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Updated 12/20/07












A Primrose Garland

    Siemuszowa: Six Hundred Years of History

    Siemuszowa (pronounced Seh-mu-show-wa) has seen several masters over the course of its six-hundred-plus-year history. Located today in the Sanok (in Ukrainian, Sianik) region of southeastern Poland in the foothills of the fabled Carpathian mountains ("Karpati"), the majority of its original settlers were known as "Rusyny", "Rusnaky", "Ruthenians" and "Lemkos" (Lemkowie). They were Eastern Orthodox and later (after 1596) many became Greek Catholics whose primary language was closely related to Ukrainian. The region itself is referred to as the "Sanok lands" (the San River runs throughout the area) in original Polish civil documents from the 15th century, or "Lemkovyna" ("Lemkivshchyna") by Ukrainians and Carpatho-Rusyns. Siemuszowa is the ancestral village of Mikhail Buryk (Gburyk) and his wife Julia Czerepaniak.

    Early History of Sanok region

    Before the 9th century AD, the lands around Sanok were sparsely settled by various Slavic tribes. There is some archaeological evidence that there were people living in this area during the period of the Roman Empire and possibly even earlier, but no written records exist which describe them. In the 8th century AD at the beginning of recorded history in Europe, the Slavs gradually began to break up into three distinct groups: West, East and South Slavs. The Poles belong to the West Slavic group and the Ukrainians are part of the East Slavs. The Poles and the Ukrainians (or their ancestors in Kievan-Rus -- its Latin name is "Ruthenia") both laid claim to the Sanok lands at various times and the non-Slavic Hungarians south of the Carpathians did so as well.

    In the late 10th century, Kievan-Rus finally secured the Sanok lands for itself and their inhabitants accepted Eastern Orthodox Christianity while the Poles in the West became Roman Catholic. This period left an indelible mark on the culture, social institutions and spirituality of these people and their Ruthenian character would both distinguish them and serve as an ongoing source of friction with their Polish neighbors who wanted to expand further east out of their traditional homeland. The region remained with Kievan-Rus until the middle of the 14th century when that state gradually collapsed from internal infighting and the repeated attacks of the Mongol horde from the East.

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