CHLEBNICE IN THE CHANGES OF TIME
Surroundings of present village Chlebnice had been settled by man already 3-4 thousands years B. C. It has been proved by a number of archaeological findings from primeval times at Pucov, Sedliacka Dubova, Podbiel. We did not find any findings exactly in Chlebnice, but from the name of the hill Žiar, with a church built on its top, we can guess that this was a place where the first settlers made sacrifices to their gods.
In 13th century the Orava castle was already established as a merchant centre of this region. Along the valley of Orava river an important merchant route passed and was divided in Tvrdosin by a custom-house already in the middle of 13th century. One part of the route ran along the valley of Orava river to Zivec, second part continued along the valley of Oravnica river north-east direction to the Baltic. At those times the small settlements already existed in the valley of Orava river along the merchant route and the inhabitants made their living by hunting, fishing, cattle breeding and agriculture.
We have enough information about the period before the first written records about Orava human settlements from numerous archaeological findings. Persisting settlement of Orava existed already during the period of Nitra's Principality.
The first shepherds appeared in Orava in 15th century in Knazia, Bziny, Medziborie and Valaska Dubova vilages. The very first shepherd settlements may have been in Orava already at the end of the 13th century. The near regions Liptov and Turiec were already settled by peasants so there was no more free land neither for cattle breeding nor for further settlers. As Orava was thinly populated the process of new settlements foundation continued during the next centuries and was finished only by foundation of Erdutky, wood-cutter village today named Lesna Dubova, at the beginning of 18th century.
At those times the villages in the valley of Orava river made their living by growing plants and they placed the cattle breeding to side valleys. They have grown barley, oat, millet, pea, cabbage and red beet. We assume that the valley of Chlebnice creek was seasonally used for cattle breeding already in 15th century but without any permanent settlement. This place was used by shepherds from Valaska Dubova where a parish, a parochial church and a parochial school for surrounding of the castle functioned already in second half of 15th century.
The first name of the village was "Clewnicza" and it came from the middle of 18th century when we recorded a change of land owners in Orava. In 1554 Orava became a part of property of Thurzo magnate family Nitra's bishop Frantisek Thurzo had lent to the monarch 18.337 gold coins and obtained Orava as a guarantee. The year after he ordered to elaborate an evidence of his property in Orava mentioning some shepherd's huts in the valley of Chlebnice creek named "Chlewnicza". This name had survived nearly 50 years and was written even in a new land-register in 1604, even though already in 1574 the new name "Chlebnycza Walachi" is recorded and the settlement belonged to the widow after Frantisek Thurzo. A hill called "Chlevnica" was marked between the territories of Malatina and Chlebnice villages when in 1358 a measuring of the territory of Malatina village was done. The old name "Chlevnicza" is more appropriated to the situation of those times in which the people lived together with their cattle so the castle clerks registered those buildings as "chlievy" (chlievy-stalls). It began to change to present in 16th century.
Frantisek Thurzo gave to a Chlebnice's shepherd called Jan a document declaring privileges for him and his shepherds and Jan was also a assessor of the shepherd's court. But the character of the village has been gradually changing from the shepherd village to agricultural one at the end of the 16th century.
Shepherds who had colonised the region of Chlebnice were free in migration and they did not have to pay the royal tax. However, they had duty to protect the north part of Orava and the merchant route, they had to protect the Orava castle if necessary, they formed so called shepherds' army, they had their own court, own duke who became later a supervisor of Orava's forests.
The shepherds colonisation of Orava have to be judged from various historical and geopolitical aspects. The Hungarian monarchy had to face many problems. Turks' attacks in the south, villains' riots in the east, Doza's uprising later on, Turks' victory in the battle on Slana river - factors which caused the migration of thousands of people to the north of the country as well to Orava. New settlers came from Pohronie, Gemer and other regions and they brought with them only what they could, the cattle. They were mostly peasants and they started with farming even though the cattle breeding was still dominant. The Orava's shepherds had some privileges confirmed by King Matthew Korvin already in 1474 and then by later monarchs so their position was more bearable than the position of other villains of the monarchy That is why the first Chlebnice's settlers acknowledged themselves to shepherd colonists.
In 1575 Jan Chlebnicky as a shepherd's court assessor was deciding in shepherd's heritage lawsuit in Valaska Dubova, Shepherd Onco belonged also to the first shepherds of new founded village and from his family there were more village - mayors later on. Then one field in the territory of a village was named after the shepherd Krutek. Luptovec, who obviously came from near Liptov, then Matinka, Huska, Geso, Cepik also known as Simala, Hvezdul, Petran, Cap known as Jamar.
During the ecclesiastical search of Dubovska parish the responsible superintendent Elias Lanyi recorded that "HIebnicza" belonged to Protestant Dubovska parish, 8 fields were already tilled, the frontier of the territory of the village were marked out, even though it was not completely stable. Almost 64 families and 320 people lived there at those times. Biela Skala, Priekovo Blato, Redikalny were hills apportioned to the shepherds for cattle breeding, they had 1200 sheep, besides this they had a water mill on the creek.
In 1629 Chlebnica's settlers built a wooden church and asked the church-dignitaries for the permission to bury their deceased by this church and not in Sedliacka Dubova as it was before, because in case of overflows the funerals could not be carried out for several days. The church was built on ancient sacrificial place of hill Ziar where the first inhabitants of village made sacrifices to the pagan gods. The settlers built also a wooden tower to the church and they bought their first bell in 1636. This wooden durch functioned till 1760. Then they started to build in brick the new one which functioned until the year 1930 when it was pulled down and today's spacious church was built. From the beginning of village till 1787 when a chaplain's station (uncomplete parsonage) was built, school children (mainly children of soltys) had to attend the parish school in Sedliacka Dubova. But this school attendance was not compulsory. The compulsory school attendance was established only in 1770 during the reign of Joseph II as a six-year compulsory school attendance and only then a school was built also in the village. Jozef Banoczy the church organist was the first teacher in this school.
The military events during the 17th century which took place also in Orava, changed the life also in the municipality. In 1605 it was robbed and burnt out by Bockaj's solders. The Pik's uprising touched the village only marginally, but the subsidiary Lithuanian army under command of Sapieh robbed and burnt out the municipality arguing that the habitants were persisting in Protestant religion. At Dubovska parish the parson was replaced by the priest but this change lasted short time only The catholic priest came there definitely in 1709.
In 1690 during the counting of wealth in the village for tax payment it was found out in municipality that only 5 fields were occupied, 2 were completely abandoned and 1 was just partially tilled. The village - mayor at those times was 40 years old Michal Lanco, Simon Kobilica was judge. The rent for renting the hills was 51 florins and 77 denars (currency of that time). The diminution of tilled lands, tax imposed, was caused by precedent military events, burning out of the village, typhus epidemic and mass deaths. At that time three smiths were taxed, besides two sshinglers, two spinners, two millers lived in the municipality, however they were not in the list of craftsmen because their main source of living was agriculture.
During the tax inventory in 1719 a considerable diminution of number of people in Chlebnice was recorded. The years 1715 and 1716 were extremely bad and barren. In 1716 at the end of June it was snowing and the snow destroyed all the harvest, the population mainly children under 10 and old people started to starve and to die because of lack of food. 89 habitants died at this time and the territory of the village Chlebnica was already considerably crumbled. According to the survey of tilled fields and the number of settlers, the average quantity of arable land for one farmer was no more than 2 hectares (1 hectare is about 2,47 acres) and besides it was not very fertile. In this period the first big migration of villains from Chlebnice and other Orava's villages to the south regions of Hungarian Empire was registered. Chlebnica's settlers migrated to Keckemet region.
The area of one field was 120 katastralnych jutar (ancient unite of area). If there worked from 10 to 15 peasants on one field, the harvest became insufficient to feed the family. At the same time they were users of smaller parts of fields which classified them among starving part of the habitants who had to look for the source of living outside the village. The region of Debrecin and Keckemet was destination of number of families, almost 90 people from the municipality moved there.
The gap caused by emigration was early fulfilled by high natality in the village. An adult woman beard during her life even 20 times, and even though only few children attained the adulthood, it was in each case sufficient for proliferation of the population. That is why a lot of older children left for neighbouring Liptov to work as servants for richer farmers, then to the seigniorial service and also to officers' service as it is illustrated by case of servant Maxoh which was wanted for thefts in all monarchy.
The religion played an important role in the life of Chlebnica's settlers. In acient times they worshipped pagan god Vajan and they made live sacrifices to him on Ziar hill, what was reproached to them by canonical superintendent, later on the old habitants became Protestants. Land owner Juraj Thurzo, the main propagator of Protestantism in Hungarian state, made the Protestantism obligatory on his lands that meant also in Chlebnice, according to the principal that the religion of the lord is also the religion of his villains. Therefore when a new priest came to the village, during the recatholicism, he was not received well and the settlers made him various problems. Those who persevered in old religion preferred to leave the village. When a rectory was to be built they refused to give the priest a good place and he received only a small one on the hill - side without any yard or garden, only a small two bedrooms wooden house which later became a local school. Chaplain who regularly came to the village from Sedliacka Dubova had a year salary 73 florins and 60 denars, 1 florin from the income of the two mills, 6 florins from New Year's gift, and the Dubova parish had an income 397 florins. The first permanent priest in the municipality was Vajderman, who organised the reconstruction of the church, next there was Michal Czingel who confirmed also more than 60 years old people and according to the records he confirmed almost 567 people.
A special attention in the history of the village should be given to the local school. In ancient times the young boys, sons of the richest people of the village attended the Dubova's school. And when, in the second half of 18th century, a local school in Chlebnice was founded and six years compulsory school attendance was established, the parents did not agree to let their older children attend the school. The children from the age of 10 were send to service or worked on fields together with adults. This is the reason why even in second half of 19th century the larger part of the villagers was illiterate and the labour of children was still used in this century, Maria Ligosova, the teacher, continually called parents' and village - mayor's attention towards breaking the school attendance since the children had to work all days and their note books which were given them in the school were used by old men as a cigarette paper.
In 1828 147 of peasants families lived in the village, 3 landless persons called inquilini, 6 families of subinquilinis who did not have even their own house and 5 monks at the rectory, together there were 1016 habitants in the municipality. Tomas Stefko was the village - mayor, Frantisek Michalka his deputy, the village paid 276 florins of military tax and 287 florins domestic tax. According to the new land - register dated to 1774, the terittory of the village was divided into 57 fields, meadows for 359 mowers, the villain's work was settled for 3002 days of work with team and 6005 days of foot - work, besides this also other tax items increased.
The new land - register made the social and economic conditions in the village worse but the similar situation was also in other Orava's municipalities and the status got better only very slightly by abolition of serfdom in 1848.
The beginning of growing potatoes, called here "repa" or "svabka", in the middle of 18th century meant a progress in agriculture.
The village was lead by "soltys" and this post was firstly hereditary but already at the beginning of the 18th century there were more farmers who one after another occupied this office. An important role in the administration of the village had village assembly where the people debated different problems of villain's rates, obligatory work, its fulfilment etc. At the end of 18th century there were new tax items added to the ancient ones as smoker's tax, then "tax from each head" (person), a tax from harmful births called also sparrow's tax in form of sparrows', crows' and magpies' heads. The adultery was strictly punished and the adulteress were firstly on "public shame" and then expelled from the village. The end of the economic year was on November the 1st of the year when the municipal election took place and when the servants were called to the service. It could easily happen that the village - mayor who was elected was an illiterate. In this case they had to look for a deputy able to write and count to make an evidence of municipal bills and registers. The village woodreeves were also very important. They protected the fields against the thieves and if they were needed they participated also at the capturing of thieves, under support by other men from the village.
Outlawry was widespread from the 17th century organised mostly in shepherd's huts from ex-solders. And since Chlebnice were situated in the mountains at the frontier between Orava and Liptov it was often used by forest robbers as a shelter, especially if they were wanted in near Liptov.
We know about farmer's inventory from the last will records and so we know that the things made of iron were highly appreciated. The wooden products were less valued. A great deal of linen cloth was manufactured in the village. Almost at each farm the oxen were breaded as team's cattle and they were higher appreciated than horses which did not hold good in this mountainous terrain. The inventory of descent was evaluated by the deputy of the village - mayor and village counsellors and signed by the village - mayor. The widow inherited only what she had brought to the farm. The lords wanted to assure the land tilling and also their incomes by allotting the lands of descent farmer to the others, without taking care of orphans' interests, who were given only the money from the sale of the movable property.
Plague of moral and ethical destruction in 19th century were three taverns in hands of Jewish ale-house keepers. Many people spent on drinks all their property, that is why the local priest tried to put bounds to this situation. In 1843 a "spolok miernosti" (moderated society) was founded, where the alcoholics took an oath in the church in front of the altar not to drink alcohol any more. It was a hard work for the priest and the wives who brought their husbands to the church, consequently the taverns started to loose their influence. At the end of the 19th century the mass emigration began from the village over the sea to the USA, Canada and also to European countries. The whole 19th century was marked by various epidemics and catastrophes. There was a big flood in 1813 which destroyed the harvest, a cholera epidemic in 1831 when one tenth of municipality population died. In next years the disasters continued and the people died from hunger in 1845-1846, in 1871 61 villagers died from cholera, 105 died in 1873 and 62 died in 1881, Lot or children were born physically and mentally disabled as a consequence of excessive drinking, and a majority of them died from debility before they reached 10 years of fife what was recorded by the priest in death certificate's register.
A cruel national oppression came together with social poverty. Everywhere in the offices Chlebnice's villagers were forced to speak Hungarian, the Hungarian language was included to the educational process and the young pupils had to recite the prayers in Hungarian.
A huge emigration wave from Orava mainly to the USA, started already before the World War I. This war wounded the organism of the village life very deeply, Young and old men joined the ranks from the beginning of the war in 1914 till the end in 1918. Altogether 194 men from Chlebnice took part in battles, 32 out of them were killed and 5 joined the foreign armies as legionaries. In 1915 the misery of the war started to touch the village too, the obligatory doses of agricultural products for the army were introduced - oat, barley, potatoes, hay and straw. In 1916 by order of military offices the villagers had to deliver also the iron and copper dishes, kettles, pots, chains, different iron scrap and gradually the church's bells were confiscated for production of cannons. Since only women, children and old men unabled of military service stayed at home, the fields were tilled by teams where the oxen were replaced by women as the oxen were delivered to the army's reserves. Consequently the production in agriculture decreased and became insufficient to feed the habitants, the children and the old people were dying again.
On ruins of Austria - Hungarian empire several new states were founded and among them also Czechoslovak republic to which belonged also Orava and Chlebnice. The change of political situation did not bring the change of social and economic situation and the poverty continued to be the daily visitor in the families. The Slovak nation stayed still in unequal status but the Czech language as the official language was closer and more understandable to Slovaks than Hungarian.
The political differentiation devided gradually the villagers into supporters of the Hlinka's peoples party and republicans. The Slovak peoples party obtained always majority in the elections but this did not change the difficult social situation in the village and so the emigration to the USA, Canada, France, Belgium but also to Romania and Yugoslavia continued. In 1919-1938 58 men, 83 women left for job to the USA, 14 men to Belgium and to France, 5 men left to work as glass - workers to Romania and Yugoslavia. 5-7 families left every year for seasonal works, 20 men in average went to glass - works in autumn, 8-10 young boys left as farm -labourers and 15-20 girls worked as servants at farms in near Liptov. In the village work with wood could be found occasionally but it was not good paid job, while a wood - cutter could buy 1 kg of sugar or 3 kg of bread for daily salary.
In 1928 the municipality decided to build a new church as the old one became too small for the number of believers. But in 1929 a fire broke out and destroyed a half of the village. The church was pulled down and a new one was built for the money from the sale of copyhold land's wood. Only a tower left from the old church built during 1760-1764.
A specially important event for peasants was the "komasacia" of the village territory. It was prepared for a longer time because the territory was devided into 16.000 lots so small that when a farmer wanted to mow one van of grass he had to mow even three meadows. Under the "komasacia" 1838 hectares, 52 ares and 30 m2 were accrued and this land was devided into only 737 lots, which facilitated the work on these fields. But there were also peasants who were not satisfied with the results of "komasacia" because they obtained their lots in back part of the territory of the village. In 1935 another disaster took place in the village. A fire broke out and destroyed remaining part which did not burn out in 1929 and many people from Chlebnice spread over the whole Slovakia to collect the charitable gitfs as in general they had not been insured.
In 1938 war clouds over Europe reachech also Czechoslovakia that was disintegrated in March 1939 - from Bohemia and Moravia German protectorate was formed and Slovakia became independent under the German patronage. Neither the new republic could not resolve the social poverty, but as the men joined the ranks and the economic life was subordinated to military needs, the employment partially increased. The village's budget did not give any possibility neither for building nor for reconstruction of the roads and bridges. The necessary construction of a new school (in the old one 200 pupils were crowded in two classrooms), did not appear in the program of construction because the community did not dispose enough money. It was built together with a new school complex much later, after the war during the period of "construction of socialism".
At the end of August in 1944 an uprising, called Slovak national uprising, broke out against the Germans in Slovakia. Behind the preparations were foreign forces so called Czechoslovaks in London and Communist emigrants in Moscow which joined the domestic disappointed people. In 1944 the first partisan's groups, formed from Russian und Ukraine's refugees, appeared in mountains. Such group in nearness of the village, in Rohace was troop led by lieutenant Michail Korotkov. Due to the mobilisation Chlebnice's men took part in the uprising and they fought in Orava in two fronts - in Prestova and by Trstena. After the fights they came home, gave the arms to the village - mayor and than some of them had to hidden themselves in the forests. In the surroundings of Chlebnice many partisans were supported by Rohace's villages, they often shared the last food and nobody betrayed the partisans. It happened sometimes that the Germans were entering the village from one side and the partisans were leaving from the opposite side. In those cases there were also shootings but never a man was killed in the village during these confrontations.
During Easter holiday the front approached and on April the 3rd, 1945 the Russian troops were already in the village where they killed in the field one solder who had surrendered.
After the 1945 the life in the village had considerably changed. Instead of village - mayor a national committee lead by chairman who was delegated by the local Communist organisation was elected. Gradually the life style has been changing, the living conditions have improved. Chlebnice's habitants did not need to travel for work far away any more as there was enough work in Orava, the new factories started to be built here. The problem rather was to persuade to women to become the workers. A bus picked them every day and drove them to the TV sets producing factory in Nizna or, to Oravsky Podzamok where they conserved the fruits and berries in which Orava abounded. The life became consecrated on material values of consumer's society. Everyone wanted to exhibit himself by possession of visible material goods - by new house, a new car, by modern furniture but the relations between people were getting worse.
In the last 50 years Chlebnice were completely rebuilt. The old wooden houses gave way to the new modern houses where a modern electrical equipment have become common. During the last hundred years the village gave to nation several tens of individualities who as pastors and nuns have been spreading religious ideas in almost all over the world. After the year 1945 many young people from the village obtained the university's education thanks to state's scholarships. Nowadays we cannot find the traditional farm any more because its character has changed. The quality of life has changed too but the religion has still the same value and importance as in the past and will join the people of Chlebnice also to the future.