The earliest epoch (till 1665)
Translated by David Horowitz-Larochette
Before the [first world] war Białystok was a county seat of the Grodno Governorate. The town lies in the great forest-region Polesia. It is built up on both banks of a small river called Bialy, which is a tributary of the Suprasl river. This small river starts a few kilometers from the town and flows into the Suprasl which connects with the river Narew. The town Białystok, which means White Stream, is actually named after this little river Bialy.
The first Piotr Wiesiołowski came from a larger area. After his death his inheritance passed to his son Piotr Wiesiołowski II, who can rightly be considered the founder of the shtetl Białystok. In the year 1581 he started building a castle, which he completed in 1589. But Białystok still belonged to the parish of Suraz.
In the year 1620 Piotr Wiesiołowski died and Białystok passed by inheritance to his youngest son Krzysztof, who was a high-ranking official of King Sigismund III and fought together with him in the great wars. Krzysztof Wiesiołowski had his residence in Tykocin. He therefore annexed Białystok to his beloved residence-town. In the year 1637 Krzysztof died childless and before his death gave Białystok up in order to maintain the castle at Tykocin. Białystok was from that time on managed by Ostrowski, the governor of Tykocin, who seized it but in 1658 the Polish king Jan Casimir reclaimed it and gave it to the Polish noblemen.
In the year 1661 King Jan Casimir issued a privilege, by which he gave over the government of Tykocin with all its dependent noblemen and heirs as a contribution to the governor of Kiev, the later Field Hetman Stefan Czarniecki (1599-1665), the infamous hero in the history of the Jews (details on this in chapter two), as a prize for his heroism and profits he brought the crown. The village of Białystok is specifically included in this. The Warsaw State Council established him on a permanent basis over the Tykocin region with all its villages, amongst them also Białystok. After Czarniecki's death the government of Tykocin, together with Białystok, passed to the count Jan Klemens Branicki, who received it as a dowry when he married his wife Alexandra Katerina, Czarniecki's daughter. He hardly even noticed Białystok because he was occupied with high affairs of the crown.
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