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Following Baczyński

Punkt na szlaku: On the ruffians’ paths

On the territory of former Rusyn village Czarna Woda, the most famous head of a band in the Western Beskids, Józef Baczyński, called Skawicki spent winters. Here still present is the memory of a hut which was his shelter and a shrine constructed for the robbed gold. Allegedly, in the chasms of the nearby Czubata Rock robbed treasures were hidden. read more

On the border between the Pieniny Mountains and the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, in the valley of upper Grajcarek River (also called Russian Stream), the smallest in the Carpathian Mountains group of Russian Gorals lived – Shlakhtov Ruthenians, coming under the Lemkos group. There were four villages: Szlachtowa, Jaworki, Biała Woda and Czarna Woda. Shlakhtov Ruthenians were exiled from here by the turbulences of history; they left behind orthodox churches, chapels, and stories about the heads of gangs. Among these stories there is the legend about the robbed treasure and a chapel, and a true story about the most famous head of a gang of the Polish Western Beskids - Józef Baczyński, called Skawicki. The story of his sinful life is comprised in the so-called oblata, that is written testimony of the head of a gang.

J. Baczyński was active in the first half of the 18th century in the Żywiecki Beskids, especially in the region of Babia Góra, Orava region, in Gorce and near Limanowa. Here, in the Biała Woda village, together with his band, he spent several winters and he was hiding together with his company.

He was born in Skawica – in a village located at the northern foot of Babia Góra (1725 m AMSL). His father died when he was a child. Before 1732 he married and he settled with his wife at his brother-in-law Błażej Fick’s place, as a debt collector in Jaszczurowa village, located near Wadowice.

In 1733 J. Baczyński joined a band of famous Giertuga brothers from Skawica: Bartłomiej, Maciej and Piotr. This society among others, made a daring raid on the brewery in sub-Carpathian Dobczyce. M. Giertuga was the mastermind of the raid.

Soon, J. Baczyński organized his own band, which, with alternating luck, marauded in the Beskid Żywiecki. He spent the winter in Ochotnica. In spring this new group came to the Orava region and next, the whole society moved to the vicinity of Wadowice.

After the feats in the vicinity of Wadowice and Jaszczurowa, the gang moved again to Orava. Soon the head of the gang came to Ochotnica, where for a certain period of time his wife with children was staying. After several weeks he moved with her to Lipnik, and after Gody, Baczyńscy stayed in Biała Woda. The Rusyn hut, where they stayed in winter, was most probably located in the hamlet Kornaje. Still, at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, its hosts had the nickname Baczyński.

Soon, the sub-prefect called J. Baczyński as a foreigner. The head of the band, unsure of what type of information about him the officer had, sent to him his wife with a considerable amount of red gold dedicated to be eventual bribe. However, in Biała Woda nothing was known about the robbery past of Baczyński, his wife paid tiny fees and she received from the Vogt the permission for the couple to stay in the village.

The hut in Biała Woda became the meeting place of another group. It already had 11 members. In spring, it moved towards Babia Góra, and the robber’s family stayed in Biała Woda. After a series of successful raids, his colleagues hid in Ochotnica and he came to Biała Woda, where he spent seven weeks with his family. He was captured in late autumn in 1735, together with his companions in the Dobra-Wilczyska hamlet (today a separate village). The sentence of death was performed in the end of 1735 or at the beginning of 1736.

Tradition relates Baczyński to the chapel located at the end of former village Czarna Woda at the so-called Zubkowy Cyrkl. Since time immemorial, Lemkos call it the robber’s chapel. It is a brick block with two niches. In one of them, closed with a steel grating there is a standing wooden figure of Saint Barbara. According to one version of the story, in the foundations of the chapel, the robber hid treasures, according to another version, the chapel was founded with robber’s money. Also other chapels in the Biała Woda Valley are said to have been related in a certain manner to robbers. Today no one will hear anything about them – memories and legends were taken away by the contemporary people.

Robbers’ treasures are allegedly hidden also in the chasms of the Czubata Rock. It is located on the left side, near the entrance to the Biała Woda nature reserve.


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