The Grinos and their progeny in Šapalai Village

Gediminas Grina

Demographic trends in the area of Kupiškis in the 18th-20th centuries are presented through the history of Grinos family in Šapalai. The repopulation of the area after the Black Plague was going slowly. This period of recovery lasted about 50 years. The Šapalai area was rather out-of-the-way and did not distinguish itself in large numbers of dwellers. The paper reveals how difficult it was for the village of Šapalai to grow in the 18th century. Undoubtedly, the key emphasis of the paper is the genealogy of this family. A detailed investigation done on the example of the Grinos family presents a picture how the continuity of generations was ensured, and how the sedentariness of people was changing. Already through the 18th century, it is possible to see that this process was controlled by intervention of both secular and religious powers. It happened so that the neighbouring Migonys Village belonged to the dean of Anykščiai, while the Šapalai was a village of the royal Pienionys Eldership. At the start of the 19th century, this governmental regulation mechanism was applied to the patriarch of Šapalai family, Jurgis Grina, who was from the Liudiškiai Village that belonged to the Anykščiai dean. Jurgis Grina married an older than he widow Gabrėnienė, nee Kėdainytė from Migonys.

Large families in the 19th century left abundant progeny supplementing the family with other surnames, which had not spread wider than the Kupiškis area. Only at the end-19th and beginning-20th centuries, the Grinos began migrate to farther sites, some even emigrated. A decrease in child mortality raised concerns about the land property. Partly this problem was solved by letting more children to the school. Finally, during the inter-war period a certain balance steadied in population numbers and capability to work the land. It should be noted that the birth numbers at that time began to decline, and parents used to regulate it.

And finally, the Soviet power, post-war resistance and collectivisation jumbled up this self-organisational order that had been levelled out during the centuries. The villages emptied, people strived for education and tried to escape to towns (except those who had already left to the West or were deported to Siberia). After Feliksas Grina was deported, no Grinos remained in the village. According to the post-war census, majority of its dwellers had been made of lonely people who remained there to end their life wanderings in their homeland.

Is it a coincidence or not, but after the area has been drained the Černiai from a neighbourly village of Vilviškiai settled in the Grinos former site. Genealogy investigations show that they are kindred of the Grinos in the Šlapeliai of Rėkučiai genealogic branch. Thus, the surnames are changing, villages are getting empty, but the blood of Kupiškis land remains.