The Old Onuškis called Hanuszyszki for 400 years

Bronius Deksnys

Leaning upon published and archive data reflecting the historical development of the Sėla (Selonia) land inhabited by a Baltic tribe of Selonians, the author describes the colonisation of a part of the Sėla land that went to the Grand Principality of Lithuania, as well as its later history. The article shows how, at the end of the 14th century, the Kurkliai nobleman Hanusas Gailiminaitis cut down a forest at the border with Livonia having no duke’s order and built an estate there (the area was named after him as Hanuszyszki). In 1499, Alexander the Grand Duke of Lithuania disseized the estate and transferred it to his marshal Grigalius Astikas (Hrehor Ościk). The past of the Hanuszyszki estate ruled by families of the Astikases (16th c.), the Rajeckises (17th c.), the Chominskises (18th c.) and the Komars (19th c.) is described in the article.

The life of peasants in the estate from the 17th century is described. The economic treatise by the estate owner Gedeon Rajecki on farming in North-east Lithuania during the first half of the 17th century is discussed. The establishment of the Hanuszyszki parish is described, and geographic description of the 18th century parish area by parson Antanas Vainauskas is presented. The end-18th century Hanuszyszki estate inventory characterising the estate’s economy and villages with their population census is analysed. The oaths to be given by tijūnas (Lat. tivunus), foreman, seeder and forester written in the inventory in Lithuanian are presented. 

Describing the 19th century Hanuszyszki past, new documents detected about the poet Valerijonas Ažukalnis who had stayed here nearly a decade are published. Discussing abut the 1863 Rebellion events in North-east Lithuania, a hypothesis is presented that a group of rebels lead by Antanas Mackevičius (Antoni Mackiewicz) was marching from Rokiškis to Žiobiškis and the Biržai Woods via the Hanuszyszki.

It is also discussed how the place name of Hanuszyszki in the Lithuanian language of local people turned into Onuškis (fixed at the end of the 19th c.). The development of farming in the area of Onuškis and the culture of peasants after the abrogation of the serfdom is described.