Minsk District

(general observation)


X - XI centuries - the territory was part of Polotsk Princedom.

1101 - 1242 - major part of the territory occurred in Minsk Princedom.

1242-1568 - the territory was included in the Great Lithuanian Princedom (Medieval and Modern Time state, formed by local Baltic and Slavic peoples of their small Princedoms in the mid. XII century as a counterforce to Crusaders Baltic States (Teutonic Order State [1309-1525] and Livonic Order [1237-1561], Latin name was Magnum Ducatus Lithuanorum). To be said, that all settlements of the future Minsk District that time were property of Great Prince (he was Polish King at the same time since 1385), or his relatives and local magnates (major landlords). That situation was with almost no changes before 1793.

1568 - 1791 - after the Great Lithuanian Princedom changed it administrative division and local duchies, which were preserved as some sort of federal units of the Princedom, were transformed into provinces. The Great Lithuanian Princedom became more integrate state. Future Minsk District territory became a part of Minsk Province.

1569-1793 - Great Lithuanian Princedom and Polish Kingdom composed a federation with the name of Rech Pospolitaya (Slavic translation of Roman Res Publicae [Republic]), so the territory was part of Minsk Province of Rech Pospolitaya.

1791-1793 - Great Lithuanian Princedom was transformed into several provinces of Polish Kingdom, so the territory was a part of Minsk Province of Polish Kingdom.

1793-1801 - after the 2nd partition of Rech Pospolitaya by Russian Empire and Prussian Kingdom (1793) the territory was part of Lithuanian Province of Russian Empire.

1801-1917 - the territory formed Minsk District of Minsk Province of Russian Empire.

1917 - Russian Empire was destroyed by revolutions.

General Information.

District Town: Minsk

Jewish resident places:


Krasnoye Syelo


Staroye Syelo


























Semkov Gorodok


Ostroshitsky Gorodok


Beside those settlements Jews lived in some other places as business keepers (in that case they were not regarded as that settlement residents:

- inns of: Metlichino - 6 people, Logovaya - 4 people Nedvezhino - 8 people, Orekhovka - 4 people, Petrovshchina - 7 people, Sennitsa - 4 people; Skorinichi - 2 people);

- mill of Ussa - 5 people;

- tar factories of: Lipki (1 man) and Slyepyanka (4 people);

- black smith of Petrovshchina (7 people).

Territory: 80152,3 square km.

Population (in the late XIXth century):

Total number: c. 280 000 people;

Russian Orthodox Christians - the majority;

Roman Catholic Christians - the major minority;

Jews - considerable minority (65 000 people or 23,2 %);

Christians of other brunches - less than 6%;

Moslems (Tatars) - less, than 2%.

In 1866 there were:

- 41 Orthodox churches;

- 91 Orthodox chapels;

- 23 synagogues;

- 1 mosque;

- 16 Roman Catholic churches;

- 25 Roman Catholic chapels.

Most spread local trees were: oak, pine-tree, fir-tree, aspen, alder and birch. Local forests were full of bears, elks, wild goats, wolves, hares, foxes, choruses, martens, minks, badgers, squirrels, otters, weasels, hedgehogs, eagles, hawks, capercaillies, black grouses, partridges, pici, thrushes, forties, ravens, hazel hens, yellowhammers, etc.

Local rivers were inhabited by pikes, perches, tenches, crucian carps, breams, roaches, ides, chubs, burbots.

In 1882 in the District (without Minsk):

- 1 318 marriages took place;

- 5 795 legal children were born;

- 247 illegal children were born;

- 2014 men and 1862 women died (no epidemic took place);

- natural gain + 2166 people;

- 11 kid marders occurred;

- 8 marder occurred.

In 1883 there were the following institutions in the District (without Minsk).

1. Education:

- 35 rural schools (1 600 schoolboys and 140 schoolgirls = 1 pupil of 96 rural children);

- 23 Jewish schools (about 800 pupils, but to be said, that many Jews got literacy at home without going to school).

2. Health care:

- 2 rural doctors;

- 9 rural medical assistants;

- 1 rural midwife;

- 2 rural hospitals (in Sennitsa (20 beds) and Papernya (20 beds)), but both were closed, because local communities did not want to cover their costs;

- disease situation:


thick persons


% of death













scarlet fever








whooping cough


In 1898 in the District there were:

- 3 rural doctors (in Minsk, in Koydanov and in Zaslavl);

- 1 rural veterinary surgeon;

- 1 rural medical assistant;

- 2 midwifes.

Economy in general.

Traditional activities of Minsk District habitants were chopping and transportation of wood (mostly by water) and agriculture, including livestock farming.

Since medieval period the most important direction of wood transportation was the one by Neman river down to Kenigsberg (Prussia). So, there were only tree harbours in the District (all on Neman banks): Nikolayevshchina, Sverzhen and Stolbtsly. The latter was the most important and major one.

Even the creation of new types of communications in the District in 1870s and later, such as railroads (Libava - Romny and Moscow - Brest), telegraph roads and highways did not effect seriously to economical situation in the District. The only considerable business there stayed trade with timber and wood products (exported by Neman river to Prussia, by railroads to Riga and Libava), all the rest was local or regional with no international or even allRussia significance.

Local farmers grew rye, wheat, flax, barley, oats, potatoes and some other plants for their own needs and for sale.

Jews as population appeared at once after trade and business settlements were developed in that territory — in the XVIth century — mostly from Poland and Germany, but also from some major trade centres of Euroasiatic steppes and Asia Minor (like Saray (the capital of Golden Horde [Mongol-Tatar Medieval Empire of XIII-XV centuries] and Bulgar on Volga river, Tabriz [Nothern Iran], Constantinopole [Istanbul before Turks came], etc.). Since appearance on, Jews were busy mostly with trade.

Tatars moved there mostly after decay of Golden Horde and later from Crimea and South Ukraine.

Optimal conditions for peaceful development of the local settlements (it means the development of trade and business here) were:

1. In the last XVIth-1st half of XVIIth century.

2. In XIXth century (after Napoleon wars [were finished in 1815]).

During the period between those two there were almost constant local and international conflicts and wars.

We have not much about the 1st optimal period, but everything known is shown in the summaries on particular settlements. The only thing, we’d like to mark here is the value of Rech Pospolitaya main currencies - zloty, grosh and tynf. In XVI-XVIII century Zloty (English translation - "golden") was a coin contained 3,537 grams of gold, grosh - 2,62 grams of silver, tynf - 3,36 grams of silver.

As for the 2nd one, here are some information about those time life.

District during early Russian principality.

After partitions of Poland (1772-1795) considerable part of Jewish population of Minsk area was in the very Minsk or diffused over the rural settlements, because it was much easier to survive there during the war times (destruction of communications, besieges of fortified settlements, battles, etc., took place during the partitions). But Russian Law absolutely prohibited Jews to reside in rural area (before 1840s) officially. In reality, Jews were able to live in the villages, but

1. They were not to work on land as peasants (to get a permission to be farmers, Jews were to ask for special Supreme (Tsar’s) allowance).

2. They were to be registered in any kahal (it meant, in any settlement, where a kahal existed officially) — in shtetles or towns.

In general, Jewish person official social status was to be one of:

- petty-bourgeois (most common);

- craftsman (registered as a member of local craft guild);

- merchant (for that person, whose capital was over 1000 roubles);

- farmer (very rare, see above).

In 1802 there were:

— 96 merchants in the entire District, 41 of them were Jewish (42,7%);

— 3850 petty-bourgeois, 2675 of them were Jewish (69,5%).

To inforce Jews to follow the Law, Russian authorities held special revisions on Jewish population in 1806 and 1811. But Napoleon invasion in 1812 diffused Jews over rural area again. After Napoleon troops were defeated and banished away, Russian authorities at once prescribed Jews to obey the Law.

So, since 1796 and to 1840s, when Russian Tsar allowed Jews to reside in rural area and to work on land as peasants, there were no official Jewish settlements in Minsk District.

On April 13, 1835 the Tsar allowed Jews formally to work on land as farmers. To make that thing real the Tsar declared a Law about Jewish farming, which prescribed the following norms:

1. If the Jew was to be drafted, he was able to avoid it, if he became a farmer with his entire family.

2. A Jew, who desired to settle on State owned land as farmer, should be given up to 20 hectares of land and 100 roubles from the funds of his community.

3. A Jew, who desired to settle on private owned land as farmer, should propose Provincial authorities his plan of settlement and farming for at least next 25 years. If the authorities agreed with the plan, the Jew received 85 roubles of aid from the authorities (if the Jew escaped, the landowner was responsible for him and was to return money).

In 1847 there were 19 530 Jewish people in the District.

In 1855 there were 9 663 registered male Jewish people, including:

— 12 merchants of the 1st guild;

— no registered merchants of the 2nd guild;

— 253 merchants of the 3d guild (there were only 10 Christian merchants of the 3d guild in the District that time);

— 9 150 people of petty-bourgeoisie (there were 2 412 Christian people of petty-bourgeoisie in the District that time);

— 248 Jewish farmers.

Since 1860 no Jews were to be allowed to be farmers on State owned lands.

In 1863 Minsk District Jews got (in total without Minsk itself):

- 4 211 roubles as Box Collection;

- 928 roubles as Candle Collection.

By 1864 there were 8 synagogues and 10 praying houses in the District.

In 1898 Jews took some official posts in the District:

1. Deputies of Minsk District Administration of Guild Enterprises (the ones, united in guilds):

KAPLAN Perets,

SHABADT Manus son of Iosef;

2. Deputies of Minsk District Administration of Non-Guild Enterprises (the ones, which were not united in guilds):




District in general in the 2nd half of XIX-early XX century.

District official posts

District Congress of nobility

District Administration

District Court

District Police Department

District State Security Department

District Military Department

District Tax Department

District Department of Transportation on Water

District Supervisor on forests

District Doctor

District Medical Assistant

District Obstetrician

District Veterinary Physician

Jewish Population Statistics

By 1857 130 748 people lived in the entire Minsk District, 17 925 of them were Jewish (13,7 %). The average increase of population in the District for 1847-60 was 16,4%.

In 1864 5 325 Jews lived in the District (excluding Minsk), that made 5,5 %.

In 1896 in the District (excluding Minsk):

- 101 Jewish marriages took place;

- 273 male and 167 female Jewish children were born;

- 126 male and 71 female Jewish people died.

Economic Statistics

By 1864 there were 69 industrial enterprises in Minsk District:

- 5 leather factories;

- 35 vodka factories;

- 2 beer factories;

- 2 factories;

- 1 soap factory;

- 6 spinning workshops;

- 7 brick factories;

- 10 potter’s workshops;

- 1 copper smelting plant.

That time there were 9 fairs in the District:

- 6 in Koydanov (on February 11, on April 23, on May 8, on Trinity Day, on July 20, on October 1);

- 1 in Sverzhen (on June 29);

- 1 in Stolbtsy ( on August 15);

- 1 in Ivenets (June 11).

In 1863 the goods were brought in total for 18 600 roubles, the deals were made for 12 000 roubles.

In 1882 the crop was (in liters):

name of plant


















beans, peas and millet



The best crops were in the estates of Annopol (possessor countess Yanna Radzivill), Rakov (possessors Zdziekhovskies), Ussa (possessor Chervinsky).

Total number of cattle (including horses, ships, goats, cows and pigs) were 140000 heads.

Total number of bees - 2 000 hives.

Inspite of considerable number of natural water reservoirs, fishing played insignificant role. Usually, fish was brought there from Southern Belarus.

Growing of fruits and vegetables were popular enough in the District. Most popular were apples, pears, cherries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries. The famous gardens and vegetable gardens were in the noble estates of:

- Prusinovo (exotic fruits, income = 1 000 roubles);

- Vyazyn;

- Annopol (exotic fruits);

- Rakov;

- Stankovo;

- Khotova;

- Rusinovichi (4 000 fruit trees);

- Pershay;

- Loshitsa;

- Priluki;

- Sulla;

- Negoreloye;

- Ostroshitsky Gorodok;

- Minsk (several).

Average export by water and railway was (in roubles):


1,5 million


500 thousands

other goods

50 thousands

Major annual fairs:

- in Koydanov (Feb. 11, Apr. 23, May 8 and 18, July 20, Oct. 1);

- in Sverzhen (June 29);

- in Stolbtsy (Aug. 15);

- in Minsk (during a week from Friday of the 10th week after Easter on).

Fair in general began to loose their significance, major turnover did not exceed 100 000 roubles.

In 1883 there were 119 industrial enterprises in the District (including Minsk), their total turnover was 913 010 roubles. That year 62 fires occurred (excluded Minsk), damage - 80 177 roubles, reasons of fires - inaccuracy and revenge. To be said, that there were no one fire brigade outside Minsk in the District.

In 1886 there were 191 merchants in the entire District, 168 of them were Jewish (88%). Considerable turnovers of Jewish merchants made them possible to get low interest: average annual interest of Christian merchant operations was 10,7%, average annual interest of Jewish merchant operations was 7,2%. To be said, that almost all of existed industrial enterprises in the District were possessed by Jews.

In 1894 in the District the prices for a barrel (492 liters) of principle goods in roubles were:





















In 1896 in the entire District:

- grown vegetables were sold for 24 000 roubles;

- grown fruit were sold for 8 000 roubles;

- 1,920-3,2 tons/hectare of different herbs were collected;

- 12 808 tons of hay were stored up;

- 282 928 heads of cattle were kept (including 45 863 horses);

- 2000 carcasses of poultry were sold (prices: chicken - 30-50 kopecks, goose - 0,75-1 rouble, duck - 20-40 kopecks, turkey - 1,5-2,5 roubles);

- 350 beekeepers kept 4 000 hives;

- 4 000 kg of honey were collected and sold (price: 5-6 roubles per 16 kg);

- 1 280 kg of wax were collected and sold (20-25 roubles per 16 kg);

- fish was bought from neighbour Districts;

- 600 lumbermen worked (salary: 0,4-0,7 roubles per day);

- 900 men processed wood (salary: 0,6-1 roubles per day);

- 500 men transported wood to Neman harbours (salary: 0,5-0,8 roubles per day);

- chopped wood was sold for 125 000 roubles (delivered to Prussia mostly);

- arts & crafts production of wood was sold for 26 100 roubles, ceramics (without pottery) was sold for 4 200 roubles.

Currency Rate

Since 1897 up to the beginning of World War I (1914) Russian rouble was really convertible currency. The rate was:

6 Russian roubles = 1 British pound.

Jewish Business in Minsk District out of Jewish settlements

In 1902 there were few business and trade enterprises in Minsk District, which were kept by Jews from outside of Jewish settlements:

Name of owner

Type of business


Bendotov Lipa son of Itska


Novopolye village

Irgher Aron son of Iosel


Sunklevo village

Regoler Aron & Samuil

Sawmill (steam engine 45 h. p., 14 employees)

Salomorechye village

Sloushcher Abram son of Faybysh


Novy Dvor

Major Non-Jewish Business out of Minsk District Jewish settlements

Also there were two business and trade enterprises in the District, which were kept by non-Jews in 1902:

Name of owner

Type of business


Lubanky Evstigney & Alexander sons of Ivan

Alcohol factory

Loshitsa village

Chapsky Karl son of Emerik

Vodka factory, 10 employees



Copyright 1997-1998 Oleg Perzashkevich