History Wilczyn

Wilczyn settlement has already been in existence in the XIV century. Since no authentic records were found, gathering historical information proved to be a difficult task.

It is believed that first humans appeared in this region after last glacier receded, and the climate became warmer. Traces of human activity and ancient flint tools were found along the shores of the lakes. Stone Age artifacts: flint axes, small household tools,burial urns with ashes, and, from Luzycki Culture Period, the remainders of a fort settlement near villages Swietne and Mrowki - currently museum. Their origin is being linked to the same culture and period as another famous archeological site - Biskupin settlement near Znin.

Recently discovered manuscript " The life of Wladyslawa Adelajda" - sister of Mieszko I, as well as its close ties with  famous places like Kruszwica, Gniezno, Strzelno, Trzemeszno and Budzislaw Koscielny, indicate that Wilczyn and its neighbors had played a significant role in establishing the early Polish state.

Not much of Wilczyn's written history exists today. The name Tomasz from Wilczyn was found in documents dated 1316 and 1348 A.D. and in other writings, from 1358 and 1364 A.D., the name Mikolaj - the Lector and Swordsman to the King Kazimierz Wielki - Wilczyn's successor, appears.

The names of Wilczyn's subsequent owners are also known: Zawisza and Jakusjusz, in the year 1393.

Regrettably, no documents can prove the exact date of Wilczyn's origin. However, the  XIV century writings strongly suggest that the settlement had already functioned as a town in that period.

Nothing showing or describing Wilczyn's historical role, or the lives of its inhabitants from the X to the XIX century survived to this day.

Today, the oldest monuments are the two churches in town:
***Saint Urszula Parish - Gothic style, built in 1566, has three, late-Renaissance mid XVII century altars, two Baroque altars,  Gothic Madonna sculpture from 1420 and Mikolaj Rozynski's Epitaph from 1659.
*** Saint Tekla - first built in 1460, rebuilt in 1781, has three, late-Baroque altars with the Rococo décor, a Rococo pulpit, and a Crucifix from the second half of the XVIII century. Also, from the year 1900, paintings in the altars, by Antoni Szulczynski.

Wilczyn retained its township status till 1865. According to local stories there were four churches here during the period before the Partitions. One of them - the Church of Holy Ghost - was located where the present wooden church stands today, also, there was a 30 bed hospital on this same site.
Not far, to the east of the parish, stood a castle.

By the end of the XVIII end the beginning of the XIX century Wilczyn's population consisted mostly of various types of craftsmen: weavers, drapers and furriers. They supplied the locals with the fabrics weaved by hand.

During the pre-Partition period Wilczyn belonged to Trzemeszno county ( small town about 30 km from Wilczyn), and to Powidz county ( small town near Strzelno ) during the Napoleon Campaign 1793 - 1812.
From 1812 to 1815 it belonged to Pyzdry county and after the Vienna Treaty got included in Konin county.

From 1867 to 1934 Wilczyn belonged to Slupca county and from 1934 again to Konin, where it lies to present day.

The town built mostly with wood fell victim to fires, was burnt to the ground and rebuilt a few times.
Because the area was depopulated the government had to bring in people from other countries - mostly Dutch and Germans. They called those places Colonies and they exist today: Kownaty Colony, Wturek Colony, Swietne Colony, Waclawowo Colony and so on.
The biggest concentrations of people of German origin existed in the villages Swietne,  Kaliska and Maslaki to 1945.
Four Evangelical cemeteries remain in the area today.

The cholera epidemic decimated population and the town fell; its last Mayor Plutecki died of this disease.

Wilczyn was planned as any typical Middle Ages town: town square in the center and the streets coming out of its corners.

It isn’t easy to describe the historical significance of the settlement. Up to 1939 some notes had been preserved from Napoleon period. They described how the military warehouses distributed supplies for the Polish Cavalry stationed at Wilczyn.

The people took active part in both January and November Uprisings. The best known fights took place in villages Dobrosolowo and Ignacewo. The resurgents had support from neighboring towns, especially from Trzemeszno that, at that time, belonged to Germany. After the January Insurrection the Tzar issued a decree that allowed peasants to own land. It took years to settle disputes between various parties and to decide how the land was to be divided.
The villages: Biela, Debowiec, Gogolina, Oscislowo and Wilczogora got 294 hectares of the worst type of soil; mostly on the outskirts of the region. There were 14 large land owners who owned about 80 % of the county; 10 survived to 1939.

Living was not easy for the peasants here during the feudal as well as the later periods. The landlords neglected them and often did not pay their wages regularly. That forced people to rob and steal to survive. The living conditions were horrendous. Families lived in tiny little rooms in the communal housing. Many of them had to share their living quarters with pigs or cattle. Hygiene and healthcare were non existing under those conditions.

During the Partitions our region was a state border between Russia ( Wilczyn) and Prussia ( Wojcin). Smuggling goods and farm animals between these countries contributed to increased wealth of a few Wilczyn families. Imported from Germany were articles like clothing, chemicals and toys, and from our side, cattle, horses, various meat products as well as alcohol were illegally sold there.

The hope for independent Poland was renewed during WWI again. The local youth began to mobilize into secret military organizations. In 1918 they participated in disarming the occupying forces and liberating the towns Strzelno and Inowroclaw. Jan Zalewski - the local pharmacist - organized these actions.
In the twenty year period between the world wars we noticed a significant development in cooperative movements in our region. The priest - Stanislaw Dziennicki and the teacher - Zygmunt Myszkiewicz played major roles in establishing and running the Wilczyn Dairy and the Stefczyk Fund.
The new fire hall with a big show theatre was built and the dairy remodeled and modernized. In 1935/1936 the construction of a new seven grade school began. Also, in the same period some new farmers co-ops were created.

There were three schools in Wilczyn during the Partitions Period: three grade in Wilczyn and one grade in Debowiec and in Gogolina. Two more schools were build in the twenty years between wars: seven grade in Wilczyn and four in Zygmuntowo and Maslaki.

Cultural life flourished in that period thanks to the efforts of Mr.Pierzynski - local teacher. Mr. Pierzynski organized and managed a choir and dance youth group that received first prizes in Lodz in 1934 and in Poznan in 1937.
The WWII had seen many Wilczyn people killed in battles, many arrested and murdered by the Gestapo in the woods around Kazimierz, in Szczeglin and in Mogilno. Many died in or survived concentration camps. By the end of the war the Peasant Battalions were established in our region. They assisted the Soviet paratroopers in landing in Debowiec where Mr.Stanislaw Siwinski offered them help and shelter.

Now, we all remember the post-war period. New institutions and organizations appeared, we witness dynamic changes in many aspects of social, economical and cultural life

We look at Wilczyn and region with  deep sense of accomplishment  and joy and we are proud to call this 650 year old town home.

Stanislaw WIECHECKI (Wilczyn Public Library)
An essay to commemorate Wilczyn's 650 years anniversary, Wilczyn 1966.
Author of the text, Gminy Wilczyn