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VERIFIED ARTICLE

Translator name :Anna Władyka

The beginnings of the Jewish compact settlement in the gostyński district are tightly connected with the founding of Piaski. Before that time, such urban centres as Gostyń, Pogorzela, Krobia and Poniec were bound by de non tolerandis iudaeis privilege, which prevented Jews from settling down there. Yet Borek was a small exception: the record from 1674 says that there were 21 Jewish taxpayers, who constituted 9.1% of the residents. Not allowed to live in the cities, the Jews started to settle down in nearby villages. Taking advantage of the support of landlords, who were interested in collecting higher taxes, the Jews established numerous inns, taverns and slaughterhouses there. That gave rise to many protests of the Polish craftsmen, who were organized into guilds. In 1748 the butchers of Gostyń turned to the owner of the town with formal request, explaining difficult financial situation brought about by unfair competition on the part of the followers of Moses' denomination. Although Jews were not allowed to settle down in the town proper, with the help of the local landowners they managed to find accommodation in nearby inns and taverns ( e.g. Grabonóg, Krajewice, Strzelce, Gola).


Local butchers were afraid of competition from the Jews working in the same profession. They even lodged a complaint to the duchess, claiming sharp decrease in income: “… things had got so far that some of the locals had moved out of the town and nearly all of us gave up on that trade”. It is not certain whether the situation was that dramatic, yet it is worth remembering that the innkeepers and guild of brewers had the same problems. The situation became extremely unfavorable for the craftsmen and tradespeople of Gostyń in the second half of the 18th century, which was related to the founding of Piaski.


Without any official permission, the castellan of Śrem, Karol Koszutski, started to build houses in 1773, offering accommodation to the subjects from his estates and to other settlers brought by him next year.
On January 15, 1775, king Stanisław August Poniatowski granted a privilege of location for
Piaseczna Góra, which met with the protest of the owner of Gostyń, Mycielski, who argued that Koszutski acted against law when founding a new town: “Should any new towns founded in the vicinity of the ancient ones be detrimental to the existence of the latter, we demand that they be founded no closer than two miles from the existent ones or in one-mile distance if the towns are divided by a river”. The magistrates' court in Poznań ruled out in Mycielski's favour, yet the owner of Piaseczna Góra lodged an appeal to the court in Warsaw. As he was in marhal's Ignacy Twardowski and chancellor's Andrzej Stanisław Młodziejowski favour, the owner of Gostyń was forced to withdraw the complaint. The main cause of Mycielski's protest, and concern as well, was the permission for Germans and Jews to settle down in Piaski.


In less than twenty years since the founding, the fast-developing town of Piaski became home to 113 followers of Moses' denomination, whereas Polish people constituted 21% of the residents there. Within the next two decades, the tendency became stronger:in 1820 the number of Catholics decreased to 56 people (13%), Evangelicals to 177 (41.1%), whereas the number of Jews topped 198 people, which corresponded to 45.9% of the whole population.


In mid-19th century Piaski was the first town in the gostyński district to have the highest percentage of the Jewish population as Jews constituted nearly half of all residents there. It was not until the following years that the Jewish population started to decrease rapidly. Karol Koszutski, the founder of Piaski, accepted both protestants (he even built a protestant church there) and the followers of Moses' denomination to the town, although he was a Catholic himself.

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