Książyk from Ukraine

Genealogy teams have achieved an outstanding work in Ukraine. In Galicia, a former province of Poland, they have sourced 378 documents of Książyk families. These documents record data before 1900. They include 291 births, 53 deaths and 34 marriages. The genealogy compilation represents about 20% of all the documents related to the name Książyk in the data base GENETEKA. We can be grateful to Bozena Balaw who worked with much patience and dedication in the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych).

1.    Polish settlers

In the second half of the 14th century, King Casimir (1309-1370) sent the first Polish settlers in Galicia. With the exception of a short 9-year period, Galicia was considered a territory of Poland until 1939. During the partition, the rule of the Austrian Empire applied without challenging this Polish influence. 

We don’t know when the first Książyk families arrived in Galicia. Most probably, they arrived from Podlaskie and settled in the Trembowla region to colonize non-cultivated lands. During the 17th century, many Polish settlers were cadets of drobna szlachta (poor nobility) families, a modest gentry impoverished by the land disaggregation caused by inheritances. Some of them came as sharecroppers. Working for rich magnates on extensive estates, they lived in small manors and became zaściankowa szlachta. Others came as independent farmers, struggling to keep their lands and their social statutes.

The conditions of the Książyk families in Galicia are not documented enough. Nethertheless, we can assume that over some 10 generations, they were affected by the revolts of local Ukrainian peasants, constant insecurity, heavy taxes, recurrent pandemics, episodic famines and many natural catastrophes.

2.   Migration to Canada

During the second half of the 19th century, the conditions of Polish settlers in Galicia deteriorated further. After the years 1870s, there was a mass migration of Poles to the USA and Canada. In the years 1890's, many came from Galicia in several waves mixing Catholic Poles and members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Among these migrants, several families from the Trembowla area established in 1896 in the Manitoba Province of Canada. They settled near the village of Dauphin and built there the first Ukrainian Catholic Church in the country.

Erected in 1981, the Trembowla Cross of Freedom Memorial celebrates this settlement. The monument specifies the names of 14 pioneers: P. Bashchak, M. Gadzosa, P. Huska, I. Lozynsky, I. Nizalowsky, P. Perchaluk, I. Sytnyk, P. Cherwinsky, I. Geryluk, W. Ksionzyk, I. Nimetz, J. Pawlicky, H. Staranchuk, and M. Yasinchuk.  

Ksionzyk is a frequent English misspelling of Książyk (other misspellings include Xionzyk, Kazyk, Ksazyk and Ksonzyk). The family of Wasil Ksionzyk came from Borszczów (Борщів/Borchtchiv), a village located in the district of Trembowla. Wasil is mentioned as the leader of the community.

Moreover, the Trembowla Cross of Freedom Memorial presents a very interesting collection of buildings from the early years of this settlement. One of them is the house of Wasil Ksionzyk. This pretty wooden house is a donation from the Slobodzian family.



Trembowla (Теребовля) is one of the oldest town of the ancient Polish region of Galicia. Mentioned as early as 990, the city is even older than Tarnopol (Тернопіль), the region capital founded in 1540.

Main street of Borszczów in 1929. Source: Kresopedia

The house of Wasil Ksionzyk in the the Trembowla Cross of Freedom Memorial.


3.   Return to Poland

In Galicia, most other Książyk families were living in Boryczówka (Боричі́вка/Borychivka), a hamlet also located in the district of Trembowla. The oldest record of Książyk People in Boryczówka is the christening of Pawel Książyk in 1774, son of Franciszek and Marianna. This event was recorded in Sokal. Other older documents date back 1826 and were recorded in Trembowla.

In 1900, 930 people were living in Boryczówka. Considering that Książyk people were living in a very extensive family, naming rules were rather volatile. Frequently, the "de domo" name of the mother was added and sometimes was even used as the main family name to diffentiate between cousins. Therefore, GENETEKA records mention Książyk along with several other family names such as Golecki, Janiszewski, Kitajczyk, Kotkiewicz, Łukasiewicz, Mularczyk, or Paluch. To make it short, the Książyk were related to almost every family in Boryczówka!

Wyobraźcie sobie Boryczówkę (…) Ludzie żyli jak w dużej rodzinie. Połączeni więzami krwi. W co drugiej chałupie ciocia albo wujek. Jak nie Kitajczyk, to Mularczyk, jak nie Książyk, to Paluch, jak nie Rogowski, to Sierociński albo Janiszewski, Łukasiewicz, Popiel, Pietruszka, Tracz, Szczygielski, Woźniewicz i tak dalej. Żeby się jakoś odróżnić, wymyślali przydomki: Bajki, Barany, Kaczany, Kapusta, Potućka, nawet ksiądz miał przydomek – Burek….”   Władzik Rogowski, 1995.

During WWII, thousands Poles and Catholic Ukrainians (Greek Catholic Church) who considered themselves as Poles were massacred by Ukrainian nationalists. Allied first to the Germans, then to the Russians, these war criminals committed a genocide of some 200,000 Poles and Catholic Ukrainians. The Polish province of Volhynia was the most affected but many Poles living in Galicia were also exterminated. To this day, the atrocities against the victims have no equivalent in modern History. This mass extermination is widely documented but remains unpunished.

In 1945, Poland lost all Eastern territories (Kresy). Galicia was integrated in Soviet Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands Poles and Catholic Ukrainians were expelled to Poland.


Pictures of the village of Boryczówka before  WWII. (click to enlarge).


This sketch of the village of Boryczówka pictures a typical "colonial" organization in former Kresy. The houses of 12 Książyk families are highlighted in yellow (click to enlarge). Source:

©Ksiazyk 2015