CENTURIES-OLD DEPTH

The town of Klimovichi is the centre of Klimovichi District inhabited by 16,000 people. It is situated to the south-east of the regional city of Mogilev. Automobile roads connect the town with Krichev, Khotimsk, and Kostyukovichi. The first mentioning of the town dates back to the 14th century. In the 9–13th centuries Klimovichi land was part of the Kievan Russia and became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the mid-13th century. Radimichi tribes, which settled down along the rivers Sozh and Dnepr in 8–9 centuries, were ancestors of Klimovichi residents. In 1806 the largest treasure of antique coins, which had been hidden assumedly in the 2nd century A.D. was found in Klimovichi
My first impressions of Klimovichi came with a book Our Land Took Centuries-old Road written by Mikhail Melnikov, an outstanding local lore scholar from Krichev. I visited the land myself later. Klimovichi history is connected with the noble families the Osmolovskiys, Beletskiys, and Golyntskiys, who owned the land at different times. The town became the centre of a district of the Russian Empire in 1777. The Klimovichi coat of arms appeared in 1781 — a golden bee on a blue background. The town could have been larger if in the late 19th century a railroad had been built closer to it. Military, commercial, and postal roads were built.

Mogilev province guide dated 1900 contains two interesting documents. They introduce the reader to residents of Klimovichi town and the district. The book also contains timetable of the post routines, when the post was received from district postal offices and forwarded to them. In Klimovichi post section we see “Post from Mogilev is delivered on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and sent to Mogilev on Thursdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. Post is collected on Sundays and Thursdays by midnight”. The other document is a register of periodicals available in Mogilev province in 1900.
What could residents of Klimovichi and the surrounding area read and subscribe to? The obvious leader of the dailies was Birzhevyye Vedomosti (253 copies) followed by Svet (63), Syn Otechestva (14), Pravitelstvennyi Vestnik (15), Novoye Vremya (7), Novosti (2). The most popular weeklies were Niva (88 subscribers), Senatskiye Vedomosti (46) and Rodina (44). Then came Nedelya (6 subscribers), Tserkovnyi Vestnik (3), Istoricheskiy Vestnik (1). Vestnik Inostrannoi Literatury had only six subscribers. But we won’t jump to conclusions about the intellectuality of Klimovichi land residents judging only by the post office information. In as early as 1910 Klimovichi had two gymnasiums — one for boys and one for girls. The former subscribed to 29 journals. The student library contained only 2,476 books. There was also a fundamental library, which had 3,380 books. So people not less intelligent than their successors walked along the streets of Alleynaya, Bashmachnaya, Voskresenskaya, Dvoryanskaya. Besides, as a rule the folks were sober. As in December 1900 the town council of plenipotentiaries adopted a resolution to ban strong beverage drinking in the centre of the town. “In the suburbs such beverages are banned within two hundred yards from groggeries”.

Today’s names of Klimovichi streets are different: they reflect changes of the new history — Internatsionalnaya, Kommunisticheskaya, Sotsialisticheskaya, 50 Let Oktyabrya, Kirova.

In connection with the discussion about the intelligence, education level of the town residents and the town’s advancement I would like to quote an excerpt from a study by teacher of the district boys gymnasium Sergei Yaroslavtsev “The town of Klimovichi of Mogilev Province”.

“Klimovichi has quite many intelligent people in comparison with other district towns. Along with common district establishment Klimovichi has a crowded excise office of the 3rd okrug, which controls Klimovichi, Mstislavl, Cherikov districts, has two bailiffs, an inspector of public schools. But the opening of the boys and girls state gymnasiums made the most influential contribution to the town’s social life”. And later on, “The establishment of two secondary educational establishments… influenced the financial part of the town’s life. The two gymnasiums with their number of students and teachers constitute more than 100,000 rubles in Klimovichi annually. It immediately affected the trade development, new better shops appeared, old ones were expanded. Following the increased demand, accommodation prices doubled and tripled, boosting prices for real estate within the town boundaries. Construction sites are emerging everywhere, even a new street appeared. The increased construction rate boosted prices for manpower…”

Klimovichi image retained much of the past historic memory despite consequences of World War Two. The most vivid example is the Orthodox Christian St. Mikhail Church. It was built in the middle of the 19th century. A museum established a little more than twenty years ago proves that Klimovichi knew well what patriotism is. The museum contains manuscripts by local lore scholars Frantsisk Osmolovskiy, Vladimir Sheverdo. Many other Klimovichi local lore students write the history of Klimovichi town
and the land.

Veronica Smeyanovich.
Cards from collection
of Vladimir Likhodedov

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