving in from the Dunajec River and Cisa River regions. Signs of the oldest homesteads are from before the year 3500 BC and a thousand years later people were using small axes, hoes and knives. Those were found later in vicinity of Wiewiorka and Glowaczowa.

The Bronze Age (1700-700 BC) was a time between the stone and iron epochs. Bronze items were found in Lower Jaworze on the right side of Wisloka (the most abundant findings are from this area). At this time already there were two important routes: amber (North-South) and trade (East-West) trails. The Amber Trail existed already in 1400-1200 BC. It led from the south of the European continent via Hungary, Przelecz Dukielska, along Wisloka and Wisla to Sandomierz and towards Baltic Sea. The other tract went from Western Europe via Wroclaw, Krakow, Pilzno, Debica, Przemysl and Lvov towards the Black Sea. This was the younger than Amber Trail. It began to become an important route in the 5th-6th Centuries of our era.

The last epoch in human evolution was the Iron Age which is divided on two periods: the Helsztycki Period (700-400 BC) with evidence of settlements found in Borowa, Braciejowa, Debica, Grabiny and Podgrodzie and Latenski Period known also as Preroman's Period (400-1 BC). No settlements were found from that time in Debica region.


In Roman Times (the 1st-4th Centuries of our era) homesteads were developing in Wisloka area, probably because of communication tracks. Many findings from this area are from Debica, Borowa, Grabiny, Lipiny, Nagoszyna, Chotowa, Pilzno. For the first time Roman coins were used and this proves that tradesmen from the south were coming here and probably took amber from Baltic Sea to their own countries. Settlers of Debica region lived mainly by farming.

So far, archaeologists haven't found anything from 6th-7th Centuries of our era. The next findings are from Preslovian times, when the Wislanie state came to existence. Our region was, from the beginning, settled by members of the Wislanie tribe who comprised the Wislanie state.

In 10th Century, Christianity was implemented under Piast reign, but it is certain that it came here in 966 - the Baptism Of Poland. Followers of the pagan religion were for a long time very much against this new Christianity. We do not know for sure when the famous stronghold on Okop Mountain in Braciejowa came to existence. It occupied a land area of four hectares and was known as Bozy Bab or Glodomanek. It is only known that it existed in 9th Century and for a few subsequent centuries it was the center of the settlement's life. At the same time another stronghold came to existence in Braciejowa. It was known as Zamczysko. Also, there were new strongholds in Podgrodzie on Maga and in Latoszyn on Palana Gora. Others were in Przeczyca and Przeclaw. We do not know any details about their development and fall.


From the beginning, the region on both sides of Wisloka River belonged to the Wislanie nation, then to the country of Poland. From 14th Century, it was known as widely spread Sandomierz Province. At the end of first or at the beginning of present millenium, the first homesteads in Pilzno and Debica started to exist. For many centuries that first city, Pilzno, was a center of the region known then as Ziemia Pilznenska (Pilzno Land). The oldest settlements are: Braciejowa (Glodomanek), Borowa, Przeclaw and Lubzina. It is believed that already in 11th Century that the church in Brzeznica existed and in the middle of the 11th Century the well-known bishop of Krakow - Stanislaw Szczepanowski - is said to have blessed that church. Written, confirmed information exists that in 1105 AD the Benedictine Order in Tyniec received Pilzno, Zagorze and Deboszyn. This is confirmation, but without any exact time reference, that the Benedictine Order was already in place there.

In the 11th Century came into existence : Braciejowa, Brzeznica, Latoszyn, Podgrodzie, Pustynia, Straszecin, Strzegocice. In the 12th Century new villages were founded: Brzostek, Deborzyn, Gumniska, Januszkowice, Klecie, Borowa, Bukowa, Chotowa, Czarna, Gorzejowa, Gora Motyczna, Jaworze Gorne, Jazwiny, Kamienica Gorna, Kedzierz, Leki Dolne, Leki Gorne, Nagoszyn, Paszczyna, Przeczyca, Roza, Skurowa, Slotowa, Stasiowka, Stobierna, Wiewiorka, Zasow, Zwiernik, Zyrakow.

In 14th Century, mainly during the reign of King Kazimierz Wielki, began further efforts to bring more people to borderland Wislok regions, cutting down huge tracts of primieval forest. Then came to existence: Baczalka, Bielowy, Bobrowa, Debowa, Gebiczyna, Globikowka, Glowaczowa, Goleczyna, Grabiny, Jawornik, Jaworze Dolne, Jodlowa, Kamienica Dolna, Korzeniow, Machowa, Mokre, Nagawczyna, Polomia, Przeryty Bor, Siedliska Bogusz, Smarzowa, Stara Jastrzabka, Wola Zyrakowska, Zagorze. In successive years and centuries, on maps we can find some of the new villages that have today. In 15 Century came to existence: Grudna Dolna, Grudna Gorna, Lipiny, Mokrzec, Parkosz, Wola Wielka, Zdzary. And later : Pustkow (16th-17th Century). In 16th Century a new deanery in Debica, known as forest dekanat, was created which included the 14 parishes of the whole region.

During that time, Pilzno Land - like the whole eastern region of the country - was attacked several times and ruined by the Mongols in 1244, 1255, and 1259 while in 1266, Swarno the prince of Russia, with help from Tartars and Litwyns attacked Sandomiersk Province. One part of the horde came all the way to the Wisloka River leaving behind only burned down ruins. One of these attacks ended the existance of Glodomanek, which was considered a large town at that time. In 1354, the monastery of Benedictines was founded in the private city of Pilzno. In 1356, the king ordered the start of the first locum in Brzostek but the organization there lasted only for a number of years. King Kazimierz Wielki who gave many founding privileges and location documents for Polish fortified castles, in 1358 gave to Swietoslaw of Gryfit clan the privilege of founding "Debica Town" which came to existence in 1372. Mostly farmers used to live in all three towns, but in Pilzno crafts started to be more visible.

Foreign armies were still attacking this country. In 15th Century, Tomasz Tarczy- Hungarian ruined totally Brzostek, Pilzno and Debica. In 1502, east part of Poland was attacked by Turkish army. They burned down Debica which was built largely of wood.

In 16th Century, the biggest city of the province was Pilzno where crafts and trade were blooming. In Debica, most of population were living from farming. The fact that Pilzno was a king's town, free of the disagreements by its owners, helped this town more. Vice versa in Debica, where few owners were interested in the town's well being. The meaning of goodness for the town didn't exist and this is reflected in its position.

In 1560 the starosta of Pilzno, Jan Talo, brought a few Jewish settlers to town, which was a beginning of Jewish settlement in the area.

In 1655 Swedish army attacked Pilzno Land and fought with the settlers of this district capital city. Two years later, Rakoczy attacked Pilzno Land and burned towns totally. The arrival of Jews and the beginning of New Debica caused Debica to go forward. At the same time Pilzno stopped in its progress, but for the next almost 100 years was still a district capital city for the region. In 1702 another attack by the Swedish army (The Northern War) devastated Debica and Pilzno. In 1768, a Russian army fighting with Barska Confederacja went through this land as well. In the next four years, there were many smaller fights between confederates and the czar's army mostly in Debica Blonie, Pilzno, and Biela-Strzegocice.


Pilzno Province found itself outside borders of Poland right after the first partition in 1772. It fell under the jurisdication of the Austrian Emperor. The new occupant made new administration divisions. There was now a Pilzno district, which was liquidated two years later and moved to Tarnow. In 1802 army of Ksiestwo Warszawskie marched onto the Pilzno Land, which was started with armed attacks by ordinary people. Popular consent to Austrian rule caused that the land stayed under Austrian government. However, Galician peasants in 1846 started to rebel against their nobles in Debica, Pilzno, Brzostek and all nearby places. The leader of this opposition was Jakub Szela from Smarzowa. The fate of almost all estates was not in favour for its owners. Many of them had to run away for their safety. Not everybody was lucky, as peasants killed over 200 estate owners, devastated and burned down over 80 manors and most of those were never rebuilt. In 1850 there were organized what was called municipal courts with one of its offices in Pilzno and the other in Debica. And this is how each of these two cities formally started its own independence from the other. But after a few years Pilzno came back as a capital of the region, because in 1870 Debica Province was liquidated and joined with big Pilzno Province. The same happened with Brzostek. After nine years Debica was joined to Ropczyce Province.

In second half of 19th Century, compared to Pilzno, Debica was gaining strength. The event that made the difference was the start of the iron railway. This helped Debica economically. Then even more so, in 1887, once the railway tracks were stretched to Rozwadow.

During World War I, the land was the scene of fighting between the Russian and Austrian armies. The region was greatly devastated. Then, in 1916, the castle in Zawada was ruined.


During the next 20 years there were plenty of effort to transfer the province from Ropczyce to Debica. This got even stronger when, in 1931, Pilzno was downgraded to a small town and the whole of Pilzno province with its all 36 counties was added to Ropczyce province. This increased Debica's chances because it was in its center. The effect was achieved in 1937, when Ropczyce province was abolished and instead Debica province was raised up. At the same time, great industry was starting to bloom near Wisloka River. In second half of 1930, Polish government decided to start the Central Industrial District. The strategy was to start tens of industrial establishments at the forks of Wisla and San Rivers; over time, the geographic scope of the project was enlarged even more. In 1936-1939 CID started to build in the Debica region four enterprises : chemical, metal, explosive materials, and automotive rubber. The initiator and organizer of it was engineer Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, who had already organized the nitrogen industry and realized the building of Port of Gdynia with its fleet of trade ships. He was a pre-war premier and minister of trade, industry and treasury. The start of World War II stopped any prospects of development.


Germans took over the whole Province on September 8, 1939. This was especially difficult for Jewish population that was predestined for extermination. In Debica, a ghetto came to existence. Later its settlers were transported to camps. Many to Pustkow, where 15 000 people died among them 7,500 Jews. Hitler's army here conducted twelve huge actions of pacification. The most tragic one was in the year 1943. The first episode was in Wiewiorka on March 23, where 16 people were murdered, then Zasow (5 people), Brzeznica (14 killed), Bobrowa (16), Gumniska (7), Lubzina and Brzezowka (15), Stobiernia (5), Chechly and Okonin (7), Roza (10). In few weeks time they killed 61 people. After this terror was a bit slower.

People didn't give up without fight. In 1940 The Detachment of Armoured Fight was formed. Their leader firstly was Antoni Cwen, later Adam Lazarowicz. In 1944, the position of local commander of ARMIA KRAJOWA was taken by Ludwik Marszalek. Their station was in Gumniska. In the whole Debica Region, places such as Debica, Brzeziny, Laczki Kucharskie, Sedziszow, Ropczyce, Pilzno, Zasow, Korzeniow were included. The underground Armia Krajowa had 5,000 soldiers. Their biggest success was in gathering of information about the enemy army activities and particularly sending information about the V-2 experimental rocket location to the western Allies. This location was in the area of Ocieka and Blizna. Armia Krajowa (AK) of the Debica region, known as the 5th Regiment of Horse Riflemen, participated in operation "Burza". Germans had great losses then, but also tens of partisans died. The main fight of the underground army with the help of Russian army took place in the forest between Braciejowa, Polomia on the field of Kaluzowka in August 1944. On August 23, 1944, the Russian Army walked into Debica, but the battle front stopped for one half of the year just west of Debica, Gumniska, Braciejowa, Pilzno and in other smaller villages at west side of the province. Those places were finally conquered in January 1945 in the next successive attack.


After the war, the region began to recuperate from the destruction. The manufacturing and processing plants, started by COP (Centralny Okreg Przemyslowy) before war, restarted their production. Unexpectedly, Debica became the main center in the province. The first new postwar institution was "Igloopol". For many years Debica was a provincial capital city. The legislative reforms in 1975 liquidated counties and made smaller provinces. Because of this, Debica became part of a new Tarnow province. The situation changed again on January 1, 1999. Counties (powiaty) were resurrected again, Debica Country (powiat) was created, and it is a part of the new Podkarpackie Province.

Other related Spuscizna history pages:
History Timeline Village Chronology Early Villages Przyborow Manor
1608 Crownland of Galicia 1846 Poles in America

Grace Skowron (Canada), Chris Owens and Dennis Benarz (USA), 2007
Music: Ignacy Paderewski, Opus 5 #1