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Click on any illustration with colored border to see it full size. Then click on "Back" button to return to this page. Help with pronunciation!

aerial view of Mrzyglod      Mrzygłód and Dębna are villages just north of Sanok (see Note for help in pronouncing these difficult names). A two lane road leads north from Sanok along the left bank of the river San. It passes through Trepcza, now almost a suburb of Sanok, then enters a narrow gorge and follows the river round a bend until it is almost heading south again, clinging to the side of the wooded hill. Then as the river loops again so that it is heading north-east once more, the road enters flat meadows. To the left you now see a village with another wooded hill behind it. This is Dębna, the original home of most Biega families in the 18th. and 19th. centuries. See the map. The area is rural with wooded hills as you can see in the satellite photo. A narrow lane leads from the main road up to the village. For the moment stay on the main road as it enters another gorge. Shortly you enter more meadows and in front of you the steeple of a church rises behind some tall trees. This is the village of Mrzygłód.

Devil Mountain      The church is small, built of stone by prisoners of war after the defeat of the Teutonic knights by the combined Polish and Lithuanian cavalry at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. Destroyed during the Tatar invasion in 1624, it was then rebuilt pretty much in its present form.
In this church the marriages and christenings, as well as funerals, of all the Biega families took place in the 17th, 18th and most of the 19th centuries (the earliest record of the name Biega was in the 16th. century).
house In those days Mrzygłód was still a town, originally called Tyrawa Królewska. In 1431 the village Tyrawa was given the title of a Royal Free City by King Jagiełło. The town prospered during the next 200 years. It had a weekly market, and a pottery industry. From the Tyrawa dock salt, from the mines across the river, were loaded onto barges to float down the San to the Vistula river, as far as Gdansk. There was also lively trade in timber which was floated down river. The town suffered devastation at the hands of invaders - Tartars in 1624, Swedes in 1667, but was rebuilt after each. But in 1745 the town was destroyed by fire, then in 1828 by flood. It never fully recovered, reverting to a village, now renamed Mrzygłód.

Jagiello statue      However, the citizens of the town and surrounding communities continued to be very active. One major event in recent history was the building of the statue of King Jagiełło in the market square. It was unveiled with great ceremony on the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, on July 15, 1910. Among the members of the funding committee were Jan Biega of Debna and Father Biega, then assistant priest at the church. In World War II it was destroyed by the Germans. A copy was made and ceremoniously unveiled July 15, 1960.

     In 1912 Mrzygłód had 888 inhabitants, of them 140 were listed as Ruthenians and 144 as Jews. Many local people emigrated to other countries around the turn of the century in search of work, mainly to North America. The Jewish population was murdered by the Nazis during World war II.
Since World war II Mrzygłód has remained relatively dormant and in 2000 the population was only 455. Further building was prohibited because of a plan to build a dam on the river San near Dynów which, if built, would have completely flooded the town. A comparison of the present with the map of 1910 shows very little change, although neighboring Sanok has quadrupled in size. As a result Mrzygłód today looks very much the same as it did a 100 years ago. 1910 map Most of the Ruthenian population has moved away and the old Greek-Catholic church is in ruins. Recently a military type steel girder bridge (seen on the photo above) was erected to connect with Tyrawa Solna across the river, replacing the ferry. Further north a new concrete bridge replaces the ferry to the village Dobra. Now buses connect Dobra and Mrzygłód with Sanok several times a day.

     It is recorded that there was a school in Tyrawa Krolewska already in the 17th century. But as the town was devastated by invasions and floods, the school disappeared. In 1865 a new school was built and the first principal was Jan Biega (see Biega from Dębna. Now there is a 2-storey primary school serving the entire neighborhood.
Debna village Most of this information is derived from the excellent Mrzygłó web page. This web page is evidence that the village has become vibrant and energetic once more, as it used to be in olden times. Unfortunately the web-page is only in Polish. However it is worthwhile visiting to see the many great photos. In the left column click on "na starych fotografiach" to see old pictures, click on "galeria współczesnych fotek", and then select from map for current pictures. For pictures of other villages, including Dębna, click on "Okolice".
A valuable contribution of this web page is the inclusion of the complete text of a valuable historical chronicle in 14 chapters, written by the priest Father Michałkowski in 1912. The work of transcribing the poorly typed pages was performed by Kosma Złotowski in 2003.

     Let's now return to the village of Dębna on the narrow lane leading up the hill from junction with the main road to Sanok. Because of its higher elevation it has been spared from the floods that periodically have troubled Mrzygłód. Today the village has 235 inhabitants spread along the road as it leads up the hill.
Jan Biega Most of them have owned their own farms for at least 100 years, several of them are Biega families. Several new houses have been built within the last few years. The most recent addition is a small wooden church built by the residents of the village and completed in 1988. So the villagers no longer need to go to Mrzygłód for Sunday Mass.
Some Biega families also live across the river in the village Liszna, reached by a passenger ferry.

NOTE. These names are difficult for English speakers.
M is pronounced like in English, RZ is like the ge in "rouge", softer than in "page", Y is like i in "pick", G like in English, ŁóD is like wood in "wood". The accent is on the first syllable. Mrzygłód = M-JI-gwood
Dębna is easy for those who have learned French. ę is a nasal en sound. The other letters like in English. So Dębna = Denb-na, accent on first syllable.
See the good Polish letters page, which also has examples of common phrases, click on them to hear how they sound.

See a 10 minute slide show, with music.

The satellite photo is courtesy of Google Earth and has been captured and edited by Bill Biega to provide specific information relative to the area of Dębna and Mrzygłód .

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Last updated: May 2006.